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Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.



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  #1  
Old 15 May 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - My RTW Adventure -Ireland

I am now 3 days away from the start of my RTW motorcycle trip.

It seems like every waken moment of my life over the last 3 - 4 months has been dedicated to getting ready for this trip.

I just recently retired from a 40 year career spent working as a geologist and computer analyst, with the last 24 years spent working with the Canadian government.

I have been a motorcyclist enthusiast my entire life. I went off on my first major road trip back in 1977, where I spent an entire year touring around Canada, the US,Central America, Europe and parts of Africa, After that trip, I was hooked for life on motorcycling.

Over the next 38 years I continued to tour across many parts of the world,
but as enjoyable as those experiences were they left me wanting to spend more than just a few weeks a year on some Fly and Ride trip to Europe or South America.

I longed for spending more time exploring the world and would read with envy ride reports posted on the HUBB and AdvRider websites of those adventurers out there riding their motorcycles around the world.

Now that I am in retirement what better time to embark on a RTW trip.

Over the course of the last three months I have been busy planning my trip itinerary, sorting out my gear, preparing my BMW 1150 GS. It has been a monumental task.

View my travel blog for trip preparation https://ride4adventureblog.wordpress.com/

My 2003 BMW R1150 GS


Sorting out my gear for the Trip


This Monday I will be dropping off my motorcycle with Air Canada at their cargo terminal in Montreal. (I live in Ottawa) The following day I will fly out to Ireland to meet up with my bike and if everything goes well I will start my journey. I can't wait !!


Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 7 Aug 2016 at 13:59. Reason: add photo
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  #2  
Old 15 May 2016
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Good Luck Brian,
I'll be following your journey with envy.
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  #3  
Old 16 May 2016
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Thanks Troppy

It will be a fantastic feeling once I have landed in Ireland and start up the beemer for the start of the trip

Cheers

Brian
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  #4  
Old 16 May 2016
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Hi Brian,

Good luck for the trip. If your north of Manchester ( between Manchester and Burnley) and would like a bed for the night then please look us up.

Jayne


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  #5  
Old 17 May 2016
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Jane

Thanks for your kindly invite. I am not sure if I will make it over to England along my route. But you never know.

I look forward to meeting up with members of the Horizons community who share in the spirit of adventure motorcycling.

Cheers

Brian
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Old 17 May 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - MY RTW Adventure

Well I am today one step closer to realizing the start of my RTW trip.

Today I dropped off my BMW at the Air Canada Cargo facility in Montreal.
It is now slated to be flown over to Ireland on Tuesday, a day before I fly out.

I was on the road this morning at 6:30 riding the bike from my home in Ottawa to Montreal. It is only a distance of 180 kms between the two cities and usually on a good day it is a non-eventual ride. But this morning the temperature was just above freezing. Along the entire ride I was facing a 40-50 km wind, so I was having to ride at a hard tack into the cross breeze. Not much fun. At the half way point of my trip, it started snowing, even less fun. I know I live in a Nordic climate here in Ottawa, but geez its mid May not mid February. I hope its a lot warmer over in Ireland. What were my Irish ancestors thinking when they left Ireland for Canada? Well actually they thought the boat they were getting onto was headed for Boston and not the wild frozen tundra of Canada.

It was so cold this morning that I had to pull over an stop at a coffee shop to warm up before I could continue along my way.

For those of your planning to ship your motorcycles across the pond to Europe from Canada or US, here is a quick recap of my experience.

Air Canada - Canada's favorite airline ( well not really) has a special program that they have introduced, called "Fly Your Bike". For about half the normal shipping rate they will fly your motorcycle from most major cities in Canada and (some US cities ?) to Dublin, London, Paris or Frankfurt.

There is a caveat to this program, you must agree to fly both yourself and the bike over to Europe. If you choose to fly on another airline, they will charge you an extra $500 CDN to you shipping costs.

I paid Air Canada $1060 to ship my bike over to Dublin.

To ship the bike I needed to provide AC Cargo with a dangerous goods certificate, which I had to get from another 3rd patry group, that costs me an additional $150 for the document.

This morning I rode in and met the rep from the company that provides the DG document. We filled out the form then headed over to the Airport, rode the bike at the AC cargo facility, had it weighed, security inspection done, That was it. Simple!!

My experience in shipping my bike with Air Canada was pretty painless. I did not have to disconnect my battery leads. The fuel tank had to be at least 1/4 full or less. I was able to leave my tools, spare parts, motorcycle boots, jacket etc packed into my panniers. So long as I did not have any flammable or pressurized goods stored on bike, they had no issue with shipping the bike with all my gear on it. They told me that the cargo hold was pressurized, so I did not have to deflate my tires.

I was really surprised when they weighed my BMW 1150 GS. I know the motorcycle specs show a bike weight of 560 lb - 254 kg (wet) but damn!! my bike weighed in at 638 lb - 290 kg, and I still have 40 lbs of extra weight for my BMW seat bag and camping gear. And that weight was with only a 1/4 tank of fuel.

Bike weighs almost as much as a freaking Harley Davidson.


Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 17 May 2016 at 19:02.
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Old 20 May 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - My RTW Adventure - Ireland

Day 2 - Wexford Ireland


Finally I arrived in Ireland. After a gruelling 8 hours spent in flying from Ottawa to London, then a short flight from London to Dublin. I am now finally in Ireland.

I had no issue with immigration control, and the airlines managed not to lose my baggage.
Which is a good beginning to the start of any trip.

After collecting my luggage I went to search for my motorcycle which had been shipped out the previous day to Dublin. I had no idea who had my bike or what the process was for importing it into the country. All Air Canada told me in Montreal was that I would just need to show the Waybill form to the cargo people over at the Dublin airport and I would get my bike. Well !! that is not the full process.
I went and talked to customer service from Aer Lingus, they are the airline that I had flown in on from London, they did not know anything about the bike, they told me another company Swissport dealt with Air Canada Cargo. They gave me directions to their cargo facility which was a 10 minute walk from the main airport terminal, well actually its more like a 15 minute walk if you are carry 60 lbs of luggage. I eventually found the offices for Swissport, when I presented my WayBill shipping form, they told me that they could not release the motorbike until I received a customs release form. The customs office is located on the second floor of the Aer Lingus Cargo terminal which is just up the street from Swissport.

OK .. 10 minutes later I am seated in front of a customs clerk telling him that I want to temporarily import a motorcycle into Ireland for a 2 week tour before heading over to France for continuation of my RTW trip.

The first utterances from the customs officer were, "Well this could be a problem ! Do you have a return plane ticket out of Ireland " Ahh No
I am planning on taking the ferry boat from Ireland to France.

"Well then, can you showed me that you have a booked passage on this ferry over to France".. Ahh No.. but I planning on buying one.

" Mr. Kennedy what proof can you give me that you will ever take this bike out of Ireland ? Can you give me any evidence that you have a planned itinerary for your trip ?

I gave him the URL to my trip blog Ride4Adventureblog. He went away for 5 minutes and then return. He gave me a one page form to fill out, and 10 minutes later I had an official customs release for the bike.

I brought the customs release form back to the admin offices for Swissport, they typed up another document, charged me 95 Euros for handling charges.
With the release document now in hand I headed back over to the Swissport cargo hanger and got my bike.

Thankfully nothing outwardly seemed damaged. It took me another half hour to sort out my gear and get it loaded onto the bike, just as I am about to depart it starts pissing down, these were monsoon rains, welcome to Ireland one of the air cargo workers told me. The rain let up pretty quickly. I had booked a B&B not more that 10 minutes away from the airport. As I am riding along the Hwy from the airport to the town of Swords just north of the airport, a motorcyclist flags me over at one of the traffic lights. He was following me from behind and thought he saw what looked like a cell phone flying off the back of the bike and then got run over by half a dozen vehicles.

In the rush to load up my gear I forgot that I left my cell phone on top of one of my bags. Well!! I am glade I brought along the cheapest cell phone that I could find for the trip. I stopped and retraced my route hoping that my phone had some how miraculously survived, I was able to quickly located my lost phone but unfortunately it was now distributed over a 10 foot radius along Hwy 132.

I never liked that phone anyways.

I had no problems adjusting to riding on the left hand side or as the Americans would say "On the wrong side of the road". I spent the day riding south down from Dublin to Wexford. I missed my turnoff for the M50 ring road that circles around Dublin, at that point my GPS decided to gave me a free tour of Dublin city, damn they have a lot traffic lights and traffic circles in Dublin.

Tomorrow I head out to Kinsale which is the starting point for the "Wild Atlantic Way". The WAW is a marked route that follows the coastline of Ireland following along all the little backroads along the coast. From other bikers I have talked to who have ridden the route, you get to see some of the best scenery to be found in Ireland.

Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 25 May 2016 at 20:30.
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  #8  
Old 25 May 2016
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Motorcycle Wandering - My RTW Adventure - Ireland

Killarney Ireland - May 25, 2016

I am now into day 6 of my tour around Ireland. The only reason I am keeping track of what day it is, is because I have a ferry passage booked from Rosslare to Cherbourg France for June 1st. While I was visiting the town of Wexford, which is just north of the ferry terminal where the boats depart for France, the owner of the B&B where I was staying, informed me that one of the two ferry companies, Stenna Ferries and Irish Ferries were experiencing problems with one of their boats. Irish Ferries was having to pick up the slack for Stenna ferries. The owner at the B&B, suggested that I book my ferry passage now, otherwise I could have problems when it comes time to trying to book a sailing from Ireland to France.

One of the main things that attracted me to come to Ireland, was to experience riding around the coastal roads along the western regions of Ireland. I have many a story from other riders about what a joy it was to ride the back roads of Ireland.

As part of an effort to attract more tourists to Ireland, someone came up with the idea of developing a driving route around the scenic parts of the Atlantic side of Ireland, and started promoting it the Wild Atlantic Way. The WAW is a 2500 km route from Donegal in the north to Kinsale in the south. The Irish tourist board in recent years have been heavily promoting this scenic driving route. Well their strategy seems to be working as it lured me over here.

I have read about the WAW route in a number of popular Adventure Motorcycle journals, it seemed like an interesting challenge to take on, and as I was interested in visiting Ireland, this seemed like a good opportunity to experience it for myself.

The first few days of my trip have been spent in just trying to get down from Dublin to Kinsale, where the WAW route begins.

So far on my trip I have been impressed with the level of accommodations that I have found. The B&B that I stayed in in Dublin and Wexford, were both top notch. For my 3rd day in Ireland, I had planned on staying in a B&B north of Kinsale in a little village called Ballinadee, but as it turned out, there was a local wedding going on and by the time I arrived, the B&B where I had reserved a room, had decided to give my room up to one of the wedding parties guests, I was a bit bummed out about his,so they offered me a free stay at another guest farm somewhere out in the country. The guest house that I was suppose to stay at in Ballinadee was about as remote as you can find in Ireland, the guest farm that the owner of the previous B&B brought me to was down a trail off of a goat track off a road that did not even show up on my GPS. I have no idea how guests would ever find their way to this out of the way B&B.


Farm House I stayed at neat Ballinadee Ireland

[IMG]DSC_0006 by Brian Kennedy, on Flickr[/IMG]

The guest house was a working dairy farm. The B&B was run by a couple who were at least in their early 90's.

Photo of my room. Owner said that the farm has existed on this site since 1742.

Last time the place was renovated was back in 1950's. I am not sure that pink bathroom porcelain will every come back into fashion again. Because of the hash up with my booking, I got to stay at this place for free, so anytime I get something for free, I won't complain.

[IMG]DSC_0620 by Brian Kennedy, on Flickr[/IMG]

The start of my WAW ride really did not start until I arrived in Ballylickey which is just near the Beara Peninsula. If you look at a map of western Ireland you will see a number of peninsulas jutting out from the mainland, the route of the Wild Atlantic Way follows along the coastal roads of these peninsulas.

The last three days I have ridden around the entire length of the Beara Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry. The roads and scenery have been nothing sort of spectacular. The roads have been a mix of the good the bad and the ugly. Irish roads were built for motorcycling, I especially enjoyed riding some sections of the N70 and N71, nice tarmac and lots of curves.

The videos below give you a sense of what to expect when riding around
the Wild Atlantic Way.

Video of my ride around Beara Peninsula


Video of my ride around Ring of Kerry


Some Photos Along the WAW

Stop along route 572 Glandore Harbour


Glandore Harbour


Stop at village of Castletown



Around main harbour in Castletown



Along coast of Beara Peninsula heading west to Dursey Head



Stop near Garnish point



On top of Healy Pass. Ride up to top was fantastic.



Just an interesting scene on ride along R572 back to Ballylickey.



Some photos along route N71 between Ballylickey and Kemare
Really interesting section of route. Takes you trhough nature preserve and mountain pass.



Some scenes from ride along Ring of Kerry











I have been spending the last few days lazing about in Killarney, taking a bit of a break from riding the bike. Killarney is a bit of a tourist trap, everybody comes here to drive around the Ring of Kerry. For my money I preferred riding around the Beara Peninsula. Less traffic and scenery is just as spectacular. Less chance of getting stuck behind some slow moving RV.

Downtown Killarney






Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 30 May 2016 at 07:04. Reason: Fix some grammer errors
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  #9  
Old 25 May 2016
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Wwaw

Good start and excellent photos, thank you, I was there last year in July and August, I renamed the route Wild, Wet and Windy, judging by the photos you have sun
The only place I got sun was malin head, stunning.
Safe journey, don't forget to check out a road race.
J
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Old 26 May 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Ireland

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Originally Posted by canyon View Post
Good start and excellent photos, thank you, I was there last year in July and August, I renamed the route Wild, Wet and Windy, judging by the photos you have sun
The only place I got sun was malin head, stunning.
Safe journey, don't forget to check out a road race.
J
So far I have lucked out with the weather. Except for a brief sell of rain on my arrival to Ireland, I have nothing but clear skies along my route. I have had my share of windy days. Now if someone could just turn up the thermostat a few degrees, then things would be perfect.
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Old 29 May 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Ireland

Its Sunday May 29th and I find myself in the town of Nenagh in County Tipperary Ireland. In the last 3 -4 days I have continued my progress along the Wild Atlantic Way from my last stop in Kilarney. I headed up the next day to Tralee, first traversing the coastal roads along the Dingle Peninsula.

The roads along the Dingle Peninsula have been the highlight so far of my trip.
When I envisioned riding the WAW these are the kinds of roads and scenery that I was expecting. Long stretches of curvy roads hugging the mountainsides with a view of the ocean all around me.

Some photos below taken along route R559 on way to Slea Head west of town of Dingle







Near Slea Head which is the most western point on the Dingle Peninsula is an archaeological site that preserves the remains of an ancient Neolithic site containing stone Ringforts and Beehive structures that have existed there for over 4000 years. The site was last occupied back in 1200 AD. The stones are layered in a downward and outward manner, so as to funnel rain water away from the interior.






Some of the earliest Christians are from Dingle region of Ireland[/caption]


Some more scenes from ride around Dingle Peninsula[/caption]



Sheep they are everywhere in Ireland. They seemed to be allowed to roam around free and go where they want to graze. The painted markings I am told, identify which farmer owns them and also the sheep get marked when an ewe has been serviced by a ram.



I stayed overnight in a small hotel in town of Tralee. Its a rather unremarkable town, I did not even bother to take any photos of the place. The only reason that I choose to stop in Tralee was because it was the only community of any size nearest the Dingle Peninsula.

The one thing I will remember about Tralee is my re-introduction to Guinness . The truth be told I am not much of a fancier for s. Those times when I might of had a pint or two of Guinness to celebrate St. Patrick's and my Irish heritage, I remember the as being harsh and bitter and tasting like leprechaun piss. I am not sure if its a urban myth but they say that Guinness doesn't travel very well and a Guinness served at a bar in North America is just not the same as one served in a Irish pub in Ireland. Its also been a long held belief that Guinness purposely keeps the good stock at home and exports their inferior product to the rest of the world.

All I know now, is that after a long day of riding the motorcycle, there is nothing better than sitting down in a genuine Irish pub, eating good pub food with a pint of Guinness to wash it down.


Nectar of the Gods

From Tralee I kept heading north to Galway, again continuing along the Wild Atlantic Way. I was planning a staying overnight in Galway, but accommodations in town seemed to be on the expensive side, even for the cheaper B&B so I elected to stay instead in the nearby community of Craughwell, which is just east of Galway. I was not find the roads in this part of Ireland too interesting, the landscape was not as dramatic as what I had been experiencing over the last 4 - 5 days.

Took ferry boat between Tabert and Kilrush. I got charged 9 euros for the 20 minute ferry boat ride across the Shannon river.



Picture of my B&B in Craughwell County Galway. I have been really impressed with the quality of the B&B over here. For what I would pay to stay at a flea infested, bed-bug ridden motel in US or Canada, you can stay at a comfortable room at one of these B&B in Ireland. Plus you usually get a full Irish breakfast and free WIFI.


Doonard Manor in Craughwell Ireland

After my disappointing ride up from Tralee to Galway I decided to change my plans and discontinue following the route of the Wild Atlantic Way, instead after talking to another guest and fellow motorcyclist who was staying at my B&B I headed eastward for Lough Derg. Lough is the Irish word for Loc. Lough Derg is known as the Lakelands area of Ireland and is the second largest lake in the republic of Ireland. I was told that there were a set of roads that circled around the lake and that it would make for a good ride. As spectacular as the coastal roads have been, I was ready for a change-up.

Video from my ride around Lough Derg




After my ride around Lough Derg I stay in town of Nenagh which is the largest town in County Tipperary. It a pleasant little town.




My B&B in Nenagh The Willowbrook



Cool looking wall mural in town. Nenagh is know for its music festivals


Centre of town in Nenagh


Bars.. they are everywhere in Ireland





Nenagh is known for Castle Nenagh. In background circular Keep




Another Irish bar


Main street in Nenagh


Main street in town of Nenagh

Looking out the window of my room at my B&B in Nenagh. Everyone in Ireland seems to be mad into gardening. Walk down any street in any Irish village and everyone seems to have miniature botanical garden growing in their front yard.

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Old 4 Jun 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - My RTW Adventure - Ireland

I left Nenaugh on a brilliant sunny morning, making my way down to Kilkenny in the south-east part of Ireland. If I had taken the main Hwy, I could have ridden down to Kilkenny from Nenaugh in just over an hour, but as I did not want to arrive there until 3:00 pm, this gave me a chance to wander aimlessly around the backroads in this part of the country. So I kept ignoring my GPS and started taken turns at random to see where it would lead me to. Look closely at a map of Ireland and it looks like a spider's web with all the interconnected roads. They have been building roads here in Ireland for the last couple of thousand years.

I eventually arrived in Kilkenny in late afternoon, the B&B I had booked turned out to be just a 10 minute walk to the centre of town. Kilkenny as it turns out is a very popular tourist destination, as evident by the hordes of tourists.

Kilkenny traces its origins back to the 6th century. The landmark feature of Kilkenny is the Kilkenny Castle in the centre of town, it dominates the city's vista. Kilkenny is a well preserved medieval town.


Front view of Castle


Interior courtyard of Castle

Interior courtyard of Castle

There are a couple of main avenues in the city where most of the touristy stuff are, there are numerous restaurants, pubs and music halls. It well known in Ireland for its performing arts, music festivals, theatre performances.



Little Restaurant on Ormonde St in Kilkenny Ireland



View inside the restaurant



More scenes along Ormonde St in Kilkenny



More scenes along Ormonde St in Kilkenny

I left Kilkenny the next morning, again I only had an 100 km ride to Wexford where I would be spending the night preparing to take the ferry over to France the following day, so I decided to spent my day playing tourist. On my way down from Nenaugh to Kilkenny I kept coming across a number of sign posts pointing the way to Dunmore Caves. I am into spelunking and such things. The caves are only 10 kms north of Kilkenny a bit out of my way, but I had a whole day to kill before making my way back down to Wexford.

I remember hearing about the Dunmore Caves years ago on some National Geographic program. They are well known throughout Ireland early history.







Main entrance to Dunmore Cave



Main entrance to Dunmore Cave



Entering the cave. Not my photo - copped from web



Main cathedral room - Not my photo



Main cathedral room. - Not my photo

They put on a good show at the main interpretation centre. The guide we had for our tour who by his own reckoning, has been guiding tourist through these caves for last 22 years put on a great tour. The Irish are great story tellers.

Link to story about Dunmore Caves and Viking massacre.

Cave Story 5: The Massacre at Dunmore Cave @ The World of James M Deem

Well ! I had my first incident with the motorcycle while visiting the Dunmore caves. Nothing serious, no one maimed or injured. When I first came into the visitors parking lot, there was already a motorcycle parked away from where the usual parking spots were for cars. The parking lot is located on a steep incline, and for anyone who has ridden a motorcycle, the only secure way to park your park on a steep hill is by parking the bike on its side stand with the front wheel facing uphill. I parked my bike in back of the other one that was already there, we were parked in what I would call the service lane, the other cars in the lot were parked at least 20 feet or more from the bikes were parked,.

I entered the interpretation centre and was just starting to watch a short video explaining the history of the caves, when a distressed looking woman came into the theatre, she stopped and looked around, and then asked if the motorcycle outside belonged to anyone in here. I stood up, looked over to here and said, "Ahh.. tell me you didn't just backup into my motorcycle ?" At which point she nodded her head and like some guilty little child and said that she did.

I went outside to survey the damage, I remember when parking my bike that there was a large RV parked not too far from where my bike. So at this time I have visions of twisted metals and chards of broken plastic spread across the parking lot. What I found was my bike laying on it side on a grassy section alongside the curb. I had never seen my bike in this undignified position before. The bike reminded me of a great big fat cow that had just been toppled over on to it's side, and now couldn't get up. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but did not have the presence of mind at that time. With the assistance of a few other people, I quickly got the bike righted. The bike appeared undamaged. The handguards and the side cases took the brunt of the impact, and luckily it fell over onto a grassy patch of lawn.

The woman on seeing that my bike was undamaged now turned her attention to her own vehicle . She was driving one of those shoe box size Smart cars. Her rear bumper had just grazed the corner of one of my side panniers, but with sufficient impact to cause the bike to come off its side stand and knell over. The impact did not even leave a mark on my aluminum panniers. It did however leave a deep mark on her bumper, which is karma visiting on those who backup their cars on poor innocent motorcycles!! I went over to her and asked if she was aware that there were a pair of bikes parked nearby, she said she was, but always gets nervous when backing out. I felt like telling her, Lady you are driving a Smart car, you can practically do a U-turn inside a closet, you don't need 20 feet of space to backup your car. Then again, people have a limitless capacity to screw up.

While I was at the Caves I meet another intrepid motorcycle traveller from Alberta Canada who was over here on a 6 week holiday touring Europe, Ireland and Morocco. Its always good to meet up with other travellers along the way.



Another fellow motorcycle traveller from Canada. Riding a BMW Dakar 650

I spent the night in Wexford and then made my way down to Rosslare Harbour from where the ferry boats depart for France.



Irish Ferries Boat



2016 Honda African Twin. That's the bike I would have chosen for this trip, but alas all the local Honda dealers in Ottawa area were sold out of that new model.



My cabin on the boat. Bed folded against the wall



Pride of the Irish Ferries service, the Oscar Wilde



Scenes from around the ferry boat



Scenes from around the boat



Looking out the porthole of my cabin


Motorcycle snugly tied down for ferry ride to France
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  #13  
Old 4 Jun 2016
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Awesome story so far....
I've been doing some research into renting a motorcycle in Ireland this September, so this is very interesting for me to see!
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Old 5 Jun 2016
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Motorcycling in Ireland

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Originally Posted by brclarke View Post
Awesome story so far....
I've been doing some research into renting a motorcycle in Ireland this September, so this is very interesting for me to see!
You certainly well not be disappointed in coming to Ireland, although I was
fortunate to have had 12 days of good weather on my ride around Ireland. It good have just as easily turned out to be a wet and windy experience instead.
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Motorcycle Wanderings _France

Bonjour! Bienvenue au France.

I am now in France. The Irish ferry arrived at its port of destination at 9:30 this morning, but as it turns out, not at the destination that I thought I was going to..

I soon found out after setting up my GPS that I was not where I thought I was. Ten days ago I went online and booked my ferry passage on Irish Ferries from Rosslare to Cherbourg France, but as it turns out I had in fact booked a one-way passage from Rosslare Ireland to Roscoft France. Roscoft is a port in Bretagne and not in Normandie. Instead of having a casual 160 km ride out from Cherbourg to the town of Saint-Aubin-sur-mer, I was now faced with a 375 km all day ride, not what I was looking forward to. Irish Ferries runs alternate routes between Roscoft and Cherbourg. The Oscar Wilde on alternate days travels between both ports. I am putting the fault on my computer for this foul up. My touch screen computer makes it a chore when trying to select items from a drop down list on a website.

Nothing that I can do about now, my GPS says that its a 6.5 hour ride to my final destination. As soon as I left the ferry terminal it started to rain maybe not quit a rain but a wet mist, you don't notice it when you are stopped but when riding at 100 kph, you get wet.

As events unfolded, my first day in France turned out be a wet and miserable one. For starters, there are a number of work related strikes going on across France. These strikes are affecting the delivery of gas to service stations throughout the country, especially in the north-western part of France where I am presently, I was warned about the possibility about fuel shortages when I departed from Ireland. I got as far as Caen before deciding that I had better top off my tank. I landed up wasting about an hour riding around Caen trying to locate a service station that still had a supply of gas to sell.

You would have thought that riding 375 km in a day would be an easy thing to do. France has a lot of great roads, in fact if you talk to anyone who has ridden in France, they will all sing the praises of what great roads the French have. Except that in order to use their Hwy system you will need to pay a toll. While I was still in Ireland I went online and checked out one of the French travel sites that helps you plan your travel route. When I entered my travel route it came back saying that if I were to use the toll roads from Roscoft to Saint-Aubin-sur-mer it would cost me 24 Euros which is close to $30.00, so I setup my Garmin GPS to avoid the toll roads.

GPS is a great tool and one that I rely on a lot when touring. Except for a few occasions where I was allowed to ride on some sections of the main highway, my GPS managed to find the most circuitous, convoluted route to Saint-Aubin. I was directed through every main street in every little village, through every back alley between Roscoft and Saint-Aubin. After what seemed like an eternity I finally arrived at a town on the Normandy coast called Saint-Aubin-sur-mer. When I arrived into the town, I thought to myself, Geez I thought this place would be a lot bigger, all I found was a sleepy little village with no hotels, restaurants or any thing to suggest that this was a prime tourist distinction. As it turned out, yes I was in Saint-Aubin-sur-mer, but not the right Saint-Aubin. There are two communities on the coast of Normandy, both with the same name, my GPS had directed me to the wrong one. I checked my paper map, something in hindsight I should have done from the start instead of blindly trusting my GPS, the town I wanted to get to, was some 2.5 hours to the west of my current location, or 165 km along these back country roads. It was 7:00 pm in the evening by the time I realized my error, and of course it had started to rain. There were no towns or villages around here of any size, and I began to doubt if I would even be able to find an accommodation for the night. I had my camping gear with me and although there were no camp grounds around, I was prepared to do some stealth camping in some farmer's field if it came to that. My GPS did located a couple of B&Bs, the first two I checked out were both closed, the third place I came to was open, they offered me a place for the night. Lesson learned, never put your trust in a GPS. GPS bad, paper maps good.


My B&B in Veules-les-Roses

The following morning I departed from Veules les-Roses where I stayed for the night and back tracked back to Caen, the original place I intended to get to is just North of Caen on the Normandy coast. It still took me close 4 hours to travelling along the back roads and avoiding the main highways to finally reach Saint-Aubin.

As I update my travel log I have now been camped out in Saint-Aubin for the last 2 days, and have decided to stay an extra day here. I have a great little hotel facing the beach.


Hotel Le Cos Normandie in Saint-Aubin-sur-mer

I chose to come to Saint-Aubin-sur-mer as its is located on what is know as Juno beach, which is where the Canadians troops landed on D-Day June 6th, 1944. There are a lot of tourists about, many having come here to take part in the D-Day celebration. Its a big event around here. I have talked to a number of other hotel guests who say they come back every year to support the remembrance of D-Day. I am of an age where I grew up with memories of the war still fresh in people's. My father was a WW2 veteran, he did not land on the beaches of Normandy but rather took part in the invasion of Italy. All those images and videos I remember seeing growing up in news casts about the D-Day invasion are all brought to life here. Many of the iconic buildings depicted in news reels can be seen here, still recognizable after all these years. Its a powerful emotional experience to walk along Juno beach, viewing the plaques and war images posted along the route.

There seemed to be a large contingent of British tourists here at my hotel. I meet a few veterans, they must be in their nineties, who participated in the D-Day invasion. I talked at length with a group of them about their experiences, it is one thing to read about the events of WWII but quit another thing to hear about it first hand from someone who actually lived through it. There are not too many of the veterans left. I was surprised at how many sons and daughters come to the D-Day event as a tribute to their fathers.

I spent a couple of days visiting many of the historical sites along the Normandy coast from Omaha Beach, Sword, Beach and Juno Beach where the combined allied forces of America, Britain and Canada landed.

What entreat me the most during my visit here, was comparing old WWII photos taken during the day of the invasion in Saint-Aubin and today. Many of the old buildings that line the beach in Saint-Aubin are still standing.

There is in particular one image that stands out in my mind, a picture that is often associated with the Canadian landing at Juno Beach, I spent some time walking up and down the boardwalk before finally identifying the building ( it has a plaque on it)



This is what the building looks like today. The building today has front porch added to it



Building as it appeared on D-Day invasion on Juno Beach

Another famous iconic war image from Canadian D-Day invasion



Canada House Saint-Aubin


How the house appeared on D-Day. This was the first house liberated on D-day



Some other photos from scenes around Saint-Aubin and ongoing D-Day remembrance events. My visit here was especially poignant as it coincided with June 6th.



Plane doing low level fly over beach



Plane doing low level fly-over beach



Along boardwalk in Saint-Aubin-sur-mer



Along boardwalk in Saint-Aubin-sur-mer



Canadian ceremony plaque at Juno Beach



View of wall surround beach

You see a lot of people riding around the D-Day invasion route on old restored army jeeps trucks and WWII vintage car. A lot of people come here to participate in D-Day reenactments.



One of those reenactment camps


Old army truck




Old Wiilly's jeep
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