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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Monday, September 9, 2019

Ireland. The Emerald Isle=Rain and lots of it.

Reading Time: 12 Minutes

My latest motorcycle adventure is in the United Kingdom this year. 
I paid Martin to ride my Tiger back from Oslo last Sept to 
Cork Ireland where it spent the winter in his barn.

This was my first airbnb. I prefer them over hotels. 
So I can cook. Do laundry and park the bike right in front.

What's unique about Ireland is you often just rent a private room in someone's house. 
So you'll interact with the owners. It's rare and expensive to get an entire place alone.
Especially a two bedroom.

I guessed that it was because most Irish don't have the kind of disposable income that allows for a second home to rent out when they aren't there. 

The most striking thing about Ireland is the massive amount of stone walls.
This one was my first photo and proved to be of particular interest. 
The stones are turned vertical which I didn't see again.
Usually they are horizontal....and there are a lot of stone walls.

Then there was an area called the Burren where they were stacked like chevrons. 
Photo later...

When Martin rode the Tiger back, he stopped off somewhere and bought this combine. 
It's called Nancy. 

First breakfast. 
Eggs and streaky bacon cooked in what I can only call a rough camping hut. 

After packing for an hour, ready to go!

First stop. 
An 'unimpressive' stone circle. 
The store clerk said it was unimpressive.
Then I thought, these people see stone circles on the way to work.

Where wild fushia grow everywhere!

I was pretty impressed. 

This stuff I was less impressed with.
This is a typical road in Ireland.
Room for one car but it's bi-directional.
It rains SO MUCH that moss/grass grows in the middle.
And is as slippery as snot, especially with a big top heavy bike.
So, pick a side and stay on that one.
Or else....

Next stop. 
But we just happened to find a pretty place to have it in.

The ticket seller let us in free because it was such a crappy day.
With the understanding that we would not look at the gardens.


So meet Bob.
I call him King Bob after a minion.
He calls himself, 'WhereisBobL?'.
Here is his website if you are curious.
We met in Sweden the year before and shared a few weeks riding together.
So he decided he wanted to ride the UK with me this time too and I was thrilled.

We travel well together. 
I plan. He maps. I cook. He cleans. 
I drop the bike, he picks it up.
He dirties clothes, I wash them.
He rants about GPS.
I rant about gas station bathrooms.

Beautiful stone statuary. 

The aforementioned, un-view-able gardens.

One of my many private room airbnb's. 
Grindle is on the trip with me of course.
There is NO trip without Grindle.

These little switches are so annoying. 
There is a switch to turn on hot water.
The stove.
Electrical outlets. 
Just about everything.
So don't take everything off and jump in a shower and forget this switch.

The water is heated through this little device seconds before it comes out on your head.
Mixing water and electricity in a highly conductive environment with you right there under it.

This mass of branches just struck me as cool.
I was very hungry and highly impressionable being my first days of the ride.
But still cool.

Um. OK. Don't drive your car off the pier. 

Love these. 
Sometimes I see them and just wonder what they are warning me about.

First seafood meal.
Wow was it good.

Rented two rooms in Lisa's house. 

Rode the Dingle and the Ring of Kerry with some lovely passes.
In the rain. It rained every day.
The Emerald Isle...remember?

I always know, having seen things first hand, that photos just don't do justice.
But I take a picture anyway to share and remember. 

WWII lookout tower. 
Later converted to a communication tower. 
I have a powerful zoom lens.

They like using stone for everything here. 
Well there is plenty of it.

Some beautiful cliffs....had to walk out to them. 

It was windy. 
Misty and wet. 
and WINDY.

After a while of looking down at the storming sea shore.
I noticed a cow floating in the water.
Took some zoom pictures and there were seals swimming around it.

Can you see it zoomed out?
I started to wear my glasses on this ride.
I have astigmatism. 
It's not that bad but hey I do see better and that's safer.

Beautiful draft horse. 

And this one....and wait....

The matching pony!

One of the passes.

Just moving rocks around. 

See I tipped it a bit!

Got back to Lisa's place and it smelled wonderful.
Turns out she was cooking a pot roast.
She invited us to join and boy am I glad I said yes.
Roasted veggies too.
Her two gorgeous, well mannered children. 

And their adorable dog.

The kids woke up early on a Saturday to get a chance to sit on the bikes before we left.

Beautiful, serene, dramatic skies, open fields. 

Lots of steep places with rock fall warnings.
And roads slick with water.
Narrow, darn scary roads that are always curving.
I swear there are no straight roads in Ireland.
Thank goodness. 

This place was amazing because the roof is stone!
There were some famine huts nearby. 
Didn't go see that. 
I've read enough about that horror.

This is the abbey where I dropped my bike.
It was a u turn with a car coming and I got all panicky and just leaned the bike too much without keeping on the throttle. It's OK. King Bob helped me pick it up. 
Along with the two horrified women from the car. 

Dropped the bike. 
Got that out of the way.

The first castle. 
 A less popular one so no tourists.
But a very mangy and curious dog to keep us company.
And make sure we stayed in line.

The stone work is always impressive.

This was a great photo Bob took of me from above.

View from the top. 
Yep I actually took the stairs.
In my 30+ lbs of gear. 

Next airbnb. This time it was a single room flat. Quite nice.
This is where I learned there is a very particular way to lock doors. 
Put the key in, turn the handle up, then turn the key to engage the lock.

All night long. Bark, bark, barkety, bark. 
Small yippy white fluffy thing next door. 

Moody skies. 
Every morning.

Found this 'speakeasy' style motorcycle shop. 
Good luck finding it.

Pretty park.

Oh and lamb!!!!
So for regular readers, you know my love of lamb.
You also know that it gives me great dreams.
Dreams where I am a government spy.
Or an international assassin.
Or in charge of a military mission of paramount importance.
Yeah. Try and eat lamb every day.

Er, um....don't fall off the edge of the lake?
This area was known for it's BC stuff. 

This was the Vale of something or other. 

And another castle. 
Saw about one per day. 

And the adjoining abbey.

People LOVE these things on their entry columns.
I saw Eagles
Horse heads

Cool lamp. 
Would look great in my place.
No room on the bike. 
So sad. 

The cliffs of Moher.

Stone walls. 
They are everywhere.
Probably plenty of young, restless boys to keep busy.
Building rock walls.

This was the Burren. It had quite a unique topography.
As well as some fantastic rock walls.

Plenty of cows.
And sheep. 
Lots and lots of those. 
I ate a few.

Tried to always find places out in the literal middle of nowhere to stay the night.
Safer for the bikes.
Avoid cities, traffic, hassle.
And it's cheaper. 
Plus as you meet the owner often, get great local tips.
View from my window.

This host was awesome.
He gave us great advice on the roads to take the next day.

Didn't expect to find white sandy beaches. 

But Ireland had many.

Kilemore Abbey.
Worth getting off the bikes.
I like drive by touring.
But once in a while, it's worth getting off the bike.

Nuns cook the food.
Some ladies said the food was good.
So I had second breakfast.

I have found if I wait long enough, I can get a photo without tourists.

So even though I spent a few months reading and researching Ireland.
I saw nothing about the Wild Atlantic Way.
Bob enlightened me. 
Basically if you follow this, you'll see the best parts of Ireland.
We were often on it. 
So I took that as my planning was pretty good.

On the way to Skye there was another peninsula that was overall disappointing.
We thought about turning around a lot but didn't.
We kept thinking, there must be something out here worth the ride.

 Scary, steep, narrow road with sheer drops, wind and rain, don't forget the rain but voila, this gorgeous white sand beach in an alcove protected from the wind.

Our next airbnb was a bit of a hoohaa. 
Had multiple issues in Ireland. Double booked. Gave to wrong guests. Missing booking. 

Ended up riding one of the only two nights in the dark (and rain). 
It was a bit chaotic, trying to get everything off the bike and get inside.
So I lost my hair clip, or so I thought.

Doesn't sound like a big deal but travelling like this is very different than 'normal' travelling.
Losing something, even just one small thing like that is difficult to replace easily.
I got over it but the next morning, the farm dog Dino, found it and brought it to me.

See how intently he's looking at my hair clip?
He wanted to play fetch.
With the hair clip.
So I put it back in my hair, slobber and all.
And found a stick and played fetch with him till he pooped out.
He would bring the stick back with less and less of it left.
It was such a relaxing, unwinding moment. 
I loved every minute of it.
He probably did too.

Some beds are softer than others. 
Some rooms are warmer than others.
Some water pressure is higher than others. 

Nothing special here but farmhouses are rustic. 
I'm ok with that. 

Because one thing that I like about these places is their personal touches.
I love picking out goofy coffee mugs in the  morning. 

When we are really lucky, we get freshly laid eggs.
And almost always a washing machine. 
I came back to Scotland with Arka and we had hotels.
None of which had laundry service or laundry machines. 

As we entered Northern Ireland.
It was on to Game of Thrones territory. 
Otherwise known as GOT.
And the doors. 
If you don't know about them, take a look here. 
I saw 5 of the 10. 
Stamped my GOT passport. 
I'll have to go back and see the rest.
They were actually pretty impressive.

Another great castle. 

This fireplace is one of the most beautiful stone fireplaces in Ireland. 

King Bob had Tiger drama. 
Bad ignition coil.
So he went to Dublin.
I went out to the Glenveaugh mountains.
I had to stop talking to Bob in my helmet because...he wasn't there.
We have comms to communicate. 
Makes things easier and safer.

It felt weird but ok since I had my hoist with me.
Worst case scenario.
But all went well, I even found lamb dinner.

See the sign?
Good food all day.
It was.

Let's see. Do I want 3 or 5 chops?
5 of course.

My crappy, step child, under the stairs 'room' between the kitchen and hallway.
With no heat and springs sticking up through the top of the mattress. 
Oh well. 

Circle K. 
Some of you know them. 
These are all over Ireland.
And they are FABULOUS.
The bathrooms are always clean.
And the stores are just like mini Whole Foods.

Fresh fruits and veggies.
Gourmet coffee.

Bakery, butcher and fishery on site.

I mean...WOW!

Some spectacular final riding through Scotland.
Innishowen Peninsula. 
Northern most point in Ireland. 
Malin Head.
Millennium Falcon was here and Star Wars filmed around this area.

Oh ho, broken gingerbread man. 
So sad.
Bob ate him.

Here is the rusted 'Wild Atlantic Way' sign.

See, see!

Oh next door. 
The white walkers.

It was in this pub.
Ate at a lot of these places. 
The food was always good.
Well, I always got fish and mushy peas or lamb.

Another door. 
Near the Dark Hedges. 

Also known as the Kings Road in GOT.

This is one of the trees that went down in that storm left as an example,
they took away the others to make the doors.

It was quite dramatic.

The dragons door.

Inside the Fullerton Arms.
Learned sidewalk parking in South America.

Bravos door.

The nicest pub ever.

With delicious lamb. 

Bob got more stew than I did in his plate.
I was so chapped about that.
The next day when the server did the same thing.
Giving the larger plate of food to the guy.
He promptly switched plates with me.
Thanks Bob.

Now this place was quite special.
Last night in Ireland before the ferry to Scotland.
An old restored stone house. 

It was so cool. 
Well actually it was super warm. 
There was a wood stove that she lit for us.
She even showed us photos of it when they first got it.
Removed the metal then thatch roof.

You can see how thick the stone walls are. 

Everything in this house was recycled.
Her husband is a house/farm recycler. 
Even the porcelain door handles were gorgeous. 

Doesn't look special from the outside does it?

We even got to park the bikes in the barn where they stayed dry.
Its a simple pleasure to come out to dry bikes.
Riding in the rain isn't so bad but starting with a wet everything, well that's annoying.

The last door we would see was at a castle I wanted to visit and turns out we had the best big Irish breakfast ever there. And they had a haunted room.

Where people could visit, but not sleep, and write notes on their experience. 
Zoom in to get a good laugh.
Some were downright hysterical.

The direwolf door.

And the fabulous big breakfast.

Original doorway to the castle.

So we boarded the ferry, in the rain, always raining and off to Scotland. 

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