Tour of Scotland – part 7

Final Day, Got a good fry up in the place iwas staying in, said my goodbyes, and then rode onto the boat for Larne.  It felt really good doing the journey, I couldve done it in a car, in my sleep, but doing it on a motorbike was a challenge, and very rewarding too.  I mightve said it before, but I think its a pity tha there isnt some passenger ferry service from Larne to Troon, as there is a good dual carriageway up to Larne now, and great transport links when you sail into Troon.

Overall, Glasgow and Edinburgh are interesting places to see, even though Edinburgh would probably be a visually nicer place, the road up to the highlands is amazing, some of the best scenery around, same goes for Cairngorm.

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Tour of Scotland – part 6

On Saturday morning, I felt as  rough as a hedgehogs arse, got a few bananas in me, the hostel offered free tea (well, at least I think it was free), the tea tasted like someone has sweeped up the dirt up off the floor, and put said dirt in a teabag.  Anyway, after a while I felt better, and got loaded up and back on the road.

I tavelled from Edinburgh, passed in and around Glasgow, and then stopped off in Kilmarnock, but not before seeing a sign for………Moscow!  I thought “This is intriguing, must check this out later”, and headed into Kilmarnock for a fish supper.  It fairly lined my stomach, fish, chips, bread, nice pot of tea too!  I wouldnt day i seen much of the town, only thing that it would signify is that one of my great great grandparents came from there.

After that, I just had to check out this Scottish Moscow, followed the signs for it, was kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and found it.  To be honest, the place is tiny, it seems like a hamlet, there seemed to be a garage in it, but it was a garage where you got your car fixed, rather than a filling station.  Its strange some of the things you come across when travelling.

After that, I headed off to my final destination, Troon.  When I got there, I got settled into my digs, and went out for another fish supper, tasted great, but just had a quiet night, felt a bit cream crackered, The people I were staying with were a retired couple, and seemed very helpful and pleasant,  they said they were originally from Glasgow.

Troon itself seemed nice enough, but its more of a place to just pass through, than to stay any length of time.

Tour of Scotland – part 5

Day 5 started off in Dundee,  nothing wrong with the place,  just wouldn’t be in a rush to go back there. The road down to Edinburgh was pretty good,  some nice views to had on the way down, I intended on going to Knockhill, but ended up riding through a wee place called Kelty, and got some fuel at a wee garage called North Road Garage.   I also got to ride over Forth Road Bridge.

I landed in Edinburgh in the afternoon,  went to my accommodation,  which turned out to be seasonal steel containers,  with bunk beds inside them.   Price wise, it was dirt cheap, and it was handy to a nearby Asda and some shopping centre there.

Adfter i got settle it, I got suited and booted up, and headed into town, got a few beers, and went to some comedy show (by accident),  a couple of guys talking about wrestling, with some screen behind them to show funny videos, it was surprisingly enjoyable, then got an earlyish night, to get set for the next days journey.

Tour of Scotland – Part 4

The 4th started not so good, initially I thought the bike wouldn’t start up, got it going, still running like a camel, I passed through Aberdeen, it seemed nice enough, probably didn’t stay long enough to appreciate it.

I stopped off in Stonehaven too, nice place too, but probably only a place you would call in if you’re in the area. I blatttered on down the main dual carriageway, and couldn’t help but notice that the average speed cameras were a bit of a pain, traffic slowing down, speeding up, kind of ruined the flow of the journey.

I then stopped off in Kirriemuir,  Bon Scotts (ex AC/DC) birthplace, it seemed pretty quiet, and from what I’ve found out since then, there is an actual Bon Scott festival there each year. Above all,  I can now say I’ve been where a legendary singer was born!

I finally landed in Dundee, and figured out what was wrong with the bike. The people that had been working on my bike hadn’t fitted the choke cable correctly,  I got it sorted and it was right as rain.

Dundee itself, it seemed okay, I didn’t really do anything there, the place itself looked a bit grey.   The people I was staying with were friendly enough,  and were pretty helpful too.

Tour of Scotland – Part 3

When I got up in the morning, I got tucked into the buffet at the hostel, and headed on my way to the Highlands (well, part of them, before I stopped in a wee place called Aberchirder.

The ride up was really nice, and the scenery was breathtaking, absolutely beautiful.  Loch Lomond was so pretty, If you’re ever in Scotland, its a must see, some of the nicest scenery around.

The ride up in the direction of Fort William was great too, nice weather, not much slow traffic, great scenery too.  Fort William itself was pretty nice, and I got to see Ben Nevis (or one or some of the peaks surrounding it) too.

My motorbike wasnt just going right, it felt a bit glitchy at times, but it still moved.  After leaving Fort William, I road through Cairngorm national park,  another place where the scenery is out of this world!

I eventually got up to Aberchirder, way up in the north east of Scotland, and it seemed a bit quaint, very quiet.  The place I was staying in was pretty good, The hotel staff seemed really helpful (one of the staff loved his bikes too!), and in a way I thought this little village/hamlet kind of reminded me of Emmerdale.

 

Tour of Scotland – Part 2

Day 2 and I started off with a fry up, and rode up to Glasgow.  The journey was pretty straightforward, the roads leading into it are pretty vast.

The day was good, and my first port of call was Partick.  This is where my great grandmother, my great grandfathers second wife was from, even though I have a hunch that she was born in Govan.

Anyway, I got to Partick, and I thought it was pretty nice, abd I seen th church/chapel that my great grandparents gof married in.

After that, I went to an address, that my great grandmother had lived at.  When I got there I knew straightaway that the area was virtually all new.

Green grass, fancy apartments, fuel station, all looked modern, but I felt that it was pretty soulless, and devoid of any character.  I suppose that’s the way things develop over time.

I spent the rest of my time riding around Glasgow, and like all big cities, part’s looked nice, and other parts looked drab.  I passed through the area that Malcolm and Angus Young had initially grew up in before they emigrated to Australia.

I then got my bike parked up, and walked to my hostel.  The city centre was really warm, and in part’s of it it felt slightly dark and claustrophobic.

The hostel itself was okay, I shared the dorm room with four others, two Americans, and two dutch guy’s.

We all got talking about why we were travelling, and I’m glad the two Dutch guys changed my mind in terms of the following days route, which I will talk about in the next post.

I got a few beers in the hostel, then got an early night.  Glasgow as a place to visit, I would definitely recommend, as it is well connected, as far as transport and road network is concerned, and although its drab in places, there is plenty to see, but you would need your “city smarts” like any of the bigger cities.

My tour of the USA – Boston

Foreword

Back towards the end of May 2015, I went on a holiday to the USA, passing through 9 nine different states in doing so. You don’t realise how big America is, until you get there, its like every state is a country itself, they are so, so vast.

Part 1 – Boston

I flew over to Boston, Massachusetts, from Dublin, Ireland on the Tuesday. I had done the online visa thing several months before, it was pretty straightforward, couldn’t really say much more. Getting to the airport, It was initially the same as any other flight, pretty much used to it now, then, this is where things started to get interesting.

Luckily enough, Visa clearance can be done in Dublin airport, but it was, without a doubt, a complete pain in the hole. After the initial security check after I checked my bag in, you had to go through another 3 stages, the same kind of security check, then you had to go through another stage where you got your mugshot taken, as well as fingerprinted, after that bit, you had to wait to get seen by some security guy/woman, who asked you the similar mundane questions about where you were going, then, voilà, they showed you an image of your bag getting checked in, asking if it was yours.

Yes I know, all this is to make things a lot more secure, but I just think its over the top at times.

Getting back to the trip, The flight went smoothly (thank god), got into Boston airport, and got a taxi to my hostel. The taxi guy seemed pretty cool, as for the hostel, it seemed that everyone staying there were a lot younger. After I got checked in, I went for a walk about, strolled through china town, got a ¼ pounder, looked and tasted like a proper burger!

I walked to the park nearby, but felt a little uneasy, as it was getting darker, so I went back to my hostel, and got an early night. The following day, I went for a proper walk about, and ended up getting some head case shouting at me, while I was trying to take pictures of a street, thinking I was taking a picture of him. Wanker.

The park seemed really nice during daytime, and I walked the freedom trail, and checked out the museums there too. On the way back, I I stopped off at Quincy market, and got some melt thing, with chips, it was nice, and then I sat down in some grassy area in the, what I think was, the financial district of Boston. It seemed nice, but at the same time artificial too, this greenery in the middle of a concrete jungle.

Later on, I went for a few beers in the bar that inspired the TV programme Cheers. Can’t say much about it, other than Sam Adams definitely isn’t to my taste. I stopped off in another bar on my way back, and got some steak and chips, not much chat out of people, I suppose it takes two to tango. Nearly every Boston person I met said “Hey buddy!”, a bit quirky, but every place probably has their own catchphrase, I guess.

As for talking to people in the hostel, I got talking to some Dutch girl who was doing something similar to me, travel wise, except in the opposite direction. I also got talking to some young chinese guy too, who for some strange reason, wanted to take a picture of me to send to his girlfriend (a bit weird sounding, I thought), a sign of flattery maybe, but I don’t think I’m that good looking.

Anyways, I liked Boston, I probably didn’t stay in for long enough to appreciate it, and because of that, I just didn’t love it.

Road Trip Of Ireland 4

Day 4

On the final day, in the morning, I went back to one of the bars I had been into the previous night, and got a big fry up, nice onwe too, rpactically all I could eat, the woman serving me thought I was from Tyrone or Donegal, evne though I’m a Down man!

I then rode off, onlty to realise I needed fuel, stopped off at the nearest garage, got seved by someone that looked and sounded like they were from Eastern Europe. Not that theres anything wrong with that, just an observation, how things change over time.

I then rode up the M6 towards Athlone, the road was good, but I found it a bit mind numbing, and as soon as I seen signs for Athlone, I thought “screw it, I taking a diversion”, as the buffeting on the motorway from carrying the rucksack on my back was getting too much.

Athlone, in County Westmeath was a nice place, much to commend it, as it had a lot of nice architecture, a lot of history too, pity it wasn’t warmer then, but, what do you expect in January? I do remember a LOT of people queueing up, presumably for Garth Brooks tickets, the Garth Brooks shows that never were,

After that, I went up in the direction of Cavan, and landed in Cavan town, where I got a bite to eat. My uncle/godfather is from there, os it was nice to see the county that he was from, first time I’ve been in it in years. I then got lost, thinking I had seen as sign for Armagh (city), when in actual fact I had seen a sign for Arvagh. Easy mistake to make I suppose, stopped after a while, got my map out and found my bearings, and tried to head in the direction of Monaghan town.

On the way to there, quite a lot of the journey was spent going over from one side of the border to the other, and vice versa, as the route alternated between “speed limit in kmh” to “speed limit in mph”. I got to Monaghan okay, then headed for Armagh, got therwe without any difficulty, filled up the tank again, and rode through Tandragee and then home.

I worked it out afterwards, but I think I covered nearly 1000 miles on my bike. If I had done this in a car, it would’ve been a breeze, but on a bike, it was a challenge – something that can be done easily enough, but it challeneges you in many ways, physically (wind blast, ruck sack, the actual riding) and mental (riding again, being aware of everything around you, planning your route).

I’m really glad I done it, and hopefully, I will get a chance to do individual tours of each ancient province in Ireland.