…living in and dreaming of…

Edinburgh

October 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

We arrived during the festival rush in August. Somehow we still managed to get a place in a hostel that was affordable and were soon off to explore the city. One of the highlights is the view looking back from Arthur’s seat.

Just walking through the streets in the city center takes you past the different spots were people perform.

What one doesn’t see in the photo is the organisation “behind the scene”. The performance is timed and volunteers hold up signs with the remaining time.

What is also omnipresent is the castle up on its hill overlooking most of the city.
Sometimes it is so full of people that the city is almost disappearing behind the bustle in the streets. Our hostel was in a quieter zone close to this church.

It was nice to get out of the busy city center for a while and there it was also easier to prepare the last details for our flight to Berlin.

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Glasgow

October 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

In Glasgow we arrived at the Queen’s Street Station and went straight to the lost and found office. Again, no sign of our guitar. We got to our hostel and soon were off again, cycling through half the city to get to our date with Maggie.

We spend the night in a relaxed bar and had a lot of stories to share as we hadn’t seen each other for more than three years.

On our way to the necropolis the next day, we made one final attempt to get our guitar back. The people at the train station already knew us and made long faces. One of the guys asked us again how the guitar looked like with the attitude that someone has if doing something out of obligation and not because of any chance of success. Then he went around the corner and immediately reappeared with a smile on his face and our guitar in his hand. What a relieve and we couldn’t thank them and the person who turned it in enough.

In a mixture of a touch of lightness and a bit of disbelief we continued to have a look at the cathedral.

Thw Necropolis on a rainy day has a special atmosphere that made it worthwhile.

We had a few more lazy days at the hostel and then made our way along the canals to Edinburgh. It was a nice enough route so close to the industrial belt if Scotland and there were some interesting parts like this tunnel we had to cross.

And these gigantic Horse Heads, that entertained us sufficiently for half an hour while we waited for our warmshowers host.

After a lovely breakfast with freshly baked cereal, we were ready to tackle the last bit to Edinburgh.

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Rannoch Moor

October 2nd, 2018 · No Comments

Our journey started with a trainride along the West Highland Line, that i would recommend if you are travelling through this part of Scotland. While we waited at the train station in Arisaig, one of the steam trains frequenting this line passed through.

The train ride was amazing. Still stunned by the beauty, we got off the train and forgot our guitar in the overhead compartment. When we realized our mistake, it was already too late. We heard the train doors shut and the train leaving with me running after it and screaming. As it sank in, there was little we could do and we sat a while in silent shock. We called the train station in Glasgow and were given little information what might happen to a guitar travelling all by itself and where it might turn up.

Sadly we rolled down the lonely road leading from the station and just camped next to the road. The beautiful scenery deserved better onlookers than we were at that moment.

These photos won’t give you any impression on what level our hope was to ever see our guitar again. And also not, that after the rather traumatising tick bites on Skye, that we now shared our home with a whole family of ticks. Including further relatives until the great-uncle’s niece’s cousin.

The next day i boarded a train to Glasgow to investigate at the lost and found office. The conductor was extremely helpful and tried to enquier with her cellphone, but to no avail. I returned in the afternoon, with no result. After some debate we decided to continue our trip and try to investigate further with phone calls in order to track down the guitar.

The route towards Pitlochry was beautiful and while we were already starting to give up on the guitar, we decided to at least make one more attempt in Glasgow. Since our friend Maggie from Canada would also be in town, there would be a reason to celebrate.

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Arisaig Highland Games

September 30th, 2018 · No Comments

We had to book a camping site in advance because of the popularity of these games and got lucky to get a perfect spot at the Silversands Campsite near the beach.

The next day we went to the Highland Games just across the street. Next to their bus, a group of bagpipers were practising and the sound of bagpipes were ever present during the festival.

There are various competitions. With judges observing from their little wooden shacks.

The seriousness was hilarious especially at the pipe competition. Starting with the tuning, this gentleman was taking during the whole process which took about fifteen minutes of marching up and down this wooden plank.

The highlight was surely “Tossing the Cabar”. This trunk has to be lifted, and then thrown as to let it make a half turn before it has to fall from that twelve o’clock position away from the thrower. Most competitors had a hard time even lifting the cabar, let alone running with it while keeping the balance and only one competitor was able to make a successful throw at the end.

These heavyweight events were clearly not for everyone. But there was enough going on, so everyone could join. Track & Field events were suited for the youngest and the oldest amongst the crowd. Running events were completed in sporty outfits as well as costumes. The barrel race was a lot of fun even to watch as almost every team stumbled or had a hilarious crash at least once. The final competition was the high jump. This kid was nothing short of amazing and was demonstrating that the effects of gravity are relative.

It was a full day. The next day we spent chilling at the beach and even when for a swim and watching the sun go down.

The next day we would have a sort cycle the town of Arisaig from where the Western Highland Line would take us up to Rannoch Moor.

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Skye

September 24th, 2018 · No Comments

We arrived late in Uist, where we just had enough time to pitch our tents, have a shower, eat dinner and go to sleep.

The next day we climbed gently along the River Rha to the viewing point towards the Quiraing.

The downhill part was over far too quickly, but gave us also plenty of time to while the afternoon away. The next day the weather turned and we were cycling through dense mist, and clouds of midges when we slowed down. So we passed the Old Man of Storr without stopping as midges and mist didn’t seem to make it worthwhile. The landscape had its own charme in this weather.

Skye is quiet touristy and the traffic crowds on the few roads there are. Sometimes we were lucky and could take other smaller roads, like here along the Moll Road, sparing us the traffic of the A87.

Before leaving Skye we had one more night of wildcamping. We were a little bored and made a contest. We each had to complete tasks and disguise ourselves with what little we had with us in the tent while outside it kept on raining.

And the last night we spend next to the ferry port at Armadale called Rubha Phoil. A magical place with one downside: the ticks. Apart from that, it is a lovely hideaway. Birds come to visit and this bird later was sitting on my knee investigating me or the chance of getting some food out of this redhead fellow.

There are walks through the woods and although the area is not that big, one gets easily fooled by the density of its fauna.

We stayed two days and Andrea got two tick bites, which haunted us a little the following days as we worried about any transmission of a disease. The Highland Games in Arisaig were a welcome distraction.

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Outer Hebrides

July 18th, 2018 · No Comments

After arriving in Castlebay, we cycled south to the beaches of Vatersay, where there is an informal campsite that lets you pitch a tent in a beautiful setting next to the beach.

The beach was stunning and in the morning the sun came out to greet it.

We started cycling north along the west coast of Barra. As we had some time to spare until the ferry to Uist, we had a look at the Barra airport which is located in a bay, where during low tide, small passenger aircrafts land and take off.

In all our trip we haven’t seen as many cyclists as here on the Outer Hebrides. I guess the remoteness of the place is rather an attraction to most people and we could see some familiar faces in the campgrounds along the way.

Sheep are grasing directly next to the road and are more startled by the occasional cyclists than by the cars and motorhomes passing them.

Some of the islands are connected by causeways and one can experience the open spaces between the islands directly from the saddle.

We celebrated Andrea’s birthday in a small hostel with a bottle of Argentinian Malbec. As it was a quiet evening, we found some pleasure in getting creative with the photos in the newspaper.

The weather was enhancing the experience and sometimes the dramatic dark clouds were broken by the sunlight illuminating the ocean below.

Our last campsite was on the isle of Harris and we had a fantastic view from our tent.

We stayed an extra day which proofed a little difficult. We had eaten our emergency food the night before as the only store in town had already closed when we arrived. We scraped together a last meal with rice, cous cous and soy sauce and made the last kilometers the following day to Tarbert on an empty stomach. Because of time and energy constraints, we changed our plans and made our way directly to Skye instead of cycling north to the isle of Lewis.

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Kyntire

July 18th, 2018 · No Comments

The ride along the eastern coastline north of Campbeltown is amazing, though hilly at times. We pitched our tent just next to the Arran ferry at the beach near Claonaig. I hadn’t heard about the isle before but it looked inviting.

The water was also inviting and we didn’t mind the cold temperature too much.

We made our way to Tarbert, which has a bit of an odd history.

There was a festival in town and we had a bit of a chat with this guy until he was asked by a little girl why he was so tall, as if there was something suspiciously wrong.

On a long cycling trip, one has to make sure to stretch. A pretty backdrop to do so is easy to find in these parts.

We still came past the odd castle in forgotton places like here Carnasserie Castle.

We wildcamped for three nights in a row but we stayed in places that let us wash up at the end of the day in the ocean or in a nearby river.

We still felt quiet fresh when we rolled into Oban from where we took the ferry to the Outer Hebrides.

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Northern Ireland

July 18th, 2018 · No Comments

We spent our first night in Northern Ireland just next to the border. When we crossed it, we hardly noticed it. If it weren’t for the big protest signs from the border communities against the Brexit and consequently an EU border deepening the separation of the two Irish countries once more.

The next day we stayed in Portstewart with David from couchsurfing. An incredible kind host and interesting character. It took a while to get our bags inside and to get settled in as we were soon deep in conversation.

The next day David started to cycle with us and was our local guide.

The sun was out and the coastline shone in bright colours with the different blues of the sea and the white of the sand and the limestone.

About halfway we met Dave again whom we first met at the Leitrim cycling festival a week earlier. Together we cycled to Bushmills and a coffee break before he set off again to take the ferry to Scotland the same day.

We had more time and also stopped at the biggest attraction along the coast, the giant’s causeway.

There was some climbing to be one and usually gave one a fantastic view of the coastline.

Whitepark bay was as far as David went with us where we stopped for a small break and ate the leftovers from last night’s dinner.

Our goal for the day was Ballycastle, where we would stay with Paul, another cyclist who was so kind to let us stay in a spare room of his house. Once again a kind host and interesting character. We had a long and enriching evening together and talked until midnight when we finally went to bed.

The ferry to Campbeltown in Scotland wasn’t leaving before the afternoon. So Paul was showing us his favourite spot just outside town. We took the guitar with us and he his camera and a small audio recorder. We passed the afternoon playing some songs and making a photo and recording session out of it.

The ferry ride began entertaining enough. The small boat bouncing on the waves and seemingly an almost exclusive service for cyclists, four out of five passengers had their bikes on bord. After an hour our stomachs felt duly entertained and we were glad when we finally arrived at the harbour and had some time on the bicycles to find our balance again on the first kilometers in Scotland.

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Leitrim cycling festival

June 26th, 2018 · No Comments

Just a small note in one of the cycling groups was enough to make the decision to adjust our plans to make it to the small village of Manorhamilton.

In the evening we went to a presentation of two travellers before retiring to our tents early.

The next day we all made our way to the castle cafe where various events were going on.

The knotted chords played and sang on and off during the the afternoon.

Tattoos were given out to the hardest amongst the group.

Part of the people gathered then went off for a small round in the hills.

One inventor brought his Scary Go-Round. It was hard work getting this thing up to speed, but it was worth the fun.

In the late afternoon we started our tour to Drumahaire past Doon Lough.

There we sat up camp again before heading to the Crossroads. An Irish tradition around the solstice. A gathering on a crossroad with music and dancing. Every brings some food and drink and a fire is lit and the dancing and singing goes on until late.

There was a Breakfast cook up the next morning. Typically Irish and heavy.

Luckily there was a pause until we hit the local demo strech of the Greenway. We used the time in between to get our bicycles and ourselves decorated for the occasion.

There were judges along that stretch, electing the most beautiful customers, a guy sitting way up a tree playing his trombone and lots of food when we arrived at a cottage at the end of the Greenway. The “Old Market Street Swing Band” was playing and mking this a most wonderful afternoon.

For two songs, Andrea was invited to sing which you can see and listen to if you follow this link:

Old Market Swing Band & Andrea Passerini

The two people without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible are Laura and Ciarán from crank & cog.

After saying goodbye, we cycled from the festival to Sligo with our attire still donned.

Our time in Ireland is drawing to an end, but with such memories, one feels having really got to know a bit the country and its people.

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Ireland – part two

June 26th, 2018 · No Comments

We didn’t always make it to a campsite. So we wildcamped in parts and one time just asked a local man if he knew a piece of land where we could pitch our tent for one night. Michael immediately invited us to make use of his garden and made sure we were lacking nothing.

After arriving in Doolin we toom a bus to the Cliffs of Moher before walking back. The visitor center is quiet a busy place and you might get asked to pay a fee to enter the site if coming from the coach parking. After a bit of walking the crowd thins out quickly and afterwards one is looking back and has enough space to be in awe.

The cliffs are around 150 meters at the highest. Sometimes I didn’t feel so comfortable near the cliff’s edge and also had a hard time watching Andrea finding out how far she could advance.

We cycled through a zone called “The Burren” where we stopped at the Poulnabrone Dolmen.

Stopping in Corofin for the night, we made our way to Bofey Quinn’s pub to have a pint,

and to listen to some music.

Getting into Galway was really nice. The quality of the buskers was a mixed bag. One group stood out and had also a dancer.

After Galway we cycled through Connamara which we enjoyed immensely. The photos hardly do it justice.

We are probably the luckiest tourists travelling through Ireland this millennium. In five weeks we had three days of rain and the apart from this can only praise the Irish weather.

We headed to Sligo after Connamara to attend the Leitrim cycling festival in Manorhamilton.

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