Posts for November, 2015


Dingle (Dingle, Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 1st Nov, 2015 (day 650, miles 18684)

Another couple of those stone forts were on the agenda early in todays travels and then we finished off the Ring of Kerry in bright sunshine, backtracked a little to Killarney and Muckross house so as to see the area in good weather and then started towards the town of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula.

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Sun, surf (sort of) and stone buildings (Dingle, Ireland)

Journal entry for Monday 2nd Nov, 2015 (day 651, miles 18684)

As you can see from the photos we had a great day weather wise and we put it to good use, spending the day exploring the Dingle Peninsula. The place was pretty quiet today now that everyone has gone back to work and school after the weekend. The highlights of the day would have to be the beach, (made famous in the movie Ryan's Daughter) some more "stone forts" and a structure called an oratory(more later).

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The Cliffs of Moher (Galway, Ireland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 3rd Nov, 2015 (day 652, miles 18684)

One of our longer driving days, all the way to Galway but along the way we had a special sight to see, the famous Cliffs of Moher, Irelands most visited tourist attraction. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for our visit. Earlier in the day we had some glorious sunshine (as you can see from some of the early photos) but by the time we got to the "cliffs", cloud, drizzle and haze. Never the less they were impressive and we could imagine how spectacular they would be in the sunshine.

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Galway in the rain (Galway, Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 4th Nov, 2015 (day 653, miles 18684)

Not much to say about today. We spent it hold up in our hotel away from the rain, or out walking around the city when it was not raining. The center of the city is colorful and very active with buskers of all kinds out in force. A very busy and up market shopping strip along the (mainly) pedestrian main drag.

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Our 50th (Aran Island, Ireland)

Journal entry for Thursday 5th Nov, 2015 (day 654, miles 18684)

Today is a big day for us, it is 50 years today since we first met. Now if I was being really pedantic about it we are actually a day late since when we met we were (obviously) in Australia and it is now the 6th of November in Australia - but that seems a bit too precise. But anyway 50 years seems like a significant milestone and we had planned to spend it on Aran Islands , so early this morning we were in the car headed towards Rossaveel (in heavy rain) where we were scheduled to catch a ferry to the town of Kilronan on Inishmore the largest of the three Aran Islands.

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Another early start and more rain (Westport, Ireland)

Journal entry for Friday 6th Nov, 2015 (day 655, miles 18684)

As per the title, we were up early (for us), saying goodbye to Alice and then off to the ferry for the return to the mainland, no dramas there, although we were surprised by how many people appeared apparently from nowhere to catch the ferry. Back at the ferry dock in Rossaveel a man miraculously appeared to collect the 5 euros we owed for our days parking and then we were on the road heading towards Westport.

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Lycra everywhere (Westport, Ireland)

Journal entry for Saturday 7th Nov, 2015 (day 656, miles 18684)

Westport turned out to be a lot busier than we had expected. It seems we managed to be here at the same time as the annual Adventure Race, a foot and bicycle race over the top of the near mountain called Croagh Patrick. As a result our guest house was full of lycra clad, excited, racers. The other observation I would make about Westport is that the traffic and parking situation in the town borders on chaos. We have commented many times during our Irish journey that we would find it hard to cope with the (in our mind) narrow and inefficient small villages (tight streets, no where to park except in the middle of the road). Well Westport seemed to us the poster child for this "problem".

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Whats in a name ((London)Derry, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 8th Nov, 2015 (day 657, miles 18684)

This leg of the trip gave us our first taste of the Irish troubles, the struggle between catholics/Republicans/Nationalists on the one hand and protestants/Loyalists/UK on the other for control of the Northern part of the island . Our route from Westport took us out of the Republic of Ireland and into Northern Ireland. The "oneness" of these two "countries" is demonstrated by the fact that there are no border formalities of any kind, and indeed the only way of telling that we had moved from one to the other was by carefully observing the name (on the road signs) of our destination city. In the Republic it is called Derry, whereas in the north it is officially called Londonderry (and you had better not get it mixed up). We would discover that this is a somewhat superficial manifestation of what to us, as outsiders, seems like a real divide.

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A history lesson ((London)Derry, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Monday 9th Nov, 2015 (day 658, miles 18684)

We took a guided walking tour of the city this morning in order to try and get our head around the history of this town, and a lot of history there is too. Initially catholic, protestant settlers arrived in Derry in the late 1500s on a missionary quest and were responsible for building the walls of the city. The city was besieged for 105 days in 1688 by the forces of James II who was looking to establish a base in Ireland to retake his English thrown. However the siege was broken by the protestants. There after Cromwell scourged Ireland in punishment for the Catholic support of James II. These events seem to have pretty much cemented English (perhaps uneasy) rule over Ireland for the coming centuries. In the 20th century Derry was one of the focus points of the catholic struggles against English rule and we heard about the events of Bloody Sunday and visited the famous murals on buildings in the area known as the Bogside. Interestingly the name "Bogside" comes simply from the fact that originally the city was almost an island with water on 3 sides and a marsh or bog on the 4th. That 4th side was eventually reclaimed and is now - you guessed it - the area called the Bogside.

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Haute cuisine (Portrush, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Tuesday 10th Nov, 2015 (day 659, miles 18684)

A short drive today to the town of Portrush, a small windswept town on the north coast of Ireland. We would discover over the next couple of days that the place is a very busy summer resort town and is close to the famous Giants Causeway.But thats for tomorrow.

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Giant's causeway (Portrush, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 11th Nov, 2015 (day 660, miles 18684)

In spite of the poor weather we were out today to tour the most famous of local attractions. The Giants Causeway. The site is managed by the National Trust, has a very elaborate new building for a visitors center with everything from tickets to buses precisely choreographed in true British style. The rain precluded any good photos (but that did not stop Nina trying) but we had an interesting tour of the site and, like others, marveled at the basalt columns that make up the causeway itself and adorn the local cliffs. We got well and truly wet during our walk.

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Belfast, and a belated catchup on this blog (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Journal entry for Sunday 15th Nov, 2015 (day 875, miles 18684)

After our wet visit to the Giant's Causeway and Portrush we went on to Belfast for a three day stay. The weather did not improve with both the drive to, and the stay in, Belfast being marked by wet and cold. The highlights of Belfast would have to be the two Museums (or is it one) we saw on our first (arrival) day, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. These are situated across the road from each other on the eastern side of the city.

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Trim, our Ireland tour comes to an end (Trim, Ireland)

Journal entry for Wednesday 18th Nov, 2015 (day 878, miles 18684)

The morning we departed Belfast was our 30th day in Ireland and so we had to return our rental car and get another one. Why you ask?. Well it seems that 30 days is the maximum period for which a car can be rented in Ireland after that one must lease it. So this morning we drove back to Dublin airport, dropped off our car, walked from Hertz to Budget and got another one. thereafter we drove to the town of Trim a little north west of Dublin where we had organized to spend our final couple of days in Ireland.

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After Ireland (Berlin, Germany)

Journal entry for Friday 27th Nov, 2015 (day 676, miles 18684)

We are back in Berlin for a month long visit with our son, and while this will be a great family experience it is not going to generate any material for this journal. So there will be no more updates until after Berlin.

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A Foggy welcome to Casablanca (Casablanca, Morocco)

Journal entry for Wednesday 23rd Dec, 2015 (day 913, miles 18684)

So we are back on the "road" for a little while. Following our month in Berlin with family we are taking a short trip to Morocco, without the truck and as part of a tour. Why you might ask, and the answer is both simple and complicated. Without the truck because it is simpler and does not require driving down to southern Spain first, as part of a tour because that is also simpler as someone else does all the organizing. And finally it fills the short time we have before returning to the US and, we hope, will give us a taste of the country.

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Christmas dinner at Ricks Cafe (Casablanca, Morocco)

Journal entry for Friday 25th Dec, 2015 (day 915, miles 18684)

We spent yesterday and today exploring, the sun was out and the temperature moderate so walking around was very pleasant. Yesterday (Thursday) was a normal business day so it eventually became pretty busy, we found a supermarket near our hotel and stocked up on some food. Because today Friday is both Moslem prayer day and Christmas day the place is a lot quieter with many things (though not all) closed.

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A little Moroccan History (Fes, Morocco)

Journal entry for Monday 28th Dec, 2015 (day 918, miles 18684)

Last night we met the remainder of our "group", all 36 of them if you count the guide, and did the usual "introduce yourself" to the group - a bit tedious but probably necessay. Today we got underway towards the city of Fes by way of Rabat,. Rabat is the modern capital of Morocco and as its role would suggest it is a large and busy place.

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1000 year old Tannery (Fes, Morocco)

Journal entry for Tuesday 29th Dec, 2015 (day 919, miles 18684)

We spent the morning exploring (with some local guides) the old Medina of Fes. Medina means city but with the implication that it is the Arab part of the old city. In the case of Fes this is an old (14th century) walled city, designed in the days before motorized transport and therefore only suitable for people and donkeys with the streets only 6 feet wide and often covered by buildings. We did the obligatory stop at a carpet shop and thankfully Nina and I were able to resist before moving finally to the highlight of the morning, a visit to a leather shop that overlooks the famous tannery of Fes. The tannery is a small courtyard, surrounded by 3 and 4 story buildings. The courtyard is entirely composed of stone pots about the size of a small hot tub. In these tubs the hides of sheep, goats, cows and camels go from smelly fur covered skins to raw leather. The tannery has been in operation here for 1000 years and the process does not seem to have changed much. The ingredients for the process are limestone, pigeon poop (ammonia), water and men.

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Sahara (Afroud, Morocco)

Journal entry for Wednesday 30th Dec, 2015 (day 920, miles 18684)

We had a very uncivilized start to our day, awake at 4:15am and on the bus traveling by 5:45am. The goal of the day was to cross the Atlas mountains and make it all the way to the city of Efroud on the western side of Morocco so that we could spend the late afternoon on the sands of the Sahara and, if lucky, watch a Sahara sunset.

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Berber singing for New Year (Ouarzazate, Morocco)

Journal entry for Thursday 31st Dec, 2015 (day 921, miles 18684)

Another picturesque day driving through the desert, incredibly dry countryside interspersed with real honest to goodness oases, right down to the date palm trees. As the day came to a close we arrived in the city of Ouarzazate which believe it or not is the center of the Moroccan film industry. It has a number of film studios and many international films have been (partially) made here including the original Star Wars.

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