Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
All I've needed is a couple of days in Iceland to be able to say that I wouldn't recommend it as a biking destination. Not unless you like pedaling in the howling wind.
I'm also not so sure about tenting, although it could be better during the summer months.
The day we arrived there was some sun but it was cool. Cold, some might say. Of course by the time we got off the plane and were issued our rental car, the day was pretty much over.
The next day in Reykjavik was cool but surprisingly calm. We walked around the city to see the sights.
By afternoon of our third day, we were on our way north to the Snaefellesnas peninsula. It started off mildly decent but turned into wind-driven rain. We did see an opening in the rain and cloud to the north-west so we changed course to follow it. Rocky cliffs, lava fields covered by moss, heather and coarse grass. Many waterfalls. By the time we arrived in Olafsvik, it was raining and windy again.
The next morning it was mostly horizontal rain and low cloud. So we drove around the end of the peninsula. Every so often there was a break in the rain. Even the wind died down occasionally. So we'd get out and walk a short distance. Take a few pictures. By early afternoon, the rain was still coming down but the wind seemed to
have changed direction. The seagulls were still standing on the fields facing the wind. An afternoon nap seemed appropriate.
After a nap, we tried a walk around the neighborhood. There were times when it was a challenge to stay upright. We still had horizontal mist to deal with.
By Wednesday morning, there were some signs of clearing to the northwest. Naturally we drove in that direction. In an hour, we were at Stykkisholmur, a cute, very neat, little village on the coast, overlooking the Breidafjordur, which could mean the Breida fjord. One can have trouble knowing with Icelandic. The sun was out, it was warm and the gale-force winds had disappeared.
Eventually, we continued our circuit of the peninsula, stopping here and there for views, short walks and such. Through lava fields to the shore, or to climb up an old volcano cone. The wind there was possibly the strongest I've experienced, even counting southern New Zealand.
We've noticed that beer selection and availability in local grocery stores here is pitiful, compared to Ireland and Denmark. Today I finally figured out why. Grocery stores are allowed to sell low alcohol beer. So some of that is available. "Real" beer and other alcoholic products are sold at Vinbudin .. literally, the State. The government liquor store. It's as bad as Canada. I checked one out. Open from 2 pm until 6 pm. If I see one during office hours, perhaps I'll compare prices.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
After a short hop from Ireland, we arrived in Denmark on Tuesday afternoon. Decent weather, some cloud but decidedly cooler.
We navigated the train system from Kastrup to the Central Station where we had a 10-minute walk to our apartment.
After unloading our stuff, we walked to a nearby store to get some supplies. It was an interesting experience. No English, unfamiliar packaging and pricing. Dividing the price by 5 reassured us that food prices weren't much different from home. Google translate helped a few times. We had the misfortune to be shopping at 5 pm and experienced the longest checkout lines we'd ever seen. I think we spent half an hour waiting.
Our apartment is 6 floors up, good light both morning and afternoon, small but comfortable. After 2 weeks in a car, limited mostly to hotel sized rooms, the extra space is nice.
In the morning, it's cool. Barely above freezing, but sunny. Real blue sky. Not something we've seen much of recently.
We walk for about 6 hours, visiting museums, the botanical gardens and picturesque areas of the city. There are canals, impressive grand, old buildings and many, many bicycles. They have special lanes to themselves. Anyone on foot needs to watch for the bikes and the cars. There seem to be more bikers, and they're stealthy.
By mid afternoon, we're tired and hungry. Back at the apartment after the day's walk of perhaps 20 km, we snack, read and sleep. Supper of baked salmon followed by some plans for tomorrow. We're too tired to generate much enthusiasm for an evening walk so we stay in and read.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
We discovered another gem in our last 2 days in Ireland.
Catherine had read about a castle at Trim, about 45 minutes outside Dublin. A short drive (by our standards) from Derry got is to Trim in the mid afternoon. We found a B&B right away, with space available. In fact, it was a separate "cottage" with two beds, a sofa, a table, chairs, a fridge.... It seemed so comfortable that we decided to stay for 2 nights and head to the airport from there on our last morning.
The area around Trim was very pleasant and interesting. There was the main Trim castle as well as other ruins from the 1200s and later. All within easy walking distance. So we walked. Took in a tour of the castle, drove to some historical sites near Trim and rested. It was nice.
Legend has it that my ancient ancestors lived in this area, a place called the Hill of Tara.
Our BNB host was friendly and helpful. He also made good scrambled eggs.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Having wandered back and forth around many of the bays, harbours, points of land and whatnot that make up Ireland's west coast, we're down to the last couple of days. What to do.....
My ancestors apparently came from Ireland in 1769, sailing from Derry, headed for Pennsylvania. Their ship was wrecked on Sable Island which is how they ended up in Nova Scotia. So it seemed worth the drive north a couple of hours just to see where they left from.
I suppose the morning we visited Derry was typically Irish in character. Cool, cloudy, occasional showers. A breeze blowing in from the Atlantic.
We walked across the Foyle River on the Peace Bridge. This was built in 2010. Hopefully it symbolizes an end to "The Troubles".
We walked around the old city walls. Basically, they've been standing, repelling attackers, since the 1600s. No invader was ever successful, hence one of Derry's nicknames, the Maiden City.
Below the old city is Bogside. Also the self-proclaimed "Free Derry". The Sunday Massacre Monument. Many murals relating to revolution, British imperialism and Irish independence.
The present-day docks are further out towards the River's mouth, but at one time, they were just below the old city. Now there is a street and a riverside promenade. In 1769, my ancestors left from there and sailed for a new life in North America.
We walked, took some pictures, considered some of Ireland's troubled past, and headed south. There was nothing marking the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic other than speed limit signs were back in km/hr.