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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TravisGill, Oct 28, 2018.
Thanks so much! More to come for sure... 17 days more!!
Day 6 - Wed, 29 Aug:
Today’s route: 270 km with a bit of sightseeing around Liverpool and then to the port in Hollyhead where we boarded a ferry to Dublin, Ireland.
We decided to make the best of this minor delay and try to see some interesting things in the Liverpool area, so we both hopped on my mule and rode two-up.
No wonder Chantil wanted her own motorcycle almost immediately after I bought one! Just look at the view taken up by my fat head!!
The morning was cloudy but dry…
… until we reached this section named “Scotland Road”. Is this a sign of things to come once we reach Scotland in a week?
We arrived early enough at Crosby Beach in Liverpool that it was just Chantil, me, and...
...100 cast iron figures facing towards the sea. Each one labeled with their own number.
The 100 human figures are a modern sculpture called Another Place by Sir Anthony Gormley. The figures are modeled after the artist’s own body.
Another Place was first exhibited on the beach of Cuxhaven, Germany, in 1997 followed by Stavanger in Norway and De Panne in Belgium.
As you walk further out to sea the figures take on a very different look...
...because the sea starts to create its own version of the statues.
Even the statues furthest from the ocean are sculpted by the harsh wind and blowing sea spray.
Chilling out with Sir Antony Gormley.
As far as art goes, this is one of the more interesting pieces because it covers such a large area and allows the viewer to draw their own conclusion on the meaning. What does Another Place mean to you?
One of my favorite vehicles is the Land Rover Defender. The UK has its share of them. I would love to find a decent one to bring back to the USA.
An advantage of a motorcycle here is that many tolls are free. Thumbs up!
We then rode over to the area that inspired the Beatle’s song Strawberry Fields Forever.
There used to be a Salvation Army here that housed a children orphanage.
John Lennon grew up near here and one of his childhood treats was the garden party that took place each summer - on the grounds of Strawberry Field.
We returned to Chester BMW Motorrad to pick up Chantil’s mule. They confirmed the high coolant temperature switch was bad but didn’t have the part until next week. We asked them how much we owed, and they gladly said “Nothing, we didn’t fix anything. Enjoy the rest of your trip!” Admittedly, I felt they should have received at least some payment for the labor of troubleshoot the sensor, but they refused. I hope that I can repay their kindness by putting the good word out to the world – Go to Chester BMW Mottorrad, their service department is excellent and their customer service is awesome! Repeat… Go to Chester BMW Mottorrad, their service department is excellent and their customer service is awesome!!
It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day!
Next stop Denbigh Castle…
Day 6 Continues...
Denbigh Castle sits on a hill overlooking the small market town of Denbigh. Small Welsh town = very narrow streets.
Denbigh Castle is part of a fortifications built to control the lordship of Denbigh after the conquest of Wales by King Edward I in 1282.
After being raided and burned through multiple wars all that stands today in the ruins.
Personally, l like exploring ruins more than a finished caste.
The ticket area and small cafe also has some dress-up clothing for children like me. Here I am looking tough in a plastic helmet for kids!
Incorporating a modern cafe into the ruins seemed well designed and provided a chance to raise money in order to preserve the grounds for future generations.
The large central well is about 40 feet deep.
Chantil enjoying the view and the sunny day.
The Welsh flag flies proudly overhead the ruins.
On our way out, we had to take this adorable picture of two sisters having fun.
Overall, a great break from riding and definitely worth the £4.00 access fee.
After the castle, we made a quick pit-stop to this unique place:
The village known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!! Try and pronounce that in Welsh!?! The name means "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the fierce whirlpool of St Tysilio of the red cave" in Welsh!!! Crazy!
After passing through the town’s name I’ll never be able to pronounce in my lifetime, we bagan the process of boarding the ferry to Ireland.
My mules boarding pass to Ireland!
Passing the long line of trucks waiting to board the ferry with goods for Irish merchants.
Our two mules were the only motorcycles on the ferry.
Boarding the ferry to a new country!
All strapped down for the 2 hour, 15 minute journey.
We rode the HSC Jonathan Swift, a fast ferry that was built by Austal Ships in Australia.
The Holyhead Breakwater Lighthouse was our last view of the UK.
There were not that many people aboard; one of the advantages of traveling at the tail end of summer.
On our way to a new country! Ireland!
Time to put away the Queen’s money until we return to Northern Ireland. Ireland had endorsed the Euro since 2002. We will also have to switch our GPS units from mph to kph.
Poolbeg Lighthouse in Dublin Bay was built in 1768 and marked our arrival to Ireland!
We arrived in Dublin and made our way through town. I can’t imagine how people navigated on a motorcycle before the age of GPS. Dublin would have been very difficult with all of its one way and narrow streets.
It was well after dark when we arrived at the campsite, so we quietly set up camp and then drifted off to a well-deserved sleep.
Tomorrow will be our first full day in Ireland! Perhaps, with a little bit of Irish luck we may have a surprise in store…
Cead Mile Failte.
Day 7 - Thu, 30 Aug:
410 km today as we go from Dublin to the west coast of Ireland, stopping along the way at Kilkenny, Blarney Castle, Killarney National Park, and the first portion of the Ring of Kerry.
Great day! We woke up to an email from www.skelligrocks.com; one of the few companies that boats folks to Skellig Island. When we started planning our trip back on May and June, all of the landing boat trips to Skellig were booked. We booked a standby, crossed out fingers, and hoped for some Irish luck. It turns out that there were some cancellations for Friday! Perfect timing for our trip!! Now to get from Dublin to the pier in Portmagee...
Cloudy skies this morning.
Ever wonder what happened to Popeye the Sailor Man? He lives in a camper van in Ireland! Funny saying on the back of the van.
Side story: I had an extremely elated moment this morning. We were riding under grey clouds; the sun and blue skies were just ahead of us promising for a beautiful day. At that moment, one of my favorite songs started to play - U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name. The beginning of this song is incredible, especially if you’ve seen their Rattle and Hum concert. Anyhow, here I was, riding a motorcycle, on a beautiful day, with my best friend and wife, Chantil, in the same country where U2 came from!! It was a bit overwhelming. I hope everyone can experience pure joy like this someday.
Life is good!
About mid-morning, we stopped in Kilkenny. When I hear the name Kilkenny, I immediately think of South Park - “They killed Kenny!” Anyone else?
Interesting how the shade on this wall caused the vines to fade from green to red.
Close-up of the red leaves.
A Scottish Westie in Ireland !
Kilkenny Castle, Ireland was built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways.
Just an idea of the detail that went into something as simple as a balcony.
Most of the rooms were restored and decorated in the fashions of 19th century nobility. This room shows the original wallpaper design only is small sections. It needed to be restored but artists decided to show the difference by just using outline art.
Close-up of the original (middle) vs the outlined art.
This is how the rich or nobility ate meals. Which utensil am I supposed to use?! What one of the four glasses are for water??
The wallpaper and curtains are all custom made to match.
Fine wood and craftsmanship are shown throughout the home.
A tapestry room to display all your fine art.
Even children had high end toys like this doll and custom doll-sized chair.
Just an idea of some of the artwork and level of detail in the wall coverings.
Close-up of the graphic like quality of the wall-papering.
Carvings at the ceiling are even exquisitely done.
More of the stairwells showing the dramatic colors and level of details.
A tapestry showing the overly glorious death of Decius, the Roman Emperor from 249 to 251.
(drawing of castle with trees)
The kitchen area used for the workers was converted into a great coffee shop...
...with delicious baked goods.
The garden area was also impressive and well designed.
A pigeon relaxed in the garden area.
The castle stands central and above the city below.
The rose garden was as beautiful as you could imagine.
A farmers market in Kilkenny had delicious breads…
… and other foods.
Waiting at a cross-walk in Kilkenny.
The flag of Ireland. The orange stands for Irish Protestants, the green signifying Irish Catholics and the republican cause, and the white representing the hope for peace between them.
Back on the bikes. We’ve got to cover at least 400 km today…
Riding through Kilkenny.
Along the route we saw this cool globe in the middle of a round-about. Inside the middle looking out at North America.
Our next stop Blarney Castle…
You can’t go to Ireland without a visit to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. Can you?
Blarney Castle (Irish: Caisleán na Blarnan) is a medieval stronghold in Blarney that dates from 1446.
Beautiful designed grounds full of colorful flowers.
There is much more to the area than the castle and stone. There are gardens, miles of trails, and many modern sculptures that decorate the grounds.
There are three main structures that remain of Blarney Castle; the main castle keep, and two smaller towers.
A good reason for visiting in the off-season. This is easily how long the line can be in the summer. We only had to wait about 15 minutes. Worth the 15-minute wait – not worth an hour wait.
One of the grated windows was decorated in yarn doilies.
Close-up of some of the doilies.
People, unfortunately, carve their names into the walls, but all these carvings also have an artistic quality for some reason.
The castle walls and windows as we head up the tight and narrow stairs to the roof of the castle where the famous Blaney Stone resides. No picture of the stairs because your “nut to butt” in the narrow staircase.
Selfie at the Blarney Stone (shown just between us in the background).
While you’re waiting in line to kiss the stone there are some great views and plaques that have some stories about how Kissing the Blarney became so popular.
The process of kissing the stone is a bit silly. You lie on your back, on a stone parapet, hang onto a metal railing with your head lowered between a slot in the rock wall, bend over backward while reaching out your neck to plant your lips where millions of others have kissed before. A bit silly, but perhaps that’s the fun of it. Is herpes fun?
After the stone, we took some time to enjoy the surrounding gardens and walking trails.
A detail of the sculpture that goes into something as simple as iron fence.
The Blarney House is also on the property, but we did not tour it.
There is a small walk that takes you around some modern sculptures.
A fun little wooden mushroom with its tiny door and...
...wishes from people around the world. We quietly stole all their wishes after taking this picture. I kid, of course I wouldn't still wishes - even if they are two euros.
Butterflies were flapping around in the light breeze and this one even stopped long enough for me to take this close-up.
We found this rabbit running...
... from this fox.
A wonderful summer day with a slight breeze. Perfect!
Before leaving I made a wish before tossing this five-euro cent coin into the wishing stream. Not going to tell you my wish until it comes true.
Ireland has a lot to see. The poster shows all the things you can do...
…like Killarney National Park. Beautiful and FREE! National parks here don’t have a fee to enter like they do in the USA.
We discovered a narrow road that took us through some dense forest land.
Flying the drone to capture some video and this image of Chantil riding through the forest.
Great narrow and twisty roads perfect for motorcycles.
Enjoying the open road with minimal traffic.
We did notice a lot of small same-brand motorcycles traveling though the national park. All of the riders were smiling – just like us!
Left to Live. Your life is to short not to make your dreams memories.
We found a campsite, at Glenbeg Caravan and Camping Park. A great spot right on the beach to finish our first full day in Ireland.
Tomorrow we’ll see if the “luck of Irish” continues with favorable weather…
Fantastic pics, thanks.
Thanks for taking us along!
For sure! You're welcome.
You're welcome. Thanks for the post. It's been good for me as well to relive the experience through pictures I've taken.
Loving it. I grew up not far from Blarney Castle, in the northside of Cork, and used to walk out there many summer afternoons with my friends. One year I made a small fortune by printing out crappy certificates on my VERY crappy dot matrix printer which said the bearer now owned one square foot of Irish soil, and selling them to American tourists claiming they now owned a piece of Ireland before a member of the local constabulary moved us along!
Erm, I should probably not tell you what we and many other locals did to the Blarney Stone back then, though. But make sure you brush your teeth after...
When I hear "Kilkenny" I think of the county's hurling side: the Kilkenny Cats, and of hoisting a Guinness at 8 in the morning in an Irish bar south of San Fran to watch their match live from Eire!
Sadly, I think...They....and you bastards!
The dog was a West Highland White. Just defending it as Scottish terriers are ugly much like many scotts, paste faced and ginger haired as they are, the Scotts not the dogs. No offence intended.
You know your dog breeds; fixed my post.
In for the rest of your trip. Thanks for bringing us along.
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Day 8 - Fri, 31 Aug:
Only 150km of riding because today was mostly about getting to and exploring Skellig Island.
We woke up early so that we would make it to Portmagee with enough time to get some breakfast in town before we boarded the boat to Skellig Island.
Starting my morning off right with a walk along the beach. A bit cloudy but at least no rain!
The drive along the Atlantic Ocean did not disappoint with views like this...
On the way to Portmagee we did a quick stop in Waterville to take a picture with Charlie Chaplin.
Waterville was a favorite vacationing spot for Charlie Chaplain.
Chilling with Charlie!
Once we reached Portmagee, we found that the boat was delayed due to weather on the Island. The captain seemed confident that the trip would still happen; we just had to wait a bit longer. Instead of waiting at the nearby café we decided to explore town and then ride to see the Telegraph Field on Valentia Island and the Kerry Cliffs.
We found Portmagee to be a small but very charming tourist town.
This stray dog seemed to enjoy the attention of tourists like us.
Small fishing boats docked in Portmagee.
Decorated walls with a seaside nautical flare.
Apparently Barbie has a vacation home here. Who else would paint their house this color?
Actually, truth is, I find pink to be a pleasant color. I just wouldn’t paint my house that color…
…or my mule. Here he is, waiting patiently, while we explore Telegraph Field on Valentia Island.
The plaque marks the first successful transatlantic telegraph transmission. The laying of the cable under the ocean was completed on August 5, 1858.
This is the size of the cable used – about 6” diameter. Four ships—two from Britain and two from the United States, successfully installed the cable without it breaking halfway, allowing messages to be sent from Valentia Harbor in Ireland to Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.
Views from Valentia Island. It was clearing up enough that you could make out the Skellig Islands on the Horizon.
The narrow roads on Valentia Island are barely wide enough for two motorcycles.
Views from the nearby Kerry Cliffs was stunning - but really, really, windy. Based on the level of winds I knew the trip out to Skellig would be a bit rough.
Don’t fall off the cliff!
A last view of Kerry Cliffs before we return to the marina…
…for boarding the boat to Skellig Island! We are more than excited!! I just hope the weather is good enough to safely unload us at the island…
Day 8 - Fri, 31 Aug - The Skellig Islands:
Skellig Michael Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So what! What makes it so special compared to the other 131 heritage sites in Western Europe? Star Wars!! That’s what! Skellig Michael was a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
It can be difficult to get a landing onto this island located 11.6 kilometres (7.2 mi) off the isolated coast of Ireland. The island is only assessable during the summer months, spots fill up quickly, and weather often forces boats to cancel landings. Getting here takes a bit of planning and a lot of luck. For us we had both!
During the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was mesmerized by this coastal island where Luke Skywalker was believed to be in hiding. Once I realized it was a place that you could actually reach it became a bucket-list destination. *Picture from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
We were all given foul-weather gear. Based on the high winds, I expected that we would need them in our open-top fishing boat.
About 5 to 7 other boats, similar sized, joined us on the ride out to the island.
Getting to the island took a little longer than an hour. Some of the folks on our boat couldn’t wait to be on solid ground .
It was rather foggy, so we could not see the upper part of the island.
A helicopter pad for emergencies. Somehow I doubt the Millennium Falcon could land there!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Does this rock look familiar?
Perhaps this may jog your memory? *Picture from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The rock stairway leading up to the Monastery area was built by monks during the 8th century.
Chantil standing in the archway that opens to the monastery area at 550 ft above sea level.
An idea of the level of detail that the monks used in the building of the stairways and dome enclosures.
A panorama of the small monastery area where the monks lived and worked.
For some this was a spiritual experience; this gentleman meditated in the same spot that monks would have done the same thing hundreds of years before.
Gravestones mark the passing of fellow monks from their Earthly lives.
The dwellings are built with rocks layered to cause the water runs outside. To say they were dry inside would be an overstatement, but they were dryer.
Visitors actively listen to the guide as she explains what life would have been like for the monks among the challenging terrain. Thankfully, she kept it informative and respected the lives of the monks and didn’t even mention the word “Star Wars” once.
The myriad of grey lichen on the rock face creates natures version of modern art.
Walking back down to “Christ’s Saddle”. This was near the area where Ray handing Luke his lightsaber in the movie.
It’s quite amazing that a group of monks lived in this harsh and desolate environment.
Standing on the main walkway up to “Christ’s Saddle”. Another walkway continued upwards from the saddle area to the monastic site.
Returning to the “Wailing Woman” rock. The fog lifted enough to see Little Skellig in the distance.
Seabirds of various types live on this and nearby islands.
We never did see a Thala-siren, or get to taste their unique green milk. Apparently they migrate to the Faroe Islands during the summer *Picture from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The departing view of Skellig Island was better than when we arrived since most of the fog was cleared.
Little Skellig is not populated by humans so a quick boat ride beneath the rocky cliffs gave us a magnificent view of...
...the millions of birds roosting and flying around the island. It was awe inspiring to see so many birds squawking and flying around.
Each of those tiny white dots is a bird. Millions of them. Learn more about the various types: HERE
The last view of the Skellig Islands as we say “goodbye”.
Heading back to Portmagee.
Captain Dave even let me drive his boat back into port until just before we had to dock.
Thanks to Derek (left) and Capt Dave (middle) for a wonderful day. Thanks to www.skelligsrock.com for the memory and destination of a lifetime!
That is great that your luck held out to go to that island. With the star wars connection, how could that be bad? Oh, and the history as well...
Awesome! Will be following along.