travel


Oh man, I can’t believe I’m just getting around to this now. I left you, I believe, at the Pantheon. Well, after that came…. ITALIAN DINNER! Yes, and after that came the next day, with a bit of an interval between the two that I will call “Romebulating”. Why? Because I can.

It was in the middle of this lovely open square with a fountain. The pasta was AMAZING!
It was in the middle of this lovely open square with a fountain. The pasta was AMAZING!
On the walk home (hostel), getting rather far from the city centre.

On the walk home (hostel), getting rather far from the city centre.

 The next day we set out for the Vatican. The next day also happened to be Easter Sunday (just our luck; we didn’t plan this) so there were no shortage of others setting out for the same place. While our particular timing did make transportation a bit more of a hassle than it otherwise would be, we actually had an easier time finding the place than we otherwie might have: we just followed some nuns. We figured they must be going to the same place.

Thank you, Guide-Nuns!

Thank you, Guide-Nuns!

I’ve never actually met nuns before.  I don’t know what I expected, exactly… I mean, those of you who know me know that I’ve never really had a particularly rosy view of organized religion in general. I could just never quite picture how one could really live (or live well) in such a society. The whole concept is still a bit beyond me.
Now I can’t understand Italian, either, so my insights into what these women were like and what they were talking about were limited, to say the least. But one thing I could see, that was impressed and rather humbled by (should I have been surprised? Perhaps not), was their manner toward others, partularly beggars and street performers. They never gave money. But one in particular (middle, slightly turned toward camera) always, always had a smile to give, at least. This is important. More than most people realize, perhaps. It was her reaction to most types of contact with others, and I don’t mean in a “bare-teeth phoney-smile” kind of way. She just seemed so genuine, like she would like to foster happiness in those around her and do no harm. We parted ways shortly after the subway. I left with a vaguely different view of nuns.

Anyhoo, on to the vatican.

WHOA crowds.

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There is another curved wall on the other side (left) so the whole area is a semi-enclosed circle.

There were two line-ups for the service that were about four hours long and went most of the way around the compound. We did not wait in these. Emily and I were looking specifically for the Cistene Chapel in the Vatican Museum.

There were pillars everywhere.

They made me feel small.

 

…. more later, once again. Wow. Slowest post ever, Zann.

Same day as before, just left Palatine Hill.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we left the Colosseum and Palatine Hill behind us and decided to look for the next big thing, which happened to be the Pantheon. It looked close on the map, so we just kind of set off.

Rome is made up of these little twisting streets aided by a few major traffic arteries. What is so cool about these little streets (or rather, one of many things that make them cool) is that they turn all of Rome into this crazy treasure hunt/ chocolate box of incredible architectural and historical sites. You’ve seen a hundred photos on posters and in textbooks and then BAM! There it is, right in front of you! Completely without warning.

That’s how it was with the Pantheon.

“Oh hey! A chocolate shop” “Look at that sculpture!” “Wow! Awesome fountain!” “Hey, those are some big pillars that buiklding has…”
Wait a minute… that’s the Pantheon!

I can’t describe how cool it was to just come upon it like that.
OK, maybe I just did, but I still didn’t do the experience justice. But without further ado, here’s what the thing looks like, from where I was standing.

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And then... there it was!

We couldn’t go in just yet, as there was a mass going on inside (is that how I would say that?). So we walked around the outside for a bit and discovered the world’s best chocolate. Really, we did. Well, I did. 😛 I just wish I could remember what this place was called…

Oh well. More photos of the Pantheon, anyway.

The outside curve. It SO doesn't hint at what's inside. Seriously.

The outside curve. It SO doesn't hint at what's inside. It really doesn't.

Eventually… we were allowed in.

My new favorite place in the world.

My new favorite place in the world.

Huge.

Huge.

Oh that ceiling...

Oh that ceiling...

Aand on that note… I’ll be back tomorrow. Sleep is needed for the now. It’s 2:30am. ‘Night.

Rome was amazing.

This is actually one of the reasons it has taken me so long to post about it; I really wanted to give it it’s due in photos and explanation. Even the rifde over deserves some mention, as it was quite the experience (I can say this easily due to the great deal of hindsight and time between now and then).

So, Rome. We arrived at 2am after our Ferry managed to be six hours late and leave us in the middle of nowhere. We appeared to offload onto a random bit of dock, with all the organization of a sneeze hitting confetti.

These are the doors to the sleeping cabins. Even the lowliest of these were more than double the cost of the option we selected, which was the floor in the chair-sleepers area.

These are the doors to the sleeping cabins. Even the lowliest of these were more than double the cost of the option we selected, which was the floor in the chair-sleepers area.

Here is our room:

Our sleeping quarters.

Our sleeping quarters. At least they were dark.

Like the last time I was on a “cruise” (as it called itself) we had a great big storm. Night was spent thumping up against the legs of a chair as the ship pitched, a situation I gave myself the occasional break from by going outside to observe the vortex of spume that would shoot up the side and rear of the ship with every gust of wind.

Don’t get me wrong though, I really quite liked the stormy part. I don’t get seasick (thank god). It was the daytime that I found dull and unpleasant.

What an ugly brown line we left in the sky.

What an ugly brown line we left in the sky.

From the Ferry “terminal” (if you could call it that) we found a bus to Rome.

Arrival in Rome: 2:00am, April 8. Taxi to Hostel. Sleep.

Next day! This one was a real corker. I got to see the Colosseum and Palatine hill, I discovered perhaps the finest chocolate in all the world, ate some, and then got to go out for Italian food – in Italy. This day was three days, all jammed into one. Let’s start with the Colusseum.

We opted for the tour so that we could get a bit of a history lesson as we went, and MAN am I ever glad we did. There are so many cool things about this building that I never would have known that make it even MORE impressive even than the incredible 2000 year-old architectural marvel that I already knew it was.

We came upon the Colusseum from its best side. We stood and just stared for a bit before registering the rest of our surroundings and noticing a couple of guys who made the ferry trip with us and were on the same train, too. It’s cool meeting up with other travellers more than once. Anyhoo, Colusseum.

And suddenly, there it was!

And suddenly, there it was!

There is an entrance and an entrace fee (a difference, our guide informed us, from ancient times when you had to have a ticket but they were handed out for free to everyone) just around the corner, and tour guides filling the space between here and there. We allowed ourselves to be nabbed by one and in we went.

Inside the colosseum.

Inside the colosseum.

Arches, from the inside.

Arches, from the inside. The uppermost area is the womens' row.

Our guide explained how the Popes of Medieval times sanctioned the looting of the Colosseum. Its marble was stripped and later even some of the bronze bars that held the stone together were dug out. It is now pocked with holes (for which I originally blamed the pidgeons that now inhabit them) both inside and out. Still, there are pieces of marble here and there buried halfway into the ground, so you can see this beautiful white stone and somewhat imagine how incredible it must have been when the whole thing was clad in that crisp, shining white and decorated with coloured stone and precious metals. As Andrew Bird might say “Oh! The Grandeur!”.

The mazes under the floor.

The mazes under the floor.

The floor, or rather, the space under the floor, is an incredibly complex series of corridors, lifts and trapdoors. There were over 40 slave-powered elevators for popping wild animals into the arena at unexpected times and places. I would have liked to stay longer here to ask about each little corridor down there. Alas. Next time. And yes, there will DEFINITELY be a next time. Emily? You in? 😀

Holes for a roof.

Holes for a roof.

I include this picture because it shows the holes and ledges that were used to draw a roof across much of the arena. There were slaves on the ropes to tighten it and control it in the wind, and for each of those holes there was an anchor and mechanism on the ground where we were standing. The movie Gladiator has the roof in it. It was really cool to see the actual parts that created it.

After the Colosseum tour, we were led to the nearby Palatine Hill, where Rome was founded. On it are the ruins of centuries of houses of the Roman Aristocracy, including the Flavian Palace and some of the fist brick-and-mortar buildings. Ever. The Romans can claim dibs on all SORTS of firsts.

Me, near Palatine Hill. Fun much?

Me, near Palatine Hill. Fun much?

And here are a few other sights from that afternoon, just for kicks. Then we’ll get into day two, and the Pantheon!

The Arch of Constantine.

Not the Arch of Constantine; different Arch but quite close by.

Me and a Giant Head.

Zann and the Giant Head.

There was a little museum on the hill with some sculptures that had been salvaged from the ruins. We took a peek, naturally.

…OK, once again I’ve got to take a break from computering. It’s sunny. I’ll be back when it’s icky outside.

HAH! Finally! USB!

Alrigh, here goes. Ready thine eyne.

I believe I left you…

…here:

Fabric, floor one. By which I mean, one DOWN (from ground level), not up.

Fabric, floor one. By which I mean, one DOWN (from ground level), not up.

That was London. This (points round at surroundings) is Rome. Now for for how I got from one to the other. As I believe I have mentioned before, it involved a great deal of train.

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FRANCE

France, for me, began in Paris. That is where I popped out of a tunnel and into sunlight. The ride from London was only about two hours but even with a Eurail Pass it set me back £85. That’s like $160 Canadian, for you lazy converters. Anyhoo, didn’t stay in Paris long, so there were only three things that really impressed upon me.

One: big, wide boulevards.

Two: OMG PASTRIES!

Three: Hey! Isn’t anybody going to say Bonjour? I don’t know if it was just the fact that I loked like a scruffy backpacker or maybe I smell, but nobody seemed particularly friendly. Oh well. Their pastries covered for them there.

French Pastries! Mmmmm!And, of course, up the tower with me.

We weren’t sure what the dealio was with the elevator and the paying for it and whatnot, so we took the exit stairs up. There was no sign not to…

Tower of Eiffel

Tower of Eiffel

I walked, I talked to Emily, I headed south without a real plan but intending to go to Madrid. I scored a night train with a small booking fee to Toulouse. I didn’t really stop there. It was cold, it was morning, and I just kept heading south. Wound up in Narbonne around noon. From there, I soon found yet another southbound and made my last French stop in a place called Cerbére.

Here I got a bit worried, as it didn’t really look like there was anything there and it didn’t look like I could get to Madrid, either. I would show you the shabby shot that I thought was the entire town, but instead I’ll show you the lovely little Southern French town that I discovered as soon as I got around the corner and under a bridge from the train station.

Cerbére. Most definitely NOT just a train station.

Cerbére. Most definitely NOT just a train station.

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SPAIN

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I couldn’t get to Madrid from Cerbére, but I COULD get into Spain. My first Spanish stop was a station/town called Portbou. I then found a train to… Barcelona. Not Madrid, but hey! It’ll have hostels and I did want to go there anyway, so no biggie. Only trouble was, I couldn’t get in contact with Emily. Our phones were being problematic.  She wound up in Madrid. Moving on…

A street in Bacelona.

A street in Bacelona.

I’m lying, a little bit, in showing you this photo first. It wasn’t this nice when I arrived. In fact, Barcelona rained on us pretty much the whole time. Blegh. But it had some damn cool architecture! We went around and saw as many of the Gaudi buildings as we could, and got to go insode the Sagrada Familia! My god, what a place. It was incredible to get to witness the construction of a modern-day Cathedral. And this guy’s work really is modern-day. It’s incredible.

Sagrada Familia, front entrance.

Sagrada Familia, front entrance.

Close-up of one of the statues.

Close-up of one of the statues.

Seriously, you’ve got to love the style. Modernism meets religion. They were made for each other. Oh wait…

Anyhoo, I was seriously impressed. The overall effect was both stunning and inspiring.

The finish on the ceiling, just starting to go in. This place is going to be stunning when it is finished.

The finish on the ceiling, just starting to go in. This place is going to be stunning when it is finished.

The above photo is worth a click. Go on, click it. Click!

Barcelona was also equipped with some pretty fantastic food markets. The main one we found, along Las Ramblas, was like a visibly loud and olfactorily overwhelming circus of edible delights. It would have been an almost sinful sight of sweets and gastronomic indulgence if not for the vastly predominating fruit vendors with their naturally brightly coloured and healthful wares.

Mmm! Fruits!

Mmm! Fruits!

Oooh! Sweets!

Oooh! Sweets!

There were also meats and fish and little restaurants and juice spots. It was pretty intense. I kept my bag in my armpit and my camera tucked well inside my clothes.

We went walking along the beach but the weather wasn’t cooperating as well as it could have…
Still, there were some cool sights.

Fish building.

Fish building.

I think there was a restaurant under there or something.

And some cool art:

A cool sculpture on the beach. It was actually a sort of tower thing... quite odd, really.

A cool sculpture on the beach. It was actually a sort of tower thing... quite odd, really.

We stopped several times in Madrid, as well, but didn’t get far from the train station, unfortunately. This was kind of in the middle of us getting a bit lost and turned around while trying to get South and not spend our ENTIRE trip stuck on trains.

Cool Madrid Buildings

Cool Madrid Buildings

Eventually, after much hulabaloo and trainarounding, we managed to get South. We wound up in this really nice little town called Mojàcar. It was beautiful!

Hello Cactus!

Hello Cactus!

Mojàcar, a white city.

Mojàcar, a white city.

It turned out our hostel was quite a hike from the bus station. You can see where sea level is here, and the bus station was down there, a ways up the shore. We had to hike up here with our 35-pound bags and groceries and water. Did I mention that on the way here I dropped said bag on my face? Well I did, and now I have a black eye and a band-aid. Bummer. But Mojàcar was nice!

From here we went back up to Barcelona and across to Italy by Ferry. Like I said before, I am now in Rome.

I will show you Rome later.

Right now, I am off to the Vatican, if possible, and Florence, if not.

Ciao ciao!

I´m starting to understand what it must be like to really have no place to go, or rather, no place to stop.

There have been days of going. It´s been a good while since I last sat down to update. It´s been a while since I have been able to sit down and update. This past while, It´s been pretty much constant motion and perpetual disorientation. The last place I was that I could actually navigate in my mind was London. Since then I have been to Paris, Toulouse, Narbonne, Cerbere, Port Bou (Spain) and now Barcelona. I only have photos from a couple of these places, because most I only stopped at briefly and I slept (or wasn´t awake, in any case) for most of the train ride. Rides. Train rides.

Pity, that, but I can´t blame me. I left London on the 28th. By the 29th, The last time I had slept horizontally was the night of the 26th. And James and I had to get up early that morning because checkout was at 10 again. We were up at nine and tired. We spent the day trying to find somewhere to rest or sleep. In London. There is nowhere to sleep during the day in London. The parks are too cold. The museums are warm and free and you can sit and look at awesome art, but you can´t sleep there. The underground costs money and the lines all end, unlike Glasgow´s which continues in an eternal circle. We looked for a movie theatre, thinking we could just snooze through it. Might as well just get a hotel, considering the price. It was almost 10 pounds with a student discount. Might as well get a hotel, even if we weren´t going to stay the night. Our eventual saviour and nap-zone did turn out to be the metro. Amongst all the brightly-coloured one-way lines, there was one, a yellow one, that connected back with itself. The circle line. 1.60 for a good 45 minutes of sleep and another nice warm 45 minutes of rest. So worth it.

The 28th was spent in a chair on a train from Paris to Toulouse, so at least I did get some sleep.

But I´m skipping the 27th, here. The 27th? That night was spent repelling the very forces of gravity and inertia with heavy Drum and Bass music that transformed a large crowd into a seething, heaving mass of humanity which, if harnessed correctly, could probably power a Tokyo office building. It was EPIC. The place we went to – Fabric – was bar-none the coolest dance space I have ever been into. It was like the Arches compacted and fractures and multiplied into three different levels of tunnels and music and DJ´s. I don´t think I can express in words or photos just how cool this place was. The brick hallways and atriums and the lasers and the smoke and the dancing and the sound. The sound! My god the music was good. I danced for alomost 7 hours straight, from 11pm to 6am, James and I took two breaks for drinks and then went back in. I think I must have burned as much energy as I would in a solid day of hiking. Epic. Thank you James, for inviting me. Epic.

Ejected from the club at 6am, it was cold and I was hungry and London doesn´t open until 8. Even Starbucks. There was no inside to sit in, there was no vendor of hot liquids, so we kept walking to stay warm and eventually, around 7-something found a food store (snax!) refuelled, and headed for the bus station. James back to Glasgow, me on to the train station and then to Paris. 

I got to Paris around 5pm, found Emily by 6. We went around, marvelled at the prices of everything and the incredible confectioary (sampled with abandon, mmm) and headed up the Eiffel Tower, via the exit stars, I think. Skipped the queue and paying, quite by accident. I´m still not entirely sure you have to pay if you walk up yourself.

I was getting a bit tired by this point, feeling quite broke after spending so much the night before (4-pound drinks, 15 to get in, but at least I didn´t have to pay accommodation for the night) and hoping to get a night train to Madrid to avoid having to pay accommodation again by making use use of these Eurail passes we paid so very much for. There were no trains to Madrid. The one that our Eurail guidebook had pointed us to… wasn´t running anymore. Oh dear. The station did have one that went to Toulouse, though, and that was good enough for me. Emily had already payed her accommodation for the night (25E *choke*), unfortunately, so I was on my own from there until I could meet up with her in either Madrid (where we were intending to go first), or, if everything went weird, in Barcelona. Our plan was to communicate via phone and email. Sounds easy enough. Well.

I arrive in Toulouse, 6:50am on the 29th. The train is late, and my connecting train left at 6:45. The next one is at 9:50. Shoot. Did I mention train stations in both London and Paris are not heated? Also, Emily´s iphone is dead and her British phone has decided it won´t work outside of Britain, despite her having been assured it would. So I can text her to let her know where I am and where I´m headed, but I get no response. Also, Paris has no visible internet cafe´s, so she´s hooped on that count. Apparently all Paris has are flower shops and bakeries. Bummer. 

I arrive in Narbonne around 10:30, successful transfer to my next train to Cerbere (there is an accent grave in there but I don´t know how to type it). Sticking point: there are no trains to Madrid from here. There is one to Barcelona but it leaves at 5:30 and would get in at 7:30. Problem: If I am on a train past 7:00pm, I have to use another Eurail day. Not going to do that just yet.

There as a board that showed trains leaving from a place called Portbou, and it looks like that is in Spain! Close enough, I´m thinking! At least I will be able to understand the language and ask questions (I really don´t speak a word of French anymore) On another board, I see there is a train to Portbou at 2:30. Hoorah! Success will be mine! But I have some time to kill. Upon looking out the window and walking aorund the train station, unfortunately, I really don´t see much. (I will show you later just how ‘not much’ I see) Upon closer inspection, that turns out to be an illusion! Cerbere reveals itself, after some exploration, to be a lovely (if completely closed) little French beach town. I sit and watch the sea.

On the way back to the station, I met a fellow who was just coming back from Barcelona. He was French and wanted to practice his English. With his Fench-speaking ability, he found an open(ish) pizza place bought a bottle of wine for four euros (I boggled, after being in Paris and London) and we chatted for maybe half and hour (and drank some wine) before I had to head off again.

The Portbou sign showed a train for Barcelona, not Madrid. But at least it´s not the middle of nowhere and I could find some internet and contact Emily! So, arrive Portbou 2:50, leave for Barcelona 3:20, arrive Barcelona 5:30. Whew. And I didn´t get off in a train station, either. It was headed for one, but after the second stop of the train saying ´Barcelona _______´I figured I must be somewhere near the middle and hopped off. I was right! Now to find some internet…

Did I mention this was a Saturday I arrived on? This is important because everything is closed on Saturdays. Especially businessy things like internet. It was 7 before I found a (expensive and RIDICULOUSLY slow) connection. That´s 1.5 hours of walking quickly with a 15 kg backpack after no sleep to look for a place that will help me look for a place to sleep. An hour or so later I had found a hostel, and it was close by to the place I was sitting. Relief, food, sleep, checkout at 9:30. Oh god it´s been WEEKS since I could sleep in. I AM NOT a morning person. That is when I get my best, most refreshing sleep. And I was denied it, again. Moving on.

Still hadn´t heard from Emily. Email, phone and text were failing us. She was obviously having just as hard a time as I. Frustration, worry, etc. Not the best situation for exploring, especially since I wasn´t sure if I should book a hostel for one or two, for one night or three, etc. 4:30pm Emily gets through! Now it becomes a success story.

We get a good hostel, reasonably priced. 15 Euros, a bit more than we would like, but food is cheap here. Emily gets in at 7:30. Subways to meet me by 8. I have food and wine (which we can afford here, YAY!). We eat and go out to see some music, come home, and SLEEP.

It´s almost 2pm. I slept until noon. I feel good.

Today, we are going out to look at Gaudi buildings. The weather is crap, but I´m also going to meet up with a friend from GSA who lives here and happens to work in the Sagrada Famillia! Cool beans!

So, no photos today (no USB) but that´s where I´m at and I can fill in the visuals later.

Lluego!

So. I believe I left off with a parade heading my way, no? Yes, I did, and yes, it went on by. The St. Paddy’s day parade in Killarney was really fun, don’t get me wrong, but what really wound up blowing me away was the SCENERY around this place! It’s a town right next to a national park in Ireland. Need I say more? Well I will: we rented bikes.

I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves on that subject.

Parade!

Parade!

But first, the parade! It was kind of like a giant community day that somehow managed to draw tons of international tourists. Killarney is a small town; not that much bigger than West Van, only much closer together. And more importantly, it has maybe fifteen pubs insead of a sad 2.

One was even heated with coal! It smelled like trains.

Anecdote time!

Everyone gathered for the parade well in advance (of course), so  as parade time neared we were all standing there excited and filled with anticipation and just waiting for some forerunner of parade to show itself. We hear clapping coming down the amassed  audience, and crane our heads to see what it could be. Down the cleared road strolls this dog, head held high, obviously having gotten loose and not knowing what it has done to earn all this praise from so many people but absolutely loving it. He went down the whole parade line before he could find a way off that road.

Wooooo! A dog! *clapclapclap*

Wooooo! A dog! *clapclapclap*

Anyhoo, I digress.

What I really wanted to show off, really really, was our bike ride through a mountain pass, or ” Killarney’s national park. I visited it twice.

The first time was just supposed to be a quick walk but I got curious and went as far as I could into the hills before turning around. I saw some very suspicious (of me) cown and a cool stone circle! But it was the second visit that was the real corker, kicker and socks-knocker-offer.

First the cows, though.

Moo! I see you there...

Moo! I see you there...

 

Stone circle

Stone circle

This stone circle really reminded me of the one in Mckechnie Park at home in WV, except that you could go INSIDE this one! It was so cool!
But back to Killarney with me, in time for dinner.
Our street in Killarney.

One of the main streets in Killarney.

Now for my favorite part!
Our trip to the Gap of Dunloe, on bikes we rented for £12.50 each. Best £12.50 I’ve ever spent!
The Gap of Dunloe. We went through and around the mountain on the right. It was epic.

The Gap of Dunloe. We went through and around the mountain on the right. It was epic.

I’ll do this chronologically, from where we started our ride, but the really awesome views are down a ways. The above shot was taken at the start of the road in, already a ways out of Killaney.

In we go!

In we go!

Along the way we encountered many-a-sight, including lakes, mountains, sheep (most living, but also a dead one) and the occasional crumbling stone edifice.

Up a path (or driveway?) to our left.

Up a path (or driveway?) to our left.

At first everything was a hazy combination of green and brown and blue.

At first everything was a hazy combination of green and brown and blue.

At this point, the ground was sort of rising on both sides, but we were still fairly far from “the gap” itself. We could always see it ahead of us in the distance and it was cool to see it draw nearer and nearer. I’ll try to show you, but we’ll see how well that works…

After all, I kept getting distracted by the stuff around me that wasn’t the gap (which was kind of the idea, so).

I love grass.

I love grass.

I had to get off my bike and run gleefully through this field. It was glorious.

This rock... it amazed me.

This rock... it amazed me.

That rock must have been the single largest lump in the whole scenery. Or at least the coolest, with it’s jaunty slant and mossy cap and lakey backdrop.

Another ruin...

Another ruin...

Here is our road (gap approaching).

Here is our road (gap approaching).

I don’t know why I said “gap approaching” up there… it was most definitely us approaching it. Anyhoo…

Almost....there...!

Almost....there...!

Up until this point, we had been suitably impressed. We had seen Irish countrtside and rolling hills with grass blowing in the wind (and did I mention – WHAT a wind! Yowza!) and lakes and trees and rocks and we were quite pleased with it all.

On the other hand, this was all uphill and we knew we still had one last *hooof* to go before we cleared the top and got to ride down again and our quads (or at least mine and Emily’s) were threatening revolt. Once we cleared the gap though, it was all worth it.

Our first view from just over the top.

Our first view from just over the top.

We couldn’t wuite see off to our left just yet because there was still a hill in the way, but MAN did that down direction look appealing at this point!

Although it looks like we're headed straight down this hill, Killarney is actually in almost the opposite direction.

Although it looks like we're headed straight down this hill, Killarney is actually in almost the opposite direction.

Sun and haze to the right.

Sun and haze to the right.

All of Killarney to the left.

All of Killarney to the left (this is a bit further down the hill, after the first or third switch).

And we get to fly-cycle down through the whole valley! Switchbacking to and fro on a gently sloping asphault flow. Exhilerating!
We're still sort of on the down-slope at this point, but it's slowly flattening out and we're almost at the level of that blue lake in the photo above.

We're still sort of on the down-slope at this point, but it's slowly flattening out and we're almost at the level of that blue lake in the photo above.

We thought that would be it for the fantastic views and it was back to the road with us, but we were wrong again! This path eventually took us through an oak forest and then on to a road running parrallel to the lakes. It was getting on toward evening by that point and the light was turning that lovely pale gold colour.

Ooh! A forest!

Ooh! A forest!

 

Oak branches are pretty cool.

Oak branches are pretty cool.

Forest time!

Forest time!

And out the other side we get... more lakes!

And out the other side we get... more lakes!

It was real road from this point outward, but there was not much traffic and the backdrop was to die for. (Not literally, one would hope. A road is no place to be distracted by pretty pictures. However, there were lots and lots of places to pull over, so don’t worry, Mum).

This highway/track actually had some of the nicest views since the gap itself, but then, it had the advantage of slanting mid-evening light.

Layered mountains in Haze.

Layered mountains in Haze.

Just in case you missed it… (by blinking and scrolling at the same time..?)

Layered mountains in haze with sun pools!

Layered mountains in haze with sun pools!

I loved this spot.

Almost around the mountain, now.

Almost around the mountain, now.

So by this point we were maybe three-quarters of the way around the mountain we had set out to circle, but we still had to get back to Killarney!

We rode on for a while and slowly the lonely highway transformed into a populated road through an area that was newly built and kind of reminded me of New Westminster in Vancouver. It wasn’t, in my opinion, particularly Irish-looking. It was also about 7:30 at this point and I was hungry and tired and concerned that it would be dark soon (nightfall would bring some seious chilly with it, despite the mild day).

Then, kind of out of nowhere, POP! We were in Killarney. It snuck up on me so sneakily that I didn’t know we were there until I was halfway down the road we came in on. Strange feeling. No matter though, happy end to the day! A guinness and a hot casserole in a pub and an early night for us!

Our room in Paddy's palace. There were about 6 other double-bunks too.

Our room in Paddy's palace. There were about 6 other double-bunks too.

The next day, it was goodbye to Killarney and to our hostel, Paddy’s Palace, that had been so cheap and good to us. *sniff*

So now I’m in London, and that is awesome, but another day and another dollar for that!

For now, I’m off to Picadilly circus!

I went to Mull!  And it was good.

Off we go!

Off we go!We've been trying to get there for the past two weeks, it seems, but things kept getting in the way. First I was sick, then the bus timetable was posted wrong on the internet. We were starting to think it wasn't going to happen. But it all turned out to be for good! Had we succeeded either of the first two times, we would have been hit with blizzards and harsh windchill the whole time. The day we wound up with: mild, sunny, beautiful. And on a trip to a place like Mull, the weather can really make all the difference.We packed three different towns, four buses, two ferrys, a chcolate shop and a distillery into our little trip. It was awesome. I will show you.The ride there certainly whetted our appetites for scenic vistas!A cloud is born...

I must say, taking photos from a moving bus on a sunny day is truly an excercise in avoiding reflection.

It's enough to make you want to stop the bus.

It's enough to make you want to stop the bus.

Shaggy hills, shaggy cows.

Shaggy hills, shaggy cows.

Oooh, lovely.

Oooh, lovely.

These were all taken on the way to Oban, the town with the ferry that would take us across to Mull. It was quite nice riding through the mainland. And then we got to ride a ferry! Off to Mull with us! But forst, here’s a taste of Oban:

Check out that little Colosseum on the hill there!

Check out that little Colosseum on the hill there!

And second…

oh wait. I’m out of time again. Alas.
OK, I think (I hope) I can come back and finish this in a few hours. Don’t hold your breath, though; you’ll turn blue.

I do, however, promise I will come back and finish eventually.

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