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Daniel Kalal
It's pronounced Goot-see
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« on: June 25, 2018, 10:29:11 pm »


 
This is a ride from Italy to Brittany, ferry to England and Wales, ferry  to Ireland, and then ferry back to France and Italy.
 
Several years back (in 2013), I did a ride that was something similar,  but took a direct ferry from France to Ireland and skipped England and  Wales, altogether.  That one was done with just eleven days of riding.   I'll have more time on this ride; there will be less rushing about.
 
Yes; this is the same ride that I started last year, but that one was  cut short.  Not wanting to leave things unfinished, I planned to  complete that ride this year.
  
Europe Motorcycle Trip #19
 
I've made this flight several times, but every so often, the route is  counter-productive.  My first leg from Wichita was first west to Denver  before turning back the other way to fly east to Chicago and then Newark.   Such is life when your home airport is not a hub.
  
New Jersey
  
Newark, New Jersey.  The airport has been undergoing a slow, but steady,  rebuilding program, and this time the gate was fairly clear of construction.
  
 
 
Italy
 
Malpensa to Milano.  It's a coin toss if I'll make the earlier train to  Milano from the airport.  If the plane is just a few minutes early,  everything falls into place, but, if it's on time, I'll miss the best  connections and end up waiting at the Milano train station for a couple of  hours.  That's what happened this time.  Ah well; sometimes sitting on  a soft duffle-bag is better than rushing about trying to catch a train.   I'm not in Italy to rush about.
 
 
 
Milano to Lecco takes about forty minutes by a pretty  quick train; the walk to my hotel (right on the lake) is less than ten  minutes.
 
 
 
Lecco from the shoreline.  These things are all relative, but Lecco is  rarely listed as one of the choice sights of Lake Como or even a recommended place to  stay.  I suppose by comparison to Como or Bellagio or Varenna, Lecco isn't  much.  But, it's still a pretty good place to be.
 

 
My first meal on arriving in Italy is usually the same thing.
 
 
 
Morbegno.  I often pick a spot within easy boat or train distance to visit  during my stay in Lecco.  I'd been through Morbegno a few times, but never  stopped to look about.
 
 
 
What is stylish in a church changes over the centuries.  The church of San Giovanni Battista  is (now) in the Baroque style and dates from 1680 (completed in 1780).
 

 
 
 
     
 
Dogs meeting and greeting on the street.
 
 
 
For some, life does not need to be energetic.
 

 
Torrente Bitto flows into the River Adda...
 
 
 
...and the River Adda flows into Lake Como.
 
 
 
Lecco by night
 

 
Risotto with dried perch from the lake--a North Italy classic.
 
   
 
Always, my ride starts at Agostini Moto Guzzi.  Without them, I wouldn't  be here.  I'm packed and ready to go.  I'll be rolling out the front  door and turning left.
 

 
There are a number of options, but I've got to keep Ireland in front of  me, so I don't have time to mess about too much in Italy.  I'll be  taking the long Frejus tunnel to France.
 
 
 
   France
 
I had in mind turning south and riding over a series of high passes once  I rode through the tunnel.  This is Col du Télégraphe (a frequent  stop on the Tour de France) and is just about as far as I got on this road.   It's closed.  Evidently, I'm still too early in the year for the less frequently  used passes.  Turn around, and proceed to Grenoble.
 

 
Grenoble for the night.  I have never had any luck finding a hotel in or  near Grenoble.  My luck hasn't changed.  I'd see hallways and rooms  just like this on my channel ferry, but at least those rooms are on a  ferry.  There's nothing of the sort to recommend this.  What surrounds  Grenoble is gorgeous.
 
     
 
Riding out of the valley of Grenoble and into the broad, open French  countryside.
 

 
 
 
Saint-Agrève.
 

 
I'd have cold days and hot days, wet days and dry days.  And, very wet  days.
 

 


 
Brives-Charensac on the Loire River.  I generally give the bike a quick  look during every stop, and noticed that one of the driving lights was hanging  by its wires (both attachment bolts being gone).  It couldn't have been that way  too long without dropping to the road, so I had caught it just in time.  I  disconnected the wires, made certain that there would be no shorts, and then  zip-tied everything back to the mount.  This has happened before; I'm not  impressed by HELLA lights.  I never use the driving lights anyway.
 

 
The old bridge, above (mostly gone), and the new bridge, below.
 

 
Brioude.  I've spent the night in Brioude, before.  While I  generally prefer to always take a new road and stay at a new town, I was here  and figured it was a good place to stop.
 

 
 
 
Basilica of St. Julien (1060 construction begins).
 
 
 
 
 
I am impressed by the frescoes in this basilica.  So much color, and  so much of it is anything but serious--notice the faux curtains, above.
 

 
 
 
 
 
The same leaves on the wall are on the bedspread.  This is one of the  nicest hotels I've been to (which is a reason I stayed a second time).
 
 
  

 
Snow?  This is an unexpected ski area in western France
 


Argentat-sur-Dordogne.
 

 
Le Viaduc de Rulle.  That's not the road I'm on, but it's an  impressive bit of civil engineering.  There are even longer and higher  viaducts in France; the point being that they're common and their highway  infrastructure is superb.
 

 
Pressac.
 

 
Niort.  It's not unusual for the hotel desk clerk to ask if I'd  prefer to have a secure place to keep my bike for the night.  In this  case, he only asked me “is your motorbike narrow?”  I said “Yes” and  was shown the back entrance to where they kept the empty (and not empty)  bottles and other things that keep the hotel running smoothly.  I  always try to find a hotel that's in the center of a city or town, as is  this one.
 
 
 
Niort has four significant churches.  I was at three of them.
 

 
 
 
There were a few of these long dragons making their way through the  pedestrian zones.  I'm not putting my hand in there...
 
 
 

 
 
 
The Donjon de Niort was built by Henry II (Plantagenet) and  completed  by his son Richard (the Lionheart).  The castle was significantly damaged  during the French religious wars, but what remains is impressive.
 

 
 
 
The Sèvre  Niortaise River.
 
 
 

 
 
 
The ground floor of every building you see is a restaurant.  And, this  is only part of what Niort has to offer.
 

 
I'm not far from the town of Cognac so, naturally I had a Cognac coffee  after my meal.  I vote “yes” on Cognac coffee.
 
   
 
In Kansas they'd be cutting right now, but it's not yet time, here.
 

  
Vendée is a region of France along the coast that I had only known for being  a stronghold of resistance to the French revolution and supporting the Bourbons  to the end (for which they paid a heavy price).  But, it was also the home  of Eleanor of Acquitaine, which meant it was the site of a great deal of  fighting including the religious wars that were to come later.  In short,  it must be difficult for students to keep track of their own history; it's  complicated.
 
Historial de la Vendée (The Museum of the Vendée).
 

 
Artifacts going back to Roman times, and before, have been found.
 

 
   
 
A remarkable tapestry.
 

 

 
 
 
Much of the paintings are focused on the grand, but tragic characters from  its past.  They've had plenty of noble causes where the hero “died well.”   They didn't have much chance fighting the revolutionaries who brought down the  monarchy, nor Napoleon, who came after those guys.  This museum (and this  region) isn't dressed in “liberté, égalité, fraternité” that you might see  elsewhere across France.
 

 
   
 
Pornic on the Atlantic.
 

 
Notice that white car?  That's the road I've just come through,  myself.  There's not much difference between a back-alley and a busy  street.
 
 
 
It's a good place to have a seat outside a crêperie  and see what they have  that looks interesting.  Along with what's obvious, there are banana slices  inside, as well.
 
 
 
The Saint-Nazaire Bridge (completed 1975, a world record for cable-stayed  bridges at that time).
 

 
This was an important submarine base for Germany during World War 2.   The pens were built to be unbreachable, and so they were.  This  pocket of German occupation lasted through the war (the Germans were isolated  and there wasn't much point in bombing what couldn't be destroyed), and so the  pens are still there.
 
Today, enormous cruise ships are built here.
 

 
Carnac (Karnag).  Somebody started planting stones on-end around 6,500  years ago and they kept it up for another thousand years.  Why?  Well,  why not?  It's pretty amazing.  Row after row--thousands of them.
 
 
 

 
This part of Brittany is swampy and is full of shallow lakes and shallow  inlets from the ocean.  As a consequence, any road (or rider) that tries to follow the  coast will have a tough time.
 

 
Hennebont.
 

 
It's foggy and it's raining.  I'm now riding with my face shield up and  without my glasses as everything mists over immediately.  And, it's cold  (my electric vest is plugged in).  Luckily, my vision is still adequate  (at least the DMV thinks so) without glasses.
 

 
Roscoff.  This was a quiet fishing village until it was decided (in  1968) to expand and deepen the port to allow ferry service between Brittany and England.   There's evidently a lot of iodine in the water and this place was once considered a  healthy place to be.  Perhaps it still is.
 

 

 
Of all the jumping-off points for a ferry to the U.K. or Ireland, this is  the best.  Why?  It's so tidy and compact and there is none of the  industrial feel that all the other ports have.  This place is easy.
 
 
 

 
Details of ships have been carved onto the walls of the old church.  Ships and fishing have always  been important to Brittany.
 
   
 
Onions hanging from a house.  Onions have historically been  important to Brittany and to Roscoff, but I'm not really sure what the  significance of this might be.
 

 

 
Naturally, I'd have onion soup.  And fish.
 
   
 
That's a pedestrian bridge out to one of the islands.
 

 
 Multi-colored rocks on the beach.
 
 
 
 
 
Brittany Ferries.  Motorcycles load first.  On this boat, the crew  will strap down your bike.
 
 
 
   
 
These wildlife guides are watching for whales and dolphins.  They're  volunteers who are supported by the ferry company to do surveys of animal  activity on their routes.
 
 
 
 
 
United  Kingdom
 
Plymouth harbour.
 

 
The maneuvering ability of these large ferries is amazing.  The  harbor isn't all that large, but we spin around and back up to the pier like  it's done everyday...
 
 
 
In April of 1944 the allies ran a training exercise in preparation for  the D-day invasion of Normandy.  The beach of Slapton Sands would serve  as the stand-in for Normandy.  Naturally, secrecy was as high for this  exercise as it would be for the actual invasion.

 
It all went terribly wrong.
 
There were serious errors in how the exercise was prepared and how it  was carried out.  Nine fast German E-boats came across the invasion  force and made their attack.  Two ships were sunk, two others were  damaged.  Nearly 750 men were killed.
 
Because of the secrecy and because of the D-day invasion that was coming,  no news was released of this tragedy off the English coast near Plymouth.   It remained largely unknown for decades.
 
In 1984 a Sherman Tank that had been part of the cargo of one of the sunken  ships was raised from the ocean floor and made part of a memorial to the Exercise  Tiger dead.  It was the local community that organized the work and  took the leadership to create the memorial.  Thank you.
 
My goal was to ride to the memorial on the west end of the beach and walk  the beach of Slapton Sands.
 
One of the narrow roads to Slapton Sands (my first day's riding of  staying left).
 

 
I figured that aiming for the village of Slapton Sands would be as good a  way to the beach as any.  That wasn't the case.  It turns out a  German campervan had managed to get stuck and could neither move forward nor  backwards.  Perhaps they're still there...
 
I turned around and made my way to the east end of the beach, only to  find that the road along the beach was closed due to the ocean claiming the  road for itself.  I wouldn't be going to the memorial after all.
 
 
 
But, I was able to walk on the beach.  The idea was for the landing  craft to hit this beach just as they eventually would be doing at Normandy.   “Defenders” were in place, and this was to be a major and significant exercise  that would fully show how the operation would be conducted.  Of course,  none of that happened; it was a total mess.
 

 
Perhaps it was the case that all the communication and planning errors of  the exercise exposed problems that might have occurred during the actual  event.  Perhaps D-day was a success only because the lessons learned  from Exercise Tiger and the changes made were enough to tilt the balance in  favor of the Allies.  Perhaps.
 
The low clouds were only over the beach.  Just a mile inland, the sky  was mostly blue.
 

 
Plymouth for the night.
 
   
 
The view of the oldest part of Plymouth as seen from my hotel window.   During the war, the city was extensively bombed and the destruction was  widespread.  However, the old part of town was largely spared as it had  long ceased to have any strategic importance, and the old harbour--you can see a  bit of it--had been replaced by a new one (which was targeted for bombing by the  German Luftwaffe).
 
Plymouth, Devon.
 

 
War memorial and a statue of Sir Francis Drake.
 
 
 
The Plymouth Hoe.  It's a warm and very pleasant evening.  The  town is out and about.
 

« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 06:52:10 pm by Daniel Kalal » Logged
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Daniel Kalal
It's pronounced Goot-see
*

Reputation 114
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Years Contributed: '07, '08, '09, '10
Years Supported: '11
Motorcycles: Guzzi Daytona, Guzzi Stelvio
GPS: Kansas
Miles Typed: 1001

My Photo Gallery



WWW

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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 10:29:54 pm »

Another goal for this trip (seemingly small, but it was my primary reason for  coming to Plymouth in the first place) was to have a cream tea at the Royal  theatre as recommended to me by my Aunt Ruth.  I'm afraid the theatre  let their side down, but I'm saying that this is close enough.
 
   
 
Usually, in most towns the church will be the best building that they have  ever built, and the best that they are capable of building.  That's why I  almost always visit them.  But, if there's a Guild Hall in a city, there's  a good chance that it will give any old church some close competition.  The  workers won't stint on their own.
 

 
   
 
St. Andrew's church began in 800 although this building dates only from the  mid-1400s.  It was heavily bombed in 1941 (see photo, below), but has been  rebuilt and has been elevated in importance to now be called the Minster Church  of St Andrew.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Charles Church (1634).  In 1941 is was hit by incendiary bombs and  completely burned out.  It remains as a monument to the bombing of  Plymouth.
 
 
 
The Barbican is the old part of town along the old harbor.  It now would  seem to be party-central for all of Plymouth (judging by the loudness of the  music and the throngs of people).
 
 
 
 
 
I'm not in France; I need to start eating English food.
 
 
 
Tregony, Cornwall.  I'm generally riding west towards the very end of  England.
 
 
 
It's a beautiful day.
 

 
In 1540, the possibility of an invasion by France and the Holy Roman  Empire was considered to be real.  Henry VIII, therefore,  ordered two artillery forts to be built at the mouth of the River Fal  (Falmouth)--a location that would be an ideal place to launch an invasion.
 
St. Mawes Castle was built on the east side and Pendennis Castle on the  west side.  Each held about twenty pieces of artillery.
 
Over the years, the risk changed with the enemy and new technology, and  it wasn't until after World War 2 that the castles were withdrawn from  coastal defense and reverted to the historic structures you see today.

 

 
St. Mawes Castle.  In the distance, you can see Pendennis Castle.   You have to wonder if they didn't have contests to see who could hit a  floating target between them.
 
 
 
Everything was dedicated to the one purpose.  To that end, there  were kitchens and barracks to the support the troops who would man the large  guns.
 
   
 
   
 
Moving up the River Fal, the first place to cross is at the King Harry Ferry.   The ferry is run by the “King Harry Steam Ferry Company”, which is owned by  local families--the company has been here since 1888.
 

 
I paid £2 to cross.  Pedestrians cross for free, but are asked to  donate something.
 
 
 
St Michael's Mount (Karrek Loos yn Koos) was built in the 12th century  although there had been a monastery here long before that.
 

 
Riding east, up the Cornwall peninsula.
 

 

 
Barnstaple, Devon.
 
River Taw.  When this river was fully navigable to this point,  Barnstaple was quite an important port for exports.  But, as the harbor silted,  the railroads became the more important connection.
 

 
I crossed the river into the town and saw the Imperial Hotel, first thing.   That'll do for me.  I'll park next to this Bentley.
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
Barnstaple is a market town and has been since Saxon times.  In the  Victorian years, the Pannier Market was built.  During market days, this  hall is full.
 
 
 
 
 
The hotel has more lounges than I think I found; breakfast was excellent.
 
 
 
The morning began under mostly clear skies.  That would not last.
 

 

 
It's cold and it's becoming hard to see anything.  Lucky for me, few  people seem to use these roads.
 

 

 
The village of Exford, Somerset is within the Exmoor region on the River Exe.
 
 
 
It's cold and a little wet and this looks like a good place to wait for  things to improve.  I am not in a hurry; I'll have some tea and cream.
 
 
 
Watchet, Somerset is a small harbour on the Washford River.
 
 
 
In the local museum, a withy (a type of willow) boat and peat.
 
   
 
Dunster Castle dates from Norman times.  Today, it's owned by the  National Trust.  I intended to visit, but the nearby village was jammed  with people and the large parking lot outside the castle was full with overflow  being redirected to the grass, so I retreated.
 

 
Not far from Dunster Castle is Cleeve Abbey, which had a nearly empty  visitors lot and is more historically intact as well.  I'll stop here.
 

 
The abbey dates from the 1100s.  While it suffered from the  dissolution (as did nearly all abbeys) most of the site was converted to  farm buildings and so survived the centuries largely intact (with the  exception of the church, which was destroyed).  Today it is the best  preserved Cistercian monastery in all Britain.
 
 

 
Quite a bit of original tile has been uncovered.
 

 
The old dormitory survived as a barn and has always been covered by a roof.   Those oak members are original.
 

 
 
 
You can see where the old church once was by the pillar supports.   That's the gatehouse on the left (below).
 
 
 
Cheddar Gorge is  not far from Wells.  It's the site of the oldest  human remains found in Britain (9,000 years old).
 
The photograph is not completely honest.  There were LOTS of cars on  this road, regardless of the fact that it was raining.  People would  drive north through the gorge, turn-around, and then drive back through the  gorge after stopping at one of the many tourist shops on the south side.   I waited a good while for the road to clear to get this shot.
 

 
Wells, Somerset.
 
The first three hotels were full, but the desk clerk at the third hotel  was very helpful and she made several phone calls around town to find me a  place for the night.  I stayed at The City Arms, which--oddly--was once  the jail.  Many pubs will have a few rooms upstairs without making a  big deal of it, as did this one.
 
 
 
The Parish Church of St. Cuthbert. As it appears today, the church was built  in the 1400s.  These dates can be imprecise as it's often the case that a  new church is built on the site of a previous church, but parts of that previous  church might still be incorporated with the new.
 
 
 
The painted ceiling is really impressive.  It was re-done quite recently  (1963).
 

 
Let's look a little closer.
 

 
 
 
Yes; it's raining, but it's not too bad.  In any case, I'm glad I'm here  and not riding and still looking for a place to stay.
 

 
The Bishop's Palace and a swan that's not there.  In the 1870s the daughter of  the Bishop taught the swans to ring a bell to get food (a cute thing until that  bell won't stop ringing).  It seems that parent swans now teach their young  the trick of the bell and the tradition continues.  But, the swans also know  that they won't be fed until around 3pm each day.  I was too late for that  and didn't see but one swan.   ---photo of a swan ringing the bell  courtesy of the Bishop's Palace website.
 
 
 

 
Wells Cathedral (building started 1175).  It's about as beautiful a  cathedral as you'll see anywhere.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
I stayed for Evensong, which was being done by a special guest choir from  Houston, Texas.  They did a fine job; and what an exciting thing for them  to do.  (Incidentally, after talking with several choir members after the  service, I realized that they were probably the reason finding a room that  evening was more difficult than I would have expected.)
 

 

 
Fudge; you want fudge?  What flavour...
 

 
The pub that is the heart of the City Arms.
 

 
This was the best pub meal I think I had on the entire trip, but I never  had any that were not very good.
 
   
 
St. Mary's Church, Berkeley, Gloucestershire.  Berkeley is on the  banks of the Severn river.
 
 
 
 
 
Berkeley Castle.  The castle dates to the 11th century and remains  in the Berkeley family to this day.
 

 
It is a private castle, but much of it is open to tourists.
 
 
 
That sea-chest?  It belonged to Sir Francis Drake.  It's the  chest he had on his around-the-world voyage.  Amazing.
 
 
 
 
 
Edward 2nd, King of England (1307 - 1327) was killed (or at any rate died) in  the castle.  The often-repeated story of his murder is particularly ghastly and I  won't repeat it hear (you can look it up).  On the left is the room where he was  restrained and on the right is the dungeon that is directly below his room.
 
   
 
 It looks like the dining room is still used on occasion.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
While I was there, a film crew was at work converting some rooms to the  appearance they might have had during the Tudor period.  I was told that it was to be a  Brad Pitt production, but they didn't think that Brad Pitt was going to be  in it.
 
 
 
Doctor Edward Jenner (1749 - 1823) was from Berkeley and had his home  here.  It's just next to the castle grounds and is an easy walk.   Jenner developed the first Smallpox vaccine and was instrumental in  beginning the understanding of vaccines (smallpox was responsible for the  death of 10% to 20% of the European population, year in, year out).   Even the word “vaccine” is his.  He freely gave vaccinations to the  neighborhood in his “Temple of Vaccinia.”
 
It is said that he saved more lives than any person in human history.   In 1979 smallpox was declared eradicated.
 
The house of Edward Jenner and “Temple of Vaccinia.”
 
 
 
Wooferton, Shropshire.  My plan is to ride south through Wales, but I'll  stop here for the night before the evening rains come through.
 
 
 
Laundry is done every evening.  It's one of the first things I take care  of after checking into a hotel.  I carry a sink-stopper in my travel kit as  about a third of the places I stay don't have one.
 
 
 
Beer from the Wye Valley in the evening and another excellent breakfast  the next morning.  The guest lounge is one of the best I've seen; it  has plenty of room to spread out my maps.
 
   
 
Wales
 
Cool riding weather, but really very nice.  I like Wales.
 

 
 
 
 
 
Llangurig, Powys.  This is a typical Welsh town.  A few  commercial buildings, an old church, some houses and the smell of burning  coal.
 

 
 
 

 

 

 
Rheidol Valley.
 

 
Aberaeron.  So, how do I remember the names of the towns where I've been  for this report?  Here's one way.
 
 
 
The tide is out and it smells like the ocean.
 

 
Newport (Trefdraeth), Pembrokeshire.  After three fails (very sorry,  we're full), I found my room at the Golden Lion.
 
 
 
St Mary's church dates from the Norman period.
 
 
 
 
 
The old FitzMartin (1155 - 1209) castle.  Some of the walls remain, and  a house has been built up against the old corner of the castle.
 

 
 
 
   
 
The River Nevern (Afon Nyfer).
 

 
 
 
 
 
St. David's Cathedral (Eglwys Gadeiriol Tyddewi).
 
Saint David was a bishop in Wales during the 6th century.  By all  accounts he really was a good and peaceful man.  He's the patron saint  of Wales (and of vegetarians, which he was).
 

 
Fishguard is where I'll catch the ferry to Ireland.

 

 
 
 
 
 
   
 
  Ireland
 
Wexford.
 

 
I'm staying upstairs at the yellow-painted pub, below.  I normally  take the first photo of my room before unpacking, but not this time, it  seems.  I'm not packing very much and that means that every evening the  bag is emptied.
 
 
 
The main street through town is now pedestrian-only (except when a car drives  down the street, anyway).
 

 
Church of Ireland and Catholic church.  You'll often find both.
 
 
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Daniel Kalal
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Years Contributed: '07, '08, '09, '10
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 10:30:32 pm »

Fish-and-chips shops are about as utilitarian as you'll find.   Nobody stays inside to eat; place your order, take your paper-wrapped load  of fish (seems far more than I can possibly eat), and find a place to eat  outside.
 
 
 
You can expect the more important roads to be (mostly) wide enough.  The smaller roads all look the same on a map, but in actuality can be  nothing but a single lane with no pull-outs.
 

 
Wicklow Gap.
 

 

 
Glenmacnass Valley.
 

 
Glenmacnass Waterfall.  A remarkable waterfall, that I gather can  sometimes have a great deal of water flowing down the rocks face.
 

 
Sally Gap and the old military road.  I saw more bicycles than cars  along this road.  It looks every bit like Scotland. Walking to take this  photograph, my feet would sink a good four inches into the moist ground.   It's hard to tell the difference between plant and dirt--it's all just gushy.
 

 
Bog-of-Allen Nature Centre.  I saw this place on the map and through  it sounded really interesting--a scientific center devoted to the study and  preservation of bogs.  Unfortunately, it was closed.
 

 
Ireland doesn't have nearly the number of abandoned castles that you'll see  in the English countryside, but they are here.  Just, something out in the  field, and part of the landscape.
 

 
Castlepollard, Westmeath.
 

 
   
 
 
 
 
 
The downstairs bar at the Hotel.
 

 
Guinness and Irish stew, a good combination.
 
   
 

 
Funny thing when I stepped off the road to take a picture of this working  peat bog.  I stepped onto the brambles and sank a good foot into the  wet ground.  I took another step and sank further down.  Then I  toppled over into the thorny brambles without any way to maintain my  balance.  So, there I was, face down in a bramble patch.  Of  course, my riding suit and helmet protected me, but my gloves were off so I  ended up with one bloody hand (while the other held the camera out of harms  way).  The risks I take to get the best photograph...
 

 
United  Kingdom (North Ireland)
 
Giant's Causeway on the north coast.  My goodness, but this is a popular  place.
 

 
Inside the visitor center.
 
   
 
Walking with the other pilgrims down to the beach.  For those that don't  want to walk, you can wait for the shuttle bus and pay your money for the short  ride.
 

 


 
It's a curious thing.
 
 
 

 
 
 
Lough Foyle.
 

 
Londonderry for the night.  I expected to enter the old walled city  and find a hotel, but I rode passed this hotel, and figured it would do  just fine.
 
 
 
The view from my room.  The pedestrian bridge on the left is the “Peace  Bridge.”
 

 
Londonderry still has its original walls that completely circle the city.
 
   
 

 
   
 
   
 
Londerry vs Derry.  The name makes a difference and the name still  divides (even highway signs were marked out).  I asked the desk clerk how they handle the issue, and he said  they just tell people to call the place “Legendary.”  Good answer.
 
There are several memorials to the events during “the troubles.”   This has been a violent and tragic place.  Today, you can walk anywhere  without needing to give it a thought--such is progress made.
 
 
 
These very large murals in Derry (that are two or three stories high) are  not so much of reconciliation as they are of “never forget.”  The IRA may  be gone and the borders also virtually none-existent, but people are still here  and they remember.
 

 
Marblehill (Cnoc an Mharmair).  It's a nice beach that's a good ways  from the highway.  There were several walkers.
 

 
It would seem to be an out-of-the-way place for a coffee shack that  offers dozens of varieties of coffee, but they seem to be doing a good  business.  I think most people here arrived by bicycle.
 
 
 
Riding across County Donegal.  There are fences here, but you cannot  ever dismiss the possibility that on the next bend in the road, you'll be  blocked by sheep (a sheep does not care one bit to move out of your way).
 

 

 
This land is the softest.  I suppose sheep and horses know enough  not to get stuck.
 

 
Mount Errigal (the tallest peak in County Donegal).  There's a path that  follows the spine on the right to the top.  I talked with a bunch of guys  who were getting ready to make the trek; the view from the top is amazing.   I'll take their word for it, I'll take a photograph from down here.
 

 


 
Dunlewy Lough.
 

 
 
 
River Gweebarra.
 

 
River Owenea.
 

 
 
 
I'm riding this remote road looking for a waterfall that is indistinctly  marked on my map.  I stopped next to the tractor (you can just see my bike)  to ask if I was anywhere near such a thing.
 

 
“Yes.  It's just down the road; you cannot miss it.”  What do  you call this place and this inlet?  “I call it beautiful.”
 

 
Assaranca Waterfall.  He was right; you cannot miss it.
 

 
Where the water flows into “beautiful.”
 

 
Up and over the mountains on a road that wouldn't seem to be wide enough for  two cars--I stayed in the right-hand track.  There was no traffic (except  for a couple of sheep).
 

 
Kilcar.
 

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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 10:31:14 pm »

Killybegs, County Donegal.  This looks a nice place to stop for the  evening.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The fishing fleet is as clean and neat as any I've ever seen.  Every  boat is painted, every length of rope is coiled; nothing is out of place.
 
   
 
Soup and fish.  I've developed a fondness for Irish brown bread with  Irish butter.
 
 
 
Slieve League (Sliabh Liag).
 

 
I'm here for the view of the high cliffs.  But, there's nothing to  see except fog and low clouds.  No matter; I'll wait.  I've got  no place to be.
 

 
Docile sheep. They don't care how close you get.
 
 
 
The clouds have been swept away (for now).
 

 
Drumcliff (Droim Chliabh), County Sligo.
 
The round tower of Drumcliff (built between 900 an 1200).  I've seen  a few round towers, but haven't yet photographed one.  This one was  very handy, right next to the road.  These towers were originally built as  bell-towers and you'll find them near churches (or where churches once  were).
 


 
William Yeats is buried here at St Columba's Church.
 
 
 
 
 
Under bare Ben Bulben's head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid,
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago; a church stands near,
By the road an ancient Cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase,
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
 
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

 --excerpt “Under Ben Bulben” W.B. Yeats
 
Roslee Castle (1207).
 

 

 
Ballina, County Mayo.
 

 
I was pretty lucky on this trip.  I crossed over the river, and saw  the hotel.  Done; I've got a room for the night.
 
 
 
Salmon fishing on the River Moy.  Salmon preservation is important  in Ireland.
 

 
Fish and Gin. Yes; it seems that Gin has taken over most  everything else.  I asked if Irish Whiskey was very popular, and was  told (more than once) that Gin was far more popular with young people.   A typical bar that I was in would have seemingly dozens of gin varieties.   That, and light American beers in a can.  Yes; really.  
 
I'll finish the evening in my hotel lounge with an Irish Coffee.   Getting the cream just right seems to be the hardest thing.
 
   
 
Ballintubber Abbey (founded 1216).
 
 
 
The abbey is still used as a church and seems to have a very active priest in  restoring it and preserving the old Celtic parts.
 

 
During the religious wars, the church was largely destroyed, but it never  stopped being used.
 
   
 
 
 
Shrule, County Mayo.
 

 

 
Food?  You've brought us food?  No; sorry, young cattle.
 

 
Quite right.  Tell people to stop building cairns or otherwise  moving the rocks around.  It harms historical sites and it's just  silly.
 
 
 

 

 
Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime  Museum.  Charles Lindbergh identified this location as the eastern end  of the Pan Am flying boat service across the Atlantic.  As a commercial  venture the thing didn't last very long, but the development was remarkable and  the airplanes helped the further development of airliners to come.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The museum had several videos of the flying boats in operation.
 

 
The museum has built a full scale mockup that was really well done.  A  trip in a Boeing Clipper would have been as nice as any passenger plane of those  days, but it also would have been incredibly loud and probably rough, as well.   The Clipper was not pressurized, so the flight would have been at just around  10,000 feet all the way across the ocean.
 

     
 
   
 
   
 
Listowel, County Kerry.
 

 
If you want to stay in Listowel, the Listowel Arms Hotel should be your  only choice.  It's been here since the early 1800s (at least).
 
 
 

 

 
Listowel Castle (1400's).  This was the last fortress to hold out  against the army of Elizabeth I during the Desmond rebellion.  After the  surrender, the soldiers defending the castle were executed and all lands  confiscated.  Difficult times, and in the end, honor didn't count for much.
 

 
St. Mary's Church (1829).
 
 
 

 
The Listowel Racecourse (opened in 1858) is home to the Guinness Kerry  National.
 

 
River Feale (Abhainn na Féile).
 

 
There are several guest lounges to choose from.  Fish and chips  might seem to be ordinary, but I was eating at the bar so it seemed  appropriate--and, it was good.
 
 
 
Kippers for breakfast.
 
 
 
My last day's ride across Ireland.
 

 
What looks like water is a strawberry patch under cover.  Strawberries  are a major crop in this area.
 

 
I'm back in Rosslare in time to roll onto the ferry without much waiting.
 
 
 
My room is unexpectedly large, and they've supplied me with fruit and  both red and white wine (as well as beer and soft drinks in the  refrigerator).  I won't arrive in France until around 10:30 the next  morning, so there's no need to be hurried.
 
 
 
   
 
France
 

 
Teillay, Brittany
 

 
Rougé, Loire
 

 
Saint-Laurent-en- Gâtines.  The 15th century building once housed the  Abbots of Marmoutier before its conversion to a church.
 

 
Blois was once the royal city of France.  It was heavily damaged  during World War 2.
 

 
 
 

 
This bridge (over La Loire) was a frequent target for bombing.
 

 
Eglise Saint-Nicolas (from 1138).
 
 
 
 
 
Sometimes a building just needs a little support.
 
 

 
Mur-De-Sologne.
 

 
French roads and tractors.  You just get used to it.  They're  not ever going to pull over to let you by.  Relax.
 
That petrol station: it's fully self-serve, there isn't any person on the  site and if you don't have a real chip-and-PIN card you'll not be getting  fuel. On this trip, I had a Travelex Money Card, which is a cash card that  you preload with Euros (or other currencies).  It's a true chip-and-PIN  card and also supports NFC transactions.  So, while my normal American  credit or debit cards cannot be used, this Travelex card is accepted at the  pump.  That's a good thing considering the number of times in France  I've been at pains to find any station that I could use.
 
 
 
Canal latéral à la Loire (built 1827).  The couple has been successful at  catching what looked like small catfish.
 

 
Riding through Burgundy.  What a nice day.
 

 

 
Autun.  I was heading someplace else, but when I reached Autun, it  looked like the better choice.
 

 
My room is at the top.  I learned to keep my head down.
 
 
 
Cathedrale Saint-Lazare.
 
 
 
The interior is undergoing full restoration, but this end has been completed  and its beautiful.
 

 
 
 
At one time the stone work was considered so embarrassing that it was fully  covered with plaster (unfortunately, in other places the figures were chipped  off).  Of course, the plaster has all been removed and this amazing work  can now be seen again.
 

 

 
The Restoration Museum next to the cathedral is once of the best I've  been to.  They make use of a couple of technical devices to show the  history of Autin and the cathedral, but the technology never gets in the  way.  Using 3d goggles is really an effective way to see the details of  the stone masonry.
 
   
 
Autin was founded by Romans and has been large and important and then  small and forgotten through the centuries.  Archeology has exposed much  of its past.  It's a remarkable place that I knew little about.
 
Le Musée Rolin has got to be the most rambling museum I've been to.  You  need to poke into every door and take every staircase.
 

 
Local Roman tile that has been discovered and uncovered.  The  workmanship is amazing.  Also amazing is that it's still here.
 
   
 

 
   
 
Their art displays are old-fashioned (and I like it that way).  Hang all  the pictures until you run out of wall space.  Don't worry too much about  consistent themes.
 

 

 
The old Roman theater remains.  Originally, the elevated seats extended  up from where the trees are today.  The height of the trees is close to the  height of the original seating.
 

 
Is bocce ball the least strenuous sport?  Most of the time is spent  standing about talking.  What's that strong smell?  It's the husks  of discarded wine grapes used as a ground cover in the flowerbeds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Mercurey, Saône-et-Loire.
 

 
Riding into the Jura Mountains that border Switzerland and France.
 

 
Vallée de l’Ain.
 

 
Monnet-la-Ville.
 

 
River L'Ain, Champagnole...
 

 
...and, the mill downstream.
 

 


 
Rochejean.
 
 
 
Switzerland
 
Having to buy a one-year Swiss vignette for $40 when you're only going to be  riding the Swiss highways for a couple of hours seems excessive, but that's the  way it is.
 
 
 
 
 
Montreux, on Lake Geneva.
 

 
Looking south across Lake Geneva towards Italy and France.
 

 
Visp and the view out my room.
 
 
 
A free library and a cat that doesn't seem to care that a car might come  along at any moment.
 
 
 

 

 
Riding over Simplon Pass into Italy.  I had several options to get  over the Alps; I've been on all of them.  But, I hadn't been over  Simplon for several years, so that made the decision.  The road has  been improved considerably since I was last on it.  New viaducts and  bridges have eliminated several steep, sharp and narrow turns.
 

 

 

 

 

 
The pass is in Switzerland as are both approaches.
 

 
Italy
 
Lago Maggiore.  There is a ferry, which would have cut off several  miles, but I'm happy riding the shoreline.
 

 
Castelli di Cannero was built 1519 for protection from Switzerland.
 

 
Switzerland
 
The border between Switzerland and Italy is far from straight, so the  roads will run in and out of both countries.  In any case, the official  language in this part of Switzerland is Italian.
 

 
Lago di Lugano.
 

 
Italy
 
Menaggio on Lago di Como
 

 
The three towns in the center of Lake Come (Varenna, Menaggio and  Bellogio) are connected by auto-ferries, which are frequent enough that  you'll not need to wait too long.
 
 
 
Varenna is perhaps the prettiest town on the lake, I think.
 

 
Mandello del Lario.  The round-a-bout at the entrance to the town  has a new metal sculpture in the middle: Giulio Carcano's Moto Guzzi V8 Grand Prix  racer.
 
 
 
And, I return the Mandello and Mamma Ciccia's B&B.
 
 
 
not many years ago, Chiesa di San Lorenzo (next door to the B&B) was  being restored when a fire broke out.  All signs of that are now gone;  the place is gorgeous.
 


 
 
 
 
 

 
Wine with Ed, Peter and Alis (sorry about the photograph).  If you  were to play degrees-of-separation” with these three against the entire  world's population of Moto Guzzi owners, you'd probably never go higher than  2.
 
 
 
Milano Duomo.


 
and then...
 
 
 
...homeward.
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2018, 11:40:30 pm »

Bravo! Thank you. That was quite magnificent. I wish I could get away to do a trip like that right now, but commitments prevent it for a couple more years, so I will continue to enjoy vicariously through your wonderful trip reports! I do appreciate all of the wonderful photos, and the historic notes with them.
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2018, 08:41:36 am »

Daniel another excellent report and all the work putting this together is appreciated.  Bigok
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2018, 12:37:05 am »

Amazing trip!  Thanks for posting all of the pics and accompanying info.
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2018, 03:57:12 am »

Nice trip, Daniel, and thanks for posting. Glad to see you got your photos up (finally saw them on my third visit). And good to see (gootzie) you got some sunshine in Ireland. Must get back there soon, Jo has never been. Cheers!
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2018, 10:49:54 am »






Reminds me of an album cover

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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2018, 09:52:45 am »

Awesome Pics!!!   you even got a roman amphitheater that's better than the one in Pula...

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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2018, 11:41:28 am »

Wonderful pics and ride report.

If you're ever back in Donegal, be sure to check out The Grianan of Aileach. It's a Celtic ring fort dating back to around the fifth or sixth century, and the views from the top are stunning if it's not completely socked in with fog.
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2018, 12:55:07 pm »

Wow, what an awsome ride report.
Thanks for sharing all those wonderful pics.
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2018, 06:27:06 pm »

Nice report as always.  Thumbsup
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