United Kingdom – Scotland and London

May 4 – 7:  London and Trip to Edinburgh and Scotland

Had a wonderful time in London.  Shari went to ChristianDior museum in the Victoria-Albert museum.  Dave and I went to an Arsenal football game   We had to buy new emergency glasses for Shari and also an emergency dentist appointment for Shari but that all ended well.  Had wonderful home-cooked meals and also took the train to Woking to visit Ann and Norman.  Norman doesn’t get around well on his own as he as water on the brain but his mind is sharp.  Then we were off on a train to Edinburgh.  Walked for many kilometres and saw the Edinburgh castle, Calton hill and enjoyed great meals.

Day 2 on the road to see Scotland:  Today started out rainy and stayed that way.  We made three major stops today – First was to rent a car – ended up with a BMW 2-door car with only 10 miles on it..  Obviously we were the first drivers.   Managed to cut pretty close to a few curbs but fortunately no accidents our first day.   Second stop was the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve.   It would have been great to shoot birds here but the wind was howling and the rain wouldn’t stop.  Neat place nonetheless and the coffee was warm.  Last stop was a tour of the Edradour distillery – the smallest non-micro distillery in UK, I believe and much of the process is managed manually.  Some interesting varieties but we decided not to make any purchases.

MAY9  Last Day at Pitlochry:  Today we walked quickly thru a nature reserve, then went to on a tour of Blair castle (owned by the Duke of Athole), traveled through the forest around Kinloch Rannock and ended up at the Queen’s view.  It had obviously snowed overnight as the mountain tops were all adorned with snow.  At Queen’s View I met another tourist who was flying his drone so I flew mine as well.  Great fun.  Aerial images are not yet in the gallery below.,

May 10:  Great Drive today into the Cairngorn National Park in which we stopped to visit a wildlife park.  Then we travelled up to Inverness, did a little shopping, and drove almost the entire way back to Spean Bridge (our B&B) on single lane roads where the locals dash about and I head for the nearest dirt rut to escape.  Exciting, what?

May 11, 12, 13:  Travels from Spean Bridge to Kyleakin (Isle of Skye) to Sligachan (Isle of Skye).   Due to some unfortunate hotel experiences, we had no internet last night and, since the hotel wasn’t working for us, we moved further into Isle of Skye (and closer to the Uig ferry terminal we need to reach tomorrow morning.  It has been 3 adventurous days.  On May 11, we visited the train at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, then the lower waterfall at Glen Nevis, we visited Mallaig (a fishing harbour where the steam train stops and turns around) and had supper at Roy Bridge’s lounge.  On May 12, we ended up at Kyleakin on the edge of Isle of Skye, after visiting Plockton, the Eilean Donan castle, Strathcarron and several Coos (Shari says the Scots refer to the long-haired bovines as such).  Today we toured the Isle of Skye visiting Cullin Hills, Portree, Old Man of Storr (crumbling basalt hills), the Quiraing in northern Skye, and the Fairy Pools.

 

May 14 – Ferry boat to Tarbert on Outer Hebrides;  After a hair-raising rush to make it to the ferry port at Uig (our initial GPS setting was wrong), we made it onto the ferry.  Today we concentrated on seeing the Isle of Harris after our boat landed around 11:00 am.  The seas were really calm and we chatted with several locals who said this was quite uncommon.  It was also warming up quite nicely so that was a relief too.  What good fortune!.   We looped around the roads of Harris looking for a Harris tweed weaver and finally met Rebecca at the southern end of the isle.  Don’t know what I’ll do with the material I bought but it’s definitely authentic.  Then we had to drive over 50 miles north to Stornoway to our hotel by the harbour.  Stornoway is quite large by island standards and not too shabby either but definitely feeling it when roads get congested.  The day was frequently spent waiting for cars, sheep and cows that blocked single lane roads and trying to capture ocean birds that didn’t cooperate.

 

Europe blog continued

 

Norway and signs of snow
Approaching Bergen after stopover in Oslo

 

 

Days 5,6 & 7.   To lose some weight I left my my laptop at Rebecca’s house and it appears it’s difficult to update a blog on an IPad in sequence so I’m starting a new blog.

Not sleeping as well as I’d like but still enjoying the trip.  On day 5 we decided to clean the house in preparation for the Trip to Norway.   In the evening Rebecca and Dave treated us to a broadway musical ‘Hamilton’.   It was fantastic. The next day we arose early to fly to Oslo and then Bergen.  I was surprised by how much snow we could see from the air.   However Bergen itself was dry, warm and inviting.   We boarded the Hurtigruten ship ‘Trollfjord’ last night and signed up for a few hikes during upcoming stops.   Some port stops are 15 minutes but others are up to 3 hours.

Bergen at sundown from the ship
Bergen at sundown

 

Day 8.   Might have added a day – it’s possible this is only day 7.   Regardless We (all 4 of us) are on the Trollfjord and today’s major stop was Alesund.  It’s the first major stop after Bergen which we left at midnight last night.  We joined the Expedition crew and 6 of us with 2 guides hiked up to the summit of a hilltop overlooking the harbour and town of 25000.  Actually the town is spread over several islands also.  It was a strenuous hike for me.   Definitely not as smooth as I once was

Norway fjord
A mite breezy

 

Ålesund from top of our mountain climb
Wind blown atop the hill
Deciding who will jump first

.Staying pretty despite the gusty winds

Staying pretty despite the wind

 

Day 9.   After yesterday’s hike my legs are really feeling it but I managed to walk around Trondheim today – twice.   Woke up at 6:00 and as everyone was asleep I headed out to see the city.  It’s the second or third largest in the country and was once the capital.  Came back for breakfast and all 4 of us walked the town again.  A very sleepy town on Easter Sunday

Trondheim early morning
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Shari and her Troll friend
Studying the Nidarros castle
Buildings on stilts

Bridge to ‘old Trondheim’

Bridge to ‘old’ Trondheim
Lonely 20 metre lighthouse once inhabited
At sea north of Trondheim

.Lonely 20 metre lighthouse once inhabited

stokksundet – a 48 metre wide passagewaykm

 

Day 10 I guess and going quickly.    Today we leave the ship but not until 7:00 pm Norway time.   So we had s bus excursion to a set of rapids and whirlpools that are advertised as spectacular.   To be honest in the driving rain it was difficult to get excited.   I did get up early and caught this early morning shot sometime around 5:00 am

 

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Day 11, 12,13

dont know why but text disappears and photos move around.  Very difficult to manage on my ipad.   It’s April 24 and we are still on the islands of Lofoten and enjoying the long arctic days, balmy weather, great vistas and wonderful food.   We move to Senja just up the coast a ways tomorrow.   So here are a few images from our last few day

DAY 14.   Last full day on Lofoten.  Tomorrow we make a long drive and ferry to Senja

Day 15   Our Last Day on Senja    Tomorrow we leave beautiful surroundings in our cottage by the sea surrounded by reindeer and sea birds   Today we drove almost the entire island and it’s spectacular mountains hundreds of metres high reaching straight up from the fjords are amazing.   unfortunately., we leave Rebecca and Dave somewhat stranded   Due to SAS pilot strike, the two have to stay an extra day in Tromso and fly back a day late to London

Day 15, 16.  Travel from Senja to Narvik by bus and then train to Lulea Sweden

Made multiple stops on the bus as Dave And Rebecca dropped us off in clear sunshine nea4 Olsborg Norway to catch a bus to Narvik   Arriving around 2:30 we walked the streets of this very tired city of Narvik   We noticed a ski lift still operating immediately behind the city    Later that night our guesthouse filled up with skiers   We caught a 10:52 train out of Narvik the next morning and were surprised by the number of stops at ski lodges   We arrived at Lulea Sweden at 6:00 pm and walked to our hotel less than 1 km away again in bright sun   A much nicer city than Narvik, we splurged on a great meal on the Main Street

 

Day 17    Made it to Finland – Kemi to be precise   I always wanted to visit Finland but I know nothing about the country nor do I have any reason for choosing Kemi as a stopover place   But we arrived, after taking 2 short bus rides from Lulea and had time for a long hike through a very quiet town and a leisurely meal   The highlight was sitting at an outside wharf cafe while a large Finn group took turns singing karaoke style.   The rest of the old timers like us all waltzed, or did the 2-step  tomorrow will be an early start as we have a 5 hour train ride south from here

Singing karaoke
Old tired ship held fast in the ice
Beautiful church

Last 2 days in Scandinavia.  Our last 2 days were a touch wet and rather cool.  Still we head fun.  We sat in first class coach which for most of the  trip from Kemi to Tampere was our coach alone.  When we arrived we walked to a hotel/hostel which was full of young people.   It was May 1st and the whole city was full of young and old wearing white caps and multi-pants.   Some wore strange costumes as well.   It was a national holiday and, as we found out, the hats were for graduation from high school and the pants were for college entrance.    We went for a walk to find the new grads being dunked in the local river from large cranes.   Today we did the city walk again but I believe most of the city was hung over as it was a much more somber city for sure

so now, after visiting the Moomin museum in honour of Tove Aaaaa, we sit at the tiny Tampere airport   We arrived early somewhat paranoid that SAS would cancel our flight due to a pilot strike

First Day Back In London:   So with rain threatening all day it was time for Shari and I to do the mundane tasks of travelers   We did laundry,  waited for a dentist to see Shari about an infected, cracked molar and rushed to catch the train southwest to Woking    Ann and Norman Penty met us and drove us to a local pub where they insisted on buying us lunch.  Great beer, fish and chips and then repeat the trip back to London.    A great day but not exciting

BLOG TO BE CONTINUED:   Now that we are BACK IN UK, please see Scotland blog.

 

Europe 2019

This Blog covers London, Norway, Finland, Scotland travels in 2019

Day 1&2:  Got quickly put to work in the back yard by Dave clearing rubble for their new storage cabin.  Went to church and watched the Masters at a pub to see Tiger win.  Good to finally get recovered from jet lag.

 

London walk

Day 3  A short trip to Camden Town Market.   Today took a long boat cruise from Little Venice to Camden return.  Since the school kids were out, this was a very busy place.  Got a chance to speak to one of the operators so learned a little history of olden days use of the hundreds of miles of lochs and waterways throughout southern England.

The waterways are relatively clean and occupied by hundreds of boats, birds, fish and people walking alongside each part of the canals.
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72 foot long boat
Camden lanterns
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puddles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 4:  Trip to British Museum;  Today we had to stay behind to let the workers in who are building a small castle in the back of Rebecca’s garden.  As they worked, I kept busy trying to assemble a table which we then used to organize our suitcases and knapsacks.  When David arrived home we took the ‘Tube’ and walked through Carnaby street to the museum.  We then took the tube home arriving just as it started to rain.   In all, it was a good day.

Assyrian sphinx
British Museum entrance
British Museum skylight

Final posting SLC trip – Safe arrival at home

The Beemer that took me 7200 kms across USA and back
Milwaukee skyline (tilted just for effect)
Milwaukee harbor entrance

Today’s trip was a long trip but very successful, as I arrived safely.   The highlights of the trip were an early morning departure on a ferry to cross Lake Michigan and a surprise kiss on the lips from my darling sister.

My day started at 4:00 am when the wake-up call requested from the hotel didn’t come but I was awake nonetheless.  I packed quickly and very quickly was lost in downtown Milwaukee.  GPS programs don’t know how to deal with closed roads very well it seems.  At the ferry terminal, I met a very nice couple – he was a retired Lutheran minister with his wife on his way to a reunion at a church he was pastor at when he was 25 years old.  He met his wife there, as well.  We had a grand time talking about MGB’s (which he owned at the time he met his wife) and Miata (1995 model he still owns).  The ferry boarded on time for a 6:00 am departure and besides burning my hand on the hot muffler, no issues.

Arriving at Muskegon, MI, I had already lost one hour and so it was now close to 10:00 am EST.  For unknown reasons, probably due to fat gloved fingers, the bluetooth refused to communicate to the GPS for the rest of the day.  The GPS screen is almost impossible to see in bright light, so I was flying blind.  I stopped for coffee at a place I stumbled upon and was told of a road parallel to the the interstate that would be much more pleasant to drive.  the interstate is windy, hot, bumpy and noisy (but fast).  So, I lost about 1/2 hour driving every which way trying to follow instructions given to me by a bicycle shop owner to locate the road and finally give up.

I drove through the Sarnia border crossing with as few stops as possible and was on the highway 401 when I couldn’t stand the stabbing pain in my back any longer.  I get that from long hours of poor posture, I believe.  Pulling off my helmet at the Service Centre, I was greeted by a tremendous kiss.  Donna had spotted me driving in and she was sure it looked like my bike.  Wow, what a great surprise.  When I arrived at home an hour later, Art and Ro were waiting for me and we celebrated my home coming and Ro’s birthday with a BBQ dinner and birthday cheesecake.

Heading Home and getting close in Milwaukee

Today was a great day and a great ride.  I had a feeling that I needed to take things slowly or else I’d run into rain.  So, I sorta followed breaks in the overcast sky early this morning and other than some rods that were still wet, it was great rolling through the luscious country-side.  Lots of hills that I didn’t know existed in south-east MInnesota and hills meant some twisty-windy roads.  Of course I finally succumbed to the need to get to Milwaukee before I tired and so I joined the interstate highway and got to the city early afternoon.  I went first to the ferry terminal to make sure they had my reservation and to ensure I had some idea of how to get there.  They said I should be at the terminal by 5:00 am at the latest.

Beautiful lighting in the hills of Minnesota

The hotel had a shuttle service and so I took advantage and had them drive me to the older part of downtown where I could roam around.  I enjoyed the time to just walk around.

Oldest home in Milwaukee

Tomorrow, I hit Michigan and I’m looking forward to hitting Ontario shortly after.

Heading home – into Minnesota

Almost felt like going home as I’m only a few miles from Rochester, MN where Shari and I lived for several months.  I recall I used to ride my bike back then east towards Wisconsin which is where I’ll be heading tomorrow.  Today’s weather was pretty well perfect – not too hot but a somewhat humid as it was working up towards a huge thunderstorm that hit around 5;00 pm (after I was booked into my hotel).   The bright sun I was facing as I headed east was blocked as the morning wore on by low hung clouds.

There were no photographs taken today.   For one thing, I didn’t see anything  worth shooting, and the lighting was flat.  But basically, it’s hard to shoot landscapes of flat land – sorta need a foreground and a background and they are hard to find without a step ladder.  Didn’t carry one of those things.

Saw an interesting school just as I left the I90 – it was built as 3 large domes joined by 2 tunnels.  Haven’t been able to find background info on why that kind of design.   Saw my first vineyard – called The Four Daughters Vineyard but haven’t found anyone in the town that offers wine to try – a fruit cider, yes – but no wine.

Trying to find a hotel that is close to the ferry terminal in Milwaukee because the ferry leaves at 6;00 am and starts boarding an hour before that..   Difficult to do that kind of search, at least on a phone but I have a hotel booked nonetheless.

Day 4, I think, on the return from SLC

Isn’t she beautiful

Well today went well.  Slept in a few minutes more than normal and headed north to see the Devil’s tower national monument.  It was a nice drive.  I took a couple of snaps and kept going.  Went past the Black Hills and circled back almost to the same town I started from.   Then I drove through the Badlands of SD.  I ran parallel to the I-80 which I would eventually join.  The speed limit on I-80 is 80 mph and if you don’t drive close to that, all the big transports pass you.  With the easterly wind today, turbulence early in the morning was pretty bad. If transports pass,its quite disconcerting.    There was a strange phenomenon when driving in the prairies.   Totally random gusts of wind will pop up and sucker punch you.  There doesn’t seem to be any rationale for the behaviour.

However, today, I was passing through a gap between 2 low badland mounds.  Almost like the wind was waiting for a motorcyclist, the wind bounced of both mounds and then hit me with a one 2 punch.  It was really fun.

So, I ended up running long on the I-80 in temperatures that fortunately didn’t exceed 33C.    I was tired when I arrived at Mitchell, SD.  Seems to have one of every type of hotel I’ve heard of.  I’m at the Quality Inn.  Poor bike is in desperate need of cleaning – tomorrow I’ll lose the bugs in the obvious places.

Two more days and I’ll be on the ferry crossing Lake Michigan – scheduled for Friday at 6:00 am.  I lose another hour on the ferry in the time change.

 

Heading homeward in Wyoming – Day 3 of return

Today was a good day, all things considered.  As soon as it opened, the emergency care clinic doctor took a look at my ear that was still dripping some blood overnight.  He gave me a prescription for drops to take 4 times a day.  So, I was well looked after and this was completed by 9:30.   I took the rest of the morning to book ferry crossing across Lake Michigan and sort of balance out the rest of the trip in my mind.

I was told that my part from BMW would arrive in the morning – and I had asked for no later than 10 am.  It arrived a few minutes after 12 noon and I was on my way by 12:30.  As I headed out of Cody, and towards I-90, I started going up through a major gorge and then climbed like crazy for what seemed like hours.  The temperature was 32 C and at the final top of the climb, the temperature had dropped to 22- so nice.   I travelled like this for quite a long time and enjoyed the scenery and wildlife.  There were humungous herds of sheep – some sheared, some not.  There were also bison but I didn’t take the time to shoot photos.  My GPS said it would be after 6 before I arrived at my next stop.  Coming down from the mountain was quite the challenge – no longer were the corners just sharp – a lot of them were hairpin turns.  When the sign recommended 20 mph, guess they were serious.  Had some fun and didn’t get into trouble but sure need more practice.   The rest of the trip was on 4 lane (2 each way) I-90 and speeds up to 80mph.  Where the pavement had been recently re-blacktopped, temperature rose as high as 36.  The black on my boots and the oil in my pants started to cook.  I waved my leg occasionally in the air stream just to stop the sizzling.

So, now I’m located in town of Sundance, Wy.  Tomorrow I hope to have some fun going to the Devil’s Monument, Wy. and the badlands in south west SD.  Then it will be run for the east side of SD somewhere before stopping for the night.

Second day returning from SLC (salt lake)


I started out today under almost cool weather.  I was staying in a hostel in Wyoming and it had turned somewhat cool overnight.  We all welcomed the 14C weather but the day was still young it promised to get hot. Due to the high elevation for the majority of my trip, the temperature for most of the day never went above 25C.  Then, as I descended to Cody, it shot up to 32 again.

My good samaritan had made up 2 possible solutions to fix the oil cap leak.  He was certain that Plan A would get me all the way to Ontario but he was wrong.  I had barely gone more than 20 miles when I noticed I was losing a lot of oil and it was spraying on my leg and the rest of the bike.  So, I brought out plan B which was a simple rubber stopper and stuffed it in.  Miraculously, it survived the whole day.  So, now I’m in Cody, Wy waiting for Fedex to arrive tomorrow with a real oil cap from BMW.   Thank goodness for samaritans.

When I left the hostel in Driggs, Idaho, I had two options to get to Cody – one was taking a highway and entering Yellowstone from the west gate.  The other option was to retrace some steps from the day before,head south and then head north through the Teton Mountains.  I chose the latter and it was a wonderful experience.

I took only a few photos but the mountains are a beautiful sight to see especially first thing in the morning light.  I continued to travel north and then made a western swing to see Old Faithful.   Met a few bikers there while we waited for the appointed hour when Old Faithful delivered the expected spray. That was neat too.  Throughout the day, I saw a beautiful red fox, and large number of bison.  One bison was in the ditch so close I could almost touch him but I wasn’t stopping to get his picture or his signed picture release.  There were several other sites where many people were stopped to see something but I kept motoring on.  I’d like to go back though.

Making a circuit through Yellowstone made for a long trip and I was anxious to get to my destination.  If the rubber stop got loose from all the bouncing around, I’m not sure what I would have done.  So, I hurried through Yellowstone and didn’t stop for anything other than the odd snapshot taken from the bike and gas pitstop.

Arriving at Cody, I made use of my time by inquiring of the pharmacy whether they could give me a product for the ear and they said no.  So, I purchased a bunch of heavy duty cleaning products and proceed to wash my boot, Pants and bike – trying to rid them of as much oil as I could.  I haven’t kept good records of distances travelled.  For the period that my GPS was running, it has recorded 2624 miles so far, or about 4000 kms on the bike.  I’ll need to take apart the rear brake when I get home and clean it better than I’ve been able to so far.

I met a young couple – the fellow just left the marines in San Diego last Friday.  He was doing a quick tour before returning to his home town in Minnesota where he’ll take a HVAC course starting in the fall.  Here he is starting a new career and I’m still wondering if I will be starting one as well.  Incidentally, one of the older BMW riders at our ‘tent city’ had told me a few days ago that he had to get home and have the doctor look after his knee that was extremely painful that he couldn’t sleep.  When I asked him the following day how his knee was – he said it was still the same.  He then gave me the following advice – ‘Getting old sucks:  if you aren’t strong, then it will kill you”

Not sure what tomorrow will bring.  As soon as Fedex delivers my package I’ll head towards the Devil’s Monument but not sure where I’ll end up for the night.  Wherever that is,I’ll probably plan the remainder of my return trip.Someone told me the ferry across lake Michigan gets booked up so I had better book my return trip