Posts Tagged With: Ferry

Day 4: Belfast, Ireland to Kilmarnock, Scotland

Up at 5am to be ready for bags to the truck at 5:30 and riders meeting at 5:45am. Getting the bikes out I was chatting to Sue and Duncan who are doing the ride on a tandem. They are from the USA. This is their first TDA ride but they have been riding a tandem since 2000. Duncan is about 6 foot and Sue is quite short so when they come to a stop Sue can’t actually put her feet on the ground. They had an accident on the last riding day and Duncan has sore ribs, hopefully he will be alright for riding today.

Also had a chat to Shirley and Dan, also from the USA. Shirley and Dan are doing the Africa ride in 2019 which goes from Cairo to Capetown. They are not going to do the whole ride, and are going to start in Nairobi. Another TDA friend of mine Jacqui from Australia did this last year and the photos were amazing. Shirley is trying to enlist me on the ride as well.

6am – off in a convoy for 6 km to the ferry. The ferry is a Stena line ferry and is about twice the size of the New Zealand Interislander ferry. The journey is two and a half hours and we dock at Cairnryan in Scotland.

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Convoy to the ferry

The weather is cold and misty with a bit of drizzle and the forecast isn’t promising. To start up with we all line up for breakfast. To make it easy on the ferry catering staff we are all having exactly the same thing: 1 fried egg; bacon, hash brown, a sausage and a piece of Soda bread, and 2 slices of white toast plus tea or coffee. I didn’t eat the sausage or bacon but ate the rest as a long ride today. The tea or coffee was a bottomless cup which was good.

It would have been a good chance to catch up with the blog but unfortunately I didn’t have access to my bag again until tonight and can’t take the iPad on the bike. It was pretty boring sitting around on the boat and I got up a couple of times and walked around. In the gift shop I saw and bought a silly Scottish hat and amused myself taking photos of fellow riders wearing it.

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When we docked it was still misty and cold but not at this stage raining. We had been told to meet in a car park and a number of us were following Caitlin from TDA as we assumed he knew where to go, but it turned out he took us off in the wrong direction. It added a couple of kilometres before we got back to the car park. Esther TDA handed out some food to keep people going till lunch as it was already after 10 and we had 50 km to ride until the lunch spot.

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On the road to Kilmarnock. Showers and thunderstorms around.

To start we had about 10 km of climbing which wasn’t too steep, mostly about a 6% gradient. As the road is long and straight I was not looking out for flags. I was riding with Brett but he is much better at hills than me so he disappeared into the distance. I had passed a few riders and then as I was riding along there was a couple of work trucks on a bridge which I had to swerve out to pass. I kept going and had a big hill climb and then down into a town. I checked my notes and it said “left at 31 km” so I went left but was a bit puzzling as I couldn’t see a bridge, but there hadn’t been any flags so off I went.

After a couple of kilometres and a few turns with no flagging I’m like “yep I’m lost” so I went into a petrol station to ask. So much easier in an English speaking country. They said to go back through the town and turn at about 7 km onto the A14 which I did. Once more no flagging but this is the A14 and it does have the right town name on it so off I went another substantial climb.

After another 7 km and still no other riders or flags I was getting really concerned and flagged down a motorist and asked directions. Just then another rider came up the hill from the other direction and the turn was just behind me. Thankfully I had managed to get back on track by another route, I hadn’t seen the flagging just behind me as it is set up to get the attraction off your eye on the right not the left.

Much relieved I discover I have now done an extra 21km, and am lucky as Rhonda was the last rider closely followed by the sweep, and if I had been a couple of minutes later they would have made the turn and I would have carried on down the road they had just come up on!

Lots of rolling countryside to lunch at 50 km – or 71 k for me! Brett was sitting waiting for at lunch wondering where I had got to. Remember the two trucks working on the bridge? Immediately after the bridge was a flagged turn to the left. Brett was waiting there but had popped into a bush and with having to swerve to miss the vans, I sailed on past.

After lunch we were riding along when Judy and Tim from New Zealand joined us from a side street. There was a traffic diversion after lunch and they had made a wrong turn and were heading off in the wrong direction when a van driver stopped and asked if they were with the group because if they were, they were heading off in the wrong direction. I could have done with the van driver earlier in the day myself!

Lots more hills and a number of them were not rolling, the rain that had been threatening all day arrived, so on with the wet weather gear. But hey, only 20 km to go and a room not a tent at the end.

I was getting pretty tired and did not enjoy the last 20 km, my legs did not want to climb anymore hills, but kept chugging along and at 5:30pm we arrived at the Park Hotel. Nice big room at the hotel. So far the riding day hotels have been better than the rest days.

While we were waiting for dinner a group of us had a cold beer in the bar, and I was chatting to Mary from USA. Mary is a good rider and got to the hotel in the first few, but having done the ride also went and did a gym session. The only exercise I am interested in post ride is hand to mouth.

We were having dinner in a separate dinning room and we went there straight after the riders meeting at 6 pm. At 7 pm they finally bought out some bread rolls, I was about to start gnawing off my own arm by this stage.

We didn’t get the main until nearly 8pm! The food was nice, but way too slow. I had chicken liver pate and chickpea curry.

At dinner I was sitting next to Ross from USA, who along with having done the Orient express from Paris to Instanbul, he has also done the Silk route twice (Beijing to Istanbul)twice! He said he got sick the first time so went back to do it properly.

After dinner I decided I needed to catch up on the blog which is a couple of days behind. However, I couldn’t keep awake and woke myself up snoring a couple of times and called it a day.

Tomorrow we ride to Edinburgh and another rest day.

Categories: The Pub Ride, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd July: 2nd day in Amsterdam

Later breakfast again at 9:3,0 nice not having to be up at 6 am. A bit strange that there is no more biking until I get home.

We left the hotel and walked to the metro to head back into town to look around a bit more. We needed to make a change after one stop to get onto a different metro, as there is part of a line closed. As we got onto the next train we realised we were on the wrong train and went to get off, but only Shellbe got off before the doors closed! So much easier these days with cellphones in this situation. Very quickly worked it out and then ended up back on the same train heading into the central station.

I had wanted to go to the Anne Frank museum but had been unable to get tickets on line. They appear to be sold out for months (I later discovered more are released online daily at 8:45 and 11:30am). The website said you could buy them at the actual museum for after 3:30, so we headed off to the museum.

Outside the museum were some guides, so I asked one where we went to get tickets. His reply was “Where they are sold, when they are selling them”, so I asked when are they being sold, and no lie his response was “When we are selling them”! What a great asset he must be.

Thankfully we found another guide who had an understanding that their role was to be helpful, who advised they go on sale at 3:30 if there are any left. They don’t know until that time how many there will be. Sometimes very few. As it was only 11am I was not inclined to start queueing, and Shellbe had been there before when she was here as an exchange student.

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Outside Anne Frank House

We went off and continued looking around and came across a cheese museum. We had great fun looking at the different cheeses and trying some. The cheese came in all colours, including green (pesto as an ingredient), bright blue and bright red (not sure what was in these). We also enjoyed trying on the traditional cheese making clothes and taking photos.

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Dutch cheese maidens

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Coloured cheese anyone?

 

After this we went to a tulip museum and then decided to have a cold drink. We stopped at a place by a canal (but I guess hard not to in Amsterdam) and watched people going by.

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A’noon beverage time 🍺

At this stage Shellbe headed off for the rest of the day to catch up with a friend who was an exchange student at the same time as her, who has not longed ago moved to Amsterdam from Turkey. Brett and I had lunch and watched the crowds for awhile.

We then headed back to the Anne Frank Museum as as an ex-work colleague of Brett was in Amsterdam with his wife and they had tickets at 3pm to the museum. It was about 2:30pm and quite hot, so while we were waiting I decided to sit against the wall in the shade, and found a suitable space and sat down. I felt people tensing around me and looked up to see people glaring at me from all directions! Oops! I had just sat two spaces from the front of an exceedingly long queue of people who had been waiting for hours to get museum tickets! So I moved from there very rapidly, apologising and assuring people I wasn’t trying to get tickets. Brett caught up with his friend and wife (which was when I discovered tickets were released online twice a day).

We then went off and continued sightseeing. Later in the afternoon we caught the ferry from the central railway station to north Amsterdam, where the annual TDA alumni dinner was taking place. Given these are generally across the other side of the world from me I haven’t attended one before, but it seemed a good opportunity given we were already in the city (which of course was the reason for the timing).

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Party boat on the Brouwersgracht

The ferry that we caught was just for foot passengers and bikes. At the dinner we sat with Yvonne, Scott, Ruth, Peter and John H, who had all been on our ride. Apart from that, the rest of the diners were TDA staff or Dutch, bar one other rider who had flown in from England.

There was not really any mingling, and apart from a quick welcome from Henry and auctioning of a book, it was pretty much like any other riding day dinner of the past month, so not high on my priority list to attend another one. The food was Tapas.

A number of us shared a taxi back to the hotel.

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Bikes, bikes, bikes everywhere near Central Station

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 15: Monday 28 Nov – Wellington to Picton

Today we only had to ride 4km to the ferry and then 1.5 km in Picton to the camp.

Even though the ferry was not sailing until 9am we had to have our bags out by 630 am as the trucks needed to get down to the ferry to queue. There were no breakfast facilities at the motel so we were told we were going to get a breakfast pack. Turned out it was a breakfast and a lunch park. It was huge, a plastic supermarket bag full of food. A smoothie, a fruit drink, an orange, a banana, a fruit log, 3 small packets of savory snack biscuits, 2 cheese segments, 2 rolls with frankfurters, a Muesli bar, and a round plastic container 250gm of nuts. How many days was this for again?

I had been a bit nervous about the sailing as I suffer really badly from motion sickness and the past few days the seas had been really rough.Thankfully today it was really quite calm. I had a nice ride along the water front and crossed over at the Westpac stadium and down to the ferry. I could not believe how many people there were as foot passengers – the terminal was packed. Usually when I catch the ferry I am driving a vehicle.

We had to walk our bikes as a group onto the vehicle deck.

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The ferry we travelled on to Picton

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Onto the boat

We were sailing on the newest Interislander ferry, which had some really good seating facilities. I got a good seat at the back of the boat, with a nice view out over the water. The sailing was three hours and really calm all the way across. Once we got into the Marlborough Sounds I even managed to get a blog update done.

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Sailing to the South Island (Photo and Caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once we got to Picton we had to go to the vehicle deck and wait to be let off. It was a bit unpleasant with all the cars with their engines running, but luckily they let us off  quickly.

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Waiting to get off the ferry

A short 1.5km ride and we were at camp by 12:30 pm. We arrived before the trucks, so had to wait for them to arrive so we could get our bags.

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Sunny and warm in Picton (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once we had set up our tents Brett, Michele, Tony and I walked into the town and had a look around. We stopped at a bar with a nice outside area and had steamed green mussels in wine and garlic, wedges, and a ParrotDog Pilsner, then we moved to the next bar. Tony, Brett had I had a Kereru Pilsner, and Michele had a cider.

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Lazy afternoon in Picton

After this we walked around Picton looking at the shops. I tried a couple of hairdressers as I badly need a hair cut. Although they said “no appointment necessary” they were both fully booked. I will have to wait until after the ride.

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Another ferry in the Picton Harbour (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook)

We called into one more bar on the way back to camp and saw “Pisco sours” on the cocktail menu, so we decided that as we had all done the section of the South American ride where they were from, we would have one. Well, although they are on menu clearly they are not popular as the bartender had to ask another bartender and they had to refer to notes, and they took over 45 minutes to make. They were not worth the wait but the thought was good. As I said to Michele – we will remember them more because of the disproportionate amount of time they took to make, and how uninspiring the end result was.

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Disappointing Pisco Sours

Dinner was fresh cooked (lemon) fish with couscous and a broccoli salad. Tony and Michele shared a bottle of Vidals (Hawkes Bay) Pinot with us.

We have a new rider called Justina from Switzerland, she has come all the way just to do the two week South Island ride. Every rider’s nightmare: she arrived but no bike or bag! Hopefully it will be sent on tonight’s ferry.

Tomorrow is the birthday for both Emily (the tour leader) and Mika (a TDA worker). A couple of the riders had organised cakes, candles, and cards, which we all contributed to and signed. After dinner we sang happy birthday and had cake and candles.

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