Posts Tagged With: Tourist

Day 2 of Sightseeing in Dublin – 28 May

This morning we had to change hotels, to the Arlington hotel, where all the  riders will be tonight. Plus this morning is the first riders meeting.

Leaving the hotel I was amused by a sign about Gin.

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At the meeting we got to meet the other riders and listened to the rules. We have 4 Greggs doing the ride! As well as Shirley and Dan and Michele and Tony, I also know Gregg and Laura who did the South American Colombia to Cusco. The meeting was meant to be 9:30 to 11:00am but it ran over as Gergo, the tour leader, was spouting the entire European cycling rules chapter and verse. At 11:15 I left the meeting as I had planned to meet Shellbe to do some more site seeing.

We went to see an exhibition in Stephens Mall featuring the potato famine, but when we got there we found it was £45 to get in and see a few photos so we decided not to. During the Potato famine 20% population was killed (over 1 million). The potatoes were no good to eat because of potato plight. Largely because of the potato famine the population  today is half of what it was in 1840, which was between 8.2 and 8.5 million. According to 2017 statistics the population is now 4.749 million. We did have a look around Stevens Green mall, it had an interesting layout.

We walked around Trinity College grounds (University ) but didn’t go into the library where the books are stacked from ground level up to 4 stories. We wanted to go and see the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript which contains the 4 gospels of the New Testament done by monks, but the line was huge so we decided not to.

We did go to Stephens Green Park, where instead of ducks in the lake it was mostly seagulls, and despite it being duckling season there was not a single duckling to be seen. I suspect the seagulls!

We walked through the town and stopped and had a cup of tea at a book shop that reminded me of the unity book shop in Wellington, on the way we saw a few buskers. There was a man playing spoons, we probably left just before the Morris dancers!

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We went to the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland, established in 1198. I had seafood chowder which was like vegetable soup with hunks of salmon. It was nice but nothing like the chowder I am used to. Shellbe had goat cheese salad. Shellbe got a text to say her flight was cancelled, and despite trying she couldn’t get another flight and ended up having to stay another night.

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Shellbe came out for dinner with Brett, Tony, Michele and I to a really nice restaurant called the Elephant and Castle restaurant. I had a really nice chilli burger. Then Shellbe went to an airport hotel and I did a last re-organisation of my bag, ready to start the ride tomorrow.

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Sightseeing in Dublin – 27 May 2018

I woke up feeling much better after a pretty solid sleep. One problem with the hotel is it has air con but it is controlled centrally by the hotel, and the room is constantly too hot. Fortunately solved by opening the windows and thankfully the room is at the back of the hotel so there was no noise.

Off downstairs for breakfast which was a pretty standard buffet. Irish Tea is really good, will look for it when I get home. Then it was time to meet Shellbe, Michele and Tony for a day of site seeing.

There are 4,749 million people in Ireland of which 1,345 million live in a Dublin, which makes it a pretty busy city. The Dublin Hop On Hop Off bus departs right outside the hotel, stop number one!

First on the list we wanted to get to the Guinness brewery before it got too crowded. We got there just after 10 and because our hop on hop off pass includes a number of attractions we didn’t have to wait in the queue. Pretty amazing place, it is Dublin’s number one tourist attraction. Arthur Guinness was brewing ale in Lexlip County Kildare. In 1759 he signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum to lease 50 acres in St James Gate, which is where Guinness Brewery is today. Arthur and his wife Olivia had 21 children of which only 10 survived to adulthood. This was a bigger then expected percentage for the time, but pretty sad to think about.

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The brewery started brewing dark ale which was named Porters as it was well liked by the hospital porters, but over time it became known just as Guinness Stout. The Guinness brewery is the largest producer of stout in the world with 1.2 million barrels per annum.

The visitor center is huge, it is 7 stories high, and as you go through you learn the history of the place. The bottles have a harp on them which is an Irish symbol and at the brewery there is a virtual harp that you can play.

One section had old ads and one I found amusing was one that said “A woman needs a man as much as a fish needs a bicycle” and there was a statue of a fish cycling. Not sure what the advertising gimmick was but made me laugh.

As part of the tour you get to do a tasting and they run through the proper way to drink a Guinness – you are meant to gulp Guinness not sip it. If you sip it, it has a bitter taste, you are meant to drink a glass in 4 gulps. At the end of the tour you get up to the 7th floor and you get a pint of Guinness to drink while you can enjoy the 360 degree view of Dublin. I certainly didn’t manage to drink my pint in 4 gulps, was more like 10, but certainly enjoyed it more than previously gulping instead of sipping it. I was pleased we had got here early as there were long queues outside when we left.

Next stop the Jameson’s whiskey distillery, also not too crowded, we only had to wait about 15 minutes before we could go on a tour. In 1725 England put a tax on malted barley to pay for a war against France. Jameson started using in-malted barley, which the population came to prefer and still uses some un-malted barley today.

 

The tour guide was very enthusiastic about the product, and we ended up with a tasting where we tried a Scottish whiskey, an America whiskey, and Jameson’s whiskey. The Jameson’s was far nicer. The tour guide said it’s because Jameson’s is distilled 3 times, versus Scottish twice and American once. Not sure if they used an expensive Jameson and a cheap Scottish and America whiskey . . .

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Back on the bus again, we went past Dawson’s bar, the smallest bar in Ireland with a capacity of 40 people. The tour drivers have a running commentary on various places of significance, plus their own points of view. One tour driver noted that if Bono from U2 went to the Dawson bar, the capacity would be one given the size of his ego, and another asked us “How can you tell the difference between Bono and God? God has never thought he was Bono”, so clearly Bono is not appreciated in his home country.

We then went past a big sports stadium called Croke Park which is the historic home of Gaelic football. A couple of minutes later while we were driving along Shellbe pointed out a seagull who was eating a pigeon! I didn’t know they ate other birds! Shellbe later wished she hadn’t pointed it out, especially the third or so time I bought it up again that day.

We got off the bus to go to Christ Cathedral but we couldn’t go in straight away as the Sunday church service hadn’t finished. We went to a bar and had a beer. I had a Kinnegar Devils Backbone Amber Ale was quite nice. We got back to find we could go in to the Cathedral, but the 12 century crypt, which was why we had come here, was closed all day. We had a look around, it was a Church – nice stained glass windows but not much else of note. It’s claim to fame apart from the Crypt is that it’s the oldest building in Dublin.

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Time to head back to the city and think about something to eat. We didn’t really have much of a plan and for four of us jet lag was starting to reappear, so we settled on going to J W Sweetman Craft Brewery again, this time to eat. It was certainly much quieter than the previous evening. We got a table and ordered a range of pub food.

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Michele, Tony, Shellbe and I got the beer battered fish and chips which was cod and fries with mushy peas, was pretty average. I had a Hop 13 larger also brewed by Guinness. Brett got the Irish stew, which was delicious – tender and full of flavour. I had stayed away from Irish stew as an option having had some pretty unpleasant versions in the past but clearly a different dish here in its own country.

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Then it was time to head back to the hotel. Lots of homeless begging, lots of them late teens to late 20s. The unemployment rate in Ireland is the lowest it has been for years at 6.2% but the youth unemployment rate is still 12%. The young lady beggar from the dairy asked for more money to get home, but she got a reasonable amount yesterday from Brett, so didn’t give her anymore, instead donated to a couple of musicians.

Tomorrow we have the trip riders meeting, moving hotels, and then catching up with Shellbe.

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Travel to Dublin (arrived 26 May)

The flight from Wellington to Melbourne was pretty uneventful. I spent the flight reading my new Peter James book. I chatted to a couple of people in Melbourne while waiting for check in for the next flight.

I have pre-booked aisle seats all the way from New Zealand to Dublin (thanks Rachel, my travel agent, for your on-going assistance) as I tend to get up and down frequently. I would drive my fellow passengers mad, especially as I continue to do this the whole flight.

I couldn’t believe it when the row I was seated in, there was a passenger at the other end with two spare seats in between. I kept waiting for the last minute arrival of a very loud or large person who was going to be my neighbour for the next 13 hours, or a parent with a tantruming toddler, but oh yay, plane doors are shut and off we go!

I was looking forward to the chance to be able to stretch out a bit more and hopefully even sleep. That was until about an hour into the plane ride when I got up to go to the toilet, and came back to find the end of the row passenger wrapped in a blanket stretched out over her seat and the 2 spare seats!

I did try at various times to get my feet around her and get comfortable but didn’t really manage to do more than doze. Looking back I’m not sure why I didn’t just slowly push her feet off the seat next to me. I guess it’s a bit of a grey area as it’s not my seat so I don’t have any entitlement to it, just rely on people to have a sense of fair play when there are two people and two spare seats, we should get one each. However at one stage she was encroaching on my actual seat, and I had no problem giving her a gentle shove off.

I watched a couple of movies, one called 42 Grams which is about a couple who set up a restaurant called 42 Grams, the name is based on the premise that a soul weighs 21 grams and their combined souls make 42 grams.

It was interesting to see the hard work and how their whole life revolved around the restaurant. They got two Michelin stars in the first year. Then I watched The Snowman which is based on the Jo Nesbo book. I always find this leg endless and at about 10 hours into the flight I start thinking maybe flying business isn’t really just a waste of money. I reckon if there was a spare seat in business class, about 3 hours into the flight the airline should have an auction amongst the passengers, they would always sell out.

I was a bit anxious with the change in Dubai as only had an hour from landing to boarding the next plane and had to catch the train from one part of the terminal to the other. However it all went smoothly, the airport was not as busy as some other times and I got to the gate for the Dubai to Dublin flight in plenty of time. Brett’s flight also arrived on time and he got to the gate just after me 🙂

This flight was 7 hours, I watched a couple of movies that I have absolutely no idea what they were, I may very well watch them again on the way back, and think “this seems a bit familiar”.

I arrived in Dublin and joy oh joy the bike and bag arrived with me! Unlike New Zealand, Customs had no interest in my bike – no questions about dirt, forests etc so straight through and the pick up driver with van was on time.

Off to the hotel called Gresham Hotel on upper O’Connell, nice and close to town. On the way there the van driver gave a running commentary on “all the places in Ireland I tink you should be cycling to now”. I love the Irish ancient and the way the “h” disappears.

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On the way there, there were signs on every lamp post in relation to the abortion referendum that has just occurred.

We got there about 1pm, but sadly the room was not ready till 3pm. This felt like it was a life time away, especially having been travelling for about 36 hours and I just wanted to go to bed. So the bikes and bags were put in storage and then off to the town centre we went, into a pub called JW Sweetman.

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Clearly I was very jetlagged as I nearly mentioned the surprising number of Irish pubs I had seen walking here (duh). I whiled away the time with quite a nice beer called Hop 13, made by Guinness. At 3pm we went back to the hotel, checked in – at last a shower – then into bed for a few hours sleep before catching up with my daughter Shellbe.

Shellbe is living in London and has come over for the weekend to catch up with me 😀👍

Because we weren’t arriving until mid day Shellbe had gone on a full day tour to the cliffs of Mohir and various other places.

Nothing like a shower and clean sheets after about 36 hours on a plane. I went out like a light, the next thing I knew the phone was ringing and Shellbe was at reception.

Off to catch up and get something to eat. What I hadn’t thought about was 1) it was a Saturday night and 2) a major foot ball match was on – the town was pumping, everything was crowded and noisy. Eventually we found a steak bar that wasn’t too crowded (also didn’t sell any steak).

I had a Guinness pie which was excellent, the meat was really tender and full of flavour, Shellbe had lamb shank, huge and very tender and nice also, Brett had bangers and mash which was ok.

We walked Shellbe back to close to where she was staying despite her protesting that she is 30 and has travelled around the globe. There were a lot of homeless  people and drunken Saturday night people, so not walking her back to where she was staying wasn’t an option.

On the way back we went into a shop like a dairy and were approached by a homeless young lady who just needed bus fare to get home. Brett gave her some money, but she must live a long way away as she was still there the next evening, still just needing bus fare…

There are volunteers who have set up tables around the place with tea and coffee, and soup and bread for the homeless.

We organised to meet up at 9am to catch the Dublin Hop on Hop off Bus to spend a day sightseeing. Michele and Tony from the South American and the New Zealand rides are coming with us.

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Tuesday 4 July: Day 2 in London

Today was all about being a tourist, and seeing as much of London as possible in one day. First stop breakfast. For the first time I have not been concerned that I would not be able to find decent tea, as this is after all London. Unbelievable, endless teabags of every flavor known, apart from English Breakfast!! Luckily there was a twining tea called Every Day tea.

The buffet seemed a bit weird, no cereal or toast (or toaster) even though there were pots of marmalade and honey on the tables. I just assumed we had arrived after the rush, and had a croissant instead.

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Just before sunrise

After breakfast we got passes to the Original Tour Bus from the hotel, and headed to the stop to wait. Don’t ever get tickets for this bus – get tickets for the Big Bus, Golden Tours, or London Hop and Off – at least 3 each of these buses went past whilst we waited for the Original Bus to appear!

The bus was due at 10am, by 10:40 we were getting pretty frustrated, along with other people also waiting for this company, who like us were watching numerous other tour companies come and go in this time.

Finally the Original Bus arrived and off we went. We stayed on the bus for about and hour and half looking at the sights, and then we got off by Hyde Park and looked around the outside of Buckingham place and Westminster Abby.

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Buckingham Palace

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Westminster Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Trafalgar Square

I got a photo of me in a red phone box with Big Ben in the distance, looked at the horses by 10 Downing Street, and at 10 Downing Street from the gate.

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Horse Guards

We saw theaters (Phantom of the Opera has been running non stop for thirty years), and London Taxis and double decker buses, and hordes of tourists. There are a number of places I wanted to go to but ran out of tourist enthusiasm, as well as time –  Platform 9 3/4, Harrods, to name but a couple).

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Victoria Tower Gardens

We got on a cruise to go up the Thames back to Tower Bridge, and got off at the Globe Theatre stop, and looked at it from the outside. After looking around this is also on the list for the next trip.

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Westminster. Parliament House under repair

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River cruise back downstream

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The London Eye

It was nearly 3pm and we had not had lunch so we went into a pub to try the pub pies. I had a Steak and Ale pie, which came with gravy, mushy peas and potato. The pie inside was nice, but the pastry was really tough. Shellbe said later this is usual for them, rather than it having been over cooked. Brett had a Beetroot and Camembert pie which was also pretty nice.

Then off to The Shard which has a viewing platform on the 68th floor, where you can get a pretty good view over London.

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View over the River Thames and the Tower Bridge from The Shard.

Then back to the hotel to get changed before going out for dinner. We had dinner with Shellbe, Brett’s nephew Ben who lives in London, and Brett’s stepson (also called Brett) who was in London for work.

We all met at Canary wharf at an Italian restaurant called Amerigo Vespucci. I had risotto with truffle and salad, it was really nice.  We went both ways on the metro, I am starting to get a bit more familiar with changing lines.

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Last night in London

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Editor’s note: The caption that came with this picture was “No miracles just don’t happen” . . . 

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Monday 3 July: Amsterdam to London

Today we had to get packed and get to the airport to fly to London. I was quite excited, never having been to London before. We flew KML airlines to Heathrow and managed to arrive with bags, bike boxes, etc without any issues.

We flew into terminal four and then caught the train to terminal three (flying out from there), where the bike boxes are being left until we fly home. So much easier than having to cart big boxes around, and gives a range of transport options that would otherwise not be available. Thank you Shellbe for sorting this out.

We then caught the tube with a couple changes into central London, with Shellbe as our metro guide. We are staying at the Tower Hotel and the room has an amazing view of the Tower Bridge.

Once we were checked in we went out and had a meal at a nearby pub, at St Catherine’s Dock.

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St Katherine’s Dock

I had the house specialty, which was fish and chips with a container of mushy peas, gravy and tartare sauce. I was not convinced about mushy peas, and dipping chips in gravy sounds weird but was quite nice.

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Lunch at St Katherine’s Dock

After dinner, it was time to walk Shellbe to the Tower Bridge tube, but will see her again tomorrow.

The view of the Tower Bridge is stunning, and I especially enjoyed how different it looked at the different times of the day.

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Sunset over Tower Bridge

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Sunset Tower Bridge

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Tower Bridge after dark from Tower Hotel

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Saturday 1 July: Day one in Amsterdam

We had breakfast at 9 am then Shellbe and I headed off to the Metro by the hotel. It was only a 7 minute walk. Once we got into Amsterdam we had to change to a train out to Oosterleek, near Hoorn. We were going to visit Christel and Margreet who were Shellbe’s host mums when she was here in 2006 on a AFS (student exchange programme). Hard to believe that that was 11 years ago.

Christel picked us from the station. They have moved since Shellbe was here, to an old farm house. The farm house has a thatched roof and we went up into the attic and had a look at a thatched roof from the inside. The thatching needs to be replaced approx every 40 years. I noticed their house, and a number of others, had mostly thatching but also some tiles. Once tiles became available the more tiles you had the wealthier you were. On the way to their house Christel drove past where they used to live.

Both Christel and Margreet work with disabled people. They have 3 cats, plus a part time cat who stays when its owners are away, and a delightful spoodle called Pip. Pip is only 8 months old and is full of puppy energy, and the cats watch him with annoyance from their safe perches around the house.

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Christel (left) and Margreet and me

It was great to meet Christel and Margreet. In 2006 we didn’t have Skype, Messenger or FaceTime, although thankfully we did have email. It must have been hard in the days of handwritten letters, and toll calls being reserved for emergencies or specially occasions. When you did call you had to deal with the delay on the phone line.

For lunch they had all the different food that Michelle had enjoyed when she was here. Stroopwafels, croquettes with meat inside, chocolate sprinkles, cheese and bread.

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Christel (left) and Margreet and Shellbe

After a lovely lunch and catching up on all the news on both sides, Christel took us for a tour and we saw Shellbe’s old school, swimming pool, and soccer club, plus we went to Hoorn which is a lovely small town with lots of old ships on the port. A number of the buildings have a slight lean and this is because they are built on silt. Thankfully no earthquake issues here.

We drove along a couple of dykes, and I was surprised how many canals there are running through every town.

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Working windmill drinking barley (Editor’s note: I don’t know where/when Kaye saw this windmill, so I’m going to put it here as she apparently took zero photos of Hoorn and I need to break up this wall of text)

There were a lot of touring cyclists – Christel says you can pick the tourists as they are the ones wearing helmets. In the Netherlands only young children up to 9 years, and serious road cyclists, tend to wear helmets. All children learn to ride a bike at a young age and at 9 they have an assessment, where they ride through a chosen route through the town and there are people at corners assessing them. Once they pass this test they no longer have to wear helmets.

While we were at Hoorn, a family rode past – all blonde and in height sequence. There were two parents and four children, and it reminded me of Matryoshka dolls, each one smaller than the other.

There was a market on in the town, so we had a look around the stalls then sat at the wharf and had a cold drink, then it was time to go back to the city. When we were walking back to the station Christel pointed out some green and yellow bikes, these are called the lottery bikes. There is a monthly draw with 400 bikes each draw, and apparently there is also a draw for lottery suitcases that are also yellow and green.

We caught the train back into Amsterdam and met up with Brett at the train station.

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Back into Amsterdam after visiting Shellbe’s exchange host family.

We then went on an hour and a half canal cruise, looking at many different buildings and bridges.

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Canal boat cruise

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Bridge, bridge, bridge over canal

There are bikes are everywhere. At the central train station is a 3 story parking building for bikes. It was pretty busy, as it was Saturday night.

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Amsterdam Central

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Amsterdam Central

We went to a Vietnamese place for dinner, I had a really nice chicken curry. After dinner we wandered around the city a bit more, called into another pub, and walked though a couple of streets in the red light district. I was amused to see a porn club advertising a hospital bar, and a black and white cat quite at home nonchalantly wandering through the throngs of people.

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In the red light district

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Red Light district

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Then it was back to the Metro and back to the hotel. We stayed talking in the bar for another hour.

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Canal Elandsgracht

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Canal boat cruise

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Day 14: Rest day in Innsbruck (16 June)

It was nice to wake up today and not have to pull on the Lycra and head off on the bike. The biggest challenge today was trying to work out amongst the many selections which was black tea.

My arm and wrist was very sore when I woke up this morning, but I think this is most likely because of all the braking, especially on the downhill yesterday.

After breakfast the first job was laundry, followed by the continuing hunt for conditioner. On the way to the laundry we went past a shop selling shampoo etc so stopped in there on the way back. Success! I now have conditioner called Pfledge -Spulung, moisturiser, more sunscreen, plasters and a new toothbrush 👍.

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Golden Roof

Back to the hotel for a couple of hours to catch up on emails, blog and the news, then we went for a wander around before lunch in the old town.

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Inns River and Old Town

There were a number of street performers, a lady all dressed in silver with her dog with a hat and a plaster on his paw. Real or not, it evoked sympathy and cash, followed by the Headless man and Charlie Chapman.

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The Silver Lady

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With the Headless Man and Charlie Chapman

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Where’s the Silver Lady gone?!

There were a number of stores selling souvenirs, but nothing of enough interest to try and fit in my bag for the next three weeks.

We had lunch at a restaurant called the Golden Adler.  I had fish fettuccine which was with a fish called Bio Char. It was nice, not creamy like the fettuccine I am used to though. Brett had braised leg of lamb with cremolata, garlic sauce, polenta and vegetables.  We had a bottle of red wine: Kaiser Josef Blauer Zweigeit classic 2015 winery Philip Grass from the lower Austria region. This is the most common red wine grape in Austria.

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Lunch at Golden Adler

While we were eating a nun with twins turned up and settled them both into high chairs. One of the twin boys was very friendly, and kept engaging me in smiling and chatting. The mum said they were 12 months old but were born 12 weeks early. One of the boys was smaller at birth and is still smaller, he was not as friendly but I did get him smiling a few times with peek a boo, hiding my face behind a serviette. I felt quite honoured when the mum asked if she could leave the friendly twin with me while she took the other one off to change him.

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Gran “baby sitting” while mum changes other twin.

At the back of the restaurant outside the hotel, there was a wall list of names going back to the 1494 Kaifeng Maximilian the first century, two of note: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1773 and Albert Chamus who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952.

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The wall

After lunch we wandered around for a bit more, and saw a pretty pink bike with flowers and a basket – I thought if my daughter Kelly rode a bike, I think it would look like this. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap and a couple of messenger calls with two of my children Kelly (blog editor) and Tracey.

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Found a bike for Kelly 🙂

We caught up with Janice (who had fallen off her bike yesterday) and she had been and had a CT scan, and thankfully nothing ominous was found.

We had dinner at a restaurant called Ottoburg. It was really nice being able to sit outside and eat without having to worry about the gusts of Wellington wind. I had a really nice rack of lamb for dinner.

Afterwards it was back to the hotel to pack, and get ready for tomorrow.

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Central Plazas

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Day 4: Rest day in Split

I slept off and on, there was a full-on party on the promenade most of the night. When this fizzled out the street cleaners took over.

My arm is pretty sore, it’s not too bad holding it straight, but as soon as I try to rotate it, ouch! Luckily this trip has a number of doctors: there are 3 ED doctors Kathy, John H, and Peter M, plus Tony the cardiologist. So when I went down to breakfast I pretty much picked the first doctor I saw, which was Peter M, and got a consult. Sure beats spending hours waiting around at medical clinics.

The consensus of Peter and John was there is no break at the wrist, and possibly a small crack in the radial head (which wouldn’t be plastered anyway) and badly sprained. Approx time to come right is about 10 days. Riding won’t make it any worse, and whether I can ride will depend how sore it is. Thankfully today is a rest day as I don’t think I would be able to ride with it today. Fingers crossed it is improved tomorrow.

Breakfast was an experience trying to do everything with my left hand. Amazing how difficult it is to use a spoon or butter toast with your non-dominant hand.

After breakfast Brett and I headed off to get the laundry, and then to a small supermarket. I have been trying to get some hair conditioner since I got to Bosnia but neither country appears to sell it. My hair is looking seriously messy! Back at the hotel I spent some time catching up with the blog (thankfully typing doesn’t require me to rotate my arm).

Then off to explore, we looked around for a while and then we went to a place called Chop for lunch. I chose the Angus Beef Burger and had major food envy as Brett chose Lamb chops and they looked amazing. Luckily Brett gave me one of the chops. Have a look at the photo, you will see what I mean. We had a very nice red Korlat Syrah.

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Next we went for a walk around in the old town, very interesting, lots of small alleys with the buildings very close together. Just about every alley had a few tables with sometimes the restaurants just inside, and sometimes a couple of streets away. You would see waiters weaving their way through the streets with food or empty plate.

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Old town

A huge underground shopping area, plus in the Diocletian’s palace in the vestibule were Dalmatian singers, stopping in between each song to hawk off their CD.

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The Vestibule at southern end of the Peristil

I bought some sandals with slip resistant soles (something I should have done before I left NZ). I also bought a couple of presents for the grand babies, a plug, and could not resist a quick visit into the lolly shop.

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Cathedral tower rising above the Peristil

After this we went back out onto the promenade and a pirate looking ship caught my eye. My granddaughter Lucy likes dressing up as a pirate, and pirate stories, so I decided to have a look at the ship and take a photo. When we got up to it we were asked if we wanted to go on an hour and half cruise. We asked when it was sailing and “Now” was the response, so we hopped on board.

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We headed out along the coast for about 35 minutes, it was really nice being in the sun and the breeze. Then they stopped and said anyone who wants to go swimming now is your chance. I had no togs (or swimmers as they are called in Aussie) but with the beating sun and inviting looking clear blue water, it was an easy choice: off with the sunnies, hat, and shoes, and over the side.

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It was amazing warm water, we spent about 15 minutes swimming. It was a bit of mission to get back in the boat, as I had to go up a ladder which started at the water line. This required hauling up my body weight, but not being able to use one arm. Thankfully Brett went up first and gave me a helpful pull.

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Heading back to the waterfront

Once we got back to shore we wandered around the old city some more. Whilst walking up on alley we noticed a sign “wine tasting”, so we stopped at Diocletian’s Wine House to try 3 Croatian wines.

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First was a white Kujundzusa, unfortunately I can’t make out the rest of the name on the photo. We tasted this with shrimp and feta
Second was a red Dingac Nikolica, we tasted this with prosciutto and cheese
Third was also a red, Bedalov Zinfandel. We tasted this with cheese and honey.

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This grape wine Zinfandel got a disease and was dying out in Croatia, there were only 25 vines left. Some of the wine makers took some of the surviving plants to other countries so the type of vine would have a chance to survive. 20 years ago the vine was bought successfully back from America and now this wine is made again Croatia.

While we were there, we asked about the sign that said they prepared traditional Dalmatian food. They prepare a dish called Peka, which is a famous Dalmatian dish prepared with meat or octopus and vegetables. The ingredients are placed in a covered pan and cooked in the embers of the fire. This type of cooking is often referred to as cripnja (under the bell) as the pans often have a bell shaped lid. As this is the only rest day in Croatia we booked in for this at 8pm.

We wandered around a bit more, then back to the hotel to tidy up and get ready for the next day.

At 8 pm on the dot we arrived back at Diocletian’s restaurant, ready for a new food experience. The Peka was good, it was very rich as the liquid content had reduced due to the long slow cooking. I thought it was just over onto the slight overdone side, but still enjoyed it. This was followed by a panna cotta with berries, also very nice but much thicker / denser than any panna cotta I have had before.

Then it was time to return to the hotel, another day riding tomorrow. Pretty noisy outside, but am pretty tired after last night so hopefully will sleep ok.

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Diocletian’s Palace

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Day 2 in Sarajevo, Bosnia

I woke up this morning feeling much better. After breakfast I spent some time sorting out my bags and catching up with the blog.

At 10am was a compulsory new riders meeting. A bit painful when you have done a number of rides already. Then it was bike checks to ensure all our bikes are in good working order. After that we had the rest of the day to ourselves.

I was interested in getting to understand a bit more of the history of Sarajevo, especially the siege that lasted from April 1992 to February 1996. Plus I wanted to go and see the tunnel. We booked a tour to go and see the tunnel, meeting in town at 2pm. While we were waiting we had a look around the old town and had some lunch.

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Sarajevo Old Town

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Sarajevo

Background info:
There are a number of complex reasons and background history to the war, but in summary the war started because the Serbs and the Croats living in Bosnia wanted to divide it amongst themselves. The Bosnian population is predominantly made up of Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims).
The overall death toll on all sides of the war was 10,000.
There were atrocities on all sides, including genocide and the Srebrenica massacre where 8,500 men and boys were slaughtered.

The siege of Sarajevo lasted 3 and half years, the city had no power, was running out of food, and no heating with winters that reach up to minus 20 degree C.

3 of the 4 hillsides were held by enemy forces . The 4th hill side could only be gotten to by across the airport, which was controlled by the UN. Crossing there the snipers would shoot at anyone they saw.

There were 10,000 people, killed 1,400 of them children, in the siege of Sarajevo. The snipers on the hillside would shoot anything that moved in the city, and on average 300 shells were fired at the city daily. Over 20 years later there are shell holes in numerous buildings, and many ruined buildings still waiting destruction or repair. The main route through the city was known as sniper alley.

Coming into Sarajevo, still plenty of evidence of the siege (Photo credit: Brett’s Facebook page)

A tunnel was built under the airport to the hillside. This tunnel was also referred to as the tunnel of hope. It was constructed from March to June 1993. The tunnel was dug 24 hours a day, in shifts of 8 hours each. 2,800 square meters of dirt had to be disposed of in such a way that it was not noticed by the Serbs up on the hillside.

The tunnel was referred to as the Trojan horse of Bosnia. It allowed food, guns and medical supplies to be bought in. Also a pipeline of oil and electricity. There were over a million trips. Each journey took two hours, and the height of the tunnel meant the majority of people could not stand up straight in it.

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Sarajevo Tunnel House

The tour guide gave the history of the siege and the tunnel. Most of the tunnel is now collapsed, but we got to go in a 20 metre section that still exists. I had to stoop, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in it for two hours, laden down with stuff.

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Inside the Sarajevo Tunnel

After the tour Brett and I stopped and had a cold beer, and we shared a Bosnian sandwich, which is bread with a selection of meat, cheese, and coleslaw. It was very nice.

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Sarajevo beer o clock

Back at the hotel I was feeling very tired, so had a nap for a couple of hours. Then we walked to a couple of restaurants, but we had not realised Ramadan had finished and it was the start of 3 days feasting, so they were all booked. Instead we stopped at a small supermarket and bought some stuff for a picnic back at the hotel.

After packing the bag, it was time for an early night. I am feeling a bit intimidated by the thought of riding 135km, with 2000 meters climbing, tomorrow.

Links from Kaye about the Seige:

https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Siege-of-Sarajevo
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarajevo_Tunnel

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First day in Sarajevo (rest day for riders)

Having gone to bed about 7pm I was wide awake about 4am. Earlier in the night I woke up as I had heard some singing/ chanting which I wasn’t sure what it was. Later at breakfast one of the riders said it was related to Ramadan, and it was called “singing to welcome the new moon”.

As there are no tea or coffee making facilities in the room I was downstairs at 7am, the moment the restaurant opened for breakfast, to get a cup of tea. I met four new riders from Sydney who were doing their first TDA ride and chatted to them for awhile. After an omelette and a few more cups of tea I headed back upstairs and fell asleep again.

I was woken by the phone just after midday to say Brett had arrived and was waiting down in reception.

We caught up on family news, Brett had a shower and then we headed out to have a look at the town. Unlike yesterday where the heat was stifling, today was not cold but not too hot either. We didn’t really do any site-seeing just milled around, and sat watching the crowds.

For dinner we went to a place called Apetit, which is rated number two for restaurants on TripAdvisor. It was only a five minute walk from the hotel, hence the decision to go there and not to the number one.

It was an interesting place, only seats 12 with no menu for food or wine. They cook and serve a selection of what they have got that day. It was a lovely evening, the staff were the chef and the wait person, who I think was also the owner.

We started with a salad and then had steak with vegetables and pepper sauce. Yum – no room left for dessert.

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Afterwards we had a wander around for a little while, stopped at an English pub complete with a red phone box and Laurel and Hardy outside. We went inside and had a drink. I had forgotten what it was like when people could smoke in pubs and restaurants yuk!

Back to the hotel as jet lag was catching up with me.

a phone box

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