Ireland -- June 14 - July 3, 2005
June 14th Arrival Dublin - The Journey Begins
We arrived in Ireland a day late and better for it. We chose to take a bump on our flight from Philly to Dublin. In return we got a hotel room, food vouchers, $800 and first class seats to Glascow Scotland. In addition we were able to kill 5 hours in the US Air lounge for first class passengers. The time went quicky! The flight over was great. Coach might be hard to take for the rest of our flights! What a treat. The irony being that the seats for our original flight were in the last row, by the bathroom, gally and engines and the seats wouldn't recline. I didn't mike giving up those seats at all.
Our week in Cape Cod with Aaron's dad was wonderful. Great weather and extremely relaxing. Much needed after the previously hectic 3 weeks of closing out our work lives for a year and coordinating all of the packing etc. We slept better than we had in the previous month and managed to incorporate almost daily naps. We also were able to do a few of our favorite bike rides. Nice to get in some saddle time. That will help.
We will leave Dublin in a couple of hours. We hope to have a day or two on our return in 3 weeks to scope out the city. The hostel we are staying in has a very international flavor and it's fun to be in that environment once again. Our bike seems to have gone together well. We have yet to ride it but that will change shorthly. Weather is overcast and cool. We found that we were the only ones to be wearing shorts as we arrived yesterday and most are wearing fall type clothes. I don't get the impression shorts and short sleve shirts are big sellers here!
It will feel great to start our journey. In many ways it feels like it has been a long time coming and in others it feels like it has come upon us quickly. Overhearing some of the conversations in the hostel where people are talking about where they have been and where they are going is energizing. We overheard one guy talk about how he's been traveling extensively for the past 6 weeks and reeled of almost a dozen European countries and said he's going home today and is very ready. We talked about how we'd better not feel that way in 6 weeks!! Even if that happens, we are confident in our ability to reframe things and keep going.
After 19 days on the bike and a tad over 1400 kilometers we arrived back in Dublin. The big city feels overwhelming after spending nearly all of our time in the back roads of the south and west coasts. Overall we had wonderful cycling weather during our journey. The first couple of days were misty and foggy and at times visibility was limited to 100 meters or so. Then things improved and we had great temps and riding weather...not too hot and lots more tailwinds than headwinds. June is a great month to visit Ireland as tourist season hasn't really started yet. We had no troubles getting accomodations. We camped every night but one. However, many of the nights were at hostels where we set up tent in a yard and then had use of the hostel kitchen fascilities. It worked out really well.
We experienced some of the steepest hills we've ever climbed and that was in the first few days. Talk about working ourselves into shape! A couple of times it surprised us that we didn't have to walk given how much we are carrying with us. Thank goodness for the drum brake that we had installed for this trip for the descents were quite challening. Fortunately the steepest climbs typically weren't more than a kilometer and we were able to grunt through it. We came to the conclusion that it will be good if these are the steepest roads we encounter throughout our trip. We know we'll cover much longer climbs but will hope that they are more gradual.
The coast line along the Ring of Berea, Ring of Kerry, and Dingle Peninsula are phenomenal. We also found that some of the inland routes are just as beautiful in their own way. The drivers were remarkably courteous as they waited patiently to pass us when the curvy roads didn't allow for safe passage.
We visted several castles dating back to the 15th century. Truly incredible. What was most astounding were the creation of stone fences/walls throughout the southwest that have stood the test of time. They are everywhere and the intensity of the labor required boggles the mind.
Tributes to the following: John, Jerry, Chris, Dave and the gang at Old Town Bike Shop for sending us off with our bike in great shape. We hoisted a Guinness for you. Jeff and Barb: your tires took us throughout our time in Ireland. We were hoping to say that they did so without a flat, but 3 days before our finish we had a slow leak. We pumped it up 4 times at 2k distances till we arrived at our campsite where we found and patched the leak. Other than that the tires gave the remainder of thier life to a great cause and managed great through the often challenging rural road conditions. Edward McGuinness (true last name): The US Airways flight agent in Boston who, when he saw our itinerary said 'I've never seen an itinerary like that in my 21 years of working here...I'll bump you to first class for your flight from Boston to Philly.' Naturally we hoisted a Guinness for him as well! Bob and Anne for sending us off with such great support from so many of our friends, and for maintaining our website earthbytandem.com. Barry, for taking care of our lives at home while we are away. We hoisted tofu for you!
We have become increasingly proficient in packing and breaking down our bike as well as our daily routines for packing and setting up our campsites. We were always able to get our tent dry if we packed it wet prior to it getting rained on again. Fortunately we had more times where it rained at night and stayed clear during the day. We should only be so fortunate for the remainder of our tour!
We think of our family and friends alot and appreciate the emails we've received keeping us in touch with your lives. We leave for England tomorrow and are fortunate to be staying with our friends Mick and Chris who we met in Yellowstone as they were two and a half years into a 3 year round the world bike tour. They were a motivating catalyst for us and we look forward to reconnecting with them.