Ireland to UK and France

 Day Sixty Two  – Friday 12th August – Ireland

IMG_8446.JPG

Slieve League – as we should have seen it without fog! ( A photo in the hotel foyer !)

Early morning start as Rob and Dorothy had a long way to drive to catch the 12.30 pm car ferry to Scotland. Breakfasts here start at 8am – so we’d booked an early one at 7.15am – to be greeted by a grumpy waitress saying “she hadn’t been told”. We’ve found in our travels that nothing much gets going in Ireland before about 10am so we assumed we’d have the roads to ourselves but not in Donegal where their driving is “notorious”. We’d had to stop at a red light set up for road works ahead and were the first car at the head of a queue but a split second after the light turned green a car came screeching up the outside lane, overtaking us and the stream of other waiting cars. at about 80-90 kms an hour!  Fortunately, Rob checked his mirror before driving off, avoiding an almost certain accident. Mary subsequently told us that Donegal is renowned for its appalling drivers and an incredibly high number of accidents.

Donegal was another beautiful Irish town centred around a town square. Rob and Dorothy dropped us off, we said our goodbyes and wandered over to the bus stop. We were expecting to have to wait more than two hours for our bus at 10.40am Galway but found there was an earlier one at 8.40 am. Yay!! We arrived in Limerick at 2.30pm. Mary was kindly there to meet us  Kerrie wished herself a Happy Birthday New Zealand time at 1pm and Australian time at 3pm.

 Day Sixty Three – Saturday, 13th August – Ireland “Kerrie’s birthday!”

Birthday greetings from Andrew, Graham and Mary, some funny birthday cards, beautiful set of sterling silver ear rings from Andrew, engraved in ancient Irish ogham writing, and  gorgeous texts and email messages from Jessica, Miranda and Serena.

Drove around Lough Derg to Mountshannon village,  down to water’s edge where we caught a boat across to Holy Isle famous for its three old churches and history dating back to the early 6th century.

It has been a place of pilgrimage for over a thousand years – pilgrims still  come and even now the locals can choose to be buried there. The round stone tower is intact and the story goes that there were no doors on the ground floor and the monks hid in there, drawing up the ladder behind them when the Vikings came up the river. We spent an hour and a half wandering around the island, exploring the monuments. Andrew found the bargaining stone where you shook your hands underneath to seal the deal and could also renew your vows. 

IMG_8513.JPG

Back on shore we bought a book about the Holy Isle written by our boatman, Gerard Madden. We found a table in the village, beside the local market and set up our picnic – brilliantly prepared by Mary! Everyone agreeing how wonderful picnics are and how we should have them more often!

Mary had arranged for us to get a personal tour of St Flannan’s Cathedral – including the bell tower. Bryan Brislane, the organist kindly took us around and told us about the archaeological and historical highlights.

We had to climb a multitude of steps to reach the bell tower but it was worth it.

The views over Killaoe were great and on the way down, Bryan gave us an impromptu carillon performance on the bells – and then gave Andrew a go – can’t say that would gather in the faithful!

That night we drove to Scarriff where Graham had booked us in for a birthday dinner to celebrate Kerrie’s special day. The dinner was at a popup restaurant in the community garden centre which Graham played a major role establishing and securing funding for.

Halfway through the night the three Italian chefs and their wives appeared singing Happy Birthday and carrying a birthday fruit pie with “Happy Birthday Kerrie” written in pastry across the top.

IMG_8557.JPG

 Day Sixty Four  – Sunday 14th August – Ireland

We spent the morning helping to set up for a picnic and barbecue in the Killaloe community village garden bedside the playground – another of Graham and Mary’s projects. Graham and Mary’s tent tested everyone’s spatial awareness capabilities.

Walked to the Sunday Farmer’s Market by the canal to buy coffee, cakes and food for the picnic which lasted through the afternoon, attended by at least 30-40 people, grand success.

Day Sixty Five  – Monday 15th August – Ireland

At last – the sun appears!! Blue skies beckon. We say goodbye to Graham who heads off to work by Clare-bus , the community transport service set up Graham. Mary, Andrew and Kerrie drive to The Burren for a one night two-day mini break.

First stop – Corrofin – National Parks and Heritage centre with a stuffed goat and hare!

Second stop – Kilfenora at the Burren Visitor centre. We watched a short film about the Burren, its geological formation 340 million years ago in tropical seas around the equator. Afterwards,  we went through a very good exhibition with visual timeline of evolution and natural history of The Burren and dioramas depicting life in Neolithic times.

From there drove to Carran to visit the Burren Perfumery – interesting although the scents were not Kerrie’s taste, but we enjoyed the walk in their herb/flower garden. 75% of Ireland’s plant species grow in The Burren – including many wild flowers.

Back to the main road through the Burren and found the ring fort of Caherconnell – the largest archaeological monument in the region – dating to 10th century.

IMG_8613.JPG

with drystone walls 3m tall and 3 m thick; the fort continued in use until the start of the 17th century. The site also includes evidence of occupation dating back to the Bronze Age.

 

A further 1-2 kms up the road was the megalithic tomb at Poulnabrone, dating to around 3800 yrs BC, the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland.

IMG_8650.JPG

This dolmen is a portal tomb. Had a picnic prepared by Mary – then walked to the tomb via a series of public information boards.

IMG_8639.JPG

Had a long talk with an attendant from the Office of Public Works whose job is to monitor and guard the site – he gave us a depressing catalogue of disrespect – “everyone has rights but no respect” and sheer idiocy. Defacement, defilement, burning, urinating, defecating, wanting to be photographed naked on top, playing golf shots from the monument, etc  – unbelievable behaviour – sadly reflecting the narcissistic me-focused culture of today. He blames social media – everyone just wants the selfie – preferably doing something outrageous or unusual.

Continued across the Burren – through more dramatically eroded landscape, with bare rocks and glaciated hills.

IMG_8660.JPG

Found our B & B – The Waters. Quirky – oldie worldie style – but actually built in modern times.

Owned by Wolfgang an expat Austrian and acquaintance of Graham and Mary’s from 10 yrs ago. We checked in to our rooms and drove on south along the coast to Fanore. Beautiful late afternoon sun glinting on the seas looking out towards the Aran Isles where we’re going tomorrow.

Headed back north in search of a restaurant for dinner – we saw one pub with a sign outside “Today – Irish summer”! We had been recommended The Lobster Barn – but it was booked solid. We wound up in a village another 10 kms further north called Kinvarra and got a table at the Pier Head Inn– with a view over the harbour.

As the sun set and moon rose we drove back to The Waters and bed.

 Day Sixty Six  – Tuesday 16th August – Ireland

After a night in single beds, Austrian style  – we enjoyed an excellent breakfast and headed to Doolin to catch the ferry to the Aran Isles. We arrived just in time –  Kerrie saved the day by spotting that we had to pay parking (5 Euros). It seemed like thousands queueing for boats – with at least three waiting. Ours was the Tranquility.

IMG_8700.JPG

We got away about 10am – it took half an hour to get to Inisheer, the smallest of the three islands – a reasonably smooth trip, beautiful sunny day – the island looked gorgeous with its stone walls and folksy village. The pony and trap operators were out to make as much money as they could in the sunshine and we were bombarded with requests to go on a “jaunty ride”- a 45 min tour of the island. We chose to go with Tony Costelloe and his horse Maggie (his golden retriever dog running in front all the way) and shared our passage with an elderly Italian woman, an Italian couple and a young Dad from Cork with his four and five year old boys who sat next to Tony and dissolved into hysterics when Maggie the Clydesdale horse “unloaded” shortly after we started, then covering their faces with their hands and groaning at the pungent odour coming from Maggie’s behind! Tony said we had to excuse Maggie as she’d a had a big night out!

IMG_8712.JPG

Tony had spent his entire life on the island, his great grandfather was shipwrecked here and stayed, and he had the hairiest check bones, eye brows and ears we’d ever seen. We couldn’t understand much of what he said but what he did say was hilarious.

We drove past an earthen mound burial site that had contained human bones dated to 1500 BC and on past the airport to a rusty hulk of a cargo ship that had run aground in the 60’s.

Ten minutes to walk around the shoreline but that turned into 20 as Andrew and Tony both went to find the elderly Italian woman who was late getting back and unapologetically got back into the trap.

IMG_8726.JPG

Those of us in the back were asked to volunteer to get out and walk up the island’s steepest incline to help Maggie, and thank goodness we didn’t meet any cars coming the other way, there was barely enough room for the pony and trap on to narrow roads in between the stone fences.

IMG_8729.JPG

We continued on to the housing area, most of which were sweet stone houses, but took the opportunity to get off at the next stop near the ruins of an old castle (O’Brien’s Castle) on the highest part of the island.

IMG_8750.JPG

We walked up to the castle, thick stone walls surrounding incredibly tiny rooms, with grassy surrounds and views of pastures enclosed by dry stone fences – some sheltering small herds of cud-chewing cattle. We were disappointed to see some people climbing on the crumbling walls of the historic 700 year old monument. No signs. to discourage them, however.

IMG_8752.JPG

We walked down to the village and Andrew noticed a sign post for a craft shop where we expected to find genuine Aran Island gifts but when we asked the guy in the shop where some jewellery came from he had no idea nor what any of it meant.!

Back at the wharf, we waited for the boat for the return trip. Hordes of ferry passengers started arriving and queueing at the end of the wharf for our ferry. Fortunately, Kerrie overheard two Americans asking where the ferry was to dock and it turned out it was where we were waiting so we managed to be the first ones on the boat when it docked and watched as what seemed like hundreds of the others who had queued at the other end of the wharf raced towards us when they realised they were in the wrong spot. There were so many wanting to get on board they had to bring in a second boat. In the meantime, our boat departed and we had three upper deck seats with fantastic views of the island

IMG_8783.JPG

and the Cliffs of Moher  – all part of the trip home  – before we docked.

IMG_8786.JPG

We drove on to visit the Cliffs of Moher – along with what felt like several thousand other tourists! At least a dozen coaches parked up and throngs walking up and along the cliffs.

IMG_8797.JPG

It felt like Disneyland.

IMG_8790.JPG

It is now the most visited natural site in Ireland, and we could see why – the views were stunning, with cliffs rising dramatically 214 metres out of the ocean – certainly worth the visit – spoiled only by the behaviour of many people walking outside the fence along the edge of the cliffs, either oblivious to or unconcerned about the dangers of plunging to their deaths.

IMG_8812.JPG

Parents with children, teenagers, even joggers diced with the death.

IMG_8803

Candidates for the Darwin awards, surely!

IMG_8810.JPG

There’s a memorial to the people who’ve lost their lives here – some suicides but also accidents.

We headed home – tired but having had an amazing day.

Day Sixty Seven  – Wednesday 17th August – Ireland

Our last full day in Ireland, and the weather returned to its sullen gloomy grey, the sky was overcast and the rain came in showers as forecast. The four of us drove to the Cloughjordon Eco village in Co Tipperary which Graham and Mary had been involved with over the years. An inspiring concept to create a self-sustaining, ecologically managed village on 67 acres, but it looked a little tired – perhaps a victim of Ireland’s economic struggles. 

That night we went out for a farewell dinner at Graham and Mary’s favourite Italian restaurant in Killaloe.

IMG_8818.JPG

Day Sixty Eight  – Thursday 18th August – Ireland

Our last day in Ireland and true to form it was rainy, wet and humid. We packed up and Mary drove us to the airport at 2.30pm, about a 45 minute drive. Hard to say goodbye as we’d had such a great time, done so much and been such a part of their daily lives.

Flying with Ryan air to Gatwick was “interesting”. Fortunately, we had paid for booked seats so we boarded first. We experienced our first aborted landing on the final approach to Gatwick. As we were coming into land the engines suddenly roared, the pilot accelerated and the plane was climbing steeply back up. One of the stewards quickly announced that the pilot had had to abort the landing and he would soon reveal why but not to worry! Apparently, a plane had not vacated the runway in time.

Mary and David were there to meet us.  We had a catch up before watching the Olympics and waiting for the Forbes-Harpers to arrive from New York at midnight. A memorable occasion as the three of us who’d been friends at Cambridge hadn’t met up for almost thirty years!

Day Sixty Nine  – Friday 19th August – UK

Nigel and Michelle headed off to rendezvous with Nigel’s brother up north. Meanwhile, Dave and Mary drove us all down to Tunbridge Wells to have lunch with Barbara Hill – great to catch up, she’d prepared a great lasagne. Susi Cuthbert arrived after lunch – not knowing we were there – much to her surprise! Very nice to see and catch up with her after what must be twenty years.

From there we drove across town to visit Richard Wilkinson, now 76. Richard was in fine form – extemporising on an amazing range of topics – still as funny, witty and sharp as ever. What a man!

IMG_8838.JPG

Dinner at The Moon and Stars.

Day Seventy – Saturday 20th August – UK

IMG_0848.JPG

Kerrie and I went to the British Museum to see the Sunken Treasures exhibition of ancient Egyptian carvings, statues and artefacts from the lost cities of Thonis/Heracleion and Canopus which thrived on the north western edge of the Nile delta from around 650BC. They disappeared around 700AD – most likely due to a massive earthquake that caused liquefaction since the city was built on silt and sand. They sank beneath the waters of Abukir Bay, lost for over a thousand years. Dinner at Dave and Mary’s. Last night for Nigel and Michelle who’re off to Vienna at the crack of dawn.

IMG_8851.JPGIMG_8858.JPG

Day Seventy One – Sunday 21st August – UK

Visited Andrew’s Uncle Colin and Cousin Ruth, Holger and Peter in Grays. Very good to see them all and catch up on family.

Everyone looking well.

Colin had sold an old dresser on eBay, Ruth checked the drawers before the new owners came to collect it – and discovered amongst other documents, a photo of Andrew’s mother dated Cairo, October 1947.

Day Seventy Two – Monday 22nd August – UK

Called Serena – who’s missing “home”. Her team at Arana won the women’s college rugby championship. We went into town to meet up with Alex and Hilary Dyce for lunch

– then on to Exhibitionism, celebrating the life and times of The Rolling Stones at the Saatchi Gallery. A remarkable collection of memorabilia with interactive audio-visual media including the opportunity to remix some of their classic tracks and watch a 3D movie of them performing an extended version of Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Brilliant.  An excellent day with Alex and Hilary. We said cheerio and walked to Waterstones and bought French map.

Day Seventy Three  – Tuesday 23rd August – UK-Paris

Said our farewells to Mary who drove us to the station, Dave accompanied us to St Pancras – which turned out to be very handy as trains were all over the place and finding the right train and platform at East Croydon was tricky! Said cheerio to Dave at St Pancras and went through customs and security check. A very smooth ride to Gare du Nord. Found the Metro and used our Paris card for access – not far to Odeon and after a slight battle with the inevitable steps (no lift) we found our way to Hotel Odeon in St Germain. Cosy and quirky with stone walls and wooden beams – with a nice touch of free drinks (soft) in the foyer and mini bar.

Deciding to make the most of our 2 and a half days in Paris, we took the metro to the Seine by Tour dÉiffel and booked ourselves onto a river cruise using the Paris Pass. Just missed the 7pm, so went for the next one at 8pm – to kill time we tried to get a meal at  the floating restaurant next door but it was so slow we walked away. A very relaxing and delightful hour trip along the River Seine..

IMG_8918.JPG

– warm weather and blue skies brought out the crowds, many picnicking along the shore, in one spot there were 3-4 groups dancing to Latin music . Very Parisian!  

The architecture and character of Paris is so gracious and grand, gold topped monuments glinting in the late day sun.

IMG_8898.JPG

The 8pm ride proved to be a good choice, effectively the sunset tour, dusk setting in on the home run and as if on cue, the Eiffel Tower lit up with flickering lights as we docked.

We decided to walk back along the river towards our hotel – and took the metro from Les Invalides where hundreds of people were picnicking on the grass – with their salads and bread and bottles of wine. Wonderful! We took a different exit from the Odeon metro and found ourselves in the Latin quarter, and as happens so delightfully in Paris, we rounded a corner to find ourselves in a small square with a pair of restaurants in the centre. Picked one and had dinner, still busy at 10 pm. A superb end to a great day.

Day Seventy Four  – Wednesday 24th August – Paris

Breakfast at nearby café – café au lait and croissant, a fine start to a Parisian day!  Took the metro to the Louvre where the Paris Pass got us in without fuss or queues.

IMG_8943.JPG

We decided we’d head to the Italian masters – and of course the major drawcard, the mecca of art lovers – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Even though we arrived not long after the museum opened – the galleries were thronging with people from around the world. Inevitably a large crowd gathered in front of Da Vinci’s enigmatic masterpiece.

Sadly, most were focused on getting a photo and a selfie, few seemed to actually look carefully at or admire the painting itself. This turned out to be the pattern of behaviour we saw everywhere. It’s ‘here’s me and Da Vinci/Caravaggio/Titian’, etc. On the plus side, it was great to see so much fantastic, classic works of art – almost in profusion – and to see so many people keen to be there. And of course the palace itself is a work of architectural art. We slowly made our way along the gallery, taking in masterpieces from Italy, France and Spain – from the 13th to 17th centuries.

Some more surprising and than others..

IMG_8935.JPG

Downstairs was a collection of more ‘modern’ British painters – including Constable, Turner, Fuseli and Gainsborough.

After immersing ourselves in the stunning display of European art for 2-3 hours, we exited into the Tuileries Gardens and the scorching temperatures of a Paris heatwave – 35 degrees as we found out, unusual apparently. Armed with our Sunday Afternoon broad-brimmed hats and lathered in sunscreen, we sauntered through the Gardens, enjoying the classical beauty, the shade, the trees and the fountains; watching other tourists and French sitting under trees or sunbathing beside a fountain.

We noticed a distinct absence of rubbish anywhere – quite a contrast to England and Eire. Lunched at an open-air restaurant under the shade of an umbrella before continuing to the Place de la Concorde. We could see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance and somewhat courageously given the heat, decided we’d walk all the way – along the Champs Elysées and past the Grand Palais. Using our Paris Pass, we fast-tracked our way past the inevitable queue and marched up a seemingly endless circular staircase to the top where we surfaced boiling hot but triumphant! It was worth the effort – the views across the whole of Paris were stunning – laid out before us the city plan was a satisfying blend of geometry and aesthetics.

Back down we went and deciding we’d pushed ourselves far enough in this heat – we jumped onto the Big Bus (another Paris Pass inclusion) and did the complete tour of Paris at a leisurely pace – the bus was hot and we bought water for 2 euros each from a guy who jumped aboard with a bucket of bottled water on ice only to find the next guy who jumped aboard was selling it for one euro each! Cést la vie!

 Arrived eventually at Notre Dame cathedral. From here we walked – finding by happy chance the “Shakespeare and Me” bookshop we’d read about many months ago. Winding our way through the backstreets, quite touristy because of proximity to Notre Dame, we returned to our Hotel Odéon and took full advantage of the free cold drinks, tea and nibbles, reading the International New York Times to catch up on world events. After a snooze and shower we headed out to find a restaurant, by sheer chance and serendipity – we came to the same square where we’d eaten the night before. As it turns out, it’s called the Place André des Arts. Most appropriate! We ate at the restaurant adjacent to the one the previous evening – Andrew deciding to sample classic French fare – snails in their shells, followed by salad of hot goat’s cheese, washed down with a Ricard. Parfait!!    

Day Seventy Five – Thursday 25th August – Paris

The heatwave continues, today even hotter reaching 37 degrees. We had air conditioning but even on a setting of 16 degrees the room was about 20 degrees.

We had a late start so had a quick cup of tea in the room before walking to Notre Dame where the queue for the cathedral was fast moving and we were inside before we knew it. We stayed with the flow of the crowd going up the right hand side and down the other taking in paintings and each private chapel and confessional along the way. There are so many aspects of this building to marvel at from the gothic vaulted ceilings to the timber frescoes that were damaged during the French revolution and repaired in the 1960s to the abundant and extraordinary stained glass windows and then there are the exterior and the intricate carvings and features from the roof down.

We had intended to go up the towers and down to the crypt but the queue was more than fifty metres long, standing in full sun and not moving. Given the rising temperatures we decided it can be for another visit to Paris and walked to Shakespeare and Me for a look around (wonderful bookshop), a photograph and a French breakfast sitting in the shade at a café at next door – where even the waitress was worried about how she was going to work the rest of the day in the hot and muggy conditions.

Caught the metro to the Musée d’ Orsay which was once a train station then an expensive hotel and finally a Museum which Francois Mitterrand opened in 1986. It was a wise choice as its largely open air design and high ceilings meant it was relatively cool and it was very well ordered with paintings in the many rooms or salons around the sides and sculptures in the corridors and central plaza to look at while sitting on benches when you needed a break.

The Impressionists were our first choice and what a wealth of artists and art to see – so many famous paintings and sculptures including some by Degas we hadn’t seen in Melbourne. The building was so big that just when you thought you’d finished a section you found there were more exhibits around the corner.

We came across the pushy ‘selfie person’, of course, shoving their sticks up in the air and nearly knocking you out or shoving their iPads in front of you as you’re looking at a painting. The more famous the artist and the painting the more ‘selfies’ were there. We started referring to them as ‘Cezanne and me’ or ‘Van Gogh and me’, the tag most likely used on their Facebook page. Andrew discovered that Pissarro is his favourite artist; both Andrew and Kerrie thought the brightness and vivid colours used by Van Gogh and Bonnard were extraordinary and eye catching and Kerrie was very taken by the paintings by Monet.

There were a lot of statues by Rodin, a bronze of John the Baptist was exceptionally lifelike with every vein and sinew sculpted and a statue of Balzac more impressionistic. Tucked away in the corner of the 5th floor was the huge timber floored and elaborately decorated ceilinged reception room of the former hotel plus treasures from the 3rd republic. WOW is the only way to describe it.

IMG_0962

In fact that describes the whole gallery – an absolutely fantastic collection – what an experience!!

We wanted to buy a book on the treasures of the Musée d’Orsay but the weight and size made it a no-no!

Outside to the searing heat and a walk across a bridge and road to the Tuileries Gardens where an ice cream van just happened to be parked inside the entrance and doing a roaring trade selling sorbets and ice creams.  We had resisted all ice cream vendors up to now but this time we gave in! We sat in the gardens on a bench under a tree eating our sorbets and watched a film crew – Andrew picking up on the expressions of the crew’s faces and working out something wasn’t going right.

A short walk to the Musée de l’Orangerie which originally had been built to protect the trees and then subsequently converted into an art gallery to house the two sets of Nympheas or WaterLilies panel paintings by Claude Monet. The two oval paintings of a pond representing a 24-hour period -from sunrise to sunset and back are meant to make you tranquil, calm and relax. The “me and Monet” selfie and self-promoters were there in force, one blonde “older” woman posed in front of the painting, tossing her hair about, her boyfriend snapping away; another ageing friend walked right in front of Andrew as he was viewing the painting to take a photo of his girlfriend, playing it back and discussing it with her – all still in front of Andrew and the Monet panel. Really?

Paintings owned by a famous Paris collector in the 20s and 30s were bequeathed to France by his wife and displayed on the lower floor together with the paintings owned by her second husband. Yet another wonderful variety of artists from Renoir to Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, Modigliani and Soutine whose strange paintings represented the upheaval of his early life in Russia.

We stayed until closing time then caught the Metro back to our hotel for a refreshing shower and time out of the heat. Caught up on the blog and at 8.30pm went to dinner, walking to a back alleyway we had found the night before. This cobbled stone road had obviously once been used by horse and carriage in years gone by as the entrances off the main road were high enough but they were now gated and allowed only pedestrian access. On either side there were shops and restaurants with some having seating outside. We chose one that had a Jacobin theme in its decorations and posters and advertised amazing salads. We weren’t disappointed – starting with pate de fois gras on gingerbread, we each followed with a different themed salad.

At 10.30 pm, the air temperature was as hot as ever, the restaurant and bar opposite the Hotel was overflowing with patrons drinking and sitting outside to avoid the heat but we headed indoors to the comfort of our air conditioned room.

Day Seventy Six– Friday 26th August – Paris/Lourdes

We packed up, had breakfast street-side at a nearby café, sauntered up the Rue Odéon to look at bookshops, a shop selling famous signatures and a sign telling us how various famous artists and writers frequented cafés in the area. Checked out, walked to the cab rank and took a taxi to Gare Montparnasse. To confuse us there were two trains leaving platform 8! Turned out they were joined as far as Bordeaux but then separating and we had to find the right end of the train. Boarded our carriage and settled in opposite two elderly French women – who it turned out were considerably older than they looked – 80 and 84, they could easily be taken for 60 and 64! On their way to Lourdes for prayers and to see an old friend. Sounded like their husbands may no longer be around – but obviously adventurous – one had been to Turkey and on a boat trip to Norway and the arctic circle. Caught up on our blog and Andrew started researching the driving trip from Lourdes to the Loire after our week in the Pyrenees. 

Arrived on time in Lourdes – a hint of things to come, situated in the ‘foothills’ of the Pyrenees, surrounded mountains. We checked into our hotel, the Best Western, Beausejour, conveniently close to the station. We decided to walk to a sports store to get some last minute items for our hike – heading out on the main road we completely missed the location and wound up marching purposefully towards Tarbes, the next city. Told it would take a half hour, we interpreted that literally – a mistake. Eventually realising we’d gone way to far ( green fields on either side were a bit of a give-away!), we flagged a passing taxi and were driven back three quarters of the way to a shopping centre and the sports store – which we got to just before closing. Phew.  Got what we needed and walked back to the hotel – a mere ten minutes! By now it was 7:30 and we decided to eat at the hotel – out on the terrace with views towards the west as the sun set over the mountains. Excellent meal – marinated cockerel a la Basque and a tender steak washed down with a glass of local white! And so to bed.

One thought on “Ireland to UK and France

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s