Search This Blog

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Off For Year 10

May 7, 2015: 12:57 pm

Seems near impossible that this is the tenth year in a row I will be crossing the Atlantic to travel in Europe. I managed to get to the plane even after forgetting a few things, which my friend Mark helped me out with. The plane containing me is now on the way to Philadelphia via U.S Airways. There will be a brief layover, than it will be off to Dublin. This will be my fourth time of flying into Dublin after many years of flying in to first Gatwick, then Heathrow.

So the reason I switched airports is due to cost of the flight. Flying into Dublin is about $300 cheaper. On top of that, Ireland is part of the EU and therefore my dollar goes further. This year the, per my friend Mark, the Euro conversion is 1.01 for each dollar spent. Compared to the conversion rate of 1.50 to the dollar for the pound I think I will be spending most of my time in the EU this year.

Dublin offers quite a mix of venues for your enjoyment. There are walking tours, which are fun, lots of bus tours to get you about the country and beautiful scenery at every turn. When Mark and I came here, for the first time in 2011, we stayed a The New Times a youth hostel. We then ended up at Abigale's, not sure why, another youth hostel. Where I have stayed the last few years and will again this year. The New Times was nice, but the common area is bit cramped for the number people staying there. We had to climb several flights of stairs carrying our suitcases equals not fun. However, the room we stayed in had a nice amount of space as hostels go. The luggage room was not very big and hard to get your bags in and out.

Abigale's has a much roomier common are along with an elevator. Some of the sleeping rooms are crowed, but I much prefer it to the New Times. One other hostel I have stayed in is Patty's Place. What can I say about Patty's Place, but it is a cheap flophouse. It has Small crowed sleeping rooms, mostly cold showers, and a dingy kitchen for the free breakfast. The luggage room is downstairs with bags thrown in, piled three and four high. However, you can save nine Euro because you get a free bus ride to the airport. Patty's is also a tour bus company and all their tours leave from the flophouse. Last year my daughter and I stayed a several other Patty's places, having taken their bus tour, and found them quite acceptable. You would think the one in Dublin would kept up a bit better.

Getting about Dublin is very easy with walking being the best way to get a flavor for the city. There are double decker, on and off tour buses, which are fun to get the lay of the land. Temple Bar is row after row of pubs all with live music and dancing. Its streets are always packed and the mood is lively. There are quite a few over prices restaurants offering "traditional Irish food." A few blocks away you can find the same variety of food, but at less cost. I do spent money on cooking my own basic food as each hostel has a kitchen and usually pots, pans etc. to get the job done.

I was surprised to find myself, again, apprehensive about taking this trip. However, it was different from previous year's apprehensiveness. I cannot put my finger on it, but just felt like I should not go. Not excited at all, but cannot say I have been very excited in previous years. I purchased the ticket rather quickly this year and will not purchase so early again. That is if there is an again. If there is an again it will no longer be for months on end as has been the case. I will be going back to 3 to 4 week trips to Europe if possible. Will have to see how this tour thing works out. I think part of my reluctances this year to travel alone to Ireland. It seems strange not to have my daughter and friend Cassie to hang with. Cassie is in Thailand this year and my daughter will join me in England late in June.

I am getting use to a new Pad I have purchased for this trip. It is a pound lighter them my Acer Netbook that I have used for years. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but I am getting used to it. Last night I watched a Netflix movie on it and was quite pleased at its performance. Also SKYPED and for the first time no loss of signal, sound or picture. Getting use to touch screen, I keep cleaning it OCD about fingerprints, which works grand.



May 9, 2015: 9:30 am Dublin, 1:30 am Arizona

Nice to have a room full of adults this go around. Several couples from France are sharing the dorm room with me. Spend yesterday inside mostly due to rain and wind. It was O.K. it gave me time to catch up on sleep lost in the flight. Usually I am able to sleep on the plane, but this time no so much this time. So took a nap, SKYPED with Mark, did some emails and a little reading. I have decided to spend another night here and take a couple of day tours I have not done before. Today I will tour the Guinness brewery and maybe the Old Jameson Whiskey distillery, then going to book a Day tour to Hill of Tara. I usually do not do the tourist thing, but what the heck.

I walking to the brewery and spy a small sign on a light post explaining that the church on the other side of the fence has a long connection to the Camino de Santiago. Intrigued I back track to the front of the church and there is a sign indicating a Camion office. Inside I find three volunteers staffing the office. We have a nice chat and share some stories. One of the people I talk to is from the U.S. but has lived in Ireland for 15 years. I ask to see the church and use the bathroom.

Inside there are several plaques talking about the church's connection to the Camino. It seems that has been a starting placer for Irish Pilgrims since medieval times. There was once a Gate in the wall protecting Dublin called the St James gate through which the pilgrims left the city, then heading to the docks for the ship that would take them Spain. So here, I was in Dublin for the fourth time connected to the Camino. Was this a sign?

The woman from the U.S. shows me where the bathroom is and it takes me a moment to understand just were it was. The church was built in 1844 an most not have had indoor plumbing. So they added a bathroom outside up against the church wall. One would wonder if it was once an outhouse. I purchase a Camino passport and am told that I can get my first stamp at the beginning of the Guinness tour. This is because part of the factory now stands on the spot where the St. James gate use to be.

I purchase my ticket then head over to the information desk where low and behold I receive my stamp and a "Buen Camino" from the follow behind the desk. The tour is self-guided and full of bells and whistles. I find the beams studded with rivets and ceramic bricks the most interesting. There are several restaurants with overpriced food. The tour goes up and up until you reach, yet another restaurant perched on top of the factory. By now, it is very crowed to the point it is almost impossible to get in to it, so I turn around and head out. I do not get my pint of free beer, but just can deal with the crowd.

May 10, 2013

Get up early and head over to Suffolk St to catch the Irish Day Tour bus. I have made the reservation on line at their web site. The tour's name is the Celtic Boyne Valley Tour and cost 35.00 euro. It is a small 18-seat bus with almost every seat filled. We are going to see The Hill fo Tara, Trim Castle, Monasterboice, and Loughcrew Passage Tomb. A group of young women in the back eight seats chat away on the ride to our first stop; The Hill of Tara.

The driver, Jamie, tells us that since we have the small bus we will be taking the scenic route rather than the motorways. These roads are narrow and not well kept up. For the remainder of the trip we are bounce and jostle around and ever glad to get out for a bit. It seems that we spend more time on the bus then at any of the stops. I get to be part of the group and we chat, walk, and eat together. The last stop is a church that has the mummified head of a Saint in it. It is a windy, cold day and towards the end, it begins to rain. Safely back in Dublin it is time to say good-bye to my traveling companions and get a little diner before turning in.


May 13, 2015

On the 11th, I am surprised by an email for an old friend I have not heard from in years, at least 15. It is a dark, windy day and I am spending time arranging to leave Dublin for a couple of days. I will head to Galway for two days then back to Dublin when it will be time to leave for Salisbury. So far, the trip has been relaxing and fun especially meeting new people. I sat with two woman taking about traveling the world. Each had visited over 60 countries, which gave a sad feeling that I have visited so few. I cannot count the number of times I have said, "I have no interest in going there." However, pressed there is no valid reason for why? I am not a world traveler compared to these women and am forced to rethink why I stick to the same countries repeatedly.

Wander around town today visiting museums and stores. Back in the hostel, it is the noisiest I have ever experienced here. There is a group of Jr highers that I think are from Italy. Their caretakers are almost never in view allowing this group to run amuck. An older Russian youth group acts no better and with the addition of alcohol are even worse. I have stayed here four years in a row and have not experience this lever of rudeness, loudness, and drunkenness. I will think long and hard about staying here again in the coming years.

May 15, 2015 Dublin

I am so tired to rude, loud people. I was in an eight-bed room with one other person last night. Around 11 pm, five young people for France come in turn on the light, bang things around set up their beds and leave. Then at 2 am them come back and start again. I say "quite please" and they laugh. Not a good thing to do at 2 am. I get out of bed and they stop laughing and all of a sudden find a way to do things quietly. It was nice this morning sitting in the day room at 7 am and it was quiet until around eight then yelling, as if the person they are talking to is sitting on the other side of Dublin. I watch a guy in his late 40's hitting on every young girl he can get to pay attention to him. There is a limited amount of coffee so instead of a cup this guy fills up a cereal bowl with coffee to drink. People eat and leave their dishes on the table rather them put them on the rack then have to pass on way out. I have just not experienced this kind of behavior in prior years.

I will be leaving in about an hour to go to the bus station and head to Galway. We will see what awaits me there.

May 20, 2015 Train to Salisbury from Dublin

Five days since last post see if I can remember the highlights. Nice bus ride to Galway, which only cost 8 pounds one-way. Comfortable seats along with WiFi and a plug for your device. After arriving, I headed toward the hostel booked on line. You have to love google Map Street View that I used to virtually walk to the hostel. Now here I followed the route right up to the front door of the hostel. My reservation was there and had no problem checking in. I was assigned to room four that was a roomy 8-bed dorm. After choosing my bunk and "unpacking" which was removing my computer from my backpack. There was fellow in bed, not unusual, in hostels at Noon. When out for some lunch then a walk around town. Weather cloudy, and cool with a bit of wind. The weather turned to drizzle, then to rain, then to drizzle etc. I headed back to the hostel and hunker down at a table next to one of two outlets in the room.

I was quiet and seemed to be very few people staying there. Things started to get strange when I noticed that the staff had a dorm also and had the door to it open. There was a guy in the day room who held on to the remote and kept switching channels. Behind me was the kitchen with a door leading to a small courtyard. While responding to emails and Facebook I smelled cigarette smoke, which caused me to look around the room. Finally I figured out people were going out in the courtyard and smoking right next to the open kitchen door. This happened rather regularly while I was sitting there.

May 22, 2015 Salisbury

May 25, 2015 Salisbury

Still here in Salisbury having spent the weekend "working" at the Festival. Volunteering at times is a bit frustrating due to having to watch people running around acting more important than they really need to. One person needs to let everyone know at every event what her title is as opposed to just giving her name and getting on with the useless information she is about to impart. The problem being that those in charge seem to think that their volunteers are bumbling fools who just would not know how to conduct themselves without a good deal of micromanagement. The thing that really causes biting of the tough and smiling falsely is when one of the staff tells me what to do when I am already doing it. A few "staff" attempting to outdo each other in that. But, for the most part it is fun dealing with the throngs before and during an event. I have met several people with whom I have quite a laugh when they say, "You're not British" to which I usually answer, "I'm not" acting very surprised "how could you tell?" Great fun that. I'll be back at it again today at 4 pm then off until next Friday. I'm thinking of taking a ride somewhere returning in time to go to work.

So thoughts:

"Getting Old" whatever that means! I continue to be told by some that I am getting old if reference to some statement I have made. Statement "My hand hurts!" Response "You're getting old!" Statement "My knee hurts!" Response "You're getting old!" Statement "I've farted!" Response "You're getting old!" Statement "I'm Horney!" Response "You're getting old!" And, on and on as if all of a sudden any ailment mentioned after a certain age. So at some point the statement "my knee Hurts!" turns from "Did you hit it on something?" to "you're getting old!" There seems there is this magical turning point that at a certain age it becomes one's age that causes a problem rather then and event. There is also some responses that I find silly such as my Doctor said, "You're really heathy and active for someone your age." What the f… is that? So at my age what is it that I'm supposed to be doing or I should say not doing! I belonged; yes, I admitted it, to eHarmony for a bit. So many of the women who wrote to me indicated that they were impressed with how active I was at MY AGE! Well f… where is my couch, T.V., and wheelchair.

I was watching myself for a few days, must be because I am old, and found myself acting old. Well what the hell does that mean and why did I deem myself such. What I found was my hesitating but for getting up from a chair, holding on to the table as I got up helping with my arms as if my legs could not manage by themselves, or holding on to the handrail as I climbed or dissented stairs. I also noticed that I was walking slightly more bent over the normal. My posture has always sucked. I thought to myself what the hell are you doing? I take notice; look around as if waking from a nap, and answer I don't know in much surprise. I can get up for a chair just fine, negotiate stair without help, and am quite capable of standing up as usual. Maybe I was "getting old." …not!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Where There is a Will There is a Way….

Saturday, June 14, 2014, 12:47 PM England, 9:47 PM France

Starting with yesterday afternoon after arriving at Holiday Inn Express at Stanstead and checking in I start to use their “free Wi-Fi.”   The deal is the free Wi-Fi is for 15 minutes then it gives you an option to purchase Wi-Fi for an hour or day.  I’d call that “bait and switch” which is illegal in the U.S.  Mark and I SKYPED for a while having to reconnect every 15 minutes.   This did not happen in Winchester where the wifu worked without asking you to buy time.  So I when down to the front desk and was told “that’s the way we do it here.”   I smiled and when to dinner which was a decent meal of salad, all most salads here look like they when out back and picked some weeds, a vegetable loaf, and new potatoes with a nice glass of white wine.  I had earlier walked over to the convenience store and picked up a few things including my own bottle of wine.   After dinner I when back to my room and relaxed working on a section of my blog that has become quite difficult to write.  I have to get up at 4 AM tomorrow in order to catch my Ryanair flight.  Good Night.

A free breakfast is included in your stay which consisted of cold cereal, coffee, orange juice, and toast.  You basic motel breakfast which also offers some other snacky foods, cheese and fruit.  Off to the airport which is packed.  There must be a couple of hundred flights going out around this time.  Zipping through inspection after my gate is called I’m the first to arrive.  Now getting on a Ryanair flight is just a tad different from say one of our low cost airlines.  There are two queues, that what we call lines, one is for priority boarding and one is for plain Villella boarding.  You get priority boarding when you reserve a seat which cost’s either and extra five or ten pounds depending on where you sit.  I want to get on the plane first and get off the plane first and have gotten quit good at it.  I’m usually the first in the priority line so I get to walk out to the airplane and board.  Yes I said walk out and clime up the either the stairs that the plane has built in or ones that roll up.

My seat is the first one by the door and I settle in.  Everything on Ryanair cost extra so I have my own snacks and water.  They sell Ryanair lottery cards and supposedly all the money collected goes to children’s charities.  I have purchased them a couple of time just for kicks as they are really cheap.  The flight is nice I guess because I slept most of the way to Bordeaux.  Now the fun starts!  There is two ways to get from the airport to the Gare, train station.  One costs 6 euro and takes 30 minutes, the other costs 1.40 euro and can take 60 minutes.  However, the 6 euro bus only runs every hour.  At the time I arrived the 60 minute bus would get me to the station first.  I jump on and off we go, so far so good.  There are kiosks in the station that you can buy your ticket from or wait on the long, long line to buy them from a human who may speak some English.

However, credit cards in Europe have chips in them so you only have to put the card in a little bit instead of swiping it.  These machines only take those credit cards so I have to get on the long, long like.  Upon reaching my agent I request to go to St Jean Pied de Port.  He tippy taps on his computer and says the famous “Es No Posseble” followed by “we are on strike.  Not today nor tomorrow.  “Monday” I quary?  He shrugs his shoulders and I walk away.  My little brain goes into overdrive and I get back on line to talk to another agent.  But this time I ask for a ticket to Bayonne where you change to get to St. Jean’s.  She says nothing about a strike but tells me both trains to Bayonne are booked solid.  I’m thinking they must be loaded with Pilgrims however, I’m in correct.  They are loaded due to the strike with passages headed to the beach for the weekend.

O.K. now what I keep thinking.  I purchase a map of France to see if there are other towns I can get a train to.  BUS jumps into my head let’s see where the terminal is.  While I’m thinking about the bus I keep thinking if I can just find out what platform the train will be stopping at I’ll just jump on and pay the conductor.   Finally I find a like-minded attendant who tells me the train will arrive on platform 2.   I arrive to find the platform packed with people; I wait.  The train pulls in and it already has people standing for the ride.  Everyone begins to climb into the train I’m last to push in standing on the steps waiting for the door to close.  This is a ten car train which is packed from one end to the other like one of those trains you see in films about India.  I expect people to start climbing on the roof.

The train is not moving, people are sweating, I back up a bit to get a little air.  There is an announcement in French that, of course, I do not understand. People start getting off the train and I hear one woman say they have added another train.  We get off and walk back to the next train which is actually attached to this on making it now a 20 car train.  I get in find a seat and we are off Bayonne.  Es not imposseble!  There are times we go around bends in the track and I can see the front of the train that is how long we are.  We arrive in Bayonne at the ticket window I’m sold a bus ticket to St Jean which will leave at 18:00 arrive at St Jean 19:30.  I have two hours to burn so I walk about, have a biere and am able to get on the internet.  The bus comes and is full this time with mostly Pilgrims.  I am sitting next to a young couple who are from Switzerland.  They are walking the Camino for the first time.  We chat a bit as we ride, meanwhile the seat behind us, the backseat of the bus is filled with a group of young boys.  They proceed to talk in loud voices for the whole 1 ½ hours.

At St. Jean I head to the Pilgrim office to get my Credencial del Peregrino.  The office is packed at 7 PM and I am surprised to find it still open.  I’m told that all Albergues are full except one so off I go.  I was thinking about heading to the campground that I stayed at the last time and sleeping under the stars, however the weather is not looking promising.  So I book a two day stay for 24 Euro and have dinner of 12.  Don’t ever tell me “Es no posseble” as that become the forces to prove them wrong.  Time and time again I’m told in Europe it can’t be done and I find a way to do it.  I want to go back to the person and teach them it is “Posseble”  Good Night!  Love you!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A day at the office...

Saturday, May 24, 2014, 2:19 AM Arizona, 10:19 AM Salisbury

I hate going to the loo and finishing my business only to fine that the TP dispenser is EMPTY, bit of a problem isn't it?  What to do?  Ask the guy next door, but they are empty, shuffle out in the altogether hoping you can make it to the next stall before someone comes in?  Oh well here goes!  Whew made it!  This happened in France once of course that was a learning experience wasn't it.  You see most campgrounds if France don’t supply TP so learned that one pretty quick.  Have to be more careful with my expectations don’t I?  Those expectations will get you every now and then won’t they?  A friend once sent me an article on expectations and how they can screw up relationships.  Still have it somewhere in my collection of papers I look at every now and then thinking I need to do something with that.

Yesterday was my first day of “work” for the Festival office.  I’m a bit nervous wanting to make a good impression and all that.  I show up 1/2 hour early in order to watch the person currently manning the desk.  Sat with her about 10 minutes and she says “Well I’m off then” and off she goes.  My anxiety mounts as I await the first phone call; I’m answering phone and greeting people as they come in.   First phone call I almost drop the phone picking it up, but make it through transferring and all; bit more confident now.  I’m chatting with the lady across the aisle who is one of two who take reservations and payments for the different events.  “You helped us last year didn't you?” she asks.  “Yes actually I've been a Stewart for the past three years.”  “You were with another man from America right, the one who was making a fuss at one of the events?”  She goes on in great detail on this miner event in life.  “Don’t remember the fuss” says I. “Have you ever been to the U.S.?” I ask.  We talk about Flagstaff for a bit and where she and her husband stayed.

Phone rings for the second time and deftly pick it up and answer.   We have this long thing that needs to be said upon answering.  “Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival, how may I help you?”  One lady say’s to me “That’s quite a mouthful isn't it?”  I get through the next three phone calls and am feeling really confident until… in walks an older lady whom I greet with a smiling “hello may I help you?”  What I hear is something about the peaks having snow on them.  I smile as I think what fucking peaks there aren't any peaks around Salisbury?  She looks at me expectantly as my mind is now stuck on the peaks thing and I don’t know what to say.  Helen, the general manage pops out and says to me “She wants to know about Peter Snow” and directs to her to the ticket lady.  I’m sitting there with a dumb ass smile on my face.  Shit I can understand English!  Actually I think I was distracted by the wig hat on her head which she had pulled down over her ears; bit unnatural that. 

I’m given a task cutting up paper badges one at a time.  The young lady who has given me the task asks if I need any help.  I smile “I think I got this.”  Here I am spending the day answering phones and cutting up paper when Jane, head of the volunteers, comes out apologizing for not coming out sooner.  We discuss my offer to work more shifts at the opening event as they are short staffed.  As we talk she is watching me cut up badges.  I begin to wonder if there is something wrong with my little rhythm.   I smile, which I do a lot in England, France and Spain.  It’s a little trick I learned, but most people probably think “Poor fellow is a bit daft” then smile back and go about their business.   Anna comes out to relieve the lady at the ticket station.  I met Anna the first time I went to the Festival nine years ago.

I saw the line people stretching down the street and stopped to ask what was going on.  The fellow I asked explained that it was a big party due to it being the closing night of the Festival.  So I ride up to the ticket table and was greeted by Anna’s beautiful smile.  I would have bought anything she was selling under the spell of that smile.  I looked forward to seeing that smile every year since.  She is charge of the whole ticking selling business and is concentrating on making sure all goes well.  There is another person manning the ticket table and her name is Poppy.  She and I talk for a bit about American and her wish to get over there.  My time is up I made it through didn't seem to do to bad a job.  All the little badges are hopefully cut to order.  I mention to Anna that her youngest, who is now eight wasn't born when we first met, and her oldest was four.  We have a chat about how thing have changed and how they are out and about no longer needing a sitter to watch them.

It’s been a good day and what has this to do with expectations you might ask.  Only that when you let go of them wonderful things can happen.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Slide Fire and life..

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 2:56 AM Flagstaff, 10:57 AM Salisbury

Since last evening I've been glued to my phone and netbook watching the events taking place around my home in Flagstaff due to the Slide Fire.  A couple of my friends have asked if there is anything they can do for me in connection with my home.  I watch posts and news reports about neighbors getting ready to evacuate or have already.  What to take and how much my car/truck will hold?  Do I stay to the last minute or leave early?  I’m now sitting in a pub in Salisbury pondering several of these questions and one more.  Should I book a flight home and head up to Flagstaff?   What would I take seems to be the biggest question?  As I think about it I find the question overwhelming.  My first thought is clothes, a box of old pictures, and then it becomes bigger.  Can’t take my new kitchen, can’t get my truck out as it’s not running yet again, can’t take my bed, can’t take my big tool box or air compressor, can’t take all the chainsaws, there is so much I can’t take whatever will I do without all this stuff? 

Upon return from traveling the Camino de Santiago in 2012 I looked around at all the “stuff” that I’ve acquired and wonder “WHY?”  I have just spent 30 days traveling and having a grand time with just two changes of clothes and a tooth brush.  Why on earth did I need all this stuff which the more I gather seems to tie me down not set me free?   As I inventoried all the stuff I felt the weight of it pushing me down almost stopping my feet from moving.  I made a decision to plan on how to unburden myself.   Clean up the place and get rid of things I’m not using = not done.  Spend the winter getting the house ready to rent out putting some money in my pocket = not done.  Look for a place closer to town so I could use my bike or walk rather than drive = not done.  Well not gotten much done to lighten the load?   Going to do so much an ended up doing so little, but ignoring the weight.  Now nature, with the help of a careless human, may take care of all of that.   So I've decided I’d just take clothes and a download from my computer.   I kidded with a friend of mine yesterday that I’d collect the insurance money and start over new.  I've done it before, several times, and can do it again.  I have my health, my kids, grand-kids and family don’t need a hell of a lot more than that do I?  The rest is just STUFF!

I'll not be booking a flight home as there in not much to be done except pray that my friends in Flagstaff and what they hold dear are safe during this trying time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Trip to Nowhere…well not really..

Sunday, May 18, 2014, 2:23 AM Phoenix, 10:23 AM Salisbury

Kicking back and relaxing after my Odyssey.   Made my meeting at the Festival office where I renewed acquaintance with the general manager Helen and the met the head to the volunteers Jane.  We are trained in how to answer phones and what to say when one picks up.  Seems they may need more of my time than originally planned; no worries mate!   Picked up my bike and packed my panniers in an attempt to get ready to travel.  However, yet another glitch raised its head in the form of a sim card that is turning out to be a pain.  Have to wait for the store to open so I can have them give a look see what’s up.  So back at the Kings Head for another porridge and coffee along with the use of their WiFi.  Contacted Adelia, a person I met on the Camino last year, and said I’d like to head her way for a visit.
It looks to be a two day ride to get to where she lives then will probably take the train back to Salisbury.  However, I may have to put that off due to it being too late a start time.   I’m checking the map again to see if I can make the first campground since I don’t want to dry camp right off the bat.   When to the movie rode around town, worked on the bike, bought some stuff that I found out I could not live without.  I’ve not been up to much guess you could say I’m on vacation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 6:41 AM, 2:41 pm England

Spend most of Sunday dealing with the phone store in an attempt to get my phone sorted out.  After a little research I find that on a recent downloaded updater from Android my phone was re-locked and it would now have to pay for an unlock code.  Tired of dealing with it especially since there are so may free WiFi hotspots around the city.  Left Salisbury on Monday at around 8:00 AM and am glad I’m finally on the road.   My plan is to ride down to Poole and then catch a train to Adelia’s town, spend a few days then head back to Salisbury to work at the Festival.  No plans after that at his point.
It was a long hard ride as it seems I’d forgotten just how steep the hills are here.  It’s been awhile since I've made a long ride that included many hills.  I did spend a great deal of time walking along side my bike up some quite steep inclines.  Past through some lovely villages one of which is Rockbourne is close to the New Forest. The Roman villa once stood in the center of a large farming estate, and is the largest known villa in the area. Its history spans the period from the Iron Age, about 800 BC to 100 AD, to the 5th century AD.  Next stop was Cranbourn where had lunch in a charming pub called the Sheaf of Arrows with good food and friendly staff.  They watched my bike and backpack while I took a little break and visited the local church.  St Mary’s and St Bartholomew which was once a monastery until Henry the VIII came along.

Harder riding to come then the commencing of a sore butt and ending at a lovey camp site which I had all to myself.    I arrived at Wilksworth Farm Caravan Park around 4:30 PM and was warmly greeted.  After checking for the first time in all the time coming to England this is the first with and electricity at my pitch.  The clerk even gave me a cord to use.   Set up and ready for dinner I pop down to the store to see if they have a roll or two.   The helpful lady was sorry she had on frozen bread available.  They she say’s “Here I’ve just been shopping you can have one of ours, my husband won’t miss it.”  We have a good laugh after I ask if her husband will come looking for me and his roll.  After a dinner of vegetarian beans on toast and a salad it’s time for some sleep.

I’m up and off reaching Wimborne where I stop to take a picture from a bridge.  A fellow comes along and tells me how a month ago the whole area I’m looking at was under water from flooding.  We talk a bit about where we are from and where I’m headed.  He tells me of a bike walking path, Castleman Trailway, created from an old RR line long gone.  It is a lovely ride right to Poole.  It is a nice level ride, thankfully, no hills.  Up on reaching Poole I head to the RR station expecting to catch the next train to Exeter and south.  I find out, again, that I don’t know the English train system as well as I thought.   In order to get to Adelia’s town I have to make five changes and it will be a 5 hour ride taking me back to Salisbury.  I get a text from Adelia wanting to know when she can expect me.   I’m on my way back to Salisbury, disheartened that I had not planned things better, where I call Adelia and explain my plight.  We have a laugh and make plans for me to head, via the correct train to her with no restrictions on the amount of time I have to get there or leave.

I arrive at the Salisbury Caravan and Camping Club with Wendy waiting for me at the door step.  After the usual warm welcome she escorts me to the Arizona Corner or the Carl and Mark Corner.  We chat on the way about family and travels.  Nigel is off flying so will not get to see him until later.  After setting up camp it is time to head into town for some provisions and dinner at you guessed it; The Kings Head.  Up no my return I find two fellows from Italy set up near me.   I have a talk with one of them about the equipment we have.   He does not speak English and I do not speak Italian, but we have a conversation anyway.  I’m always amazed at how, no matter the language barrier, we find a way to communicate and laugh.   What a shame that our world leaders can do that.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dublin to Salisbury

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 5:44 AM Arizona, 1:44 PM England

I am currently at my favorite pub the Kings Head in downtown Salisbury having arrived this morning at 12:30 AM after, practically, a non-stop trip from Phoenix.  The ferry trip to Holyhead was very relaxing and gave me time to nap, nosh, and writes a bit.  However, after arriving at Holyhead it was anything but relaxing.  Retrieved my bag from the ferry and headed to the train station which is attached to the ferry terminal.   The train was already there so quickly trotted to it then sat there for ten before we were off.  I keep thinking there has got to be a faster way to get to Salisbury and ask the conductor who does not know.   We are traveling through the Wales then down into the England watching the beautiful country side slid by.  Just an aside I’m watching an older gent across from me eating lunch which consists of Curry, a beer and a glass of wine.   So my travel will take me across half of England in order to get from Holyhead to Salisbury.   We reach Shrewsbury where I again ask the conductor if there is a better connection.

He tells me to ask again when I reach Birmingham which will be a train change to start heading south.  At Birmingham I ask the conductor and he looks at his little time table.  I ask if it isn’t faster to head to Southampton Central rather than Bristol Temple Mead.  I have in my head that all trains gong to Southampton Central go through Salisbury, from the north, first.   He agrees with me and tells me to wait for the next SC train in ½ an hour.  My train for BTM leaves and I call the YHA while waiting.  There is a fellow there who is going to wait for me as I’ll arrive after the desk closes.  I explain that I think I’ll get there a bit earlier then I told him; we are both happy.

As the train pulls into the station the stations it will go through are announces; Salisbury is not one of them.  I ask the train conductor if this train will get me to Salisbury.  He say’s “We’ll get you to Salisbury Mate,” and off we go.  I have this sinking feeling I’ve made a grievous error.  As we travel along I make my way to the front of the train where the train manager hangs out.  I tell him I was told this train would get me to Salisbury.  He taps away on his little machine and prints out an itinerary.  I have to change trains at Blazing Stoke which will get me to Salisbury at 12:33 AM.  Had I stayed followed the original time table I’d have been there at 11:33 PM.  My confidence is waning “If I were not along this would not have happened.”

We arrive at Blazing Stoke where I’ll wait for the train to Salisbury.  I enter the waiting room and instantly I recognize the place and another mess up pops into my head.   I think it was about four years ago I had to make a train change here for Salisbury also.  I had put my back pack on the luggage rack, which I had never done before, and found a seat.  When I left the train, not paying attention, the back pack remained.  I leisurely made a call to my mother and as we were hanging up I realized there was no back pack on my back.  This particular station as a fellow how monitors trains on a large desk.  In a tizzy I tell him my plight.  About twenty minutes later he tells me they found it.  I can retrieve it at the Southampton Central station.  I was to arrive in Salisbury at 9:30 PM and I’ll now arrive at, oh guess what time? 12:30 AM.   I call the YHA again and tell the fellow waiting for me to go to bed I’ll pitch my tent when I get there.  The train to Salisbury pulls in and off I go arriving at 1:00 AM.

I grab a cab to the YHA find a patch of ground and begin to put my tent together.  There are other campers here and I’m trying to be very quiet.   However, there is this motion activated light that is now flashing on and off every time I move.  Oh wait not one but two are not blinking at me.  The fellow in a tent near mind gets up and tells me the lights are flashing…NO Shit think I, but I smile and apologize.   I settle in to my sleeping bag and look at my watch it is 2:00 AM.  I left my son’s house in Phoenix at 6:30 AM on Tuesday.  I have been on planes, trains and automobiles, and let’s not forget buses and ferries for 44 hours.  H

Canada to Dublin

Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 1:17 AM Phoenix time

One hour to landing in Ireland then a long day of travel to reach Salisbury.  So Air Canada has managed to hit strike three being poor service, bad food and no in-flight entertainment.  I settle in to my extra leg room seat which is facing a bulk head.  I search the walls and ceilings for monitors for in-flight entertainment and find none.  Shortly after takeoff “dinner” is served and I’m asked if I would like pasta or chicken.  I say pasta thinking spaghetti in sauce but receive noodles with meat.  I ask for my complementary wine that every airline I've been on serves.  However, not Air Canada they charge $12.00 for a plastic glass of wine.  I’m considering looking for another airline to get home on as this is the worst experience I've had flying in ever.   I cannot wait to get off this plane and away from Air Canada.   I have checked my email and still have not received the promised discount code the service center supervisor said would be sent.  This is fine my me as I have no intention of ever setting foot on another Air Canada flight.

Upon arrival at Dublin I’ll take a bus to the Irish Ferry terminal.  From there I’ll travel to Holyhead via ferry, then train to Salisbury.  The expected time of arrival there is 11 PM which should give me enough time to get to the YHA and check in for the night.  That is if all goes well.  If not I’ll pitch my tent stretch out and go to sleep.  I did this route last year with Mark and enjoyed both rides which gave me time to relax and collect my thoughts.  There are always tables to sit at on the ferry with electric connections.  I can’t remember if the ferry had Wi-Fi last year.  However, the terminal did so I should be able to connect with the family.  My ticket on the train should give me seat at a table also.  Some of the trains in the U.K. now have electric outlets by the tables and some have Wi-Fi.

Out of the airport looked for a bus to get to the Irish Ferry port.  Everyone I ask looks at me as if I were asking them how to get to the moon.  Last year Mark and I traveled to the port and back from city center so that’s where I head.  Bus drives past the ferry port, then past the city center, I get off the bus and head to a central bus stop.  Guy there tells me I have to walk couple of blocks toward the Spire and get bus 53.  This is not what we did last year, screw it I hail a cab.  Nice chat with David, the driver, as we head back the way I just came.  Just another adventure!  Checking in at the Ferry Port goes smoothly with time for a cup of coffee.  We’re off a very smooth crossing which allows me to nap a bit, read a bit and we’re in Holyhead.  Off the ferry on to the waiting train which will whisk me to Salisbury.  Well maybe not whisk as it will be almost a seven hour train ride.   I’m back in the U.K. for the ninth year kind of melancholy experience traveling alone again.

2014 Travels start...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 11:33:15 AM Phoenix time

I just left Phoenix on Air Canada heading to Toronto.  So far my experience with Air Canada has been a negative one.  I booked my flight to Dublin with them due to price which was $733.00 round trip from Phoenix.  Only drawback was the return trip would be 30 hours which for the price I can live with.  About a week before the flight I get notification of a flight change.  I was supposed to get back to Phoenix at around 10 PM, now I would not arrive until after midnight.   My flight was supposed to leave Dublin at 9 AM and will not leave until Noon.  I called the airline to see if there was something they could do to get me home earlier.   Spoke to a representative who seemed friendly enough explained my situation and asked if there were any other flights.  After a bit she said there were other flights however, they would all require a stay over in the connecting city.

I then asked if there were any upgrades available due to the inconvenience.   She informed me that Air Canada does not offer upgrades for schedule changes.  So that was that I said good bye and as I’m putting down the phone I hear her saying, she must have thought the phone has hung up, “Jesus Christ it’s a fucking schedule change what does he…”  I call back and speak to another reprehensive and report what happened requesting to speak to a supervisor.  “We don’t transfer to supervisors you’ll be put in a queue for one to call you back.  It may take up to 48 hours. Do you wish to be put in a queue?”  I respond affirmatively and we hang up.  It takes about four times playing phone tag to speak to a supervisor.  She apologizes that this happened and asked me some questions.  She tell me she is going to have stern talk with the representative.  Again I ask if there is an upgrade available due to the schedule change and representatives behavior.  She tells me there is not upgrade available but, she will email me a code that will give in a discount on any flight and it will be good for a year.  To date no promo code has shown up in my email.  Needless to say I’ll think twice about ever using Air Canada again.

While standing on line to clear security a wheel chair with a woman and dog is brought into the line.  The dog was one of those small yappy types and had made itself known long before they arrived.  Everyone on line had strained their neck to see what was coming.  The dog yapped incessantly while the woman cleared security, then all the way to the gate and guess who’s gate the woman ended up at?  If you guessed mine you would be correct.  I approached the desk and asked if I would have to listen to that all the way to Toronto?  Three agents looked at each other smiled and gave me no answer.  One shrugged his shoulders looking helpless as if they had never been in this situation before nor knew what to do.  Another passenger said to me “they just gave it a tranquilizer so all should be well.”  Strike two for Air Canada.  I’ve not heard a yap since boarding.  There is so little room between the seats that you cannot even open a magazine without reclining the seat back.   Only three hours left till we land hopefully things will improve.  I arrived in Toronto without incident at around 5 PM my flight to Dublin does not leave until 10 PM.  Flight was O.K., a little rough, $6.00 for some kind of wrap, all in all your basic flight.

The airport has a very large section for charging you electronics along with free iPod use.  I was able to access my Gmail account and let everyone know arrived safely.  However, can to connect to the internet with phone or net book weird.   Currently taking sometime to charge my computer and phone then off to get some dinner at what looks like some pretty upscale restaurants.  I’m in the international terminal lots of high end shops to spend your money in.  Lots of people dressed up for travel which I've not seen in a long time.        

I first started going to England in 2006 and traveled alone and did so for the next two years.  For the next three years my friend Mark and I traveled together for part of the time spent there.  Two years ago I traveled with friend Lisa for almost the whole time I was over there.  Last year Mark and I traveled together again and after he left I traveled with my daughter.  This year I my daughter will meet me in July, but I’m traveling alone again and it seems weird.  I realize that traveling with Mark took some of the stress off me in terms of decision making.  This also happened with Lisa when we traveled Spain because she spoke Spanish and I did not.  I found myself thinking I have no one this year to keep me on track.  So it seems I’ve lost some of the confidence I had when I first traveled alone.