After my Up North and Down South trips, it was time to start over again. As usually - why should it be easy, when it can be tough - North for the winter! Here are the part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Now winter is over but, we still keep wandering north, so let's see where Windy islands tour part 5, will lead us... 😎😆
You can also fallow the trip in Polarsteps. Not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.
1 March 2023 – Inishmore, Ireland
The inconvenience of living on an island is that everything you need is on the bigger island. 😄 So, together with my new coworkers, had to catch the ferry back to Galway to open our bank accounts.
Bullshit! Why in every country do I have to open an account?!? Am I going to make a salad of these bank accounts and cards, damn it…
Anyway, we had a walk, I took them for coffee at the cool place Jerry had shown me, and went back on the afternoon ferry. With the small difference that as “living” on the island we paid 15 € round trip ticket, while on arrival I paid 39 €… 🤦🏼♀️🤐🤦🏼♀️
4 March 2023 – Inishmore, Ireland
The work at the bank was done, we all had our accounts open, had just to wait for our cards in the mail.
It was a bit stressful though. As new arrivals we didn’t have a PPSN (NIN in England, NIE in Spain, BSN in the Netherlands…), kind of a social security number. We were working legally, but because we lacked this PPSN, they deducted 50% of our wages as “emergency tax“. 😮🤦♀️
Things happened surprisingly fast and on the second week we got our numbers and the emergency tax showed up in our accounts almost immediately.
There was nothing much for me to do but walk around on the rare non-rainy days.
One day I went to the shop, which is 3 km away and… came back after 13 km… 🤫
It felt super weird – on a small island that, with a little more stubbornness and training, you could walk around in a day. Water everywhere, the wind wouldn’t stop, and so did the rain.
And no trees! They where they to root in this rock sticking out in the middle of the ocean… 🤷🏻♀️
The hotel wasn’t busy yet, so we had lot’s of free time. The lady boss was strict but nice person, so we got along pretty well. The only problem was that there was not enough work, which means too less money, but… we can’t do anything about it, it is what it is… 🤷🏻♀️
10 March 2023 – Inishmore, Ireland
Because I was complaining about the weather, so it decided to give me a more serious reason for complaint. It was the day when the girls (Did I mention them?: Christina from the US at 23 and Katarina from Germany at 20) and I had to move to a new place.
At first Penny put us up in rooms at her hotel, but logically she would need the rooms when the season start in a week or two. So she had rented us a house about 400 meters from the hotel. It turned out to be the house of a guy “who’s hat is a lot tighter than mine” (a bulgarian saying for a crazy one like myself 😉), but more about that later.
So that day, all the winds and rains had gathered and were trying to blow and throw us away, along with our luggage and our house… Good thing Penny drove us in the car – door to door, so we survived. And it was COLD!
The house is visible on one of the below photos (with the GoPro on the wall 🤪) – there are many of at type houses on the island. Actually one house is split in two. And our neighbor on the right was Coen (or Owen, I’m not too sure of spelling). Minutes after we arrived, he showed up on the doorstep with a bottle of milk and a pack of briquettes for the fireplace so we could warm our pretty bums.
Later I’ll explain about the owner of the house, as he deserves a little more words, but just to mention that the house was well heated (although empty) and with the thermostat at 22 degrees. The problem was that that beastly wind was going through everything and taking away at least 1/3 of the precious degrees.
And Coen saved us!
So the next morning, as an excuse for its hooligan behavior from the past two days, the sunrise was absolutely beautiful, calm and… cold! There was snow on the hills across (because these are not mountains to me!) ! But at least it wasn’t blowing or raining anymore! 😆
So I went out to take a picture of the sunrise and looking at the snow-covered peaks, I realized that I would never see such a picture again. No matter how hard it tries to blow and rain, from now on snow will not appear on these places anymore.
So, I got back, jumped into my jeans and boots and scrambled up the hills. But of course I’ll take the bypass roads! I didn’t get to the hill with the view until the afternoon, but all the scenic that accompanied me the whole way to there, were worth every kilometer I walked!
These church ruins (of the smallest known church in Europe) are only about 2-3 km from “home“, so on one of the following days I climbed again in the dark to catch the sunrise from the top.
Well, it turned out pretty good, I must say! 😎🥳
Oh, and I promise to tell you more about our landlord who I never saw. Well, I really wish I will have the chance to meet him some day…
I’ve got some idea of his personality from Penny and Coen, but he also has written a book, that I found in his house and read it. That guy were living (I’m pretty sure he still does!) all his life on the edge! I’m doing that now, my own way, but it’s the way he always lived.
Well, on a completely different level though, as he is a businessman, not a poor dreamer and adventurer… 😉
Long story, short: at one NY party he did just pick up the phone and bought himself an yacht, then started a round the world sailing by his own with not a single stop! Well, things didn’t work out exactly that way, but he still managed to do it with just one stop.
I don’t know anything about boats and sailing, but I am pretty aware of surviving alone on the way! Yeah, he has the money to do it in another level, which I can not reach, but the risk, the fiear, the struggle – it’s all the same… Huge respect, Enda!
17 March 2023 – Inishmore, Ireland
St Patrick’s Day is a special event in Ireland. Not so flamboyant on the small island, but a good occasion to go out to the pub all together! 😆
So this is Katarina and Christina and our walk to one of the pub where Coen was playing. Yes, he had mentioned to us before that he was about to play that night, so we had a reason to pick a particular pub too! 🤪
It was an enjoyable experience, although the Irish Coffee was a disappointment…
Turned out that a day later is Mother’s Day, so Penny and I (the two girls were still a long way from motherhood) found an occasion for a French Coffee. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but Penny also has a bar (closed for the time being), so she knows a thing about these things. 🤫 The difference between Irish and French appear to be that the first is made with whiskey and the other with brandy.
Well, I definitely like the brandy one better! And as an old pub girl, Penny got it damn right! So we repeated to compensate for the disappointment of the day before… 😁🤫
26 March 2023 – Inishmore, Ireland
It was getting close to the time to leave. I had arrangement to return to Inverness for two months. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of leaving paid work just as the season was starting, travelling for 24 hours and wasting over 100 € (one direction) to stay at an unpaid position for two months, but…
I had given my word!
According to the forecast (they turned out to be right), it was going to be the last nice sunny day of my stay and both Katarina and I (Christina had left) decided to take advantage and go to the most famous landmark on the island. It was almost at the other end, so we asked Penny to drive us after work and we could walked home.
I was having trouble with my leg again. This time a serious one! Some inflammation, a nerve, a tendon, the whole shebang… And I was on anti-inflammatories and pain killers for almost a week. Still, I figured I could handle 8 km of walking on a asphalt road, and I didn’t want to waste a nice day, so…
The most famous fort was a bigger disappointment than St. Patrick’s Day Irish Coffee. And it was also with paid admission, excuse me! We got in for free since we work on the islands and are “locals“, anyway. 😜
It’s beautiful, no argument there. But compared to the Black Fort, which was my first walk, and which is completely free, it was nothing special.
On the way to the fortress you pass a cafe highly recommended by Penny. At her insistence, I told her I’d go for a coffee when I got back in the summer – not enough working hours now to cover a coffee expenses. So when she dropped us off, she handed me 15 € to treat Katarina and me both. It was an unexpected and kind gesture, so we couldn’t help but stop by on our way back to try the homemade scones.
On our way, we passed by the turnoff for The Wormhole. Something like 15 minutes according to the navigation. I figured my leg would handle an extra 30 minutes of walking.
Yeah right, but the navigation didn’t say what we would be walking on… That boulder hopping definitely finished off my poor leg, which had just started to recover.
We only found the hole thanks to my GPS navigation and sense of direction. There wasn’t a single sign or marker after the road fork. (Going back we saw one in the middle of nowhere.)
So I wasn’t very impressed with the landmark in question, perhaps because of the tide. I suspect at high tide it would be quite more spectacular sight. But the scenic route to get there was worth it.
Eventually the 8 km of asphalt walking grew into 21 km of more boulders and goat paths.
In the end I barely made it home limping and cursing my big Capricorn horns…
2 April 2023 – Galway, Ireland
The plan was: the evening ferry to Galway, the last bus to Dublin airport, a nap in the waiting room, a flight, a bus from the airport to Edinburgh and a train to Inverness.
That’s pretty much how it went…
Good thing I mentioned the plan to Penny, who laughed and wished me good luck with the ferry and bus connection. And there wasn’t any later bus. According to her, the chance of me succeeding was about – 0.3% (which was confirmed later in Galway when the bus departure time had passed a few minutes before my arrival)…
Yes, but I have a hidden joker – Jerry! 😁
I planned to stop by his place for a few days at my return. I missed him! The two days together on the way to Inishmore over a month ago were too few. And more than enough in other hand..!
So I didn’t regret at all. Jerry welcomed me with open arms and we shared two more wonderful days of nettle salad, Mexican food, Irish coffee and a pub with live Irish music.
Not only that, but half of Roberto stayed to keep him company! 😆 I knew where and for how long I was going, so I also knew how much luggage I need. I had paid for Roberto anyway, but that didn’t mean I had to carry him full. 😜
2 April 2023 – Balnain/Inverness, Scotland
I left Jerry with regrets and a lot of apprehension about the state of my leg and the upcoming 20-24 hours of travel in a sitting position.
Its condition was improving after all the self-massages, ointments and plantain compresses, but it was still far from good, and the biggest problem was the sitting position due to the knee flexion and pinched nerve at the back of the thigh. As I mentioned, three problems had flared up at once and were making my life quite a fun…
Luckily for me, on each of the buses, and even on the plane, I managed to stay alone and used the seat next to me, lifting up the leg. It did help! At the airport I also dozed with my legs up in the air. Well, on the plane, I didn’t wiggle my leg, but it was loosely stretched with minimal folding.
And I survived without drama or accidents! 😁 Graham met me at the bus station in Inverness and drove me to my home for the next 2 months. Apparently some people in Scotland still keep their word…
The place was far from Inverness, the nearest town was 5-6 miles away, and I felt at home!
The smell of the woods, the grass under my bare feet, the sound of the river… The weather was just lovely – sun, birds, bees and me in a t-shirt…
If I didn’t have to work like crazy, I would have decided I was in heaven! 😆😜