30 July 2012
Very sunny day today, but not hot due to a refreshing abundance of breezes. Hills were all smooth and I spent a lot of time singin' jazzy scat for some reason. Nice views of Lough Swilly and pillowsoft green and yellow hills. Seemed to pass by quickly and I averaged over 15 kph, yay me!
Aside from a few busy, potentially dangerous (if you do it wrong) roundabouts, had a nice hard shoulder on the busy N13 all the way to the border. Didn't even know I'd crossed it of course except that the speed limit signs randomly changed from kilometres per hour to miles per hour and the hard shoulder vanished. Had a useless off road cycle path for about a quarter mile, then had to merge with traffic again for a ton more roundabouts. Forgot how much I hate city traffic. It's much more annoying on a heavily loaded touring bike. Dublin seems more manageable than Derry; Derry had practically no cyclists in it to train motorists to look out for us. But once I remembered to take my whole lane, I was fine and felt safe enough. There was a righthand passing lane for folks behind me to use all the way into Derry so no one got in anybody's way.
Guide book I'm using suggests taking a train out of Derry to the giants' causeway area so I got a ticket for Portrush at the Derry sation. It didn't leave for two hours so I cycled around a bit and went to the tourist office to see if the hostel I was aiming for on the map was still running (had found out in Malin Beg that the one I wanted the next night in Crohy Head was shut down, hence the miserable camping). It still exists, so I went ahead and booked tonight over the phone. Makes this the only night I've booked in advance.
After that I cycled to the Bogside and went into the Free Derry Museum. It's propaganda, sure. Mostly chronicles the events of Bloody Sunday and the 13 innocent deaths thereon. And I got to thinking, Damn. Dozens of police opening fire on civilians (after YEARS of unrest and troubles) and 13 die. One dude in a movie theatre in Colorado opens fire for like five minutes and 12 die. Talked to the guy in the museum about American gun laws for a while. Damn do we need to do something about those.
Other than a few political-historical things, Derry seems to consist mainly of huge shops, so I didn't feel inclined to stay long. Back to the train station for a hurried lunch while waiting for the train. Guy waiting in there too gave me an orange, said I needed the sugar for cycling. Thank you, guy. I'll eat it with breakfast in the morning and add some vitamins to my bacon diet.
On the train, I met some girls who'd met my bike in Donegal--that's right, not me, but BK, and they recognised her later. We talked for a bit, then played Boggle. Couldn't help but think of you, Mama. They allowed three letter words tho', not only five and up like you do :P
Had to change trains in Coleraine and therefore didn't make it to Portrush until almost 19:00. Portrush is another seaside resort town, even had a fair going on with all the spinny pukey rides of childhood. And cars parked everywhere in one way streets making me go in a huge circle before I found the right road.
Countryside here mostly feels British. Not sure how to describe it. It's like, the grass is shorter, the hedges more orderly. But then you'll cycle past a house pouring sweet turf-smelling smoke and it's Irish too. Such a weird transitional space.
Cycled up to the giant's causeway--taking a road the little bus for the elderly/handicapped/lazy uses (prolly wasn't allowed but I didn't want to leave BK unattended at the top). I climbed about on the basalt columns for a while and got a guy to take a picture of me with my broken camera (hope the photos are turning out fine...). He asked me something like, "did you walk all this way? You look..." And gestured at my legs. I s'pose that means I look super fit, haha! Makes me feel like a hero. I talked to him a bit about my cycling trip before turning back.
I would've liked to have done the whole cliff walk there, or at least spent an hour or so sitting there and contemplating the vastness of the sea. But as it was, I needed to reach the hostel before its 22:00 curfew, so I only stayed about twenty minutes. Then, onward in the waning light toward White Park Bay.
The White Park Bay hostel is the cleanest and most professional so far, because it is an official Youth Hostel Association place. That also means it's the most expensive (£18) and the most strict about closing and opening times etc. Means an early morning for me... Have to leave completely by 11:00.
Tomorrow I'm going to Belfast, and will stay with friends there for a day or two before taking a train back to Dublin... Bringing this whole saga to a close. It's hard to believe that this trip is almost over. Where have the days gone? Where is July running off to in such a hurry?
I'm not done travelling yet, tho', of course! Or blogging. I hope to keep both up for a long while yet.
P.s. -- now that I'm technically in the UK, O2 wants to be stupid and charge me roaming and limit my internet access etc. Which means I don't know when I'll be able to post these last few days of posts since it will depend on wifi access. Fyi.