Monday, September 18, 2017

Lithuania and Latvia

After a short visit to Estonia a few years ago via Finland, we decided to visit the other Baltic states so we went to Vilnius, Lithuania, and Riga, Latvia, two new countries for me to visit. We flew into Kaunas, and headed to Vilnius which I liked, the old town, the three crosses on the Hill, and the Tower on the hill above the town. The architecture is a blend of baltic sea, Germanic and Scandinavian, as well as some relics of the Soviet era. Some quirky art stuff, as well as the Frank Zappa bust (still not sure why it is there) we visited, the museums like the museum of genocide had a native bias perhaps. Onwards we went, driving the Toyota Yaris, going to Riga, kinda Zig-Zagging it to the Hill of Crosses, which was amazing to see, but also the countryside which is quite flat. On to Riga, which seems bigger a bit grubbier but with some amazing architecture, monuments and public spaces in the city, very similar to many Baltic cities, but with a noticeable Russian feel, from the Language especially, I heard more Russian than Latvian. We went to visit the Rundale Pils (Palace and Gardens) about an hour or so outside Riga, which was very nice on a sunny September day. On the way back to Riga, we took a detour to visit the Salaspils Concentration Camp, which was hard to find and quite hidden in a lovely forrest parkland, not much there and not given the reverence it deserves in my book. A night out in Riga was lively but thankfully not infested with UK Stag parties as it is at other times of the year. A quick visit to Jurmala forrest and beach area, and a paddle in the baltic, before heading to town to see the All-Ireland. Overall I found it quite interesting and easy enough to navigate with one of the guys on google maps assisting. I would recommend both Riga and Vilnius, and if you can on a longer stay work in Tallinn, but get out of the cities and see some of the countryside.

visited 23 states (10.2%)
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Westport & Carrowniskey Surf Trip

Another venture to attempt surfing, second time in Carrowniskey, and staying in Westport Harbour. Nice place and the weather behaved itself, and it was sunny for our surfing! I like Westport Town, good buzz about the place, ok it is a bit further to drive from Dublin than other venues, perhaps the road could do with an upgrade, and Carrowniskey Beach is a further drive beyond Louisburg along the southern side of Clew bay, we had a fine clear view of Croagh Patrick, although didn't venture up it this time. I am always impressed with the amount of things to do in the Westport area, ok cycling and surfing appeal to me, but there is also golfing, horse riding, hill walking, fishing, boating, take a trip to the islands, visit the stately home, venture on to Newport or Achill for a day. As ever a very enjoyable trip, no doubt will end up having a return visit some day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ski Amade 2017

Third year with Specker Ski Trip to Ski Amade in Austria. Again a great trip and ski resort. Ok some early morning Ryanair flights to negotiate but all went smoothly. I would describe the weather and conditions as two very sunny days, two snowy days, and 2 mixed days. A massive ski resort with many different runs to do, and outstanding scenery. Overall it was quite warm and on the sunnier days some of the lower slopes were quite sugary and slushy, but overall some excellent skiing was had. Most days finished off with a Coffee and Cake across the road, sometimes still in ski boots still on. Dave and Eileen and Seigi Tours arranged things well for us, and Hotel Post fed and watered us very well. Good company with stories and laughs as usual. A good night with a sing song and laughs to see is off, I promise I must learn some songs for next year! he says presumptuously, and I look forward to going again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter Surf trip Bundoran

Perhaps a bit foolishly we ventured for a weekend away surfing in Bundoran, Co, Donegal. The trip kept on being postponed, and it ended up towards the end of November that we eventually went. Ah well at least it will be a weekend aways we thought as the rain and hail and snow greeted us on our drive up through Meath, Cavan and Fermanagh. A cosy hostelry for our dinner and to ponder the folly of our endeavour with the usual messing and joking, we awoke to a crisp frosty morning, again dubious about attempting surfing. Nevertheless the surfing went ahead, dressed up in a burka-esque wetsuit and booties and gloves and cap, we entered the waters in Rossnowlagh. As ever the suit did the trick and we have a laugh. Returning to shore the cold did hit you, but a hot chocolate and bickie soothed it somewhat. An evening watching the all-blacks robust tackling and revenge on Ireland for beating them in Chicago, and a evenings craic was nice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Well a trip to Iceland was something which I always wanted to do. I alway wanted to see the weird landscape and in preparation for the trip my checklist of things to do and I attained them and much more. The land of fire and ice, I would add waterfalls and roundabouts. Hiring a car is a must and dealing with some quirks of driving in Iceland takes a bit of getting used to but is easy enough, many of the main things to see and do are within a day trip of Reykjavik, the golden circle, with Geysir, gullfoss and much more is a must, the blue lagoon, where the 2 continental plates meet, the waterfalls, volcanic sites, and glacier on a southern drive is amazing, another route we took was north west and round the fjords which is amazing. For me the highlights were the geysir, walking behind a waterfall, and walking on glacier.
visited 19 states (8.44%)
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Surf trip to Westport

Went for a surf trip with my comrades Ivan and Lee, after attempting surftrips to Lahinch, Bundoran, and Strandhill, for a change we choose Westport, and surfing in Carrownsky, Louisburg, Co. Mayo. Was my first time in Westport which is nice quite touristy but a lot to do and places to go. We stayed in Westport Harbour a brisk walk for 15mins into Westport. The self catering appartment, was nice and clean, and nice living room, where we were able to watch the rugby (New Zealand v Wales and South Africa v Ireland), and soccer (European championships) We had booked surf lessons with about a 30min drive west from Westport Harbour, and a little bit beyond Louisburg. The conditions were mixed for both days we booked, the instructor was very good, and the boards were excellent. Saturday we were lucky to be the only ones so a lot of personal instruction and Sunday was busy and we had a lot of waves which was tiring somewhat but still great fun.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ski Amade, Salzburg Skiwelt 2016

Again this year I went skiing with the guys on the specker trip to Ski Amade, Salzburg Skiwelt, in Austria. It is a massive resort and a good variety of runs etc., testing enough for the likes of me. The weather was a bit better than last year there was two sunny days one very cold and one very snowy day, and two ok days. The last 3 days I found skiing totally different than the previous day (for ice, to powdery snow to slushy). I found the lift people very helpful and considerate to the guides and VI skiers and most other skiers were understanding and very interested.
The resort was full of dutch people? apparently one of the weeks of the dutch mid-term, and the dutch downhill championship was on this week. Dutch Skiing Championships!!!!! for a country without a mountain I hear you say. Maybe we should have the Irish championships there next year;). The gang was the usual faces a good gang, and good craic was had, a couple of nights of sing songs, and other nights of cards, and the usual cabal who practice the dark art of “Shot Dice” a mystery to me, we all found ways to have a laugh and fun. Skiing with Mick my Phibsboro Chess Club colleague (who got me involved with this gang originally) was good fun but for someone unfit like myself the former para-olympian left me wrecked after a week of trying to keep ahead of him. My Skiing is not improving, but my enjoyment of it, and this trip each year seems to grow. The guys in the Hotel Post, and from Siegi Tours treated us well and I would highly recommend them and many thanks to Dave and Eileen and Pete and Eveyln and Caroline and Peter and Windy for their organising etc.(sorry if i left anyone out). I hope to go again next year, my skiing is not improving, but my enjoyment of it, and this trip each year seems to grow.