So we finally made it to our final destination unharmed, unscathed and concluded our on-road journey as well. In total, we travelled 1470km in a tank and a half of diesel – bloody awesome fuel economy. The car we drove was a Skoda Octavia S 1.6 5D that had only done 4486km beforehand. We can also cross Wales off our list as we took an unplanned detour via the western parts of Wales.
Beaulieu (locals pronouce it bew-lee) is home to the national motor museum, Beaulieu Abbey and is situated in the New Forest National Park. Driving to this destination, we saw free roaming horses, donkies and cows and within habitated areas. They were behaved enough to come close to and pet. The Abbey dates back to 1204 but this time I was there for the automotive kind.
For one year only, one of the museum’s exhibitions showcases 50 vehicles from the 007 Bond movies. It is the single most largest collection in the world.
The drive from Windermere to Liverpool took around 1.5 hours but felt very short with all the things to look at along the way (and of course the 130km/h motorways helped). There are some strange roundabouts here, especially the ones with traffic lights on the roundabout itself! A work colleague warned me about Swindon’s magic roundabout which we’ll fully avoid.
We traveled on the bus doing a loop that took us to Grasmere, Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness. Windermere is the largest body of water in England and is home to about 3000 boats.
Our real driving adventure finally started as we headed out from Newcastle towards the Housesteads which was a recommendation by our hotel receptionist for the best vantage point of Hadrian’s Wall. Getting out was easy, a simple one way stretch onto the motorway.
After touching down in Newcastle International airport, we picked up our car and began driving. They didn’t have any GPSes left and the lady said they were 15 pounds a day to hire and that buying the cheapest would have been more affordable. She directed us to the local shopping complex which we headed in.
Finally, something that has gone to plan – at least from Tom’s side of the fence. The hotel is fantastic and has everything we ever needed including complimentary breakfast and wifi, yes wifi keeps me sane. Had the religious Irish breakfast before heading out to the local shopping centre.
I had a great night’s sleep and woke up around 9am. It would appear that I’ve finally adjusted to the time difference. Europeans have it so lucky, they have so many different countries to visit, so much background and history at their very door step – and most speak English. And America is only 7 hours away.
I started today with the scrambled eggs with bacon like Tom had the other day. It was a nice cafe and offered free wifi which I took onboard uploading some of my photos.
Tom packed up and checked into the hotel provided by Royal Meath: Carlton at Blanchardstown. I stayed back as I was going on another full day tour today.
My day started early again, waking up at around 5:45am as I had to catch a taxi to the train station to travel to Galway, west of Ireland. To get from east to west the ride took about 2 hours to complete and that included about 15 stops in between. A coach with about 12 others were waiting for us Dubliners (2 of us on the train). The other person was a retired nurse living on Kangaroo Island and had already been on holidays for 7 weeks our of 8.
Today started out waking up at 5:45am to catch the coach at 6:30am – this normally would be near impossible but I was still adjusting to the time difference (-10 hours) so it wasn’t too bad. For breakfast, I had some cookies and ran out the door.
We traveled on a full sized bus about 3/4 full to Belfast. There were a lot of people from USA and other parts of Europe. These days, there is a sense of unity between the Irelands and no longer any border crossings. The queen visited Dublin in the early 2000s to a receptive crowd. The only difference, the driver said, was that signs would go from kilometres to miles.