We arrived in Northern Ireland after only two hours of travel by ferry.
Excited to explore the island, we started by visiting Belfast- the capital of Northern Ireland and the second-largest Irish city (after Dublin). The nightlife in the city is flourishing, probably because over fifty percent of the population is under 30 years old. People party hard there! It’s also worth mentioning that Belfast’s shipyard was the place where the famous Titanic was built and launched.
From there we moved up north following the coastal route; known well to all fans of the Game of Thrones. The series was shot in several locations (e.g. the famous Giant’s Causeway) around the island and attracts many tourists. Their presence arouses controversy and causes discontent to many locals, who would prefer to see their country being popular for other reasons than the TV series.
After a hard time in Scotland, we were happy to enjoy truly wonderful weather.
The sun was shining almost constantly and only one time we were unlucky enough to ride in the middle of a big thunderstorm. We admired the sandy beaches, high cliffs as well as green fields and enjoyed the idyllic atmosphere of the calm Irish countryside. It’s a place where you can easily get in a melancholic mood. No wonder that, as we heard, everyone here is writing a never-to-be-published book.
During our tour we couldn’t miss Derry city, or as it is called by the pro-British inhabitants of Northern Ireland- Londonderry. This name was the cause of many arguments and disputes between both sides. Those who claim to be politically correct use both versions together: Derry/Londonderry (read: Derry-stroke-Londonderry). And those who make fun of this correctness call it The Stroke City.
Crossing the inexistent border, we cycled to Letterkenny and from there to Glenveagh National Park which was absolutely beautiful with its lakes and green hills. Continuing along the shore we admired one of the most wonderful beaches we have ever seen. There is something special about the northern seas and its shores. The kind of beauty and peacefulness you can’t find while sweating together with hundreds of tourists and being dazzled by the sun.
Back in the United Kingdom, we continued south to make a perfect circle and come back to Belfast to catch a flight to Iceland. Thanks to our friend Liam we had a chance to listen to some pretty awesome Irish music (some played by himself!), which you can check out here.
If you want to feel the spirit of real Irish sports, forget about football, it’s too simple for the people in Ireland. For that reason, they switched to Gaelic Football which is as fun as you probably imagine it. It involves not only kicking but also dribbling the ball! We absolutely loved the versatility and techniques used while watching the All-Ireland Final. We also recommend checking out hurling. Players are equipped with short wooden sticks which they use to hit a small ball (resembling a baseball) into the goal. Hurling is a fast game and requires extraordinary skills. To learn more watch this video.
Coming back to the green island we enjoyed the warm weather and sunny days. For this time of the year quite unusual. After a brief visit to Dublin, we crossed to Limerick and later to the Ring of Kerry within the Killarney National Park which is absolutely outstanding, especially if admired while cycling. Towns and cities in Ireland are gorgeous and inviting. It’s definitely worth to pay a visit to Kenmare (for the mountains), Tralee and Waterford (for the sea). Irish people are relaxed, laid back and friendly. They are always keen on having a pint in a pub and a good laugh. Those guys like to party and understand that their neighbors like that as well.
We’ve left Ireland a few days later than planned and set off to Wales. Unfortunately and surprisingly we didn’t have the chance to meet any Welsh person! Nevertheless, we were delighted with the views, the calm atmosphere of the countryside and the warm afternoons.
Thereafter we seriously longed to soon take a walk in Palatinate’s stunning wine yards and spend evenings on the couch with some comforting food and pajamas on. We sprinted through France and soon enough enjoyed the taste of the palantinien Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Cake) washed down with some delicious Riesling Schorle (carbonated water and Riesling) – the best welcome home treat!
The first Tandem Ramble is over. We are proud to say, immodestly perhaps, that we nailed it. We have visited all the places we wanted to see and achieved all the goals- we kept within the time limit we decided to spend on this journey, made a perfect 1500 km circle around Iceland in only three weeks and tried out our equipment in all possible weather conditions. We tested our abilities, pushed our limits and passed the exam of enduring cold and fatigue. We are ready for more.
THE FIRST TANDEM TRIP IN NUMBERS
trip duration- 4 months and 5 days
started on: 28th of June
finished on: 2nd of November
distance covered- sadly inaccurate due to the malfunction of our speedometer-
a little bit over 8000 kilometers.
1 knee inflammation and 1 ear inflammation
the longest distance covered on one day-
205 km in 10 hours with tailwind of 8m/s
the longest day (ever) with the smallest distance covered-
70 km in 10 hours with a front wind of 12 m/s
rainy days- 12
sunny days- many!
photos taken- probably a MILLION