Tuesday 20.6.2017 309km Total:3990km Total:441km 12.51km Total:167.73km
Since I did Skyfall road yesterday I just press on down to the A85 towards Oban.
I've chosen a ridiculously long detour to Glasgow but it's totally worth it, as soon as I leave A82 for A85 the road gets so twisty it almost unscrews my head.
From Oban south it gets a bit boring again to skyrocket in entertainment value on the A83 along Loch Fyne.
The miles disappear pretty quickly but still I don't arrive at the Onslow Guesthouse until about 6PM.
The very first thing that happens when I get there is that the man in reception who's basically a baldy dwarf with pretty obvious cognitive issues tells me that "that's right, you're the guy whose room is flooded".
Of course his overall appearance have no great significance but the fact that my accommodation, which I spent long and well looking for with absolutely no backup plan has no room for me.
That those news are delivery by Quasimodo in the most incomprehensible accent in all of the British Empire just turned the whole situation completely surreal.
I don't know how Quasimodo expected me to react to this news but it seemed like it came as a complete surprise that I actually did expect to have a place to stay for the two nights I had booked.
He then starts to call around to other places he knew of, seemingly at random and eventually he gets me a room at the Alison Guesthouse in roughly the same neighbourhood.
I ride over to Alison and is met by a man called Kenny but I will forever remember him as the real life incarnation of Basil Fawlty.
One of the first things that happen is when told that I come from Sweden he asks me if I'm from the Flemish part?
He just waved it off when I told him his geography was a bit off so I still don't know what he meant, perhaps he meant Scania?
And throughout the whole stay he persisted in calling me Thomas even though I pointed out that my name is Tommy no less than three times and just to be extra clear I even showed him the exact spelling on the helmet but no, my name was Thomas.
I got the only room he had left which was a family room, the building must have been ancient because the room was huge and it had a really weird bathroom solution.
The bathroom was like a box put in the corner of the room and the walls of the bathroom didn't extend to the ceiling in the room.
There was a bit more logistics involved since Alison didn't have parking so I had to ride back to Onslow and park and walk from there but after that I hit the town.
I'll admit I wasn't in the greatest of moods but that changes quickly because I don't get farther than the Cathedral and the Necropolis and I'm overjoyed.
The cathedral was obviously closed but the Necropolis where for obvious reasons still open (not many cemeteries close since the residents are sleeping the long sleep anyway).
A cemetery from 1832 with 3500 monuments spread over 15 hectares, I know it's a bit macabre but I love this sort of thing.
I couldn't have been more bleakishly beautiful if Tim Burton had been the architect.
I'm inevitably drawn to places like this and probably spent a couple of hours just walking around which made my dear brother question whether "I really need a hotel room since I might as well just hang upside down in the nearest attic".
After that I headed further into town but didn't manage to get more sightseeing in than the town hall until it was time to get something to eat and head back to the hotel.
I really never ventured outside the touristy parts and I have to say it felt like there where a lot more druggies/homeless people per m2 than in any other larger town I've been in.
It might be that Trainspotting colored this opinion so I just noticed it more than I usually do but I don't think so.
P.S. I didn't know it at the time but the fact that I paid the same at Alison as I would have at Onslow meant I payed more than the standard fee at that place, £90 for two days instead of £60.
Booking.com seems totally fine with that and the review I wrote was removed (which is the fate of most negative reviews on that site so beware, I'm sure even the shittiest rathole on the face of the earth has overwhelmingly positive reviews on that page).
Charles Tennant 1768 – 1838 founded an industrial empire based on bleaching powder
Monument of John Knox and the reformation (he isn't buried here)
Dr Livingstone I presume?
Wednesday 21.6.2017 0km Total:3990km Total:441km 23.82km Total:191.55km
I head out into a grey Glasgow with a slight drizzle with my first destination for the day being the cathedral.
A very impressive building and the fact that it was a little worse for wear just added to the charm.
I would have been nice to have some sort of explanation to the bullet holes in the door to the sacristy but the only thing I managed to find out was that it was from "troubled times".
That's fairly non-explanatory since the building was erected 1136, the world have seen more than a few troubled times in the last millennia.
Right across the square is St Mungos museum of religious life and art.
A pretty bizarre mish-mash of religious artefacts and cultural traditions but still worth passing through since the entry was free.
Actually nothing I did in all of Glasgow demanded an entry fee so that was a plus.
From here it was just across the street to Provand's Lordship garden.
The garden itself wasn't particularly interesting but the row of very peculiar heads (which meaning I never understood) where pretty funny.
On my way to the city centre I come across one of the most amazing murals I've ever seen in my life.
It depicts an old man with a bird on his finger and is painted all across the gable of a four story building.
I had to Google the backstory: It's painted by an Australian street artist called Smug and took about a week to finish.
It depicts Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow in modern day clothes.
Apparently when Mungo was young some kids where throwing stones at some Robins that where pecking for scraps on the ground.
One of the birds was hit and feel to the ground.
The boys ran away but Mungo picked it up, caressed it and prayed for it and after a while it came too and flew away.
Obviously the most reasonable conclusion wasn't the bird was stunned and came too, no it was Mungos prayers that woke the little fella from the dead and thus what they had was a miracle.
I came across other beautiful pieces in Glasgow but none that came even close to this.
Since I was brought up on the political left side of the street it might have been that I was simply drawn to the Peoples palace (or it could simply have been that it's in the guidebook) but regardless of what brought me there it was a pretty neat place with interesting exhibits and a really nice café in a greenhouse with a botanical garden.
I'm starting to grow a bit tired of fish & chips but in this setting it was alright.
I walk across almost all of central Glasgow to The Lighthouse, a building erected for the newpaper Glasgow Herald at the end of the 1800:s by some kind of local hero Charles Mackintosh.
Nowadays it's a museum for modern architecture and art.
That pretty much means it's a nursery for hipsters but still, the building was impressive and the view from the tower was nice.
On my way back to my "hotel" I not only get dinner I also do my poor feet a great service by buying a new pair of walking shoes.
The old Eccos I've been lugging around has really been ready for retirement a long time ago and considering I've walked about 30kms in just the last two days in Glasgow it's pretty much an investment.
Tennant brewery, The pride of Glasgow. They hade very nice murals on the wall surrounding the brewery.
Thursday 22.6.2017 136km Total:4126km #5 89km Total:988km 21.72km Total:213.27km
I go straight for the ferry terminal and I'm there with 90 minutes to spare before departure.
For the first time in a long while I (and another guy because that was all the bikes going) get to be first to board the ferry and the bikes are strapped down for us so there's no rush to get a seat on this crossing.
After a calm crossing I get to what will hopefully be the most expensive stay on this trip at the Radisson Blu Belfast because the options where extremely limited.
I've never really considered Belfast to be an overly popular tourist destination but obviously something draws people because finding accommodation here was pretty hopeless so I'll just be staying for the night.
Again I have to park the bike somewhere different to where I live where a friendly woman in reception says I can put the bike wherever I want.
I took her word for it and parked it on the sidewalk right outside the reception window and she seemed ok with that.
She finishes the conversation by saying that to get out I just need to come and talk to them again and pay £10 for the parking (even though I'd already paid more than £100 for the room).
I didn't contact anyone going in since the gap left by the road barrier was more than enough for the bike so I'm not sure if it was an appeal or how her thinking went really.
I've never skimped on payment before but I must confess that the jury is still out on that decision.
I haven't read up on Belfast at all and have no real sights that I'm determined to see here.
Just as I felt in Sarajevo I unfortunately have no points of reference when it comes to Belfast apart from misery and the war (I absolutely refuse to call it "the troubles").
I want to at least get some kind of feel about how it is today so I head off to the different catholic (UDF) and protestant (IRA) neighbourhoods to have a look.
I get to walk by Donegall road (UDF) for all of five minutes before a car with two young guys go by screaming "fuck you and your camera" which I take to mean "welcome, please take part of and document our rich cultural life and heritage".
I had just taken a photo of an English flag with the red hand of the UDF since it surprised me being a naïve foreigner that they still use those symbols.
I really had no idea about any of this so I was pretty much going in completely blind.
I walk out of the unionist neighbourhood onto Falls road and there like magic every single flag disappear and instead there are IRA murals everywhere and it seemed every other locale is a Sinn Féin office.
That there where fresh posters urging people to not inform to MI5 felt a bit weird but it seems pretty obvious that there's still a lot of bad blood stirring under the surface here which I until I went was blissfully ignorant about.
On Shankill the flags are back and it's pretty much every other UDF-flag and Union Jack on every single lamppost.
It was more British flags than on the queens birthday.
The murals on Shankill are plentiful as well with dedications to the fallen (I can't really bring myself to use either the term heroes or soldiers on any side of this conflict).
When I get to the city centre all remnants of the conflict have completely disappeared, its very metropolitan and like the city centre in any major European city.
I wander around pretty aimlessly in the shopping streets before heading out along the pier and the Titanic Quarter, famed for housing the shipyard that built the not completely unknown RMS Titanic.
This quarter seems to be some kind of pride of Belfast and the exhibits might be spectacular but on the outside the buildings are ultramodern and in my opinion about as pretty as a shovel to the face.
By now it has started to rain so I head back to the hotel via a restaurant and make it day.
I must say that I was pretty downhearted by my walk through Falls and Shankill.
I never felt unsafe (despite the "welcome" on Donegall) but it just seems so tragic that nothing seems forgiven nor forgotten.
The wounds seem to run very deep here and there are forces at play that seem to be doing their best to make certain that the scars never heal.
It's obviously very presumptuous of me to express my modest observations as some sort of detailed analysis but I just can't shake the feeling that the ember is still there just waiting for something to fan the flame.
I desperately hope that I'm wrong.
Spirit of Belfast, nicknamed the onion rings.