A Travellerspoint blog

Thanks for the memories

Its been amazing

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Well this is the day that was always bound to come. We have finally finished our journey and are both back in Melbourne after having spent a week in Perth relaxing on the beach and catching up with old friends. We just wanted to take this blog to thank all the people that we have met along the way and to those that helped us and let us stay and the ones that played tour guide in places foreign to us.

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Mum for playing tour guide in San Francisco

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Nancy and Duane at Camp Hidden Falls in Santa Cruz

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Brad and his housemates in Acton Town (Action Town)

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Paul in Brighton for giving us his bed and enjoying a laugh with us at the Magners Comedy Festival

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Chris Jerram for sharing his house and a road trip up to Scotland

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Ania and Mike in Edinburgh for an introduction to Scottish delicacies like haggis and black pudding

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Stewart Ramsay for showing us around his Island (Stornoway, Isle of Lewis)

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An amazing Irishman called Aidan who helped us around Northen Ireland

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Another great Irishman Gerard for putting us up for a couple of nights in London

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Sonia in Cape Town for showing us around the Vineyards of South Africa

We met so many great people on our travels and had such an amazing and memorable time. We just wanted to again thank all of you who have been following our journey and who have been supporting us wherever you may have been in the world. We couldnt have made this journey without the love and support of our family and friends.

So to our friends old and new please stay in touch and never hesitate to contact us if you are ever in Melbourne.

See ya.
Ian and Terri

Posted by Ian_Terri 14:29 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

South African Adventure

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View Around the World in 8 Months on Ian_Terri's travel map.

On our final day in Livingstone I decided to do a bungy jump, gorge swing and zip line over the Zambezi River. The jump is 300ft high (101mtrs) and takes place on the bridge that connects Zambia to Zimbabwe. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the bungy but that was mainly because I had a little too much time to sit and think about what it was I was about to do.

Victoria Falls Bungy

It was such a buzz and a great way to finish 2008 and see in 2009.

We met our new group and leader on New Years Eve and had a few beers with them around the camp fire that night. We didnt make it much past 12am as we were up early the next day and heading into Botswana. This stage of our journey would take us through Botswana and into Chobe National Park and then through to our finishing point in Jo'burg, South Africa. After a short ferry ride we arrived in Botswana and with no arrival complications at the border we headed to our campsite on the Chobe River. We had a river game cruise that night and were able to spot hippos in and out of the water and also saw our first elephant swimming in the water (he was crossing the river). We were treated to a lovely meal that night and watched a beautiful sunset.

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Chobe River Cruise

The next day we drove a rather treacherous road that was more potholes than road and arrived at our campsite 'Elephant Sands' were we witnessed our first elephant encounter at ground level. This old bull would have been no less than 5 metres from us and at least 4mtrs tall. He gave us a mock charge and ended up snapping the trunk off a nearby dead tree. It was such a magical site to be this close to a wild animal and we had to wait till he moved away to be able to erect our tents. This bull also came back during the night and was eating the grass around our tent but we slept through the whole thing!!

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Inside our tent

In the morning we were up at 5am because today was a ridiculously long day of driving. We skipped breakfast and hit the road. It wasn’t long in before those of us in the truck could hear a strange flapping noise. On inspection we found out that we had burst a tyre so breakfast was served on the side of the road while Colin (our Zulu driver) fixed the flat. This was the first of a series of incidents on this day. We ate lunch in Francistown (Botswana) while our guide and driver went to get a new tyre (the roads in Africa are very unkind to tires). We were on strict instructions to be ready for pick up at 12pm so when they arrived an hour late the news wasn’t good. They didn’t get a replacement tyre but they did get robbed. Our guides bum bag was left in the cab of the truck (unlocked) and someone stole it and all our local payment money (over USD1200) and his passport. This led to the next problem - how to get across the border into South Africa without a passport. The funniest part of this incident was that the police wouldn’t write up a stolen property report unless our guide had the accused (glad this didn’t happen to us!!). We spent the next few hours going back and forth between the police station and border control trying to get our guide across. We eventually hit the S.A border at 7pm that night only to find that the line into the country was over 100mtrs in length. Despite this we moved through relatively quickly and were in S.A by 9pm. We still had a further 3hrs to drive and had a very late dinner around midnight :0).

The next two nights we had in Kruger National Park which had the best infrastructure of all the parks but due to the dense vegetation it was very hard to spot the animals. We have to admit that we had been spoilt by the abundance of animals in the north (Serengeti, Maasai Mara). We did however get hyenas at the fence to our campsite sniffing around for some of our bbq chicken and went to sleep listening to the sounds of nearby lions roaring.

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Blyde River Canyon

Our trip ended in Jo'burg where we had a friend that we stayed with for two nights before we flew into Cape Town.

We have had one week in Cape Town and we have made the most of it. A friend of ours who we worked at Camp Carolina with was able to put us up for the week. Sonia is a teacher and is on her holidays so she has been able to show us around and be our tour guide while we are here. We have been staying at her parents home in Stellenbosch which some of you may know is an extensive wine region and we have been out and sampled a few of the grapes.

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Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch Region

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Strawberry Picking in the wine region

We have been extremely lucky with the weather so far which means we have been able to do all our planned activities. We decided that rather than take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain that we would get up early on Sunday morning and beat the heat and hike to the top. We did the Platteklip Trail and it was literally a vertical climb for the full 1hr 45mins that it took for us to summit.

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Platteklip Gorge Walk

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Platteklip Gorge Walk - View from our hike

It was well worth it and much more fulfilling than the touristy cable car. We had a perfect sunny and cloudless sky and we made the most of our time up there soaking up the magnificent view.

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Top of Table Mountain

We decided on the lazy option down and took the cable car and six minutes later we were at the bottom. After returning home for some lunch and an afternoon snooze we were then back out again that night to watch a local South African band at a party in the botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch Park. So we had a picnic and a few drinks and enjoyed music in the late afternoon sun.

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Kistenbosch Concert in the gardens

Monday morning saw us up early again as we were off to Gansbaai for White Shark Cage Diving. We arrived at 8am after driving for 2hrs and jumped on the boat. Both Sonia and I had taken loads of motion sickness tablets as we worried about the four hours bobbing up and down in the ocean. It was a short boat ride out to Shark Alley which is near Dyer Island which is a main feeding area for the white shark population.

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Shark Diving in Gansbaai

We got off to a slow start and didn’t see any sharks for over an hour but unlike game drives you literally can’t see the animals you are trying to spot. We saw about 5 sharks in total from the boat averaging about 2mtrs in length and we also got to jump inside the cage and view a shark from under the water. It was actually a much more sedate portrayal of a shark than we had expected. They are certainly not the man eating monsters that so many movies have made the out to be.

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Shark Diving in Gansbaai

Tomorrow is our last day in Cape Town and we have planned to drive to the southern most point to the Cape of Good Hope and then spend the rest of the day relaxing before we return to Australia on Thursday....................... First stop Perth to visit some friends for a week.

So our journey is pretty much at its end. We hope that you have enjoyed getting our blogs over the last 8 months. We have certainly enjoyed writing them even though it has taken considerable time and effort using foreign computer keyboards and extremely slow connections! We have had such a wonderful time and met so many amazing people and seen so many incredible things and have made memories that will last a lifetime.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Ian and Terri

Posted by Ian_Terri 13.01.2009 02:26 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

African Adventure

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View Around the World in 8 Months on Ian_Terri's travel map.

Day 1 to 3 – KENYA

We arrived from our flight into Nairobi, Kenya with no problems. Customs took a while but luckily our taxi driver was still there waiting for us in arrivals. We weren’t to know at the time but taking a long time to do something is how it’s done through Africa!
We spent 2 nights in our hotel in Nairobi before our tour started on the 7th of December. We met our travelling companions Andy (from England) and Mark (from Australia). We also met our crew who were Moses (tour leader), Papa (the driver) and Kababa (the cook). This is the part where everyone is meant to feel sorry for me for having to spend 4 weeks with 6 men!!!

Our first 3 days were spent doing Game drives through the Maasai Mara reserve in which we were just blown away by it all. What a fantastic introduction into African wildlife. Neither of us knew how much wildlife to expect to see so we were quite impressed. The Great Migration had already left the Mara but we were assured we would see them once we arrived in Serengeti National Park. Our truck was by far the biggest and the best and had an added bonus of only having 4 passengers so we could all have a brilliant view all the time. The trucks must always stay on the tracks so if animals are on the roadside or crossing the road then we would get right up close to them. We were lucky enough to come in close contact with giraffes, zebras, lions, warthogs (like pumba from The Lion King!!), hyenas, rhino, hippos and elephants.

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Mother Lion & her cubs

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Giraffes & Zebras 0 Maasai Mara Reserve

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Mother elephant & baby

We had the most amazing experience on our last day in Kenya. We pulled over to watch a male elephant which was about 200 metres away. Male elephants get kicked out of their family when they reach a certain age and then spend the last 20 years or so of their lives alone – yes it’s a bit sad but maybe not such a bad idea??!! Ha ha Just jokes Dad!!.. Anyway, it didn’t seem all that exciting because we had seen so many more much closer but Moses insisted we watch it. It gradually got closer and ended up crossing right in front of our truck. Moses told us to sit still and not make a noise as the elephant was looking straight at our truck as he walked past at about 3 metres away. It then stopped and turned to face us and the next thing it stepped forward towards us, lifted up it’s trunk, spat at us and made a really loud elephant noise!!! Moses said afterwards it was threatened by us because we were bigger then he and that he was giving us a warning to move on or else! It was the most amazing experience that we will never forget. It was also the topic of conversation around the campfire for about a week!!

Day 4 – 15 TANZANIA

In Tanzania we got to experience wildlife, culture and the beautiful beaches. We visited a Maasai village with our local Maasai guide, Ollie who explained to us the life and culture of the Maasai people. He showed us inside a traditional hut and introduced us to the kids of the village whom we had bough books and pencils for. These kids live in such poverty yet amazingly they still always have a smile on their faces. They were so intrigued by Ian’s hair on his head and arms as they are not used to this. They didn’t quite know what to make of it at all!!

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Maasai Village kids

Ollie finished our walk with some traditional Maasai tribal dancing and singing. One of the distinct traits of a Maasai man is jumping really high in the air which they are taught from a very young age. It’s incredible how high they can get. At the end Ian gave it a go and they were quite impressed at how high the white boy could jump!

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Maasai men jumping

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And Ian giving it a go!!

We spent 2 days doing Game drives in Serengeti National Park and one day in the Ngorongoro Crater. We were determined to spot the remaining BIG 5 that we hadn’t seen yet. The BIG 5 are lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino which are named so because they are the most endangered. High on our list was also a cheetah which we eventually saw in the crater. Actually we saw 3 of them together all sunbathing on the track which meant we were able to get really close. I was surprised to hear something so big make the sound of a domestic cat rather than a lion! We saw a leopard hunting for food on our first afternoon in Serengeti National Park and then the same one the following day.

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The safari truck we used in the Ngorongoro Crater

Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater were 2 of many campsites that we stayed in that were unfenced! It was not unusual to fall asleep listening to hyenas near by talking to each other or waking up in the morning with fresh buffalo poo right near the tent! We stopped off at a waterhole in the Ngorongoro Crater for lunch and were treated to the noise and smell of some hippos.
We spent 3 nights in beautiful Zanzibar which is an island off the coast of Tanzania about 90 minutes by speed ferry. Here the sand is white and fluffy and the water is an amazing array or green and blue. Our hotel room was right on the water so we had an amazing view of the sunrise, sunset and everything in between.

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The beautiful Indian Ocean in Zanzibar

Day 16 – 20 MALAWI

We stayed in 3 campsites over our 5 days in Malawi and they were all situated on Lake Malawi itself. After a few long driving days we welcomed the chance to relax. Whether it be by swimming in the lake, reading our books or sleeping in a hammock, Lake Malawi delivered just what we needed. On Christmas Day we headed to a campsite at the popular Senga Beach which was also where a few thousand Malawians headed for Christmas celebrations! We swam with the locals, had roast chicken for dinner and watched the many fireworks going off. Our cook, Kababa, also baked a cake for us on the hot coals! Malawians are renowned for their beautiful teak and ebony wood carvings so we headed for a local market and bartered hard for some gorgeous woodwork which will look great in our house one day. We were told we were getting ‘Good Christmas Price’ and we surely did.
Leaving Malawi we entered our next country, Zambia.

Day 21 – 25 ZAMBIA

Our first day and a half in Zambia was spent being thrown around the truck! The roads in Zambia are very bad and we had a lot of distance to cover all the while trying to dodge the potholes. Evidently there was no sleeping or reading on these days – just hanging on tight to the seat!
We reached Livingstone which is home to the ever impressive and monstrous Victoria Falls. We walked around the top which gave a great view of the falls in from of us. The spray from the falls can sometimes be felt kilometers away so naturally we got drenched when we were right beside it. The shear size of the drop is amazing and the roaring noise it makes is incredible. In the afternoon of our second day here we went on a half hour ride in a helicopter which hovered over the falls and the nearby gorge. I was in the front seat and Ian was in the back beside the window so we both had an awesome view. It’s hard to describe just how awesome it is being up in the sky looking down at one of the great 7 Natural Wonders of the World. I don’t even think a photo can really justify the beauty of it.

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The huge Victoria Falls, Zambia side

Today we started the day off at 6am and went to a nearby national park where we had the opportunity to walk along with some lion cubs (about 8 months old). We walked with them through the park for about an hour and got to touch them and watch them play. At this age they are VERY playful and were constantly tackling each other to the ground and biting their tails etc. They were so adorable. They are part of a program where they get reared by the park rangers/keepers from 3 weeks old and over a few years they are taught how to hunt and life in the wild and then when they are ready they are introduced into the wild. This is the due to the decrease of lions in the wild. It was a really great experience and fun to watch them interact with each other.

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Our lion friend whose name was Kila!

Well we have one more week left of our tour which sees us moving through Botswana and South Africa. We change trucks, tour leader, driver and passengers when we leave Livingstone so our final week will be much different to the first 4. Fingers crossed for me there are other females on the new trip!!

Hope everyone had a really great Christmas with family & friends.
Terri & Ian

Posted by Ian_Terri 30.12.2008 03:29 Archived in Kenya Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Ireland - To be Sure, To be Sure!

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View Around the World in 8 Months on Ian_Terri's travel map.

The flight from Glasgow to Dublin is a dream - 30 minutes! We bearly got comfortable and we had landed!
A few weeks ago when we were deciding what exactly we were going to do when we got to Ireland we came across a tour company called Paddywagon Tours who specialised in small tours around Ireland & Northern Ireland. We had planned on spending just over a week in Ireland but we were staying with a friend for the majority of it so we decided on the Southern Ireland 3 day tour which departed the day after we arrived in Dublin.

Our tour kicked off from our hostel, Paddys Palace, in the morning with our Irish guide Don. Throughout our travels I have encounted a few Irishman & they all seem to share the same trait - storytelling! Well, Don met all my expectations & kept us all entertained with stories, jokes and a lot of useful info on Irelands history & culture.

Our first stop of the day was to stretch our legs at the Rock of Dunamase before heading to the Blarney Castle where we were keen to kiss the Blarney Stone. According to myth, if you go to the top of the castle and lay down on your back to kiss the stone you will get the 'gift of the gab'. The 15th century castle was beautiful although not fully intact. Only a few smaller rooms remained with the rest just being 4 walls standing with no roof. The gardens and creek running past it were just stunning, especially at this time of the year.

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The Blarney Castle

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View from the top of the Blarney Castle

That night we stayed at Paddys Palace in Kilarney but had an early night after having dinner with the rest of the group. The next morning we drove through the beautiful countryside and had a chance to stop for lunch at a lovely surf beach in Lahinch. It was a clear day but still quite cold so we were shocked to see that there were actually people out there surfing! Not surprisingly they were wearing wetsuits which covered their head & feet!!

Not far from Lahinch was the breathtaking Cliffs of Mohr. For about 10kms the cliffs soar as high as 650 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We walked along the ridge of the cliffs and battled the strong winds to get some amazing views.

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Ian & I walking along the Cliffs of Mohr

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Cliffs of Mohr

That night we stayed in the lively town of Galway in a great little hostel. We spent most of our spare time on the tour with 2 girls (an Aussie & a Kiwi) whom we had met the night before our tour started. Considering the 4 of us had never met before, we got along just like old pals from years back - one of the things I love so much about travelling. So that night in Galway the 4 of us bought some food & wine from the supermarket and cooked a cheap but delicious meal in the hostel kitchen. Later that night we walked to an Irish pub called Monroes where we were treated to some traditional Irish dancing. It was unbelievable to watch these people dance & jump around all night and to see them having so much fun. The fact that it wasn't a show & that these were just ordinary people made it all the more special. To top it all off, right at the end a man who would have been in his late 70's or early 80's cleared the dance floor and performed some solo Irish dancing which earned him a huge cheer at the end. After this we decided to call it a night but as we were leaving the old guy came up to us (clearly we didn't look like locals!!) & proceeded to tell us a story (surprise surprise!) and a dirty joke and sent us on our way!

So we set off the next day at a relaxed pace back to Dublin where the tour ended. After a night of playing cards at the hostel we said our goodbyes to our new found friends.

The following day we set off for some sightseeing around Dublin & visited the National Museum of Ireland. We were picked up later that day by our friend Aidan who was on our tour in Egypt and was kind enough to offer us a bed. It was great to see a familiar face and catch up on what we've been up to in the last couple of months since we left Egypt. Aidan had planned on taking Friday off work to drive us up to Northern Ireland and show us around. We left around 6:30am and set off on a 3 hour drive to Giants Causeway which is an 8km stretch of coastline which is made up of bizarre shaped pillars that stick up out of the ground.

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Ian sitting on the Giants Causeway

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The amazing looking pillars at Giants Causeway

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Giants Causeway

It was apparently formed by volcanic eruptions about 60 million years ago. The 1km walk down to the causeway from the the visitors centre was really tough because the winds were so strong but it was well worth it once we got there. After a bite to eat we headed to Belfast where we jumped on a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus & took in the sites of the city.

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Enjoying a Guinness with Aidan

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Guinness - the drink that Ian has become rather fond of!

Aidan took us out on Sunday for some more sightseeing but this timme closer to his home. Just 30 minutes down the road is Newgrange which is a tomb that is older than the Pyramids. We went inside hte tomb which we had to squeeze through as the passageway was so tight & listened to some interesting stories from our guide about what the tomb could have been used for all those years ago.

Well that's all for now. We've been back in London now for a couple of nights and are looking forward to our next leg of the journey to Africa which we depart for next Friday.
Terri & Ian

Posted by Ian_Terri 24.11.2008 13:46 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

"...Ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road,

and I'll be in Scotland afore ye"

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View Around the World in 8 Months on Ian_Terri's travel map.

We have been lucky enough to stay with a friend of ours in Edinburgh who we met while on our tour in Egypt. Ania has kindly let us stay in the spare room of her apartment for the week so we can explore this wonderful city. On Sunday we met up with a friend from Camp Carolina (USA) Fraser and had lunch and visited the Edinburgh castle. We had a glorious sunny day although there was still a chill in the air. The castle itself sits high on a glacial worn stump of an ancient volcano and we had amazing views of the city and hinterland and having a local helped name a few of the sites. We took the opportunity to visit the Scottish Crown jewels and the famous Stone of Destiny (which is said was used by Scottish Kings during coronations on which they would place their feet – not their bums, which the English got a little wrong).

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On the Monday we had a wander around the streets and went on a walking tour of Mary Kings Close. This place is hidden deep beneath the Royal Mile (the road to the castle) and is a warren of hidden ‘closes’ or streets where real people lived, worked and died and which have lain forgotten for centuries. The tour explained how life would have been hundreds of years ago including how over populated Edinburgh became when the cities walls were erected to only allow 1 mile length and 1/4mile width for the city to grow. This led to the houses being continually built upwards to heights of up to twelve stories. These closes ended up being inhabited by the poor and they would have been living in very dire conditions. It came as no surprise to learn that many people in this close where effected by the plague and it is said that many ghosts still haunt this area. We didn’t have any supernatural experiences but it was a brilliant tour.

The next night we stuck with the supernatural theme and went on a ‘City of the Dead – Haunted Graveyard Tour’. This particular tour company is the only one in Edinburgh that has access to the Covenanters Prison which is the lair of the MacKenzie Poltergeist. This entity is supposed to be responsible for hundreds of physical ‘attacks’ on the tours and is now the best documented supernatural case in history. After some brief history on the witch trials that happened in the past we were led to Grey Friars Tolbooth where it is said that more than 250,000 bodies are buried. This site has been used for hundreds of years so much so that at its highest point the bodies and dirt that have built up is over 10meters higher than the street level. It was explained to us on the tour that upon entering the tomb if we felt any cold or numbing sensations to move from that area and that if it continued then we would have to leave the tomb as this is a precursor to an attack. The guide was adamant that she was dead serious about this and added to the scare factor. We were lead into the tomb while the story was explained to us of how during the reformation that 1200 prisoners were held here and were exposed to the elements and made to sleep in the mud and if caught trying to escape would be shot. MacKenzie was the man who oversaw the imprisonment of the convenanters and it is his ghost that is said to haunt this place. It was a pretty creepy experience and I guess we should be thankful that we didn’t experience anything paranormal. We actually visited this graveyard during the day and it was equally as eerie.

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The next day we had purchased tickets for the stage production of Mary Poppins. It was a splendid and colourful show with great songs and singing even though Terri said it differed from the movie it was equally as good as any show I have seen. On the Thursday we caught the bus out to Roslyn to the Rosslyn Chapel. Those of you that have read Dan Browns Da Vinci code will be familiar with this incredible building. It is filled with incredible stone carvings and is one of many British sites claiming to harbour the Holy Grail. It is most probably the best religious building that I have visited on our trip and certainly the most intriguing . I am so happy that we were able to make it out to this spot.

On the Friday we went and saw our friend Michael band play at the pub called the Espy (named after the one in Melbourne we were told). We had a great night listening to the three piece perform original songs. The weekend was pretty chilled out and we hung out with our hosts and checked out a few other spots around the city.

On Monday we caught a Mega Bus (cheapest) from Edinburgh up to Inverness were we then caught a connecting bus through to the coastal town of Ullapool. It was an incredible drive through the rugged and wet Scottish highlands and it was so beautiful with the changing colours of the leaves. We caught the ferry in Ullapool to the Isle of Lewis into Stornoway were a friend from camp in Croatia was going to put us up for a couple of days. The highlight of the Isle would have been the Callanish Stones. This stone structure is second only to Stonehenge in grandeur and are less overrun with tourists. It has been made with three billion year old stones and forms a pattern resembling a cross and it is believed that prehistoric people used Callanish to track the movements of the heavens.

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The island itself is filled with hundreds and hundreds of lochs and is alive with rivers emptying and filling the lochs. It felt like we were floating on the ocean being surrounded by so much water. Lewis gave us our first look at bogs and the use of peat as fuel, all of which we would see a lot more of when we travelled through Ireland.

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After a couple of days in Lewis we returned to Glasgow and tried to make the most of the city that my mother and father grew up in. To look at Glasgow is nowhere near the site that Edinburgh is but it is more of a hub of music and culture. We walked through Kelvingrove Park and visited the Kelvingrove Art and history museum as well as the Transport museum. We also walked to the Glasgow Cathedral and necropolis which afforded us great views of the city despite there being little to see. We left Glasgow on Sunday 16th and flew into Dublin airport.

We have been onto the website and have been trying to work out what the problem is with our blog. They have told us that there isnt anything wrong at their end so we are going to start posting our blogs without maps as we think that this might be the problem.

Hope you all have better luck with it this time.

Ian and Terri

Posted by Ian_Terri 24.11.2008 13:45 Archived in Scotland Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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