A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about sunsets and sunrises

Hotel

sunny 14 °C
View Forres on IainT's travel map.

Knockomie

Knockomie

I have have been to a hotel. Can you imagine?

On Friday afternoon I decided enough was enough, and I had to get away from home. It was just for one night (Saturday) but then it was all very last minute.

The hotel is in Forres, which is 3 hours drive north. It is also where my father was from, so my memories of the place go back as far as I do. Grandmother. Uncle and aunt. Cousins. Summer holidays. Easter visits.

Findhorn Village

Findhorn Village

I have been driving past that hotel as long as it has been there (33 years), and never gone in. To be honest, I never saw it as my kind of place. Full of old people. Old people who think they are a bit posh because they can afford it.

I suppose I am one of them now, but without the posh bit. And the money obviously - a cheap last minute deal.

I enjoyed the drive to get there - the pure novelty of driving for 3 hours after weeks of living under restrictions.

I was perfectly happy with the hotel’s hygiene arrangements. My room was pleasant and quiet. I slept well. They provided an excellent dinner and breakfast.

Aside from the sheer liberation of the escape and staying somewhere which is away from home, I can pick out several highlights. First, an afternoon walk beside the River Findhorn. No sound except the roar of the water.

River Findhorn at Logie

River Findhorn at Logie

Next, an evening walk in Findhorn village. It had a real “end of summer” feel. The village was its usual mixture of busy but quiet, locals and visitors. I chose to go at that time hoping for a typical Findhorn sunset. I chose well.

Findhorn Sunset

Findhorn Sunset

Then my Couch to 5k session at 6am on Sunday. Session 17. I went to the town’s Grant Park, where my father played cricket as a youngster. His old school - Forres Academy - is across the street.

Grant Park, Forres

Grant Park, Forres

Finally, a Sunday morning 3 hour hike in Culbin Forest. For the first 2 hours of my hike I saw no-one. I had geese, butterflies and a seal for company.

Culbin Shore

Culbin Shore

The Forest is fascinating. It was planted to fix the sand dunes now beneath it, to stop them moving. Some are over 20m high. I loved being able to walk in solitude for 2 hours, surrounded by trees, with no noise apart from the geese, the sea occasionally, and my footsteps.

Culbin Forest

Culbin Forest

I wonder if the geese are resident or migrating.

Posted by IainT 23:13 Archived in Scotland Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches skylines trees sky boats scotland life transport Comments (0)

The North

sunny 18 °C
View Belfast on IainT's travel map.

AC Hotel

AC Hotel

My sports travel adventures resumed last weekend with the start of the ice hockey season.

It was a modest adventure, but very successful. Belfast.

The city is 40 minutes flying time from Edinburgh, and using Belfast City Airport it is a whopping 8 minute bus journey from airport to city centre. FlyBe uses that airport, and easyJet flies to Belfast International so the competition keeps prices down. I paid £98 return, booking quite late.

Purple FlyBe

Purple FlyBe

The reason for the trip was Belfast Giants v Augsburger Panther in the Champions Hockey League. I watched a bit of German ice hockey during the Ingolstadt phase of my life, and loved it. The quality is high, with an emphasis on speed and skills. The crowds are electric. Indeed I remember going to at least one Ingolstadt v Augsburg derby.

Fans Assembling Pre-match

Fans Assembling Pre-match

The game in Belfast was tremendous, ending as a 2-3 win for Augsburg in overtime. I reckon 1,000 out of the 5,000 crowd were Augsburg fans, and they generated a wonderful atmosphere. I started as a neutral and they won me over.

Panthers Fans

Panthers Fans

I stayed in the AC Hotel (a Marriott label) across the river from the SSE Arena, as I did last time I was in Belfast. It is not cheap, but Belfast is plagued by stag and hen parties so a cheaper hotel brand increases the risk of late night/early morning noise. The riverside location is convenient and pleasant, and quiet.

Belfast Dawn

Belfast Dawn

I have walked past McHugh’s many times over the years and never gone in. I rarely venture into pubs these days, but this time I took the plunge. I recommend it. They have a great range of beers - I had Guinness - and even on a busy Saturday afternoon the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. Like most pubs they have caved in to the TV addiction (I counted three - two normal size and one massive) but they also had a folk music trio playing in a corner.

Pub Life

Pub Life

The North has belatedly come to feature a lot recently in the media in Little Britain after London realised the Brexit plans (or lack thereof) have major implications for Ireland as a whole. I will not wade into that controversy.

EU Funding

EU Funding

I will just mention it is the only part of the UK where police officers all carry guns all the time, and travel in armoured cars. You will find a “Peace Wall” in West Belfast which keeps the two sides of the community apart.

large_fullsizeoutput_56b.jpeg

Belfast has changed enormously for the better since my first visit in the mid 1990s, well before the peace agreement was signed in 1999. Anyone in London who risks that progress and the relative peace since then has my total contempt.

Posted by IainT 11:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises planes ireland transport flights ice_hockey airlines belfast brexit Comments (0)

Reykjavík

sunny 12 °C
View Faroes & Iceland on IainT's travel map.

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja

Yesterday I moved north, and a bit west.

My time in the Faroe Islands came to an end, and I flew to Iceland. My airport shuttle collected me at 6:50 for the 40 minute drive to Vágar Airport and under an almost cloudless sky, it was really beautiful.

Atlantic Airways at Vágar

Atlantic Airways at Vágar

During my 3 days/4 nights in the Faroes I can only think of one disappointment, and that was the weather which greeted me in Klaksvík. Even that was more that offset by the enjoyment of the helicopter flight and the bus journey back to Tórshavn.

Atlantic Airways did the honours to get me to Keflavik on time and in good shape. The views of Vágar as we took off were even more amazing than on arrival - the sunshine made the difference!

My first sight of Iceland was the Vatnajökull icecap from the plane window. I hope it was an auspicious beginning.

Iceland Approaches

Iceland Approaches

By 11:30 I was in Reykjavík city centre, making that decision between the public bus and a taxi to get to my Airbnb flat. Let me just mention that Iceland does not seem to be any cheaper than the Faroes.

Reykjavík City Centre

Reykjavík City Centre

The afternoon was about orientation - the suburb where the flat is located, and downtown Reykjavík. It is a 10 minute cycle between them.

23:45 in Reykjavík

23:45 in Reykjavík

The evening highlight was sunset at midnight.

Quite a special day.

Posted by IainT 04:08 Archived in Iceland Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises flights iceland airlines reykjavik faroes torshavn klaksvík Comments (0)

Casablanca, cont’d (22-12)

sunny 18 °C
View Ouarzazate on IainT's travel map.

Wow! Great to have a good night’s sleep after Thursday’s travel and a hectic week before I left.

Great too seeing the Hassan II Mosque illuminated at 7am and then the daylight gradually appearing around it. The sun was up by 7:30 - fantastic after those long, dark Scottish days.

Dawn

Dawn

Then a lazy buffet breakfast in the hotel. I don’t do that often - I prefer the nearest cafe and a croissant. It was included in the room deal, so...
I’ve become a Novotel fan in recent years. Good rooms and (often) good deals, especially if you book (and pay) in advance.

Novotel Casablanca

Novotel Casablanca

The Casablanca one (where I stayed in 2009 as well) is well located in the city centre, on Blvd Houphouët-Boigny. The address is a bit of a mouthful, however. (Houphouët-Boigny was the first president of Côte d’Ivoire and served - mostly himself - for 30 years.)

My Royal Air Maroc flight to Ouarzazate was at 22:40, so a 12 noon hotel checkout gave me plenty time for some gentle sightseeing. I was tempted by a guided tour of the Mosque, but with bright sunshine and 16-18⁰c for weather, why be inside? Anyway, I have another day in the city on my way home at the end of the month.

Wilaya

Wilaya

I did a city centre walking tour recommended by my guide book. It was good. The best bit was the law courts. Fascinating for an ex lawyer. I didn’t go into an actual court, but the building and atmosphere were wonderful.

Tribunal de Premiere Instance

Tribunal de Premiere Instance

I loved spend the day just wandering, while taking in the warm winter sun and getting back the atmosphere of the city.

Musée Fondation Abdelrrahman Slaoui

Musée Fondation Abdelrrahman Slaoui

4⁰c and “brisk” for the midnight arrival in Ouarzazate.

Domestic Departures, Casablanca Airport

Domestic Departures, Casablanca Airport

Posted by IainT 02:44 Archived in Morocco Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises art morocco casablanca Comments (0)

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