6.29.09 Scotland to Northern Ireland

Troon Travel Blog

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Lovely Scotland road near Loch Lomond

6.29.09 Scotland to …

 

Goodbye delightful Scotland!  We’re on our final ferry crossing from Scotland to Northern Ireland!  Its 8:30 pm and not yet sunset.  The crossing takes 2 hours and we must leave the car deck during sailing.  The last little car just barely squeaked on.  We’re the only RV on board and luckily they saved a spot for us, due to our height. 

 

Some ferries from Scotland have length restrictions, but none of our 7 ferries have ever said anything about the added bike rack.

Lovely Scotland coast
  Given we could put them in the garage if they protested, we haven’t added the bikes in the measurements (although the range is usually 6-8 meters).

 

Lia is telling me that there are 4x4 cars down there that have driven up steps to get to higher levels to add room.  I need to see that!  (Update:  this was Jazy's silly joke on Lia- we are so naive!)

 

This morning we said goodbye to Maxine at the campground and headed out, looking for gas along the way.  There are not many stations!  The bugs that are like tiny mosquitos are called “midgets” and they remind me of “no-see-um’s.”  They were fierce and I have bites on my arms and legs.  Some smart backpackers wore headnets.

 

An accident had just occurred ahead of us, just before the Erskine Bridge, the rare access across the large finger of water on Scotland’s SW coast.

Lovely Scotland coast
  We didn’t see the accident, but the police were just arriving with traffic stopped.  We U-turned with the other traffic - that “Detour” button on the GPS saved us again! 

 

It was a beautiful drive all along the coastal road, with pastures, cows, sheep, the lovely water, and some quaint towns. 

 

We stopped at a Tesco Extra, which is a huge Walmart-like store and purchased a terrific internal-frame backpack for just 12 pounds!  Surprisingly we’ve more stuff to bring home than we brought over!

 

By 2pm we were at the Troon port, a small one-building office for the P&O Ferries, the only line apparently out of Troon.  They have 2 boats each day going to Northern Ireland from here:  10am and 8:20pm.

Small P&O Ferries office in Troon- only ferry operator at the port
  For a 23 pounds change fee we managed to book for tonight’s trip instead of our scheduled one tomorrow.  Hooray!  It is worth it to get on over to Belfast.  We want to see Belfast, get our Riverdance tickets from Dublin, and get Sugar ready for storage, so we have a big order for time.

 

The Scottish people we’ve met today have all been cheerful, fun, and fast talkers, so fast that we cannot figure out what they are saying 90% of the time!  If necessary, I have to request that people slow down in order to decipher, so we must seem to talk like slugs to them.

 

Just along the road where the ferry loads is the beach.  There’s a long stretch of grass where cars can drive up and park, and we joined them there for the afternoon.  The beach itself seemed to have many long worms in piles all over, but we enjoyed our walk around them.

Sugar enjoys a beach afternoon beside the ferry port
  Some kids were in the water, but while the sun shone warmly, it was not necessary to cool off.  So we returned to the RV to do some packing work.

 

At 6pm we headed through the drive-thru ferry check-in process.  A security lady at the second stop got aboard to insure we didn’t have anyone hiding in the shower.  Then we parked in line for a long wait and the kids (and I) had a great time washing the front of Sugar- haha!  Anyone walking by who commented got solicited as a volunteer, which quickly led to their disappearance.

 

The ferry loads up very close to leaving time.  About 7:45pm, the ferry arrived and by 7:55pm, we loaded.  The minute we were on as the last vehicle, the gate was raised, we were sent upstairs, and by 8:15pm we left 5 minutes earlier than scheduled.

 

This is a nice, smaller ferry, not as big as the large cruise ships we’ve been on.

Getting on the ferry!
  The “observation deck” that opens 10 minutes after sailing is mainly a square smoking deck with a high wall.  They’re showing a movie in one lounge.  There’s a gift store, a small casino, comfortable bar area, small cafeteria, and some comfortable airline seats.  We can feel some front-back ship rocking horse motion, but it’s not bad.  A sunset is now pinking the sky at 9:20pm.  And the kids have only scrounged fruit and Scottish shortbread out of me on board. 

 

We put together some of our favorite moments into a list last night.  Will share that later.  The kids also listed the countries in order of their favorites and each discussed their Top 10.  It’s interesting how different they all are. 

 

For an international exchange, Charles and Jazy are both most intrigued with Barcelona.

There's our spot on the ferry- see where the cones and lads are standing?
 

 

There’s a Larne campground about half a mile from where we’re docking tonight (thanks to the Church's book).  We hope they have room tonight- fortunately it is still light outside because parking an RV in the dark is no fun.

 

The Behan Report:  They’re doing great it sounds, having popped into Mexico for a few hours and exploring in Arizona now. 

 

Later- Ferry & Campground Update:  We had to BACK off the ferry without helpers and were the FIRST ones off the ferry so all the cars, with the whites of their eyes showing and engines revving, could get off after us (they got to drive forward).  All's well that ends well!  And the campground had space for us and was just 2 seconds from the port- fantastic!

 

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Lovely Scotland road near Loch Lom…
Lovely Scotland road near Loch Lo…
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Small P&O Ferries office in Troon-…
Small P&O Ferries office in Troon…
Sugar enjoys a beach afternoon bes…
Sugar enjoys a beach afternoon be…
Getting on the ferry!
Getting on the ferry!
Theres our spot on the ferry- see…
There's our spot on the ferry- se…
Walking to the beach
Walking to the beach
Lovely Scotland coast- small town
Lovely Scotland coast- small town
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
The Erskine Bridge
The Erskine Bridge
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Highland cattle
Highland cattle
Lovely Scotland
Lovely Scotland
View from the Erskine Bridge
View from the Erskine Bridge
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Arriving in Belfast
Arriving in Belfast
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast
Lovely Scotland coast- small town
Lovely Scotland coast- small town
Lovely Scotland
Lovely Scotland
Lovely Scotland
Lovely Scotland
Inside the ferry- airline seats
Inside the ferry- airline seats
Lovely sunset
Lovely sunset
Upon arrival- we love to see that …
Upon arrival- we love to see that…
Troon
photo by: TessaHill