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Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Wednesday 15th May. Day 15 – The journey home πŸ™

Woke to a text saying our flight was going to be delayed by two hours…

We stole more bananas from breakfast to feed the iguanas again.

About 10am we started the long journey home. At the airport we had hours to wait so we all paid for a lounge. Comfort, food & drink eased the hours away.

The flight was rough so i really didn’t enjoy it & didn’t sleep much. As expected it was raining in Manchester when we arrived. The taxi was waiting when we cleared the airport. It took us to Emma’s where we retrieved our car. A great holiday with the Graces.

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Tuesday 14th May. Day 14: wildlife & a chill on the beach…

On the way to breakfast we saw loads of iguanas so we pinched two bananas to try feeding them. 

Think they like banana 🍌

After the feeding frenzy we headed to the beach for a chill. 

Cold Cerveza anyone ?

Evening meal was in the Japanese restaurant. It was a lovely meal with the star being the starter – a plate of Edamame beans stir-fried in soy, garlic, ginger and chilli. Edamame are young soybeans, which means the beans are soft and easy to eat. The beans are cooked inside their shell. You don’t eat the shell. I use my front teeth to scrape the beans out of the pod (they pop out easily). As you scrape the beans out the sauce comes with the beans.

Tuna steak beautifully cooked.

Early to bed as its gonna be a long day tomorrow…



Monday 13th May.  Day 13: Mystery of the legs in a hole…

Slow start today after a bad night’s sleep.  Awake a fair bit with bad stomach & worrying about mum.

On the way to breakfast we noticed these holes and that there was a LARGE set of what looked like spider legs inside.  The legs disappeared when I poked my camera nearer.

If it’s a spider that would be a scarily big spider but enquiries revealed it was a crab hole.   (audible sigh of releaf as these were near our room)

Holes near our room 😳
The “legs” were camera shy

In the afternoon we took a tour to the Xcaret theme park for a wander round & the evening show.Β 

There’s so much to do at Xcaret you could spend a full day there. We went for a swim down the river before the show.

Xcaret show in the evening was brilliant.  A music & dance celebration of Mexican culture.



Saturday 11th May.  Day 11: Hummer Day 😁

Another diving day.  As walking to the dive shop I was thinking it was going to be rough as the wind had increased.

Yep the waves had significantly increased since the previous day.  Luckily Rudy had a plan – the boat was moored at a more sheltered location at the next hotel west of us. 

Our transport to the boat was a Hummer.  Never been in one of these 😁

Felt just like US Seal Team loading our diving gear 🀣

It’s MASSIVELY wide and long.  Really no good for UK roads.  Thing is its quite tight inside.  Bit like an inverse Tardis !

Launching from the new location was much calmer which was was good for my old bones.

A great dive was had by all…

The locals are very friendly today…

A good days diving 😁



Sunday 12th May.  Day 12: Last dive before the winds..

Last diving day…  Again windy so I was taken to the alternate boat mooring again – this time in a Hilux.  Just not the same as a Hummer πŸ˜•

Very rough getting out over the shallow reef, the boat slammed a lot.Β  After one particularly hard slam the elderly American screamed in pain with his back.Β  Thought it was going to be a hospital job but he recovered after about 10 mins.

The dive wasn’t great until we met this old guy…

Think we woke him up

After the dive we chilled by the pool…

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Friday 10th May. Day 10:   Diving Cozumel…

On the way to get picked up I met this fella grazing in the hotel grounds…

A mixed group of 5 divers + us were picked up by minibus & taken to the Cozumel ferry.

Our dive guide for the day was Chris, a cocky lad from near Hull.

After the crossing we were  transferred to a small boat & taken to the dive site past very large cruise ships.

We did two shallow dives, both like swimming in a warm aquarium.

In doing this swim through I missed a lage Eagle Ray swimming by πŸ˜•
Green Turtle 🐒

A good day 😁

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Thursday 9th May. Day 9:   Tulum

Today we had a trip out to a Mayan temple, cenote and seawater lagoon.  We were picked up in a small minibus with a driver (big bearded mexican) & a tour guide (young mexican girl).  As on one else was in the bus we effectively had a private tour.

While on route our guide told us about Mayan history and then informed us of a “BONUS” extra excursion in our day.

Alarm bell started ringing !  Nothings for free in Mexico so this’ll be a hard sell & cost money in tips πŸ˜’

The bonus trip was to a Shaman for a “blessing/healing” ceremony.  This is what Wikipedia has to say on Shaman

Yep I was right.  After a quick “cleansing ceremony” & obligatory tipping, we were shown into a shop selling Mayan trinkets.

From there it was on to the temple site of Tulum.  This is what Wikipedia has on Tulum…

Tulum was VERY hot & we jumped to areas of shade as we walked round.

The on-site shop was expensive so we avoided that & the “free” Taquila tasting.  Interestingly there was also a pharmacy at this national monument site.

Come to a national park and get your steroids…

Next was the cenote. This was a cooling swim pool & swim through cave. Sadly I didn’t take a camera so no photos. 

From the cenotes we went to a saltwater lagoon for snorkeling.  This was like snorkeling in a warm aquarium.


Then it was back to the hotel.  A good day was had by all…

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Wednesday 8th May. Day 8:  Another diving day…

Another early start for an 8am dive.  Really quite windy today so the short boat ride to the dive site was uncomfortable !

The dive was again great.  Today’s treat was seeing a Swordfish swimming in free water.  The picture is poor but it’s definitely a swordfish.

Never seen a wordfish before…
Cuttlefish – I think ?

After diving we chilled out on the beach for the afternoon 😎

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Tuesday 7th May. Day 7:  Diving day…

Another early start to get to the dive centre by 8am.  Again two others on our trip – from Wales though she had an American accent.

Now I have to put some context to my next comments.  This dive by all UK standards was BRILLIANT.  28Β°C water, 20+ meter visibility & loads of fish.  

Problem is that after the previous dives it was a bit shit.   No sharks, rays or turtles despite Rudys best efforts.  30m, 55 minutes duration with a profile that meant we were close to stops for most of the dive.

After diving it was down to the beach for a chill with cocktails

Evening meal was in a Japanese restaurant.Β  We were seated round the chef who made a show of preparing our food.

Entertaining evening and lovely food…

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Monday 6th May.  Day 6:  Cozumel day…

Today we’d planned a day round Cozumel island.  In our usual style we booked an eBike tour.

It was an early start with a taxi to the ferry port in Play de Carmen

The bikes were a bit shit but at least you didn’t have to peddle them – just twist & go !

The tour itinerary was ride to a Tequila tasting, snorkeling on a reef, lunch and visit a center on the way home.

Bit of a shit tasting with hard sell at the end.  Their cheapest Tequila was Β£67 for a 75cl bottle.  As there was only 2 of us there was an awkward conversation about not paying that much for booze !   We moved on quick…

Moved on for snorkeling & lunch

Beautiful location for a Bar
Fish Tacos were great.
Snorkeling from the bar

After lunch on to cenote…   You can read what Wikipedia has to say about them here…

Interesting to see but the area had a strong smell of piss 🀒

From there we went back to the cycle hire shop, dropped the bikes off and headed town.

We met Becca at Chili’s Taquila bar for some shots before the ferry.

Chilling with a view.   Interestingly this was the one place we  didn’t get ripped off !

On the way home we WhatsApp the taxi driver.Β Β  He tried it on with a sob story about us being late & him waiting hours for us.Β  That fell on deaf ears…

Poseidon fish restaurant for tea before an early bed 😴

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Sunday 5th May. Day 5: Another dive day…

Lazy 10am start today for diving.  Sarah off for a Spa day with the girls.

Todays dive is a shallow one & we find there are two other divers on “our” boat.   It’s a windy day which made it a rough 10 mins to get to the dive site. 

Because of the swell, Rudy told us to get in & go straight down to the bottom of a line where we’d all meet up.

One of the divers, was having his first open water dive.  He seemed to do OK descending the line and Rudy met us pretty quickly.

Great dive – we saw shark, rays and turtles.

Going for a Brazilian tonight πŸ€ͺ

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Saturday 4th May. Day 4: Baby Shark…

Early start for diving – 8am at the dive shop.  Just the three of us again with Rudi.

Deeper dive planned today but again only 5 mins in the boat to a submerged reef.

Better vis today despite a fresh wind.  Dropped into 16m onto reef.  Brilliant dive & saw sharks.  The first was early in the dive & the last was towards the end.  

The latter encounter (at approx 20m) put us into deco.  Ended up doing 2 min @12m, 3 min @ 6m & 2 min at 3m.  Max depth was 30m, total dive time 55 minutes.

A Nurse Shark

After diving we had an afternoon swimming in the pool with cocktails. 

The evening plan was a meal in an Italian restaurant.  Power cuts blighted the evening, first because no lights & water for showers & secondly no lights in the restaurant.

Without air-conditioning the restaurant was boiling but the staff were great & so was the food.  A good day.

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Friday 3rd May. Day 3: Diving…

Woke early & met this fine fellow on the way to breakfast.

Black Iguana.

Met with Rudi the dive guide at 9:45am. A five minute boat ride took us to a sumurged reef.

55 minutes, maximum depth 14m – Great dive.  Photos to follow…

After diving it was time to chill on the beach & drink mojitos…

The mojito drinking was cut short by tennis & badminton with Alex & Jess.Β  That really knackered me out !

Evening meal was in a Mexican restaurant.Β  Really nice though we could only manage the “1 out of 4” chilli sauce ☠️πŸ’₯

After that it was bed time as I’ve an early start tomorrow for a second dive.

Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Thursday 2nd May. Day 2:  It’s hot !

We slept ok but woke a few times in the night.  About 8am we wandered to the breakfast buffet.  The choice was amazing and we both managed to be healthy by staying away from the “American” style breakfast stuff. 

We then had a wander round a bit more of the complex & met many of these.

We also found these colourful birds…

After our wander we met Em & Co on the beach.

Mojitos on a Caribbean beach…

A chilled afternoon with a little swimming

Then a different restaurant for dinner.Β  A very pleasant eveningΒ  πŸ™‚

On the way to the restaurant we saw a family of these.

In a climate that never gets cold why do they have such thick fur ?
Mexico 2024

Mexico 2024

Wednesday May 1st.  Day 1: Getting there…

It was a 4am start & we didn’t sleep much.  The minibuses arrived late so we could have had at least an extra 45 mins in bed !

The drive to Manchester airport took about 1.5 hours on very busy roads.Β  This showed what a horrid commute it is into Manchester !

The airport was relatively stress free.Β  The stress started when we boarded the flight.Β  Like a lot of people on the flight, the seats we thought we’d paid for had been changed.Β  We’d lost our isle seats & others were split from their young kids.Β 

Luckly we got to change seats with a family – they got to sit together & we both got isle seats πŸ˜ƒ

10 hours – a long boring flight.  Got through a lot of pods.

Luckily there was free G&T…

The chav kids who sat behind us on the coach transfer thankfully slept. This made for a stress free 1 1/2 hours transfer to the resort.

The coast road is full of resorts surrounded by barbed wire.   Ours is the Grand Palladium White Sands.  

The resort is huge so there are many golf carts to ferry you around.  This was our journey from reception to our room !
Our room…

We chilled for an hour or so before meeting the others for drinks & food.  The resort is massive !

The Poseidon beach side restaurant – one of many…

After a buffet meal we all went to bed shattered – it had been a long day !   

Canada 2023: Day 21

Canada 2023: Day 21

24rd July. Kamloops day…

Lazy start.

Todays mission was to sort Hazel’s British Columbia driving licence. This meant a trip to Kamloops in the hire car. While there Hazel was also going to do some shopping at Walmart.

To gain her BC licence Hazel has to hand her UK licence in which does seem strange. Anyway the whole process only took about 30 mins.

Call me strange but I do like looking round “forign” supermarkets. What people buy gives some inside to the country. In this case the first thing I saw was “George” labelled clothing ! Suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised as Walmart own Asda.

After shopping we returned to Sun Peaks for a chill. Later we headed out to a quiz night at the pub over the road. We were in a team of 6 with Hazel’s mates. Our team won the quiz – a high to end the holiday on πŸ™‚

The only downer on the day was the impromptu quiz meant we forgot about a fine fruit crumble that Hazel had made for us.

Canada 2023: Day 20

Canada 2023: Day 20

23rd July. Sun Peaks day…

Lazy start… walked around Sun Peaks & did some shopping.

Drove to McGillivray lake where the girls went paddling. I made friends with a butterfly

Any ideas what this is ?

Pizza for tea & an early night…

Canada 2023: Day 19

Canada 2023: Day 19

22nd July. Vancouver to Sun Peaks day…

Long driving day…

Started with a walk round downtown Vancouver which is a lovely city. Would come back here.

On driving out we did notice a huge amount of homeless people on the streets. Sad to see in such a prosperous society.

Long drive to Sun Peak & an early bed…

Canada 2023: Day 18

Canada 2023: Day 18

21st July. Vancouver Island to Vancouver.

Long drive from Brentwood Bay to Vancouver. We broke the journey at Cowichan Bay on route to the Naniamo ferry terminal.

Tonight we’re in a family room in hostel. This turned out to be a shit hostel. The room was only just bigger than the bed which was a metal framed double with a single as a bunk above it. No air-conditioning & way too hot. Ended up wedging the door open to get some air flow.

It’s not ideal wedging your door open in a dodgy hostel so we piled stuff behind the door so it couldn’t be opened without making a noise ! Anyway we’re all still alive.

The only photo is of our carpark ticket…

Canada 2023: Day 17

Canada 2023: Day 17

20th July. Vancouver island – whale watching…

Big day – whale watching in the morning & kayaking at night.

A playful baby humpback…

Night canoe at Brentwood Bay. Not many photos because it was too dark. The bioluminescence we saw as we paddled was beautiful.

When we returned to the Air B&B this fella was in the garden.

Canada 2023: Day 16

Canada 2023: Day 16

19th July. Vancouver island – a drive out to the west coast…

Today we drove out to Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancover Island. 

Several walks were done…

Canada 2023: Day 15

Canada 2023: Day 15

18th July.  Vancouver Island

Started the day with a walk in Goldstream Park. 

Then we went to Bamberton beach for lunch and a swim

Barbering beach lunch stop

Next was a ferry back to Brentwood Bay.

We saw seals .

While queuing for the ferry we were told of a better beach near our AirB&B. This was Island View Beach. So we went…

Fish tacos…

Just stunningly beautiful & i don’t mean the girls…

Then it was home for fish tacos & catch up on blog…

Canada 2023: Day 13

Canada 2023: Day 13

16th July. Market day in Sun Peaks

Girls just love a market & this one had some nice tat for them to look at. The stalls were spaced down the main pedestrian street.

Obviously there was nothing really worth photographing but I did manage to find someone selling local beer 😁

A faily chilled day with nothing else to report…

Canada 2023: Day 12

Canada 2023: Day 12

15th July.

Hazel was working today so we had to amuse ourselves…

After a slow start doing washing & paying bills we settled on a game of disc golf. The disc golf course is located up the mountain and easily accessed using the cable car.

There are no pictures of disc golf because we were being eaten alive by millions of mosquitoes.

After a round of disc golf we had a short walk before home for tea and medals…

Our Strava trail, the only evidence of disc golf – except for all the mozzie bites
Canada 2023: Day 14

Canada 2023: Day 14

17th July. Travel to Vancouver Island.

Early start to the day. Hazel had arranged for one of her mates to give us a lift to Kamloops to pick up our Turo hire car at 7:45. Turo is like AirB&B for cars. You’re renting of individuals not a company.

Hazels mate arrived early & we got to Kamloops an hour early for the car. We killed time in Starbucks having some breakfast. In the UK breakfast at Starbucks would normally mean selling a kidney or re-mortgaging the house. Not in Canada 😁

The car pickup was at the guys house – he wasn’t there. The car was so we started our journey to Vancouver Island. Turo worked well.

The drive was long but scenic. We broke the journey with a stop in Whistler.

Sadly when we returned to the car we found we’d got a parking ticket. Turns out we’d been ticketed while Sarah was at the machine buying a ticket. Bastards… Our first bad experience in Canada 🀬

We then had an hours ferry ride to Vancouver Island.

Stunningly beautiful – scenery & Sarah…

We arrived late to our AirB&B which was in Brentwood Bay, just north of Victoria.

Canada 2023: Day 11

Canada 2023: Day 11

14th July. Shreddin Sun Peaks Dude…

Today Hazel treated us to eMountain bike hire & had worked out a route for us.

We hired from Evolution. This time they were proper mountain bikes.

We set off and got about half a mile up a fire track when my bike broke. The derailleur was bent and the chane had come off one of the jocky wheels !

I had a closer look and it appeared the chain had been threaded incorrectly ! I scooted back to the bike shop. The bike mechanic said it was broken & they gave us another bike.

We rode off towards the fire track when my chain broke and fell off ! Second bike broken – now that’s embarrassing 😬

Back to the bike shop they’d run out of hard tail eBikes in my size so I got an upgrade to a full suspension version 😁

We set out again with me being very careful with this one…

On the way down Sarah’s rear brake leaver leaked oil – 3rd bike broken.

We made our way back to the bike shop where it transpires the bikes were new and it was their first ride ! Anyway the bike problems didn’t spoil a lovely day in the mountains πŸ™‚

Back to the flat for some R&R…

Canada 2023: Day 9

Canada 2023: Day 9

12th July. Sun Peaks.

We all had a few too many last night so it was a late start to the day. We put some washing on and had a walk round town.

Hazel’s place…
Recreating last nights Sarah & the chair incident.
A deer wandered across in front of us.

Then a nice evening watching a film…

Canada 2023: Day 8

Canada 2023: Day 8

11th July. Calgary to Kamloops

Well it seems the assistant in the BK Whopper bar in Calgary Airport read last nights post on customer service – she was, or came across as really quite rude !

Anyway they sell beer so ordered Molson and two vege burgers. All good until my order is ready. Apparently you can’t drink in public in Canada so I couldn’t take my bottle of beer out of the burger bar to where Sarah was sitting πŸ˜•

Mellowing to my charms she offered a solution 😁

Does this make me a Canadian law breaker ?

The flight to Kamloops was on a tiny plane.

Cold and wet in Calgary. When we landed in Kamloops it was sunny & 30Β°C

We met Hazel at the airport and after some food shopping headed off to Sun Peaks.

After a short chill in Hazel’s flat we went out for Taco Tuesday at Hazel’s local.

Then it started to go wrong…

Can’t remember what it’s called but it’s a double Margareta with a Corona. Many were drunk !

To cut a long story short we had a great evening with Hazel & her mates. Sarah was a little squiffy & needed a sit down on the way home….

Canada 2023: Day 7

Canada 2023: Day 7

10th July. Lake Louise & Johnston Canyon…

It seems Lake Louise is popular. You can’t drive there but have to book a park & ride place. This booking has to be done on-line. That process was a nightmare ! Luckly once booked the park & ride bit was really well done & quite stress free.

What wasn’t stress free was the numbers of people visiting this small area. Luckly it was a bit like the lakes in that people don’t go far from their transport. We walked down to the head of the lake & got away from the crouds.

It was beautiful…

At the head of the lake Sarah had a swim – the mad fool πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯Ά

Back at the park & Ride we had Poutine a Canadian delicacy of chips, cheese curds and gravy.

Poutine. Looks grim but it’s really tasty πŸ˜‹

Awesome, super excited to serve you, Funday Sunday, Taco Tuesday, great choice,

Fuelled by Poutine we went for a walk down Johnston Canyon.

On returning up the Canyon we heard rocks falling and the cracking of timber above our heads. We looked up to see a tree falling into the Canyon above us. We ran… Luckly the tree roots held & the tree didn’t fall onto the walkway else it would have been close !

This is a wide angle photo so doesn’t show how big the tree is or how close it is to the walkway.

After this close shave we ate out at a Taco bar to celebrate still living 😁

The food was good but the service ethos is starting to become a little annoying. Every menu choice you make is “awesome” and every waitress says they’re super excited to serve you Hmmm 🀨

A few beers then bed. Flying to Kamloops to see Hazel tomorrow…

Canada 2023: Day 6

Canada 2023: Day 6

9th July. Banff

Slept well in the Canmore Hostel – didn’t hear the live band in the hotel next door. We’re up by 8am to put a new ticket on the car. A ticket was needed but was free – work that one out ???

After making tuna mayo sarnies we headed out to Banff for a day’s eMountain biking. We were both looking forward to exploring Banff.

When we arrived the bikes were hybrids rather than mountain bikes. We ask for routes & three were provided. It transpired there were no mountain bike trails locally so the routes provided were on road.

The thre routes were ” Golf course”, “Tunnel mountain” and “Lake Minniewanka” loop. Being quite childish the name Minniewanka made me snigger…

Anyway some photos…

After riding we had an hour or so before a wildlife tour. The tour started from the same spot we hired the bikes from – simples…

The tour was on a small minibus. Our tour guide was Ray, a young girl with multicoloured hair and a loud voice.

We all got on the bus (12 people) and Ray told us the route for tonight’s wildlife hunt.

Sarah & I looked at each other as Ray said the exact route we’d eBiked earlier ! We laughed…

Anyway the tour was good and Sarah got to see a Wolf. No photo – it ran off.

Back to Canmore for a couple of beers… Night x

Pissed again…

Canada 2023: Day 5

Canada 2023: Day 5

8th July.  Banff

Today we move from Jasper to Banff.  The plan was to look at interesting stuff on the Icefields Parkway, our route home.

Athabasca Falls

Pretty waterfalls – see pictures below…

Athabasca Glacier

Short walk to the foot of the Glacier…

Tangle Creek

Tangle Creek is a pretty waterfall..

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake…

Then it was find the hostel, shower, beer & bed !

Tired so this is short – jus so we can remember what we did…

Canada 2023: Day 4

Canada 2023: Day 4

7th July.  Jasper in search of Yogie…

The nice Spanish cyclist – he snored all night 😑

I woke at 3am and ventured out to the loo.  Half way there I suddenly became aware I’m in bear country & not at the top of the food chain – I woke up quickly !     Luckily for me no bears were hiding in the kharzi

Breakfast was coffee and boiled eggs on toast while chatting with the snory French guy. 

First activity of the day was a trip on the Jasper sky tram.   This is a cable car that takes you half way up Whistler mountain.  The plan was to walk to the summit which is just over 8000ft high.

Looking up Whistler mountain from the Jasper sky tram base station

We were lucky it was a clear sunny day which allowed good views.

The haze we were told was due to wildfires.
Looking back on the cable car station as we started the walk

After Whistler mountain  we went into Jasper for a cool beer and a look round.  It reminded us of a very spread out Keswick – outdoor shops surrounded by mountains.

We went into a bar for a cool beer.  Nice beer but expensive – just like keswick !    Now I don’t normally take photos in public toilets but I had to take this one of the gents urinal.

Makes you want to stand a little closer πŸ˜‰

After the pub we drove to Medicine lake & Maligne Lake.

After Medicine Lake we drove to Maligne Lake to see a friend of Hazel’s.  Sadly the 60 mile round trip was in vain as she’s in Jasper on her one day off a week !   Meline was too busy so we moved on quickly.

The drive home was interesting as we saw this fella wandering buy…

After our encounter with Yogi we did a walk down Maligne canyon. For this walk we were lent some bear spray by the hostel warden.

Rambo Nick “armed” with bear spray hanging off my rucksack sack !

I was excited about a wilderness walk where bear spray may be needed. Dont get me wrong I didn’t want to go around pepper spraying bears. I’m well aware of what the outcome would be and I don’t want to harm them anyway. (I’m a vegetarian don’t you know) It was the thought of being in such a wild and untouched place we don’t really get in the UK.

The sad truth was it was a really popular walk. Hundreds of screaming kids… No self respecting animal would be withing 5 miles of this place.

So I felt a bit of a nob being armed like Rambo on a “family” walk. It was a beautiful place so here are some photos.

The Internet a little slow today so only two pics….

Canada 2023: Day 3

Canada 2023: Day 3

6th July. Calgary to Jasper

Today has been another really long day…

We were woken at 4:30am by a phone call from the uk – I’d not turned my phone on silent. Doh…

Todays plan was to get the bus back to the airport & pickup a hire car. Then drive, via a Walmart for food to Jasper. Simples.

We said goodbye to the hostel at about 9:30 after another hearty breakfast. We caught the 300 bus to the airport.

We’d picked the cheapest car we could with a company called VIP. What could go wrong…

…well nothing really. After some admin mixup VIP had booked us with Hertz for the same price. Hertz were nice and allowed us to take the car early so we were on the road by 11:30.

The roads out of Calgary Airport were busy but we managed find Walmart. I was looking forward to this because of the Facebbok group “People of Walnart”. If that’s to be believed the place will be filled with very “Special” people. Check it out. Just search FB for #peopleofwalmart you’ll love it.

The drive to Jasper was a long one – 440km and 4.5 hours according to Google.

After a couple of boring hours the scenery started to improve with big mountains on the horizon. When we got on the Icefields Parkway the scenery was just stunning.

Poor picture of the glacier. We didn’t get any good photos so you’ll just have to trust us – it’s beautiful here…

Now the speed limits on this road are low and between 50 and 110kph at random sections of the road. The locals just ignored any limits which lead to some sketchy overtaking.

We came round one right corner to see a groupe of cars on the opposite carriage way all stopped in a group by a turning. I had my eyes on them looking for any stupid overtakes that would put us in danger.

What I didn’t see was they were looking a a bear on my side of the road by bushes on the hard shoulder. So we passed within 12″ of the bear at 50mph !

On passing the group of cars we could see they’d stopped to look at the bear. Given Paddingtons size I think our Hyundi would have come of worst.

We laughed at the thought of these people admiring this beautiful animal only to see us run it over !

As we drove on, I said to Sarah she should get her good camera ready. She laughed and said they’d be no chance of seeing another. Five minutes later we passed another smaller bear coming out of the tree line at the side of the road ! Again no photos ☹️

The hostel we’d booked is basic but in a beautiful location.

Maline Hostel, Jasper

Mixed dormitories, no showers and compost toilets.

Toilets to the right 🀣

Tired, we cooked pasta & went to bed after chatting with some of the other guests and Scott the hostel warden.

Luckly we were only sharing with a nice Spanish cycle tourist.

Canada 2023: Day 2

Canada 2023: Day 2

5th July.  Calgary.

The day started well.  Sarah got an email saying our bags had been delivered & I got an email from NS&I  😁

Last night we arrived in rain so I opened the blinds to see what sort of day it was and saw this fella…

On the way to the hostel I saw squirrels as well.  Amazing wildlife for a city centre.

We retrieved our bags, showered and went for breakfast.  The hotel breakfast was a help yourself buffet of coffee, juices, bread, waffles, boiled eggs, yoghurt & fruit. This was served in the communal kitchen which had chairs & tables.   We ate with youths – we’re definitely the oldest swingers in town here !

Today we wanted to see Calgary.  Given the size of it we were only ever going to see a small part so we picked on the Downtown area which seemed to have interesting stuff.  I’m trying a wordpress gallery below – tell me if it works !

We then went for some lunch at the River Cafe on Princes Island Park.   We just wanted a drink & a quick snack so we ordered a coffee, a beer and a mixed meats and cheeses board to share between us.

This mixed meats and cheeses board was an individual starter which we shared.

We got a shock when the bill arrived  😭😭😭   Seems the River Cafe is 28th out of over 3000 Calgary restaurants on TripAdvisor !

This didn’t include the 15% tip !  
It was nice but we won’t be going back

We walked further down the river & saw some eScooters.  Sazz downloaded an app & 5 minutes later we were off…

I was sceptical, but I have to say these are a great laugh & a brilliant way to get around.  They’re especially good on smooth dedicated cycle paths.   I think we did about 5 miles & cost us Β£10 each.

Decided to go back to our room & have a cheeky snooze before the evenings festivities.  On the way back we nearly got pepper sprayed by druggies who were fighting in the street.  Never a dull moment in Calgary !

So drug addicts, and by drugs I mean opiate based not just blow. There’s loads in Calgary & they’re everywhere. They’re totally fucked – it’s so sad but makes good people watching.

Anyway we rested. I watched the Tour highlights and we were out again by 7:30. We were both hungry as we’d only eaten a starter between us for lunch !

We ate cowboy style tapas & drank beer at a local bar. Calgary is lit up well at night…

Anyway time for bed…

Canada 2023: Day 1

Canada 2023: Day 1

4th July. Birmingham to Calgary

Today has been a really long day…

Stayed at my old uni friend Kal’s place in Brum on the 3rd. He’s looking after the car – thanks Kal πŸ‘

Woke at 2am to get an Uber to the airport. Uber arrived on time, but roadworks meant the driver took us to Coventry & back to get to the airport. Not good but still arrived in plenty of time.

Tipped our friendly driver and walked into the terminal when my banking app pinged. I looked expecting to see the Β£30 somthing bill from Uber. The Uber bill was Β£96 ! Apparently because the ride was longer than expected (road works) they can charge more. Not happy – has anyone had this happen ?

We checked our bags no problem & still had time for a pint in Spoons

A pint before flying is always needed – even at 5:30am 😁

We arrived about 30 minutes late into Frankfurt but still made our connection OK. The next flight was the biggy – 7 hours to Montreal. An OK flight & got a few hours kip.

In Montreal we were delayed by nearly 2 hours for thunder storms. That wait in a cramped holding area was joyous – NOT. If we don’t get covid after that I’ll be amazed.

The final leg from Montreal to Calgary was 4 hours. We arrived OK but our bags didn’t appear on the carousel !

We talked to a very nice man on the Air Canada desk who tracked them down – they were still in Montreal. Joy…

The nice man promised to have them delivered to us tonight and gave us an emergency travel pack each. All we could do was leave our details and set off for our accommodation, which was a hostel in Downtown Calgary.

The hostel’s better than expected & even includes breakfast. I’m just writing this while waiting for our bags – I’ll let you know tomorrow if they arrive…

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 28

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 28

Haarlem to the Ferry. 29th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 12 miles.
  • Total mileage: 945 miles.
  • Disasters: zero 😁

With a little sadness we headed for the ferry. Only 12 miles again using cycleways.

At the ferry terminal they’d got our booking but said we’d not paid. My NatWest app showed that the payment was pending.

Anyway they wouldn’t let us board until I’d paid – again. Grrrrr 🀬 Let’s see how long that refund takes….

And that was it the end of our adventure…

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 27

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 27

Rotterdam to Hook of Holland. 28th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 26 miles.
  • Total mileage: 933 miles.
  • Disasters: zero 😁

This is a little late because we’ve been on the beer last two days 🍻

9:30 start from our ripoff hotel. Because its a Dutch Bank Holiday prices were sky high and there was limited availability. Its not as if we were ripped off but the room was nice – it wasn’t. Very tired and dirty, just like us.

It was relatively easy to navigate out of Rotterdam and we made good progress on what was the last section of our route.

Soon we were out of the suburbs & back by the Rhine.

No it’s not a road it’s a dedicated cycle path !

We were both feeling mixed emotions – Happy to be completing our challenge but also sad it’s coming to an end.

Hook of Holland – the end of our adventure.

Our route, 933 miles through 6 countries…

EuroVelo 15 from Oberalpenpass to Hook of Holland.

Now how to get home πŸ€”

…a plan was quickly formed. Metro to Haarlem, night there before short ride to the ferry.

The plan worked easily. The metro/train we got was easy to get fully laden bikes on to (unlike UK trains who have a big step). The service ran every 30 minutes, even on a Bank Holiday. It was cheap.

The hotel in Haarlem was a good choice as well. Great room at a fraction of the Rotterdam price.

We then went out for a celebration beer. The beer we liked turned out to be 6.5% and a good night was had in Haarlem πŸ€ͺ

Rocket fuel this Europop !
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 26

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 26

Molenbuurt to Rotterdam. 27th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 44 miles
  • Total mileage: 907 miles
  • Disasters: None 😁

It was a cold clear night but I slept well cuddled up in Big Agnes. Sunshine again today. We had another brilliant breakfast of stale pitta with cheese and tomatos.

Our campsite.

The campsite had some old military style buildings. When paying we found out it was an old Fort constructed pre ww1. It was one of a chain of waterline fortifications.

The waterline Fort now a campsite.
This shows there were 896 waterline forts.

With a tail wind we made good progress on quiet roads. Most drivers were great, only one van gave us poth a close pass 🀬

Quick roads on the polders linked beautiful villages.

There was one area with 19 windmills.

…if Carlsberg did cycle lanes. Oh and don’t forget all the Swans we saw with little babies.
Some were working.

At Kinderdijk we had to get a ferry to get round various bits of water. We took this ferry into the centre of Rotterdam.

I have to mention the ferry terminal. We all had to walk past this to get in the waiting shelter. If you’re pissed, stupid, not looking or a child you’ll end up in the river. In the UK H&S natzis wouldn’t have this. That’s why I love Europe.

Looking at your phone instead of where you’re going could get you wet 🀣

Our hotel was shite for the price but very central so we had a walk around to see some of the wacky architecture.

Cool building and note the bike park
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 25

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 25

Arnhem to Molenbuurt. 26th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 44 miles.
  • Total mileage: 863 miles.
  • Disasters: Sarah had a luke warm shower πŸ₯Ά

We had a lovely sleep in the Holiday Inn & we’re reluctant to get going today. On the road by 10:40 – the latest yet.

The route took us out of Arnhem via parks and forest. Super route but slow going with twists and navigation stops.

Stopped at a restaurant by the river for a latish lunch. I ordered what I thought was a cheese and beef sandwich & Sarah got egg on toast with cheese, soup & a cheese croquette.

Her choice was way better than mine – the beef on my sandwich was raw ! I’m sure it was beautifully prepared but I like beef cooked. 😬

After the lunch stop the routevopened out onto cycleways on top of polders. Our speed increased & we even had the wind behind us at one point 😁

We used the lunch stop to look for camp sites for the night. Google maps was showing nothing in the area we wanted but Sarah had the Archies camping app. This showed one site at a reasonable distance. I was doubtful (if it’s not on Google…) but Sarah called and it did exist ! Result πŸ‘and good learning that not everything’s in google.

Our route passed through this windmill. Apparently, it’s the only windmill that you can drive through – wonder why πŸ€”

Wouldn’t be Holland without one of these…

We stopped at a Spar about 2 miles before the campsite to get some dinner. Outside the Spar was what looked like a mobile fish & chip van.

No fish but deep fried cheese, croquettes and chips for tea πŸ˜‹ …with mayo of course !

We arrived at the campsite full so just sat in the sun & chilled. I watched the Giro highlights. G still in pink with two days to go – come on G 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Our camp for the night.