THE STORY SO FAR
Trip Start Mar 05, 2008
20Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
When I tell people that I'm traveling to Australia from Ireland overland the majority of people are enthusiastic and maybe even a bit envious but quite a few people, more than I would have imagined have asked "why". I would love to have some spiritually deep, meaningful and life changing response to say in reply but I'm afraid I don't. The only response I can give is "why not" and "because its there to be done".
I got the "travel bug" from a post university trip I took through the U.S, Fiji, New Zealand and the obligatory year working visa in Australia. The words "travel bug" seem a bit cliche but in truth that's exactly what it was like for me. Its as if some form of bacteria or virus has got under my skin and I have to feed it's urge to see all places and experience all things
Saturday 5Th April: The journey begins
I had many different ideas on how I wanted to begin this trip. I had felt that with it's magnitude it should begin with something that makes a kind of a statement. I have lived in Galway, in the west of Ireland, for most of my adult years and I still have many of my best friends living there so it seemed like the perfect place to begin my adventure. Besides it would also add some extra mileage in the bargain. With that idea in the bag I was now back to the statement thing. I decided, eventually, that a swim in the Atlantic Ocean was the perfect way to start but as with most of my bright ideas it didn't quite go according to plan
Monday 14Th April: The United Kingdom
Today was the beginning of my overland trip proper, and my aim to get to Australia and was beginning with an 11hour bus and ferry ride from Dublin to London. It was the first decent piece of mileage to get under my belt and also the first long-haul bus journey of what I'm sure will be many long-haul bus journeys to come. Long-haul bus and trains are something that I will have to get used to, they will play a pivotal role in getting me to where I want to be and I'm going to need them to be cheap and reliable
The one-way fare on euro lines cost me Eur20 from Busaras to London Victoria coach station, not a bad fare I thought. I had been wondering who would get the bus these days and not fly. Before now it has certainly never crossed my mind to get the bus, and I'm not a great man for the joys of flying either. The queue for the bus was massive when I got there, rows of people all standing orderly around big bags of luggage. I reasoned quickly that along with the cheap bus tickets the other main attraction to going by land was the amount of luggage you can bring. Boarding the bus I was faced with the dilemma that has haunted some of my public transport stories....you know, when there are people sitting in all the double seats and its then your choice to chose who you sit beside
As we were waiting for the coach to board the ship Frank started to begin telling me the in's and outs of his day. Now I'm not going to go into everything that we talked about, his day was action packed, but there is one story that I will tell you and its true significance will be revealed at a later stage
I arrived at the Piccadilly backpackers, with the sun already out on a lovely morning in London, totally shattered. All i was ready for at this stage was a shower and bed. Unfortunately the rooms in the hostel, £18 a night, were not available till 2pm which meant i had another 5hours to kill. Not to be downbeat so early in the trip i took advantage by doing a few of the touristy things. I took a stroll from Piccadilly to Buckingham Palace and then down to Westminster, the London eye and Downing Street before returning to the hostel via Covent garden and Piccadilly circus
On the Wednesday was the first official day of the English county championship. Surrey were playing Lancashire and courtesy of Derek i discovered it was going to be the first match marking the return of Freddie Flintoff from injury
Thursday began with a short bus ride to Brighton, booked on mega-bus.com for £4 each way. My visit to Brighton was to see another two people on my list of people to catch up with while i was in UK, Tommy and Lisa. Tommy and Lisa were friends of mine for my years spent in Galway. We were a good gang back then and Tommy and Lisa were of good stock. I hadn't seen them for a number of years, in-fact since they had moved to Edinburgh. Since then they got married and were now living in Brighton where Tommy has gone to college to study music. Tommy is another guy who has quit his career in order to chase a dream, a dream of playing music. I totally respect his ambition and by all accounts he is going to succeed and i will one day be asked if i have the right credentials to speak to him back stage at one of his bands gigs. Even though i hadn't seen them for a number of years it was great to find that the years that passed hadn't changed them one bit
Saturday 19Th April: The south Downs
I arrived late to my uncles house that morning due to some train delays and a tube guard giving me a lecture on how i had bought the wrong price ticket and should have paid another pound more. My dumb expression only seemed to fuel his anger but finally after a few minutes he let me on my way with a stern warning not to do it again. My uncle, Brian, was taking me to one of his favorite trekking spots in the south downs in the south east of England. I was delighted with the invite, a chance to do some trekking and also the chance to spend some time with Brian doing what we both love. He has a true adventurous spirit and has sumitted Mt Blanc, and was also within a day of reaching the top of the Iger before bad weather and an injured team member forced them to turn back, not before having to spend the night on a small ledge while getting battered by strong winds and freezing temperatures
It was a dry day when we boarded the train in London but by the time we reached Seafood, a small seaside town, the weather was starting to deteriorate somewhat. Not to be put off in any way we began with a trek up the cliffs to our accommodation for the next two nights, a barn in the middle of a field. Now when i say barn i mean barn but it was kitted out with lockers and heating lamps and benches where you could roll out your sleeping bag. With toilets and cold water showers it was the best barn i have ever had the pleasure of staying in. In Ireland i think we could take a leaf of of the British book when it comes to walking holidays. If a trail is marked on a map then you are entitled to walk along it no matter who´s land it belongs too. I´m sure i don't have this totally correct so if I'm wrong i stand corrected but in Britain there is a law that gives the right to citizens to enjoy the countryside meaning that the have right of way along these trails. I believe that back in the 1920´s many people protested and even went to jail to protect this right of way. Even the might of Madonna couldn't stop people having the right to walk through her land. And if you want to camp you can pitch your tent anywhere along these trails as long as you respect the area and leave it exactly as you found it, and if you don't want to camp the parks commission maintain these trekking barns that you can reserve a spot in
We awoke the next morning to find the barn a wash with a morning sun and after breakfast we headed off up the rolling green fields, through forest trails to whats known as "the longman". The south downs area was once populated by the Celts and the marks they have left behind are things i have only ever seen books. Why they left these markings we will never know but these chalk drawings etched into the hills cant help but make you wonder and marvel at their magnitude
Tuesday 22Nd April: Ben Nevis and the West Highland Way
I don't exactly remember how i first heard about the west highland way but when i did i knew it was something i had to do
I arrived into Glasgow at 8.30am having spent the bus in the company of some cider swilling blokes with no teeth. Great fun i must say especially when one of them lost a mobile phone and made everyone get up out of their seats so he could look for it, it didn't matter if they were asleep or not. I had planned on getting the train up-to Fort William, its regarded as one of the worlds most spectacular train journeys but just my luck they were doing some track renovations so the train wasn't going to whole way. In the end i just got the bus straight up with citylink for £13. Now you might be wondering, if the west highland way is from Milngavie to Fort William why was i going straight to Fort William. Well to climb Ben Nevis was the real reason i was in Scotland in the first place and i had heard that the weather had been good so i decided that i would do the climb first and then do the walk back to Milngavie
Next morning i arose early to get a good run at the day. My thinking was that if i got an early start then i would have the best chance of making the top as there was a lot of cloud cover expected late in the day. It was raining lightly as i started but as the morning wore on that began to fade. The recommended starting point for the ascent of Ben Nevis is the car-park at the Ionaid Nibheis visitor center. The trail first follows along the river Ben Nevis along lush vegetation before rising steeply giving way to a more rocky landscape. As i was crossing the Red Burn it became clear the the trail was going to zig-zag its way to the summit plateau, unfortunately with still quite a bit of snow cover this trail quickly became invisible meaning the going got very tough indeed. I hadn't seen many people on the trail up-to that point but as i was scrambling through the rocks and the snow i came across one walker, Ben from Texas
Most recommendations for doing both Ben Nevis and the West Highland Way were for 8-9 days with 7-8 days needed for the completion of the way. I wasn't sure how long it would take me. I didn't want to have to race along and not be able to take in any of the sights along the way, but i hadn't booked any onward travel arrangements so i suppose it didn't really matter how long it took. The first day i had a 15miles to cover from Fort William to a town called Kinlochleven. It was raining lightly when i set off but within an hour or so it started to get heavier and heavier. The way begins along the motorway for the first mile or so before it ascends sharply along Glen Nevis before entering some woods. I took one last look at Ben Nevis in its majestic beauty and set out along the forest trails for the next 5miles. I met many other walkers that day and indeed everyday along the walk but they were always going in the opposite direction, i was yet to discover the full extent of why. After the forest path the trail winds its way through Lairigmor, with mountains on either side its a beautiful trail. In good weather the Lairigmor can be a pleasant walk but unfortunately for me in the wind and the rain the westerly glen offers little shelter. The trail is an old military road built by Major Caulfield around 1750 to enable this armies to march and crush the Jacobite rebellions of the time. The terrain is really rough, lots of rock and stone that makes the going quite tough and with the weather the way it was i was starting to long for Kinlochleven. You were never able to put your foot firmly on the ground, the rocks and stones were putting a huge strain on my ankles. I remember thinking at one point that the English built pretty crap roads back then and maybe they should have got the Irish in to do it for them. That though was quickly followed by another, they probably did get the Irish in to do it for them and i had visions of an O'Reilly type from that episode of faulty towers and Basil being the major;
Major: O'Reilly is that road going to be finished anytime soon, Ive got to get up there and crush them Jacobite's you know.
O'Reilly: well major she is nearly finished now, you cant rush good quality work. Ive had the lads up there working day and night to get her finished. Oh she will be a grand sight when she is finished i can tell you. Guaranteed for 800years she will be.
Mark: 800years my arse!!
Oh the things i think about when I'm out walking.
It was with great relief that i climbed over the last hill at the end of Lairigmore to reveal the little village of Kinlochleven down below. That night i checked into a great hostel called the blackwater hostel. It owned by a lovely guy called Callum, he actually built the hostel himself and for £13 its one of the best hostels Ive ever stayed in. He had built a big drying room on the premises where you could leave all your wet clothes and bags to be dried by the next morning. He was a great guy and we had some good chats about my trip to Australia and about the West Highland way. There was none of this leave your boots at the door with Callum, it was a come on it, don't take the boots off you might never get them back on attitude. It was from these chats with him that i realized that why doing the way from north to south was seldom attempted. All the big climbs were on my side and i would always have the weather blowing directly into my face hence meeting everybody going the other way. In-fact it had been awhile since Callum had seen anybody doing it north to south. When he asked me what made me think of doing it that way my only response was that its because I'm Irish and we like do things the other way around. He seemed to get a good kick out of that one and even though they were busy he shuffled people around so that i could have a room to myself. That night was spent in the company of other walkers doing the trail, swapping tips and offering advise on what to expect over the next few days. There is a real camaraderie between the trekkers, you get the feeling that we are all in this together. Telling people your doing an overland to Australia always makes me the centerer of attention and usually i can spot someone who has over heard me talking about it, they hover around doing nothing in particular and when they get their chance they step in with "did i hear you right, your traveling overland to Australia". Luckily its a conversation i don't mind having one bit.
The next day started much the same as the last, the rain spitting in the morning but within an hour or two it starts to bucket down. I was able to gauge from the conversations the night before that this was going to be the toughest day for me and it started straight from the off. The climb out of Kinlochleven passing the pipelines that bring water down from the blackwater reservoir was very steep and the local road workers looking aghast at the direction i was going only showed that there was worse to come. The trail continues to rise up through the "devils staircase", not named because its an easy path i can assure you, leaving you very exposed to everything the weather throws at you. Its the highest point above sea level that you reach along the way, but from south to north its mostly a decent meaning that i had to climb all the way. Due to the fact that two of the next few stops, Kingshouse and Inveroran were only hotels that charged up-to £60 per night for a room i had planned on doing a rather large walking day of 21miles to the Bridge of Orchy. After the mornings climb i was feeling quite strong but i was very aware that i had a lot of ground to cover to get to my stop before nightfall. Approaching Kingshouse the weather even started to improve but no sooner had i taken off my jackets and walked 100meters it started to rain again. My shouts skyward to mother nature only resulted in a downpour that didn't let up till i got to my destination. From Kingshouse to Inveroran the trail leads through Rannoch Moore, the most exposed section of the walk. A solid 8miles of battering wind and driving rain, i could feel the blisters starting to show on the inside heel of my feet making every step along that Moore more pain-full than the last. The Moore is quite beautiful in its ruggedness but the appreciation was washed away by the rain and wind. I finally arrived to the Bridge of Orchy at 7.00pm or just after, completely soaked to the skin. I was checking into the bunkhouse in at the hotel in the village and was greeted by an elderly woman who ran the reception. I shouted from the door that i was a bit wet but she beckoned me over without even looking, big mistake. By the time i had signed the register the reception floor was awash with rain water, and in good wicked Scottish humor the lounge boy put a wet floor sign around me. There was nothing left for me to do that night than to dry my clothes and head straight to bed.
I set off after a poor nights sleep, i think i was too over tired to sleep. Happily though the weather had improved dramatically and the terrain was kind to my feet meaning that this was a days walking i totally enjoyed. It was a relatively short walk to a town called Crainlarich, 14miles or there abouts. The trail followed along the rail tracks so in the end is was no disappointment to have missed out on the train to Fort William, i got to see first hand the beauty of the highlands rather than just looking out the window. About halfway i stopped in a town called Tyndrum at Berine's shop where i had the best bacon and egg sandwich with cheese i have ever tasted, i think id do the walk over again just to have another one. After Tyndrum the trail meanders along river banks, through fields full of newly born lambs and finally through forest. It was really beautiful and along the way i encountered plenty of wild deer. I also encountered lots of joggers running by. When i stopped to chat to a woman she was able to tell me that it was a race from Milngavie to Tyndrum and that the leader and winner had already finished. She also told me that the winner once ran the whole West Highland way to Fort William in 15hours, i was nearly bowled over with this statement, i think ill stick to the walking i said before i continued onwards. The hostel in Crainlarich was a YHA and was quite nice, again £13 a night. While i was waiting to check in i got talking to a guy who was fixing up a racing bike. His wife had died from cancer in October and he was in training to do a charity cycle from one end of Britain to the other. He was also telling me that he had walked the West Highland way a few years ago to raise money for the same hospice as his wife's mother had also died of cancer. He was a remarkable man and I'm disgusted that i cant remember his name. I was so touched by his attitude and it really put many things into perspective for me. I have been in this bubble for the last few months with only this trip in my mind, it really brought a few things home to me and i wish him every success in his noble crusade.
For what ever reason i didn't sleep all that well last night either and this was starting to take its tole on my body. I was happy in the knowledge that the worst of the trek was now behind me....or so i thought. Leaving Crainlarich the weather was immaculate and by lunch time was upon 22degrees. After the days of rain and wind i was glad of the change but with the sun came other problems. The trail out of Crainlarich was an old cattle trail so the going was really tough, trying to pick your way through the mud. At one point the trail was blocked by the biggest hairiest bulls Ive ever seen. Id spent many a childhood summer working down on my granddad's neighbors farm so i was confident i could solve this problem with minimal fuss. I had always seen myself as a bit of a Dr Doolittle type back then so a began to make conversation with the bulls, suck, suck suck....to my horror that only brought them on mass closer to me. There must have been at least 20 altogether. I tried not to panic and racked my brain from the only other call that i knew, then finally it came to me, hup, hup, hup and amazingly just like moses and the red sea my sea of bulls parted so i could walk freely down the trail. At the end i took a bow to some imaginary applause and continued in great spirits onwards. After 10 or so miles of the 21 i had planned to do i mounted a small hill and was greeted with probably the most spectacular sight i had seen along the way. The view of Loch Lomond on that day is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I struggle with trying to find the words to best describe it, beautiful, amazing, spectacular just doesn't cut it. I guess it needs to be seen to be believed. I'm sure all of you have heard about the pleasure pain theory, its that for every good thing there is on the flip side a rather bad thing to balance it out, well if the sight of Loch Lomond was a pleasurable experience lying in wait along her banks was the painful experience. The path cut its way along through big boulders and tree roots for the next 4miles. In the heat of the afternoon sun this terrain made for one of the worst experiences of my trekking life. It took hours to cover the short distance and by the end i had completely lost my marbles. I had to stop for almost an hour in Inversnaid plying myself with cokes and fizzy orange trying to recover the will to carry on the next 7miles to Rowardennan. How i did it ill never know. Ive always known i had good stamina if not raw fitness, but my stamina was tested to the limit this day. I can honestly say i was starting to lose the plot when i received a text from a friend telling me that Munster were winning the rugby, Celtic had beaten Rangers and Chelsea had beaten United. I don't think anybody will ever fully realize the lift that that text gave me and at such an important time. I gritted my teeth, powered through the pain and ploughed my way forward, i was doing it for Munster and for Ireland!! At one point i was so exhausted that i just dropped my backpack in the middle of the trail and stuck my head into a little waterfall to try and get some respite from the sun. It would have looked a strange sight I'm sure if anybody had come along at that moment, all they would have seen was a lone backpack in the middle of the road and two legs sticking vertically out of a hole in the ground. The feeling was amazing though, so intense, i felt energized to go forward again. After another few miles i was nearing the hostel and i gave into an urge that was nagging at me the whole day, i jumped down onto the river bank and dived into Loch Lomand. It was bloody freezing and i came up gasping for breath with the shock of the cold, i was out of the water within 2Min's but i can tell you it was with a clear mind. I was lucky enough to get a hostel bed that night, one of the last two beds so i went to sleep thinking that my luck might be starting to change. I got chatting to a few young lads in the room that night and was telling them about my trip, i don't think they were too sure what overland meant because they nearly jumped off their beds saying "your walking to Australia". I nodded my head and pointed to my trekking poles but I'm afraid i could hold the pretense much longer than a few seconds before the laughter took over.
Going to bed the night before i had decided that today was going to be my last day on the walk. I was starting to feel mentally tired and wanted to get it finished with, that meant however that i was attempting to do nearly 26miles to Milngavie, an amount that i hadn't previously attempted to do. I set off really early and in the knowledge from one of the other walkers that it was a flat walk and nothing too strenuous. Indeed it followed along those lines through the town of Balmaha but when i turned the corner and was faced with an almost vertical climb up Conic Hill i was screaming the mans name in frustration. In his defense he was walking the other-way so it would have been down hill for him but i wasn't so reasonable in my thoughts at the time i can tell you. I cursed and shouted my way to the top only to find that after a short downhill it was all back up hill again. It took awhile but i made it through and until the end in Milngavie it was the last bit of hard walking i had to do. The rest followed along road, an old railway track, passed Dumgoyne and the Glengoyne distillery, through forest to eventually reach the park on the outskirts of Milngavie. By the time i reached the park i was in bad shape mentally, i was singing a mixture of Shakira (hips don't lie) and Damien Dempsey (party on) to try and get my mind onto something other than the 3 miles left to go. I met this family out for a walk and the first thing they said to me was "you didn't happen to see a brown shoe anywhere did you", i hadn't planned to stop and chat when i saw them approach because i was afraid if i stopped i would collapse but i was so taken by surprise by the question that i had to double check that they were definitely asking me that. I held in the urge to yell "no i haven't see a bloody brown shoe, what the hell would i be doing looking for a brown shoe", but i remembered my manners and bit my tongue responding in the nicest possible way that "no i didn't see a brown shoe, sorry". As i approached Milngavie the signposts were counting down the last mile and a half. I had wanted to cross the line looking strong, like i do this kind of walking every day but my stride was a mixture of speed walker in an Olympics race and cross country skier with the trekking poles, a sorry sight I'm sure. For the last half mile i could hear bagpipes playing in the distance, at first i thought i was imagining it but as i drew nearer to the obelisk that marked then end of the trail they got louder and louder. Now I'm not a fan of the bagpipes but that day they sounded like the angels calling from heaven. I reached the marker threw my arms around it and gave it an almighty kiss....what a strong mans man everybody must have thought!!
The next morning i spent around Glasgow while waiting for my bus. I had been in Glasgow once before and had actually slept in the bus station as i couldn't get anywhere to stay. I had been curled up in the photograph booth with my bags wrapped around my legs and the curtain drawn protecting me from the lunatics outside. Its a great city if your with a group of friends out on the town but when your strolling around taking in the sights i find it a depressing city. I'm really sorry, i don't mean to offend anybody from Glasgow, its just the opinion of one guy. I don't know whether it was the sight of track-suite clad youths drinking beer on street corners at 10am, or if it was the horrendous thunder and lightning storm that hung over the city for what seemed like an age, or if it was even the flock of gulls that eerily flew over the bus station looking like something out of Alfred Hitchcock's film the birds, maybe it was a mixture of them all i don't know, but i took them as a sign to get the hell out of the city.
The next two days were spent back in London getting my strength back for the travel through Europe. It was good to be able to chat to Brian about the walk as it had seemed a bit surreal since i had finished it. We had a few beers a walk in Battersea park and dinner with Len, Marina and the kids, a perfect end to the U.K leg. The only hitch was checking the accommodation availability in Amsterdam for the following night, nothing until i found the "hans brecker hostel".
Saturday 3rd May: Amsterdam
I arrived into Amsterdam later than expected due to the cancellation of the ferry, some technical difficulties, but there was a later ferry i was able to get and other than that the journey was uneventful. I slept most of the way on the bus so i think my body is starting to adjust to the long bus trips. I don't know where i got my ideas from but i had thought that the journey would start with a bus to Harwick and then a ferry to the hook of Holland and then another bus to Amsterdam but in fact the bus left Victoria coach station for Dover and the ferry ride was then to Calais with the bus then passing through Belgium and onto Holland. Somewhat longer than i had thought. With the accommodation escape i had made the day before and now this I'm starting to feel that i should start planning things a bit more. My take each day as it comes philosophy way start to get me into trouble further down the road. I'm making a vow to wake-up a bit and start to consider a few things. I have been in Amsterdam many times before and feel like i know it like the back of my hand, unfortunately it seems i don't know the back of my hand too well. The tram from the bus station to the hostel "hans bricker" left me totally disorientated so i spent the best part of the next hour trying to find the hostel. It was a fantastic day, a type i had not witnessed on my previous visits to Amsterdam, so i guess i couldn't complain too much but by mid afternoon my patience was starting to wear thin as i walked down the same street for the 5th time. Its amazing how the difference in weather can totally transform a city. My other visits to Amsterdam have been in October/ November when its been dull and drab and generally raining. This time however the sun was out in force and the city was sparkling in the suns glow. Even the canals looked postcard picture perfect with the slow moving barges passing up and down, their ripples creating a glistening reflection of the over hanging trees. The cafe's had lines and lines of chairs outside full to the brim with people enjoying the early signs of summer and Dam square was packed with people milling around buskers and street performers. While sitting out soaking up the atmosphere i came to the thought that if you were to take away the cannabis coffeshops and the red-light district that Amsterdam is famous for you are still left with a city that is both picturesque and full of history and has enough to fill the senses of any visitor. I had many plans before arriving on things that i wanted to see and do. This time around i was going to do all the tourist things that i hadn't managed to do on my previous visits to Amsterdam, like the Anne Frank museum and the Van Gough museum but I'm ashamed to say that over the next few days i did nothing of the sort. I reverted to type so that after i had checked-into the hostel and showered i was off to the greenhouse to sit in a purple haze and chat to a long white widow. Actually the next 3 days pretty much followed the same pattern, get up around 10am and have breakfast (some croissants), pay a visit to the greenhouse or some other coffeshop, spend the afternoon sitting in the sun in Dam square to write this blogg before getting bored and making a return to the coffeshops again....its such a hard life!! I must say that i do feel a little guilty that i didn't take in more of the sights but what can i say. One task i did manage to achieve was to book my bus onwards to Scandinavia. I had been mulling over the idea of going to Copenhagen and then Stockholm before arriving in Goteborg but with time starting to close in on me i decided i would bus the 21hours straight to Goteborg. Amsterdam and Denmark will always be there and are so easy to access from Ireland that i can do them anytime. I feel its best that i keep the time for destinations I'm not likely to ever see again. Also Denmark and even Amsterdam were not on my original itinerary leaving Ireland so it might sound like a cop-out but i found it easy to drop them. I have a friend to meet up with in Goteborg so I'm going to head straight there. I didn't book any accommodation so it seems my new leaf to start planning ahead is only half turned over, but i don't forsee any difficulties. My bus didn't leave Amsterdam till 23.00pm so i had the day to loiter around the city. However the night previous i had gone to sleep with the window open due to the heat and as i woke up it quickly became apparent that i had been eaten alive by mosquitoes. I don't know what it is about my blood but they love it. I had bites all over my arms, legs, neck and ears. As i was climbing down from the bunk-beds i could tell that my right eye didn't feel so good and on checking my reflection in the mirror i was horrified to see i looked like i had gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. I'm not joking you it looked terrible. I'm not sure if i got a bite around the eye or if it was some kind of allergic reaction to so many bites. Either way I'm sure to most people walking around Amsterdam that day i looked like i had caught some terrible disease. Thankfully my sunglasses were able to hide my shame. To make matters worse while sitting enjoying the sunshine in Dam square i was approached by these born again Christian religious types. Maybe they saw my eye, maybe something else drew them to me but whatever it was i couldn't shake them for 15min, we had a little pray for my trip, my family, a pray to God that he would bring me a nice woman to settle down and have a family with. Man, i just don't have the rude bone in my body to get rid of these people, it was so uncomfortable. After they had gone i quickly ran through the red-light district to a coffeshop to dirty up my sole after my near salvation.