If this is your first visit…

If this is your first visit to the blog, Welcome!

(That’s me back in 2010 when we travelled by motorbike)

My name is Mairead Hennessy and I write about travelling with my husband, Denis. We live in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Since 2015 our vehicle and accommodation has been our motorhome, Ruby. Before that we travelled by motorbike and stayed in AirBnB’s.

(This was my view on the bike)

I remember the exact moment we started to think travelling for bigger chunks of time was possible… It was 2001, we were both 40, we were in Paris, we had two children (13 and 10) and we had left them at home. No, not alone, both of our mother’s were taking turns minding them for a week. (This might be a good place to express gratitude to our Mammies. Thank you, Mammies!)

(Here’s Denis and me France 2017. Photo credit: John Newman)

We were sitting at a pavement cafe on the Champs-Élysées sipping coffee and watching stylish French people go by. I saw a small (low powered) scooter and I said to Denis, didn’t you always want to get a motorbike when you grew up? (I should have been more careful but I was full of the joys of a week in Paris with no commitments and he really did love motorbikes when he was 18). I had seen a scooter and said motorbike. He heard motorbike and (in his mind) saw a BMW 650. It was too late when I realised my mistake, he was never going to go for the scooter…

(Bikes get the best spot on a ferry – right next to the exit!)

It took seven years but in 2008 Denis had his motorbike, a touring one so in August 2010 we travelled around France for a month and I blogged. Since then each year we travel and blog. We can do this because Denis works as we go – he writes apps for iPhones.

(Now we travel by motorhome. Her name is Ruby)

At the moment (September 2018) we are in France. I have put a few links below to help you find the beginning blog for each period of travel. If you want to get new blog posts delivered directly to your email click (or tap) on the Sign me Up! link somewhere on this page. If you have any questions or comments or you’d like encouragement to start your own travelling you can reach me at mairead@hennessynet.com.

All is well, Mairead.

The Most Recent Trips:

Portugal via France and Spain 2022

France by Motorhome September 2018

Portugal via France and Spain by Motorhome February 2018

In the beginning:

First trip France by Motorbike August 2010

France by Motorbike  2011

Italy by Motorbike 2013

France by Car 2013

Prague, Krakow, Budapest by Train and Plane 2014

A week in Ireland Motorbike 2015

First Motorhome Trip France 2015

Trip to Portugal 2016

Wales, England, Scotland 2016

France September 2016

Portugal February 2017

France July 2017

Portugal February 2018

France September 2018

On the Road Again


(Our first photo point was an old church and graveyard overlooking the river Boyne)

It’s been a long time but we finally dusted off the motorbike, charged the cameras and took to the road. As I write we’re just outside Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. About two hours from home. We’re taking it slowly this time. You might remember two years ago we went to Florence via Venice on the motorbike? I haven’t been on the bike since. Every time Denis would suggest a possible trip I’d remember that last journey and the heat (40 degrees C in full bike gear)  and the length of time spent sitting on my posterior (some days more than 8 (eight!) hours) and the motorways in Germany (lots of big scary trucks.)


(Going over a little bridge we realised we were crossing the Royal Canal (at Coolnahay Harbour) so we stopped for tea and soda bread (baked by the daughter of the last lock-keeper))

But Denis is very persistent and eventually he came up with a formula I was willing to test… travel (on mainly country roads) for one hour, eat, travel for one more hour, eat and sleep. Also, temperatures would be less than 30 degrees… probably much less. This week we’re testing the formula. In order to make the test more interesting we’re following the Irish photo rally. This is a list compiled by Gerry Christie with twenty four GPS points around the island of Ireland. There are clues as to what you might find at a point but you have to go there to see. The idea is that you get to travel to places on your motorbike around the island that you might otherwise never find. They’re dotted around the country so you can spend your time meandering from one to the next for days. Have a look at the map on irishphotorally.com.


(Bumble Bee at work)

Anyway, it was with a bit of trepidation that I got on the back of the bike this morning but I was soon rewarded with the forgotten truth – it’s an amazing form of transport. I had forgotten. The heat and daily distances of the last trip had erased my memory of it’s beauty. The beauty of the smells… just five minutes from home we smelled the most amazing wild garlic smell. We pass this point at least four times a week, every week never smelling the garlic, but on a motorbike…. The beauty of fresh air! I know it’s free but it’s gorgeous and it smells kinda green, yep it does.


(There’s a lake right next to our hotel with a little jetty)

Anyway, we’re off to dinner now and tomorrow we’ll drive for an hour, eat, drive for another hour eat some more and sleep. We’ll also take some pictures and smell some more smells.

Bye for now, Mairead.

We arrived here in Austria.

We’re staying in a little town in the Austrian mountains called Gries Im Sellrain. And true to its name there was rain. With my new-found appreciation for rain, you can imagine I was very happy.

03 07d

(Near Florence, notice how flat the land is)

So… we left Florence yesterday morning at 8.45am and we arrived here at about 5pm and it’ wasn’t such a bad day. We did have a high of 30 degrees but we had a low of 17 degrees also. It was a bit of a shock to the system when I realised I might be cold. Hadn’t felt that for a while. The reality was that it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t too tiring. And… it seems my body has got used to travelling for long periods in one position and it wasn’t complaining.

03 07e

(Now you can see some hills in the distance)

I saved myself a lot of worrying and imagining scary things for nothing. Instead I spent my time noticing what was exactly in front of me and appreciating the stuff I liked. Scenery and nature were in front of me. Although Florence is very beautiful, we didn’t see a lot of nature. Not that there weren’t gardens, there were, but we didn’t go to them. We spent time in the streets and the museums and art galleries. So even though we were on a six lane highway now, there was plenty of nature all around us. And it was changing all the time.

03 07f

(The hills and mountains are getting closer)

We stopped every hour (ish) at motorway services and we have it down to a fine art by now. First one, breakfast. Second one fruit and water. Third one, lunch. Fourth one, ice cream or coffee and pastry.Last one shower! That makes five hours of driving and three hours of stops.

03 07g

(And closer)

Yesterday I promised to write a gratitude list and that has made me realise that I appreciate being able to go on this journey. To be able to take the time to do something so different. To have the health, the means and the will. To be able to visit places I have only read about or seen in documentaries. We live in privileged times and we don’t know it.

03 07a

(And finally we arrive in Austria)

While on this road I have been remembering my Dad tell us stories as children about his trip with friends to Rome. The story goes that they drove all the way from Baltinglass in Co. Wicklow, Ireland to Roma, Italy, more than fifty years ago. Before air conditioning, before motorways, before wi-fi! I would love to ask him about it now, but it’s too late, I didn’t know when it was possible to ask that I would want to know. And I would love to see photos of his journey but I don’t know if any exist.

03 07b

(In a little town with a funny church steeple)

So here’s my gratitude list….. Nature, the landscape of northern Italy and Austria from flat lands to huge craggy mountains. Motorway services – really! The journey. Rain… And finally I am grateful that I have the opportunity to write, to take photos and to make you all listen!!!

03 07c

(This is just one of that many signs to tell us… we are welcome :))

 Until Germany, Mairead.

We’re in Italy but first the Austrian waiter….

We finally arrived yesterday evening in Venice or to be precise 15 minutes by bus from Venice. We got a great welcome from our Airbnb hosts with instructions on how to get into Venice, including a bus ticket because they cost double when you buy them on the bus. Then we took off our bike gear (peeled if off really) had a quick shower and went looking for the bus. Before we found it, we found a little pizzeria. It was too much temptation to resist, we were melting with the heat, tired and hungry….. so we had great pizza, cold water and good wine and went home to fall asleep. The tourist  Venice will begin today.

21 06e

(Beautiful Austria)

But the tourist Austria began yesterday. We left our backpackers (backpackers don’t get breakfast included in with the bed) guest house early (8.30am) yesterday morning with a promise of breakfast on the way. Now, this can be a bit of a mistake, because Denis doesn’t eat breakfast and I can’t function without it. So I was more hopeful than certain that I would be nourished before lunch. And within minutes of our leaving the town of Fussen my hope dissipated. We hit a traffic jam on a narrow road. As we had never been on the road so early we thought they would be clear but no, the camper vans and trucks were already ahead of us. The road was too narrow for any handy bike manoeuvres so we waited. Thirty five minutes later we were still waiting there, but it was cool and picturesque, so no rush…..

21 06f

(The reason for the traffic jam)

It turned out to be road works. We were now in Austria. Having travelled for so long on the motorways of Germany we were woken up by our route in Austria. It was beautiful. Cool and shady with amazing views around every corner, so much so my little camera ran out of battery long before the border with Italy. And around one corner there was a restaurant – breakfast! It had taken an hour but the setting was perfect so I didn’t complain.

21 06b

(Isn’t it pretty? Yes Denis, I mean the bike!)

Just as we arrived a bus full of elderly German tourists also arrived, we spotted them just in time and we dashed towards the outside seats. We were fast….. and younger (by a little…) but they still made it to the seats before us.  By this stage Denis was interested in breakfast and was a little put out by our delay so he used his secret weapon – me. I smiled and waved at the waiter and when that didn’t work I followed him into the kitchen. I only succeeded in annoying him and we still had to wait until he served the whole bus.

21 06d

(The waiter. I’m not as charming as I once was…. but charming enough to get a photo and a smile for you guys!)

Off to Venice with some suggestions (thank you Susanna and Marie) will let you know how it goes, Mairead.

We’re off…….


(Almost ready to go…)

We’re off to Wales via Scotland and we’ve arrived in Belfast and are sitting on the ferry. It’s been almost twelve months since our last motorbike trip and I had forgotten how much I love it! We left Greystones at 8.30am and it was overcast and a little chilly… but the smells were amazing. Fresh air, soil and grass – yummy.

Big Bridge

(Big Bridge near Dundalk)

An hour later I was very cold and I remembered what I love about cars – the heater. Maybe it’s time to get the heated vest thingy. You wear it inside your jacket and plug it into the bike. Your very own heater. For now all is well, hot tea is warming me up and we have a window seat. There’s also free wi-fi so all is very well.

Here we go

(Here we go)

It’s funny what we get used to. Since I was little I’ve thought that travelling by plane to go on holidays was part of the holiday. The excitement of getting there. The nice person that checked our tickets and took our luggage. The walk to the plane, the smiling air hostess and the cute little meals – that were free! It’s still exciting to go on holidays but the new things they’ve added to the plane journey are not helpful. The plastic bag of liquids. The bins full of half empty water bottles and nail clippers. An odd sense that you might actually be a security risk. The waiting. Boots off. Queueing. Boots on. Fitting your bag into a metal cage or maybe not fitting your bag into the metal cage. More waiting. The cute little free meals are gone now and so are the smiles.


(Cosy and dry)

The ferry experience today was very different. Although it was raining there were lots of smiles. We were stopped once to look at our tickets, no you don’t need your passports. Then we drove to lane 14 and waited until a smiling man sent us up the ramp behind a bus, to keep you dry! Another smiling man directed us to the bike section. A third smiling man tied the bike to the boat. The whole thing took ten minutes. And two hours later we’re here.

Welcome to Scotland! Mairead.