Saturday, July 31, 2010

Laughing in the Rain

Ah.... we just popped off the trail, over 50 miles into our 95 miles, to a lovely hotel where we can relax for day and evening! It is our "Rest Day" ! Only seven miles today. Glorious! And, 2/3 of it in the pouring rain. I was laughing because this is how we happily CHOOSE to spend our vacation! Walking in the hills of Scotland with the wind and rain lashing us at 25 mph, the munros (look it up!) shrouded in clouds. Perfect. OK, not quite perfect, but it kept us smiling today.

First day with internet service for the past three. I shall take advantage of it and see if I can even get some photos on once our luggage arrives. We carry just what we need for the day and when we arrive at our accomodations, we find our luggage either in our room or some shed from which we lug it to our room. The system is common and works quite well.

We are so far the only Americans we have encountered on the trail. My new best friend is actually named "Leki". Without her assistance, I could not have made the way along Loch Lomond. And, L.L. Bean has been quite friendly to me as well. So nice to have these traveling companions. (OK... Leki "sticks", as people call them along the trail.)

David Hughes of Shrewesbury, England, bought us a pint the other evening at Drovers Inn. He's an accomplished mountaineer.. even traveling on a trek to China with that kid who's trying to climb all the world's highest peaks before he reaches puberty. (An arrogant, rich kid, David added). He was one of our best "mates" thus far. The others have been from Australia, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and Netherlands. All kinds of fun conversations in the pubs. Just as we expected.

My hearing aid decided to go on the fritz this morning, so my life in Europe is a bit more silent thus far today. Perhaps it is just the 94% humidity from yesterday? I don't know. But, that's one tiny glitch so far... (other than my nearing a bit to close to the edge of a waterfall yesterday, but that's another story).

So, alas. We are warm and almost dry at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. Can't wait for our room to be ready and our luggage to get here! My boots need to be removed. Time for a well deserved lunch. I shall be back if I can snag the computer again later today.

Bye Lassies and Lads...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

West highland Way Day 1

Ah... A town called Drymen . 12 miles after leaving the start of the trail ! We Are on our way! Today was mountain weather which means everything from sunny to wind and drizzle . However we are not in any mountains yet . Rolling hills full of sheep and cows. Lots of hikers too and we began on an " off" day! Today's companions were a couple from Australia and their grown daughter who teaches primary school in London. Some interesting and pleasant conversations .

I am typing w one finger on an iPod touch by the way. Makes wittiness most difficult.

Our inn keeper probably shouldn't be one though the place is quite nice. :) sun was pouring in our room for a while earlier. I shall not take that forgranted! Dinner at presumably the oldest pub in Scotland. Cozy tiny place. Hostel tomorrow night. They always have a funfeeling about them! Only 14 scenic miles between here and there. Did visit the ruins of an old castle this morning on a side trip. Sorry no way to post pics as they ate interesting!

My finger, alas is tired of typing! Quite certain to sleep well soon on this side of the pond!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thistle and Shamrock

Saw my first Scottish Thistle on the hike last night. They are sharp babies. I was wondering why Scottland had the image of the thisle all over the place. Now I know.

Then I made an amazing discovery as I was thinking about the Celtic NPR music show the Thistle and Shamrock. Thistle stands for Scotland! Shamrock stands for Ireland! DUH????

I never thought about this before. There obviously are good reasons I have been sent to the UK.

Arthur's Seat

I don't really know the story yet, but I do know that this left over volcanic peak above Edinburgh provides some amazing 360 views on a lovely evening! After a day of touring in this ancient city, we were already ready to escape to the hills. Tried out my new hiking boots and found them perfectly suited for climbing to the top to Arthur's Seat. It was a perfect evening, though, unlike today, we didn't eat quite enough and headed back to town via the Holyrood Palace to find dinner. First dinner. Then whisky. But, alas. I already mentioned that in another post. I hate whisky. I didn't even have the equivalent of one shot and it was plenty for me.
The sunset I did like. And the ruins of the Palace Chapel and all the Rabbits. HUGE rabbits all over the place. Simply lovely to get a taste of the highlands and it was the perfect evening.

Eating our Way through Edinburgh

At the morning farmer's market. We started our day in view of the castle wandering one of the most well organized market's I've ever been to. Dave spent the time drinking coffee sitting in a chair people watching. Poor guy is trying to recover from a mini marathon of work and it hit like a ton of bricks today.

I, however, treated pounds like Monopoly money! My first purchase, an ice cream cone of sorbet. Yum. Next some sort of treat, not too sweet (thank you Europe!) with creme fraiche, ginger cookies, lemon and other stuff. Fortunately, they are not required to put calories on the labels. Assuming then, that there are none, I am free to eat whatever whenever. Nice!

Onto the Tomato Onion quiche. Well, not eaten yet, but purchased for the lunch picnic that never happened. Dave indulged in a buffalo burger. Or was in ostrich or venison? I can't really remember. I do, however, remember the little girl carrying a raw chicken under her arm strolling with her dad. It was wrapped!

Plenty of scenes at the market, as always. They are probably my favorite place to go when traveling. I had a nice conversation with the lady from the Royal Bird Society or something like that. Learning the colors of common birds which aren't at all common to me. MUST get a bird guide before we start hiking or I'll drive myself nuts.

Oh, yes. Eating. We wandered from eating venue to eating venue today with a stop at the Scottish Heritage Museum. (I will have nightmares from the guillotine sighting). Top of my list, also not food related, was being the FIRST customer at an art shop which a youngish woman opened TODAY! Naturally, I purchased something and took a photo of her store window. I'll have to send her one when I get home as a congrats for her new venture. Hope it works.

I discovered my new (first, actually) favorite coffe house!! I'm afraid I'm going to have a tough time visitng very often however :( Bummer. The Black Medicine Coffee Co. Belongs in Estes Park, actually, with it's warm pine hand hewn interior. Yummy scones! My first of the trip. Let's hope not the last.

While there, found the current "Foodie" mag. Necessary in Scotland, as pubs don't really have the dining thing together much of the time. We long for greens things... so found a place for later... THE LARDER, full of local everything. PERFECT for a light dinner! Homegrown greens, cheese, tapenade, venison, tomato soup and Blossom Green Tea. Ahh... trying to load up before all we find on the trail is pub food.

Then, off to the Royal Oak Pub for some pub music with a Celtic Twist (" I put some Whisky in my Whisky, put some heartbreak in my heart", etc...). They crammed a good 25 people in a place made for 15, but the music was good. And, you can get your Guinness COLD if you want!

Walked to the B and B in the first rain of the trip. Not bad if you ask me. Two whole sunny days!

Good thing we need to eat. Cheers!

You Know You're an American When...

Aye, it's not all about the SHOES actually. There are plenty of other ways we can be easily identified making our way through this old Scottish City! We've actually done fairly well in the shoe department. In fact, no one seemed to mind taking our pounds at the "Whiski" Bar last night after we hiked up to Arthur's Seat for sunset and arrived in white Nike Free running shoes (not me) and leather hiking boots with capris (me). Friday nights aren't really the Geek Dressing Show in Edinburgh. But, our pounds were still good for a flight of whisky. (Once is enough!) and the most yummy chocolate cake with toffee syrup in the UK.

But, I digress...
You know you're an American when....

You RUN across every intersection, no matter how teeny because you have no idea which direction to look before crossing.

You actually WAIT for the crossing signal even though some people are dashing through the street playing chicken with speeding taxis and the abundant busses going in every which way.

You have to ask the waiter what the heck "pongy" means. Look it up. Softish "g" when you're speaking with a Scottish brogue. (is that how you spell brogue?)

You cannot figure out where to find the @ key on the key board.

Renting a car and trying to turn RIGHT across traffic would mean an accident. Backing out into traffic from the World's Smallest Parking Spot would mean certain death.

The clerk at the drugstore takes the payment from your palm when you hold out coins to figure out which ones to use.

You assume the bar tender has gotten very skinny all of a sudden when another patron says he recently lost 200 pounds!

You think that the Grassmarket will be a good place for a picnic.

Finally, for some Americans at least, the Gypsy Goddess Frame Drumming and Tambourine Workshop at the Salisbury Centre, is the last thing you'll sign up for!

I'm sure there will be more items to add to the list.

Meanwhile, enjoy your breakfast cereal. They eat Haggis here. (If I ever get a dog, I'm going to name him Haggis)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Need a Scarf and Sweater

Originally uploaded by andicmalbums

Edinburgh. We made it. Sunny and beautiful and chilly. Perfect in our book. Our flights were just fine. Movies, pillows, blankets and dinner at 11 pm and breakfast at 2 am (sort of) on the long flight to Amersterdam. We had to race through that gigantic airport to get to our next flight on time. Made it, but regretfully had to guzzle our Starbucks since we couldn't take it on board. So, security is more important than coffee. WHAT are they thinking!

Lovely B & B, run by, you guessed it, FIONA. No kidding. Our cabbie was probably IAN, but we didn't ask. After seriously needed naps, we've been walking up and down the Royal Mile. Getting the lay of the land, trying to walk in the sun so stay warmish. But, no complaints with the weather.

We have, however, decided to NOT mention the weather to the locals and see how many of them bring it up first. So far, we're two for two! Read about that in guidebooks, in fact.

Indian tapas ( fusion food) coming up for dinner. A couple of fun days jetlagging in this curious city will be enjoyable.

My first foray into the land of internet cafes. So far, so good except I don't know how to load up low res. pics to I can put more on. I will figure it out though.

Aye my bonnie lassies, and lads, i love to have you "traveling with us". Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Off to the highlands!

Originally uploaded by andicmalbums

You know you are loved when your best friend sends a bagpiper to serenade you before you fly to Scotland. Aye, this is exactly what happened!
We were chatting on our front porch, when alas, those of us who can hear well (that would be Dave) heard the low wail of a bagpipe in the distance. Soon enough, we saw a bagpiper coming up the street towards our house! The neighbors were keenly aware of the spectacle as well, which I consider a great blessing to all concerned.
Larry, our new found Scottish Ohio friend, graced us with his skill and presence and winning smile. We are inspired. More! Let us hear more!
Dave, meanwhile, may have decided a degree in Bagpipping is now needed along side the growing list of initials beside his name.
Will I allow a set of bagpipes to be purchased whilst in Edinburgh? (Let's just say I hope they are really expensive... case closed!) And, by the way, for all us outdoor types, they are also lined with Gortex. Don't tell that I shared the secret.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Valpo Girls

Originally uploaded by andicmalbums

A great time was had by all during our Summer Week Together. Talking for three days straight was a very "girl thing" to do and made us all quite happy. I am posting this photo mostly to see that I've got the Flickr to Blog connection working for our upcoming travels. Let's see if my pseudo technological self got it right....