Saturday, August 7, 2010

Je Taime Paris

Oh, I know enough French to know there is an apostrophe in the title; but using a French keyboard presently is limiting me as I cannot find all the keys I need! Such a dificile problem in Paris! I am sitting in the hotel lobby with the warm breezes wafting in the door and the world passing by the window in front of me!

Such a city! I have not been here for 30 years and I recall almost nothing from that visit, so happily I am encountering this tres beau city for the first time in most ways. Full of history; wrought iron balcony railings, motorbikes and stinky cheese; the world gathers here and I have been taking great delight in the entirety of it.

Today we wandered Le Louvre. One could spend a lifetime there, of course. It is massive. I think I enjoyed the palace itself as much as the works. I do, however, get more tired in two hours in an art museum than I do in eight hours trekking. My apologies to my artist friends, who are numerous, but I have little stamina for the marvels of paint; brush and chisel. One thing I have noticed in the "relaxed" world of Europe (machine guns in the train station aside), they let the world get CLOSE to the art. We could touch nearly everything save the Mona Lisa, though, of course; we did not. The Rodin pieces one can breathe on and Michelangelos marble could be experienced not just seen if one so desired. Amazing.

The beauty of the city truly is unequaled. Artistic flair is everywhere and a delight for the senses. I find myself enjoying the store windows ( though I have not walked the Champs Elysses) as much as the stone carvings above the doorways. Cest tres stunning!

The two of us have become three with the addition of Ellie who we gathered to us at the airport this morning. An adventure of its own. We will find ourselves at a cafe soon watching the world stroll by.

When can I move?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On The Train

Zooming past the green and brown sheep laden English countryside. I so love absorbing the scenery and the culture! Little things are my favorite to notice ... The chimneys, taxis, clothes on my fellow travels, all the bicycles parked here at the York station. Though I also notice the cathedrals in the small towns and castle ruins strewn about . Definitely not the States!

Yesterday we were traveling by the sea cliffs. A treat I did not expect. We were met at the Newcastle station by my English friend from 30 years ago, Andy. What a delightful evening to dine with them in their home .. A three story town home built longbefore anything in Ohio! Full of stained glass and modern amenities with the exception of napkins. I am a messy eater I guess as I require napkins !

But, I digress. We looked at photos of us together as 20 year olds and compared empty nest notes. What a gift of time.

Alas. If I keep up my one finer iPod touch blogging I shall miss the sheep of a thousand hills. Paris tonight.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sticks and Stones

Twelve miles today. The scenery was stunning and stark at the same time. The Way has been mostly on old roads and so extremely easy to follow MOST of the time. Today was all retired Drovers Paths or something like that. So, nice to look around at the foggy Munros. The hike was all along a boggy moor. Stick to the path or you might not be found again until the next ice age uncovered your well preserved body in a peat bog!

It's a bit like a highway out there which has been quite delightful. You end up hiking all alone, but with the same folks at the same time. Leap frogging, chatting, taking photos of each other
and then meeting for a pint (or a cup of tea or an Irn Bru -- which I have not tried yet) at the pub in the hotel after the day's journey is done.

Make your miles. Get a shower. Eat. Sleep. Do it all again the next day. Nice rhythm actually!

The sticks: necessary for me to make it down the rocky paths and back up again.
The stones: rough under foot and so you find yourself carefully placing each step to preserve the integrity of your sole. Soul?

72 miles completed! Two more days of walking. One holds the "Devil's Staircase". I trust I will still sleep well knowing this...

The Gospel According to Scots

We have been hiking along the Way with "The Four Scots". Met them in their matching attire at our first hotel, in fact and then again along the path the first day. After arriving wet and happy to the Bridge of Orchy yesterday afternoon, we finally spent some time together eating soup in the pub! It was great fun too...

One highlight, thanks to Joch (that is how'd you say Jack, though he introduced himself as John), was the telling of the Gospel According to Scots. NO, he didn't call it that... it was merely a bar joke, really, accompanied by the two whisky glasses he got for Dave so he could try a "peaty whisky" (which tastes like wood smoke from the bog) and a more chipper one with hints of cherries... some would say. (But what would I know!)

Anyway... the Gospel involved a truck driver and a priest; one buying the bulk of the pints and shots for the other to earn tickets to heaven. A necessary and added benefit of this particular Gospel presentation is the little carefully folded paper that gets torn and turned into tickets.

In the end at the pearly gates, the priest has little pieces of paper that turn into a word. What word do you THINK you can tear into pieces after a couple of pints, anyway? That's right: HELL. Meanwhile, the truck driver ends up with a very nicely torn celtic cross.

My life in Scotland.
Pictures when I can post em.

Meanwhile. We are at the Kingshouse Hotel waiting for them to crest the hill so we can meet them outside with pints! :) New friends!