Touring Edinburgh, Scotland

Below you’ll find a few of the images that tickled my funny bone while strolling Edinburgh, Scotland. At the very bottom of this post you will also find a short Youtube video featuring the sights of Edinburgh. My one regret is that I didn’t take a photo of our constant roommate for three nights in Smart City Hostel. Randy met his match in that this outgoing young English man out-talked him. Randy did happen to run into him in the hallway just as the young man was coming home from his night security job, so they did get a “proper” goodbye. Hope all is well…

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Hmmm… I’m not sure if we are “kick ass” enough for this hostel!  Smart City Hostel worked well for us.

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I also found the people taking photos of each other at tourist spots interesting…


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…and then you have the typical bored kids at a historically significant location ~ Edinburgh Castle.  Bored looks bored in any language.

The short video below features some of the typical tourist spots such as, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyrood House and Holyrood Abbey, St. Giles Cathedral, Grassmarket…

West Highland Way: Glencoe Mountain to Kinlochleven

September 4, 2015: We pack up and leave our cozy hobbit house at Glencoe Mountain Resort to diligently start down the trail finding the air chilly, but the weather generally pleasant.WHW_Day7-1100155eSeems as though we are in the middle of nowhere and here appears The Kings House, which is thought to be one of Scotland’s oldest licensed inns, originally built in the 17th century. It is called the King’s House because British troops were lodged here following the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Coffee, please!WHW_Day7-1100195eThe challenge today will be the Devil’s Staircase which was named by General Wade’s road building soldiers who were lugging materials up and down it all day. ~ Wikipedia

WHW_Day7-1100218eIt’s a long hike with several switchbacks, but really not a terribly strenuous hike so far.

WHW_Day7-1100224We finally reach the top and the views are spectacular today with clear skies all around.

WHW_Day7-1100230ecrThe Love Rock comes out of my pocket for a little fresh air and is perched on a cairn at the top of the Devil’s Staircase.

WHW_Day7-1100288eBlackwater Hostel is named after the Blackwater Reservoir and is our home for the night after a little more than ten mile hike.  Nice drying room and kitchen with dorm type rooms containing cozy bunk beds. From a camping perspective, the name does not sound desirable to me since waste water is called black water. It’s not the case here, though.

WHW_Day7-1100293eSign on the side of the hostel warns dog owners to keep their poop in a group or the Paw Patrol will take action.

WHW_Day7-1100284eWe find ourselves at the Tail Race Inn at the end of the day to take advantage of their advertised special prices on meals. All eyes are NOT on us as Scotland is playing Georgia for the Euro 2016 soccer qualifier and local patrons are glued to the TV screen. FYI ~ Scotland lost.

Video below shows highlights from day seven. I was able to video the Grand Canyon Girls as they skipped across a stepping stone bridge. We have observed that they are like mountain goats when it comes to rock scrambling. One has hiked down and up the Grand Canyon nine times and the other has hiked the Grand Canyon five times. They are a couple of tough hikers with strong legs and determination.

Down, down, down… to Roncesvalles

Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.
~ Ed Viesturs

We continue on the 2nd day of our Camino through the fog with the chilling rain cold on the fingers.

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2014Camino-1060980Keep smiling!  Here’s one for Liz’s blog called  Fashion Backwards.  Click link to see what that is all about!

2014Cam-24dmvcrRoland, commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, was defeated by the Basques in 778.  It was fought here in Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain.  While oral tradition has the Christians defeating Muslims, both sides, actually, were Christian.  ~Wikipedia

Decision time… take the longer, but easier, hike along the highway or this steep trail risking a tumble down the path.

Pyrenees-36-road-down-and-shell-stoneWe opt for the steeper trail and Joan is the lone highway hiker of our group and we hope she doesn’t get lost.   It’s raining, the trail is difficult and I just plain forget to snap a shot, so the camera stays in the pouch. (Image above from rscottd13.blogspot.com) It is a tough descent down to the village and I find it helpful to grab tree branches (tip from another hiker at the top) to keep from sliding down.

2014Camino-1060994Challenging, but worth it for the colorful view.

2014Camino-1060997Slugs were plentiful on the trail and were quite entertaining, serving as a good excuse for a rest break.

2014Camino-1070010-2plWe arrive at our destination, Albergue Roncesvalles, and hope for a bed.  The available beds fill up quickly so the slow pokes may not be in luck. We are able to score enough beds in the newer three floor albergue which is set up in cubicles of 2 bunk beds each. 183 beds total.  They open the old church albergue for overflow (120 beds) and some will be sleeping in little box-like houses resembling fish houses near the grounds.  Unfortunate pilgrims arriving too late are forced to either sleep outside or keep moving on down the trail.

2014Camino-1070012-2dmvIn order to help pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees along the St James’ Way, around 1127, the Bishop of Pamplona, requested by King Alfonso I ‘the Battler’, founded the Roncesvalles Hospitality Institution.

Now, it’s time to sign up for the Pilgrim meal so we can be assured that our evening is complete.

2014Camino-1070026-2dmvWe take time to visit this small early Gothic chapel, The Chapel of Holy Spirit, built in the XII century. It is the oldest building in Roncesvalles.

2014Camino-1070025-2crSome legends state that the Frankish warriors killed in the battle of Roncesvalles in 778 were buried here and that fact was the reason to build that chapel. Some scientists and researchers say that is very doubtful and the Chapel of Holy Spirit was built in XII century. Pilgrims and Augustinian canons that died in Roncesvalles used to be buried here.  ~ Virtual Tourist

2014Camino-1070016-2pldmvcrWe attend the Collegiate Church Pilgrim Mass at 6 p.m. to see what that is all about. Built in the XIIIth century, pews filled up quickly plus people stand all around the back.  Air in the chapel is damp and chills to the bone after walking in the cold rain.2014Camino-1070015-3

2014Camino-1070009-2The stairwells are open between floors so we hear  fun conversations (In other languages) upstairs in the kitchen until light must go out.  It’s time to settle in for the long night and by now expect to be lulled to sleep by a serenade of snores.  I’ve been told that I am also a member of that choir.

Tomorrow we begin day three.

Iglesia San Millan

Now that it’s daylight we can start exploring Segovia. Where to go, what to do?
Spain-1040840Wonder what Jane has noticed up in the air so high? Bird, plane, superhero?

Spain-1040876Birds nesting on the top of a building near our hostal.

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The aqueducts are an obvious sightseeing tour, but I think we’ll start with this old church.

Iglesia San Millan is a Roman Catholic parish church built between 1111 and 1124.  Its architecture is Romanesque and Mozarabic.  Patterned closely on the cathedral of Jaca in Aragon, San Millan is noted for its pre-Romanesque mozaric tower and porticoes with abundant Romanesque figurative carvings.  Inside, there are three naves and three apses.  ~Wikipedia

It is located between the bus station and aqueduct outside the old city, just off Avenida de Fernandez Ladreda.  It is open daily 10-2 and 4:30 -7:30.  Free of charge.  The price is right so let’s check it out.

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Cold and damp feeling inside the old structure so we don’t linger and meditate.

What will our next Segovia adventure involve?  My crystal ball shows a Gypsy…

High Speed Train to Segovia ~ All Aboard!

We head to the charming train station in Santiago so that we can proceed on to Segovia.

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Spain-1040787Petite Kathy appears even smaller in comparison to all of our backpacks.

Spain-1040780Killing time until the train leaves.  People watching is my activity while this gent smokes his cigarette.

Spain-1040799Almost time to hop on the train.

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Spain-1040805BYOB party?

Spain-1040836We see many wind farms along the way.

Spain-1040819What to do while riding on a train? Look out the window? nibble on snacks? sleep? I choose to take photos of our reflection in the window. To each their own, right?

The Segovia train station is a few miles from the city, so we need to take a cab or bus.  I had read about the city bus line that shuttles to town for 1 Euro.  A cab pulls up and is quickly filled.  Our new friend from the train is so helpful with our questions as the bus pulls up to load. We opt for the bus and enjoy the night views of the city.

129081858.ksrRHIey.SegoviaAqueductnight[1]Oh, what a spectacular sight as we enter Segovia with the lighted aqueduct in the distance.

We search for our hostal, Don Jaime, only to find it near the bus drop off spot. Oh, well, the walk did us good since we had been sitting on a train for the past few hours.

Camino Day 8 ~ Travel to the beat of a different drum

The 2-way radio comes alive: 

BLIP…Hurry up and get here.  We are having SO much fun!!  Ireland is here, the Dr. and his fiance are here, Switzerland is here, Spain is here, drummers are here…  (Apparently, everyone but us are there)

We hear the clicks of our walking sticks pick up the pace as we try and catch up to the fun.

We arrived too late for the fun, but did catch some drumming on video.  We see evidence on the bar from the previous crowd:

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Ireland and Switzerland are still lingering on the steps of the bar enjoying the first consistent rays of sunshine that we have seen in days.  Oh, well.  Guess Randy and I aren’t having the MOST fun on the trail today.  We missed most of the festivities at the bar, including unique stamping techniques, but it is still a wonderful day to be alive!  Can’t complain.

Back on the road again.

Spain-1040024dmvThe sheep munch on the tender, sweet blades of new spring grass.

Spain-1040025dmvSome lucky critters will get a treat today!

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Yep, tail’s still there.

Spain-1040028dmvAlone and together at the same time… That kind of sums up the Camino for most of us, I think. Plenty of time for private reflection, but still try to watch out for one another.

Spain-1040037dmvTwenty kilometers to go to fulfill our goal!

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What does this say?

Although everyone, Nolle-guamos (tall branching leaves of trees used to shade coffee plants), bodies in souls become oars all.

Is it something to do with the fluid movements of our walking sticks as we flow down the Camino path of life?

May need to phone a friend and use a lifeline on this one.

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Clothesline in the old lean-to. Why not?

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This garden is way ahead of mine.

Spain-1040047kpsh50We see quite a few gardens with these tall plants.  Collard greens?

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Tall, tall trees remind me of what I envision of the California Redwoods.  I’m guessing these trees would appear dwarfed next to the Redwoods.

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It helps to look at things from a different angle, from time to time.

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Another one bites the dust… Memorial to an Irish pilgrim. By the grace of God…

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E.T., phone home?  Not sure what this is, but it may have something to do with the tub at the bottom.

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Busy traffic as we near our albergue for the night.

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This pilgrim from Chicago has decorated his backpack with the traditional shell, practical umbrella and the common yellow flowers we see along

the way.

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We find a nice albergue in Arco do Pino.  Large room full of bunk beds, nice hot showers and food/bar across the street.

A-h-h-h-h… a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Only one more day of walking… after laundry and sleep.

Camino Day 7 ~ Walking in a winter wonderland

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We wake up to a winter wonderland in Palas del Rey and put on our warmest clothing to start day seven. The hotel last night had nice heaters for our socks and shoes, laundry facilities complete with dryers and a restaurant/bar nearby.

Spain-1030748dmv  Oh, baby, it’s cold outside!

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Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~ Stephen Wright

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Built in the 13th century,  Iglesia de San Tirso  church has a  Romanesque doorway and scallop shell motifs.

Spain-1030767dmvWe are walking through downtown  Palas del Rey (2nd time for some of us) where there are many bars, restaurants, albergues, hotels and small shops. Here we also see the typical Galician Ayuntamiento, Town Hall, built with a mixture of granite and whitewashed render.

Follow the shells, follow the arrows, turn here, turn there and we eventually find ourselves outside of town and on our way.  Listen… I hear some cheerful singing.  It’s the Spanish angels!  The video is short due to pushing the on/off record button at the wrong time.  (Another note to self:  figure out video settings)

 

Spain-1030778dmvO carteiro means “the postman.”   Looks like a good place for a break  and a person could send a postcard. Ultramarinos means “groceries” and a snack does sound good.

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Beverages purchased and apples for the road.

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Buen camino!

Spain-1030780dmvRemains of someone’s fun last night sitting outside the bar along the street.

We will be walking through Ponte Campana, Cazanova, Laboreiro, Melide and will be aiming our sights on Ribadiso today.

Day seven is warming up a little with just a few snow and rain showers, so far.  The leg muscles even feel better, but ohhhh, the blisters!