West Highland Way: Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Mountain

September 3, 2015:
WHW_6-1090962eAfter spending a night in the lap of luxury at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, we are recharged and ready to tackle the challenges today has to offer.

WHW_6-1090958eWe cross the 18th century Bridge of Orchy and find some of the tent campers still waking up, including the group from Holland.  Wild camping is quite economical but the downside is the extra weight of carrying a tent and camping gear. Upside is extra money to spend on food and drinks at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel bar next door.

WHW_6-1090978eThe high point of this section, Mam Carriage, is marked with a cairn. A cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones often used as trail markers or burial monuments. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn). ~Wikipedia

WHW_6-1090987eThank you to Wolfgang, a musician from Switzerland, for taking this photo for us.

WHW_6-1090994eIt feels eerily remote and I’m reminded of the Love Rock Story.

WHW_6-1090992eJoan adds a dash of color as she poses by the lone tree cairn.

WHW_6-1100017eBuilt in 1708, the Inveroran Hotel could also be named The Last Chance as this is the last opportunity for a stop before crossing the dreaded Rannoch Moor, the remotest and wildest section of the whole Way, according to Charlie Loram in his West Highland Way guidebook.

For the next ten miles we will have no escape from the elements should the weather become inclement. What have we gotten ourselves into?

WHW_6-1100013eVintage photo of the Inveroran Hotel and beautiful flowers brighten the views as we sip our hot coffee, hoping it charges our spirits for the next ten miles.

WHW_6-1100089eMichael, the Irishman, takes a moment to drink in the view. (Maybe along with some Irish coffee?!)

WHW_6-1100091eThe open feel of the terrain reminds me of South Dakota as you drive west from our home along the Minnesota/South Dakota border. The guidebooks give a warning of this awful section, but it reminds me of home and I’m especially enjoying the hike today.

WHW_6-1090976eThis boggy moorland measures 50 square miles and caused major difficulties to builders of roads and railways. When the West Highland Line was built across Rannoch Moor, its builders had to float the tracks on a mattress of tree roots, brushwood and thousands of tons of earth and ashes.  ~Wikipedia

So, don’t step too far off of the path as you may sink into the bog.

WHW_6-1100113eSnack break along the bridge before we tackle the last stretch for today. Thankful for good weather…it could be rainy, windy and cold. Lucky us!

WHW_6-1100127eLodging tonight is within a couple of miles and the quiet gal that didn’t want to stay in the haunted room at Drovers Inn briskly walks by me. I haven’t gotten her life’s story yet so I pick up the pace to get the full scoop:  From Taiwan, assistant professor at a university in Taiwan.

Can’t talk… wrong turn back at Bridge of Orchy and got lost.  Must get to Kinlochleven by tonight. 

She seems a little stressed and understandably so. It’s about 3:30 p.m. and she must hike another 12-13 miles through Kings House and over the challenging Devil’s Staircase before arriving in Kinlochleven. Scary thing is that she will likely be alone since most people will not be walking this leg until morning. Yikes! Hope she has a torch.

WHW_6-1100143eTwelve miles completed today and our home tonight is in a hobbit house at Glencoe Mountain Ski Resort.

WHW_6-1100137eCozy quarters tonight, but we have a space heater and a coffee pot for the morning brew of instant coffee. We now know from previous experience which water bottles can handle the heat of boiling water.

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Plus, locally brewed beer is available in the ski lodge.

Atlas Nimbus Blonde  and Red McGregor brewed by Orkney Brewery. Scelpt Lug dark ale brewed by Oban Bay Brewery

Cheers to another great day!

Below is the video of our hike from Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Mountain:

Thank you to Charlie Roth for his beautiful rendition of Wild Mountain Thyme from his Tartan Cactus Heart album. For more information on this talented gem of the Minnesota prairie go to charlierothmusiccom.

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Playa Del Carmen…a stroll through the neighborhood.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. ~ Henry Miller

Playa del Carmen… it’s all beaches, surf and tacos, right? Not quite…

It’s also all about kids playing, people working to earn a living, raising families and living life the best they can. On this Sunday morning we see kids shooting off fireworks and selling oranges, men working on home improvement projects and tinkering with cars and scooters, a mother watches as a child teeters while taking first steps, clothes hang on the line drying in the warm sunshine, dogs play chase and families share a meal. Same, but different.

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Easter2015web-Playa del Carmen… ocean  is pretty, the weather is pleasant, dogs are plentiful and struggles are real.

Rollin’ On the River Seine

Since 1991, the Seine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected as an important natural and cultural artifact.

 

 

 

 

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The river runs for 776 km (482 miles) through France and into the English Channel at Le Havre and Honfleur (Belgium). Its source is in the French region of Burgundy, and its mouth is the English Channel. These houseboats could go for quite a ride with that kind of distance. Wonder how much it costs to park here?

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In Paris, the banks of the Seine are connected by a total of 37 bridges and provides plenty of background for photo opps.

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The river’s name originates in the latin word, “sequana”, which some believe relates to a Gaelic name that would have been attributed by the earliest Celtic settlers.2014Paris-1080021dmv

Hey, guys… what’s for dinner? I see wine bottles and glasses, so I’ll bet a fun time will be had by all. I do wonder why so many have their heads down when the view is the selling point of this experience. 2014Paris-1080018dmv

Here come some more boats of tourists using the services of a company called Bateaux-Mouches. (Click on the link for their website and touring options.)

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There are many boat tour operators in Paris offering various levels of service from taxi-boats to private dining experiences. The most famous are still the Bateaux-Mouches.2014Paris-1080015dmvcr

Yep, there they go.2014Paris-1080140dmvWe appear to be forlorn since we did not go on a river boat cruise. It was a lucky day for the cruisers since they were able to watch us watching them.

Inquiring minds want to know…

 

~A Paris Guide:  The River Seine

Exploring Paris: Art, toilets & crepes, oh my!

 

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Looks like we have security at the Artists’ Market in Montmartre area of Paris, France. Watch out, Bad Guys!

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 Place du Tertre is where the legends of 20th century art used to roam. Now it’s filled with watercolors, portrait sketchers and caricaturists.

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 Picasso, Vlamenck, Derain, Soutine, Modigliani, Van Gogh and countless others lived and worked in these narrow streets.

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 Wall plaques identify buildings and cafes as historic with crucial info such as “Hemmingway once peed in our bathroom…” etc.  ~ http://www.aparisguide.com/montmartre/

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Speaking of toilets, we find dire shortages of bathroom facilities throughout the city (which explains the frequent urine smells in stairways and in the metro.) and begin to plan our itinerary around estimated time of need. (I believe Joan may be researching the next toilet location as she waits her turn.) A few rare instances one may find a futuristic looking toilet pod as pictured above and below. ( Paris Sanisette:  Click on this link for detailed operation instructions.)

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The door closes after the previous user and it takes a full minute for the empty toilet pod to go through its disinfecting cycle before the next person can use it. A robotic arm comes out to scrub the toilet and the floor is cleaned so I patiently wait my turn. That extra minute between users is a long time if a person has to REALLY go and there is a long line. Wish me luck as I allow the doors to the unknown to close upon me. If I fall asleep in there or find myself locked in, it will automatically open after 15 minutes. So they say…

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With that business taken care of we can focus on finding real French crepes since all of this tourist activity has made us hungry. This crepe vendor looks authentic enough, right? 2014Paris-1080006dmvDoesn’t that look just nummy…?

To market, to market… Paris, France

Time to leave the hostal and explore, so we visit a neighborhood Paris street market near the Red Light District. Market products are often fresher, more flavorful, and less expensive than supermarket counterparts. They can also be a lot more environmentally friendly since the fresh fruit and produce, in particular, tends to come from local farms.  goparis.com

It’s entertaining listening to the French chatter while we try to identify products while their smells permeate the air.

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2014Paris-1070897dmvWith access to a kitchen, it would be fun to buy food and beverage at the market and cook our own meals.

Bon appetite!

The Rain in Spain…Camino Day #12 ~ Arzua to O Pedrouzo

I look down from the albergue window as a lone, wet pilgrim shuffles down the dark street below. A-a-a-rgh!!
2014Camino-1070700bgI am also dismayed by the bathroom situation this morning.  Rule of albergue ettiquette:  When sharing a bathroom with twenty-some people, do not spread out a whole trunk load of make-up and proceed to tie up the bathroom and sink for 40 minutes.  Nobody cares what you look like on a wet, miserable day like today!  End of rant…

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2014Camino-1070713dmvGenerally speaking, the stage goes along dirt tracks, with some stretches through secondary roads and also through paths parallel to the road. Yes, this must be Galicia because it is raining.

2014Camino-1070718dmvNot sure I’d want to push a stroller, with a little one, across northern Spain in the rain.  …yet, he smiles.

2014Camino-1070719dmvDefinitely a rain coat kind of day.

2014Camino-1070721dmvMeanwhile, we seek refuge from the elements in a cafe with hot coffee. Not many photos taken today due to the wet conditions.  The rain did let up long enough for a short video:

2014Camino-1070725dmvThese speedy hikers arrive early and find a window seat to enjoy the view of wet hikers strolling past them. It looks like Bryon’s new insoles are helping the blister situation.

2014Camino-1070723dmvHooray!  After about 18 kilometers, we arrive at our destination, O Pedrouzo, and check into Pension A Solaina.

One more day of hiking to go.  Am I happy or forlorn?  Both?

 

 

 

 

 

End of Day #6 – Strolling Ambasmestas

camino-frances-25vegaMap reads from right to left.

We started at Villafranca del Bierzo and stop for the night at Ambasmestas, Spain, one kilometer from Vega De Valcarce which is situated at the bottom of the mountain, O’cebreiro.   It is a quaint, little village with plenty of local color, but not many people.

2014Camino-1070242cr 2014Camino-1070243crWho’s the creeper in the window?

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2014Camino-1070255dmvcrIt’s a pleasant evening for conversation.  Probably discussing politics or those crazy pilgrims.2014Camino-1070256dmvcr

2014Camino-1070257dmvcrInteresting albergue.  They do allow pets, however.2014Camino-1070262crIt’s a nice, warm evening so we are able to hand wash and dry our clothing in the window.  We meet two lovely sisters from Australia and share Camino experiences with them.  I will soon find out that snapping photos can be helpful when tracking down pilgrims on the trail.