Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in June, 2004

On Traveling

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Whew. Today it’s 8 days since we got back from our England/Scotland trip. As they say, traveling brings you two great joys: once when leaving, and once when coming back. While the trip was marvelous, it was great to be back, and one of of the first things I said was “now, please, give me a long time before mentioning trips to me again – at least a week or so!” 😀

Then again, we went straight into a week-long marathon of straightening out various tangles, problems, and assorted troubles that had accumulated in the month we were away. Not to speak of thousands of e-mails and unread news. Anyway, most extremely urgent stuff has been taken care of, merely urgent stuff is being looked at, and “normal” life – whatever that means – will resume Real Soon Now. Possibly as soon as next weekend, anyway.

One unexpected find in our ship’s library was Alain de Botton‘s book, The Art of Travel. Well written and to the point, it’s one of the few travel books that actually discusses what the point of travelling may be. Highly recommended.

Re: Trip update

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Posted by Rafael Fischmann:

Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

We’re back. Will post details and photos as soon as everything gets sorted out.

Late happy birthday!! icon_biggrin.gif

Re: Trip update

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We’re back. Will post details and photos as soon as everything gets sorted out.

Re: Trip update

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Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
Now at a public library in Stratford-upon-Avon (England).

After two days at Cardiff, off we were again. This time we decided to find a hotel near London’s Paddington station, and explore from there. Yesterday we visited Bath and Salisbury – the Cathedral was simply wonderful – and today, Oxford and Stratford.

We’re scheduled to return Tuesday but – depending on availability – Sunday (tomorrow) may also be possible. More when we’re back…

Re: Trip update

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Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
Now at public library in Cardiff (Wales).

For our second day in Glasgow, the weather was improved and we saw more of the city, driving about by bus. The Glasgow bus system is rather opaque, there are nearly 30 bus companies and there’s no central directory or coordinated bus map, nor a way to get definite information as to which bus to take from a certain point to another. As a result we got lost a few times. Even the natives seem to have trouble; when asking one we often were told “Ah, it’s just a ten-minute walk!”.

Anyway, we liked Glasgow very much, the wide, somewhat hilly streets in the centre reminded me of San Francisco around Van Ness avenue. There’s no shortage of historical buildings, museums, shops, and so forth.

Still, yesterday in the morning we went off early and jumped on a southbound train, arriving in Cardiff around 9PM, and are now safely ensconced in a Travelodge hotel near the station. An hour-long evening walk around the city centre immediately convinced us to stay on for at least another day; there are dozens of attractions within walking distance from the hotel and the natives are friendly.

More tomorrow, I hope. Stay tuned…

Re: Trip update

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Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
At an Internet Cafe in Glasgow, Scotland (1.80 GBP/hour).

We didn’t stay an extra day in the Orkneys, after all; an extra week would have been more appropriate but time presses… so we took the ferry early in the morning and late at night were on the opposite side of Scotland, at Kyle of Lochalsh, near the bridge to Skye Island. We found yet another nice B&B and planned to spend the next two days on Skye.

Well, the weather – for the first time on our trip – didn’t cooperate. The day started cold and rainy, and after we took the bus to the small village of Portree on Skye it wasn’t much better. The rain let up for an hour or so, sufficient to see most of the town and snap some pictures, but then it closed in again, and when the next morning started out even worse, off we went again, by bus to Armadale, then by ferry to Mallaig, and by train to Glasgow. Here it’s a little better, hopefully the next day will be as good as the weather reports promise.

More later…

Re: Trip update

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Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
Posting from Stromness on the Western Mainland, Orkney Islands, waaay northwards in Scotland. At a public library, as usual.

The Loch Ness tour was quite worthwhile and afterwards we got on a train towards Thurso, the northernmost town on continental Scotland. As we arrived much later than I had figured – around 9 PM – we checked into a hostel and early the next morning caught a bus to the small harbor of Scrabster, and then the noon ferry to the Orkneys.

The weather is these parts seems to be extremely variable, it was miserably cold and rainy when we left the hostel, cleared up while we waited for the ferry, then hot and sunny over the 1:30 hours of the trip and for some time afterwards, now in the late afternoon it’s foggy and windy.

The ferry itself was surprisingly large and well-appointed, it seems on some days it’s used for a 3-day cruise among the islands. We tried to figure out a way to come back on an overnight trip; it would have been less expensive than booking into a B&B, but the schedules didn’t fit in.

Anyway, we’re now in an excellent B&B – Miller’s House just opposite the ferry terminal, highly recommended – and will probably stay for at least one more day, there’s much to see. Stromness itself is a very interesting small town, the layout and buildings are quite unusual and I’m already worried about running out of capacity on my camera. 😉

I’m starting to make some sense out of the various Scottish dialects and inflections we’re running into, but the Orkney dialect seems extreme even for that. On the cruise we met a fellow from Scotland who delivered an impromptu demonstration of at least twenty different dialects, we laughed so much that I forgot to record the audio on my camera – and I didn’t get another opportunity, unfortunately. Ah well…

Re: Trip update

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Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
Again at a public library, this time in Inverness (Scotland). Only 20 minutes per user…

In Edinburgh we saw a Mozart concert at St. Margarethe’s Church, then went back to Linlithgow and off early in the morning towards Aberdeen. While coming into the station we decided that it was too early to stop and went on towards Inverness. The railway proceeds along the shore for some of the time, making for beautiful views. Inverness itself is quite beautiful, cut by the Caledonian Canal which runs off Loch Ness.

We’re now going to Loch Ness for a short boat tour and will then proceed northwards, we may stop at Thurso or if it’s not too late catch a ferry to the Orkney islands. More later…

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