13 September 1999
The following morning (Monday) we left the hostel on Raasay. We really didn't want to leave Scotland, there was so much more to do -- but we were due in The Netherlands. We split up, because Justin's return train ticket was from Mallig and Cheryln & mine were from Inverness. Justin left an hour before us and caught the ferry and the bus and the ferry back to Mallig.
We walked to the ferry, and from the other side of the ferry we hitchhiked to The Kyle of Lochalsh. While we were waiting we counted the number of cars with driver on the left (wrong side)... about one in 8. Do you think THEY were tourists? We actually waited quite a while and were getting a bit worried about catching our train!
We were picked up by a very cute, very old Australian couple with Scottish roots. This was the third time in our hitchhiking experinces in Scotland that we noticed the same phenomonm. When we saw a car coming, we would judge the probablity of them picking us up. This time we saw this old couple in a large American car coming. Just like in Orkeny when we saw the truck with the small cab and the big family in the van, we dropped our thumbs, figuring there was no way they were going to pick us up. But they did and it was very pleasent.
We drove across the Skye Bridge and got to hear a number of people tell us how and why the bridge is killing Skye. The old ferry cost 3 pounds either way, and the bridge costs 6 Pounds. And people don't mind paying for a ferry, but they hate paying for a bridge, so tourism is down 60% over the last 2 years (although most of them did the math wrong and said 80%) and tourism is the ONLY industry there. So the people are unhappy... and the fact that the Pound Sterling is so strong, which makes it so terribly expensive for everyone, even people with US dollars, only made it worse.
We got to Kyle with plenty of time to grocery shop and see the entire town (3 blocks). It was another calm day and the train ride, which is billed as the most beautiful in Scotland, was very very nice. It went along the Kyle (inlet) for much of the way, and the views of the hills and meadows and harbors and water was fantastic! We ran and got a Grommit cookie for Justin during our short layover in Inverness.
The train from Inverness to Edinburgh was overcrowded and uncomfortable. The trains have all been privitized in Britain and almost everyone hates it. The fares have gone up, service is terrible and the new seats (in new cars with far more seats crammed in) are very cheap and uncomfortable. I found that the privitization of the rails (and of most everything else) was by far the number one topic of discussion in England, on the street, in the newspapers and everywhere else. And I did not hear, read, or speak to a single person who was in favor of it. Tony Blair has a big hill to climb for that next election -- and he's already begging people to support him despite his record!!
We met Justin again in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a very beautiful city and we wandered rather aimlessly for a long time that evening -- and had a good vegetarian Indian meal.
One (of the many) nice thing about travelling with Justin... we kept talking about the wonderful Total Eclipse that we had seen and the fact that the next one is in 2001 in Southern Africa, so we have planned a trip to see that one and hopefully Justin will be able to show us around Africa a bit!!!
The next day we saw the sights of Edinburgh, Carlton Hill with the view of the whole city, and the main streets. And, of course, the Castle. The Castle is huge and imposing, hanging over the city on an extinct volcano in the center of town. We walked up to and around it, I know my mother will be disappointed, but we didn't go in -- it was far too expensive and we didn't have the time or the interest. And Justin bumped into someone he knew from South Africa at in front of the Castle!
We WERE however, fascinated by the big process of dismantling the ultra-modern, modular temporary stadium that sits in front of the castle during the summer. Justin is a rather accomplished photographer and i tend to like the way he takes photos -- small events and pieces of things instead of the main deal. I think it says a lot more. And he is facinated with repetitive industrial creations that make abstract last 2 years (although most of them art. So this is another thing that is fun about traveling with Justin. While 90 people are aiming their cameras at the same view of the castle as on the postcards, Justin is squating down amongst them aiming his camera BEHIND them into the scaffolding!
Then we walked off into a very old part of town, Dean Village, along the river, where the wheat mills, and bakeries used to be. It was very comfortable and vibrant. I really liked it, it was the best part of a really beautiful city. We did not have time to learn about what the city and the people are really like, that will have to wait for another time, but it was a very pleasant place. We also found a number of really nice organic food stores! We even bought some vegetarian haggis! AAAAG! We didn't really plan to go there at all, but I'm glad we took the day there, both to see the nice city and to take it slow back to London. The culture shock from Raasay to London would've been rough! That evening we took the train back to London. And we ate the veggie haggis! It was not bad, but very weird!
The following day, we ran some errands in London. I looked longingly at small laptop computers in the windows of the electronic shops. Some are almost affordable. I have been really missing my computer and the ability to write (as this epic missive will attest to!) and I have been unable to write with a pen, so I haven't been keeping a journal... I hate the thought of travelling with a laptop, even a small one, and all the equipment that goes with it, but I may just have to do that in the future. I also hate the thought of travelling without the abilty to write. oh well.
That afternoon we took the train to Dover, which turned out to be
kind of a dirty, little sleazy town, and the hostel was like a
fortress! We were very disappointed. But we did have a decent
Indian dinner because the hostel did not have self catering.
© Copyright Mark Canizaro 2000
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