I think Sunday is best described visually. First we climbed and saw this. We learned this is why it's wet. And why it's called a bog. The water literally just spilled from the ground. No rain, no higher streams. It was quite puzzling.
I tried to take a video of how marshy it was, here is a picture of what we were walking through.
But it was well worth it, because this is what we saw at the top, when we peaked past the cairngorms. Lake Einlan sat at the bottom.
Saturday was a lax day, we meandered around Oban not really knowing what we felt like doing, but we knew it wasn't hiking. We took a tour of the Oban distillery, but since they do not allow pictures, we have no evidence other than warm bellies the glasses that we received with our free tasting.
Then we drove to Boat of Garten, periodically pulling over for pictures, like the one below. The Scotish cow/bull is very unique, with more hair, presumably to stave off the wind.
The Salamehs showed the Tellers how "we DO" and exactly what we meant with
our vows. Friday we climbed Ben Lomond. It was definitely the most
challenging part of our trip including the cycling. Ben Lomond is a well know monro, characterized by its seat next to the largest lake in Scotland.
For us it will go down in our history book as being the first eye popping experience in Scottish hiking. Just as we were about to step out on the trail, the sky opened up. We rode out the squall and decided it was clear enough to venture out.
As we climbed the views only became more and more spectacular. In hindsight, the descendants who passed by on the trail in the opposing direction looked at us wearily, bright red and an austere awareness on their faces. Because our features make us stick out like black sheep, I figured it was because we are clearly American. Instead, I found the truth at the top of the mountain.
We gained 3500 feet over 4 miles of footwork. We had at least three more squalls, sleet and gusts of wind that surely would have blown us off the mountain had we not been weighed down by our water drenched clothing.
Rather, "two one hundred and eighty degree views" virtually blew us away at the top. We nearly froze the smiles on our faces. A rapid celebration was had and then we can began our descent. And we walked. And walked. And walked.
Appendages thawed, squalls came through, a couple of slips, and then we finally reached the bottom. We found the closest pub and warmed up over chips, muscles, and fish.
We piled in the car to drive a harrowing 2+ hours to Oban. Roger handled the roads like a champion, whilst the other three yahoos made quick work of the Scottish water we had nestled in our plaid flasks.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we filled our calorie deprived bodies with more spirits and more calories, roughly carved out plans for Saturday and fell into bed.
The plans for Ben Nevis stretched even further from our grasp...
(You can click on these images to enlarge to full size)
Perhaps because I didn't plan right or because I am jaded to only take pictures of the countryside, we ventured out Thursday without me bringing my camera. Nor did Trey. So all of our photos were achieved with our iPhones. But with a few fancy editing apps I pulled these together.
We landed yesterday, picked up our car and gave Sabrina a white-knuckle ride to our hotel just north of downtown. We couldn't have dropped our bags fast enough before being seated at the second restaurant we came across walking out of our hotel-Le Bon Vivant. Wait, what? Who goes to Edinburgh and eats at a Frenchie place??? The answer to that question is who's got 8 thumbs and empty bellies? We do!
But don't worry, we ate cured meats, rocket and parm, haddock croquettes, mushroom soup, chorizo in cider, chipped (shaved then fried) root veggies, and my personal fave, haggis balls. A bottle of wine, a few beers, and the inevitable whiskey to wash it down. By 3pm we were ready to begin our venture out. We climbed up the hill to see the 17th century castle where we snagged some of the views below-including trailing behind the kilted gentlemen. Our American-born waitress had suggested a few locations for us to find our muses and that we did.
We meandered in and out of streets that are hundreds and hundreds of years old. We ducked into pubs and shops and then spent 4-5 separate urgent needs in search of bathrooms because apparently we can't manage our bladders very well. After an hour-long search for dinner that rivaled Goldilocks' quest, we fell into a place that on its initial appearance wasn't impressive. Terse service and a corner table wedged between a pillar and a bathroom turned into a delightful experience. We quickly realized we crashed the locals place. The food was delish and provided a more modern interpretation of Scottish fare. Exhausted from all that walking (surely not the day of imbibing), we made our way back to our charming hotel.
Today we will be entertained again by Rogers's amazing ability to drive a manual transmission on the opposite side of the road. We are headed west now, toward Oban which will be punctuated by a hike up the Ben Lomond. We first will make a stop at the local grocery to gather pairings to match our whiskey selection we collected yesterday and celebrate our ascent.
We had a lazy day, motored over to Guinness, took our tour (rather quickly), ascended to the gravity bar for our free pint and then headed to shopping.
Last night our waiter listened to our casual conversation which listed our wishes for Dublin entertainment. Of course, it involved food and drink. We didn't do so well on the drink venture BUT we did hit the cheesemonger, who, we learned was also a meat connoisseur. €50 later we left with a bottle wine, a selection of cheddar, Gouda, and other cheeses new to our palettes, and...salted cured meats. Salami, chorizo, Parma ham, and OMG smoked pork tenderloin.
Had we not come across an Anthony Bourdain selection, those treats would have been attacked. Instead we sat outside (!) and enjoyed a wonderful meal of fish and chips, chicken, beef bourginon, and spaghetti. Then we loafed around, had a few more drinks.
Now we are back at the hotel, the cheese, meats, wine a forgotten memory only survived by rinds and crumbs while my loved ones debate the finer points of Prometheus, the Avengers and the newest Batman. Ah, yes, who wouldn't want to be here?
Yesterday I barely made it into Westport. My legs were spent. The rain wasn't bad, it's just 5 days in the saddle fighting the wind! She got the best of me. But we cleaned up quick and headed out for an AMAZING evening. Hopefully the delayed post is forgotten when you listen to what I bootlegged last night.
We did a nice pub crawl, hitting EVERY bar on over two blocks. We finished at Matt Malloy's where a group was playing in the back. We also stumbled into a pizza place and ate an extra-large za in, not kidding, less than 8 minutes. Then it was back to pints.
Off to Dublin today, a change of scenery for sure.
I am spent today. For some reason we like to ride the longest mileage and eating the least. Powered by rolled up cold pizza from last night and an energy bar, we rode 85km. Awesome. Good thing there was a Guinness waiting for us at the end. But since, by now, you all know what a Guinness looks like (see earlier posts), I decided to throw up something different for you guys today.
Again, the weather cooperated, although it was WINDY. And I don't mean windy, I mean W-I-N-D-Y. Imagine descending DOWNHILL and the wind is so strong you have to pedal. Now imagine that in addition to PEDALING DOWNHILL to maintain the 25 km/hr you are so elated you have "achieved," you also have to DOWNSHIFT and PEDAL. It is indescribable. And might I add insane.
My cheeks are bright red, either from my recent alcoholism, or else because we are windswept. But I cannot complain. We have had brilliant weather and tonight we will rest our heads in this tiny little town nestled in between two mountains. Ireland's only fjord is a stone's throw from our balcony. It is the definition of picturesque. We landed at a unique hotel that offers seaweed baths and other spa amenities. Based on the excellent chaffing from my leg warmers today in my "upper thigh," it sounds pretty good to me.
But first, I feel a chill. I think I need a whiskey.
The views were amazing and I apparently am...not so good with the camera. But whatever, I captured some before I killed the battery. I don't think I have ever heard so many wows from Roger, but of course that is what a honeymoon is for, right?
Now before you perverts get your minds caught in the gutter, it was because of the sights! The highlights were visiting the location of the first transatlantic flight and the Marconi Radio Station, followed by a lookout over the sea where the sun peeked out long enough to stretch the eyes for hundreds of kilometers.
For those of you on Facebook, you know our day was punctuated by a visit to a pub, where of course we stirred it up with the locals, shared a few Guinness and wolfed down chowder and the biggest plate of mussels I've ever seen.
I've got pics of all these moments, but today we need to head out before the rain hits this afternoon. We are headed to Leanane (Leanaun) and will visit quite a few interesting castles today! The road is waiting.