Scotland 5: Day 36

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Pigeon at Waverly Station in Edinburgh.

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Waverly Station

04.05.16 | Edinburgh > Inverness | 09:40

It’s sad that most of my entries discuss the condition of the wifi. When did that become a thing? How did we survive as a species before the early ’90s when the internet wasn’t available to everyone? You know- before Al Gore invented it. Keeping with this theme: The internet on the train going north is horrible. I have to swap to a different train as soon as I reach Inverness. I hope things will improve.

If you’re following along with a map in hand, you may be wondering why I went from Inverness, all the way down to Edinburgh for a week and am now going all the way back up north. When I was booking my stays, one of my friends asked if he could join me for part of this trip. He told me when he was available and I had a thought that if he was only going to see two places, Inverness and Edinburgh would be the places to see. I’m not sure how much of a country boy he is, and these two places would give him a great feel for Scottish culture.

So I backed Inverness and Edinburgh up next to each other, booked my rooms and transportation and then my friend decided that he couldn’t join me after all. So, onward and upward- the next stop is going to be Thurso.

I’ve been to Thurso once, the last time I visited Scotland. It’s a lovely little city, right on the ocean. Someone once told me that that was a good place to surf. I would add: Yeah- if you want to freeze to death. Apparently, where the Atlantic meets the North Sea, there are some killer waves. I’ve never surfed so I cannot confirm or deny that claim.

Inverness > Thurso | 14:09

I had about two hours to kill when my train got to Inverness, so I thought I’d trudge over to The Godfather’s and enjoy a fish and chips. I use the word ‘trudge’ because my backpack is pretty dang heavy. Maybe ‘trudge’ isn’t the right word. I’m open to grammatical suggestions.

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Now I’m on my way- the couple sharing the train seats with me are also going all the way to Thurso. I haven’t gotten all their deep, dark secrets yet… they’re way too quiet for my taste. When I do, I’ll be sure to update you.

Thurso Hostel | 20:14

I love this hostel. I’m attracted to hostels that are old and just a little run down. As long as they’re clean, that is. I like their quirkiness. It’s like going to visit grandma’s house. The perfect example is the hostel I stayed in when I was in Hobart, Tasmania last year. Brilliant! This one isn’t as old as that one, but it tries. When the train arrived in Thurso, I remembered the directions from the station to the hostel. Not bad after only having been here once! I wanted to go see the ocean immediately but was very hungry. More than five hours on a train does that to a guy.

I went to the first restaurant I saw, right near the hostel. So tonight was curry again! I love it so much! I may be spending a little extra time in the loo tomorrow, though- totally worth it! A good curry burns going down, and then again coming out. That was crude! I’m sorry! You can quote me, though.

After sitting and eating, I could feel my body wanting to fall off to sleep. The ocean will have to wait until tomorrow morning. Sorry- no pictures from Thurso tonight. I’ll take some tomorrow. Think I’m going to call it an early night.


Back to the beginning of Scotland 5 | Forward to Scotland 5: Day 37

Scotland 5: Day 20

03.20.16 | Aberdeen, Scotland | 20:26

On Sundays, like today, I try to do things a bit differently. I left the hostel this morning at about 09:00 and walked to church. It wasn’t too long of a walk, maybe 3 miles or so. The congregation made me feel very welcome. Everybody was too kind! I had a conversation with one of the older men, and he asked me if I know Elizabeth Smart (remember the gal who was abducted by those psychos? Search her name if you don’t). I told him not personally, but I did know who he was speaking of. He told me that she’s married to his grandson. No way! It was great to sit with him and chat!

After church ended, I quickly said goodbye and headed back to the hostel. The reason I left so fast was that I knew they were going to have a congregational potluck. I know they would have been okay with me joining them, but when I was in Oban two weeks ago, they asked me to stay for one, and I felt terrible when there wasn’t enough food to go around. It was good to go to church today, though.

Tonight, I spent some time walking around aimlessly. I found some dinner while I was out and about. When it started to get dark, I found myself in a not-very-good area of the city. Nothing happened. It just looked at the type of place where I would have been robbed and/or raped after dark. Since I wasn’t in the mood for this, I headed back to the hostel.

Australia 2014: Part 15

<Berriedale – Hobart | 12:44>

My favorite part of the Mona Gallery is this picture of the big-bad-wolf eating grandma. Yes, it’s graphic, and yes, there’s a boob there, but look at the wolf’s eyes. Isn’t it spectacular? Either that or I’m going to have nightmares tonight. I’m not sure which one. Ignore the boob. Look at those eyes! Brilliant piece!

I’m on the ferry that is taking me back to Hobart from Berriedale. For some reason there is a cow made of something like fiberglass and well I’m going to say it: There should be more fiberglass cows on ferries. There are also some sheep nearby but they’re hardly worth taking a picture of… stupid sheep.

<14:30>

I just woke up from a deep nap- I was exhausted! I just introduced myself to a new hostelmate who is from Essex and he had the exact same experience at Mona today. He said he was there for only a few hours and feels like he really needs a nap. There is just too much concentrating- it wears a guy out. Some of the artwork I really like and appreciate- and some of it doesn’t seem like an ounce of talent. This is just my opinion- you may disagree. I’ve said it before: If it looks like it was drawn by a 3rd grader, maybe that artist needs to reconsider his or her life choices.

Australia 2014: Part 14

<Hobart, Tasmania | 09:08>

I have just purchased tickets to the Mona Gallery. This is one of the things that the flight attendant who brought me down here from Melbourne told me I had to see. She told me to make sure I come with an open mind. That makes me wonder what she’s talking about.

My mind is open to a whole mess of things (probably more than it should be) as most minds are open in this day and age. A small part of me wants to jump online and find out exactly what she was talking about. But I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

<10:16>

I am standing on a memorial walk at the Hobart Botanical Gardens. This walkway has been planted with so many trees. Each tree has been placed for a soldier who died in the first world war- it’s very moving. Some of the trees are younger because the original tree has died, but they keep replanting new ones when that happens. I just came across a plaque/ directory of the names of these soldiers. My eyes scan these names for someone who might possibly be a very distant relative. The directory tells me that tree #160 has been dedicated to Spr. Alfred Ernest Watson.- that’s the tree I need to find.

For some reason, I’m very emotional while I’m looking for this tree on the memorial walk. I am wondering who his descendants are and if they’ve come to visit him lately. Is someone bringing him flowers? As I approach the plaque, there is a black and white bird perched atop it. I tell the bird that he needs to leave because I’ve come to speak with Alfred. The bird looks at me and understands and leaves (ok I know the bird actually was afraid of me, but I’m choosing to believe he was flying away because Alfred and I needed a moment). 

Alfred (who I’m nicknaming Alf- since I have now decided that he is family) was a carpenter by trade. He was the son of Joseph William and Very Mary Gaunt Watson and his brother was Charles Watson of Port Esperance (later Geeveston). He was a Roman Catholic and he enlisted the 5th of January, 1915, embarked on April 19th of that same year. He was with the 2nd Tunnelling Co. Aust Mining Corps and was accidentally killed on the 17th of September, 1916.

Accidentally killed? What happened to him? Maybe some sort of mining accident? Did a tunnel collapse? Further investigation tells me that he was accidentally killed on railway line near Laventie. 

I’m reading this information and for some reason, I’m close to tears. This is stupid. I don’t know this guy- maybe I feel this attachment because he’s the only Watson on the list. That must mean his is/was a good person. All of us Watsons are great- some greater than others. I need to know all about this man for some reason. I need to do some digging. I wish I would have brought flowers to leave next to his tree.

Australia 2014: Part 13

<Hobart, Tasmania | 08:08>

I had set a goal to climb Mt. Wellington today. I’ve set this goal half-heartedly because according to Google Maps, it’s about 12 miles from the hostel one way. Therefore, I have updated said goal to at least walk toward the mountain. I’ve seen pictures from the top and it’s a great view of Hobart from above.

I didn’t sleep too well last night. I now have a roommate who snores. He’s a tattoo artist from Perth. He’s down here for work and is sharing a shop with a local friend. He showed me some pictures of his work and he seems to be really, really talented. I’m not into the whole tattoo thing but if you’re going to have it done, make sure you get an artist who has talent! This guy seems to have it. 

<10:35>

Road kill here is like road kill at home- only the conversation I have with myself goes a little like this… What on earth is that smell?  Something must have been hit by a car! I think I’m going to gag! Oh man, that’s strong- I may get sick! Oh look, it’s a pademelon! How cute!

Australia 2014: Part 12

<4.20.14| New Town, Australia | 09:13

It’s Easter Sunday. I figure the least I could do on this day is attend church. I check the internet, and it looks like the nearest chapel is about 4 miles from the hostel- I’m glad that I was in the mood for a walk. I stop several times on the trek to make sure I wasn’t going in the wrong direction. When I arrive, I’m greeted by a heavy-set man who is ‘jolly’ for lack of a better word. He seemed very welcoming and excited that I’m here.

We end up in the chapel, and I sit on the back row, trying to blend in with my surroundings. The problem I have is that it’s a small congregation- if you’re not in attendance every Sunday, they notice. I guess it doesn’t help that the hair on my head has been bleached blonde and that the sides are growing back brown. Maybe I look rebellious to them and am sticking out like a sore thumb.

A little old woman sits by me and asks my name. She then asks if I’m related to “those Watsons.” I tell her I don’t think I am. After the 7th or 8th person asks if I’m part of the ‘Tasmanian Watsons’ I have decided to change my introduction to, “Hi, I’m visiting from the States on holiday, but I’m not related to ‘those Watsons.'” Everyone that I say this to seems to understand.

Now the little old woman has taken to doing the introduction on my behalf. She is such a sweet thing and reminds me so much of my departed Gramma Bess. I want to hug her, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. I’m so blessed to have this temporary Gramma Bess sitting next to me.

Finally, the meeting starts, and so I don’t have to introduce myself anymore. It’s a good Easter service, nothing special or out of the ordinary. I’m glad I went, however. I always feel at home when I make it to church.

Australia 2014: Part 11

<Hobart, Tasmania | 07:48>

I am sitting on my bed at the Brunswick Hotel (Tassie Backpackers) in Hobart, Tasmania. I’m wondering what I’m going to do for breakfast. Since today is the day before Easter, I’m not sure what is going to be open. McDonalds may be my only option but I need to crawl out of bed and put on clothes and go find something. This hotel seems so old but has so much quirky charm about it.

Hobart is a lovely little city. I really didn’t know what to expect, especially since I did absolutely no research before booking my flight. I got some exploring done yesterday but it was a rainy Good Friday and this means that the city was more or less a ghost town. I tried to go out and be social last night, but nothing was open. 

<19:49> 

I went for a walk up a local mountain called Mt. Wellington but didn’t know which road would take me. Found some beautiful houses and neighborhoods, but the road didn’t lead to the mountain sadly. When I returned to the hostel, I asked the desk clerk if she knew what road would take me there. She showed me on Google Maps and printed out the directions for me. It looks like it’s a 4-hour walk (one-way) and so I think I’ll find out if there are bicycle rentals in the city.

For dinner tonight, I was in the mood to eat something a little fancier than the quick Asian cuisine that I’ve been having lately. I grabbed my phone and launched the Urban Spoon app (I  highly recommend you download this app if you don’t have it yet- it’s great!) and shook my phone, causing it to pick a restaurant at random. The one that came up was an Italian restaurant called Smolt. It wasn’t too far of a walk, so I gave it a try.

I looked the menu over and ended up ordering the grilled Tasman venison, seasonal fruit puree, quinoa, spices, cauliflower & almond salad with a creamed garlic. I had to make a note of exactly what I’d ordered. It was amazing!

I am so thankful for delicious food! I don’t know if I would consider myself a foodie because I’m not really great at knowing what the chef has put in each dish. I sometimes recognize some of the ingredients by their taste or texture but I don’t think I could recreate most of these dishes at home- I wish I could!