It’s only been a month since I last posted! I think I’m getting better at this! (It’s rather unfortunate that I’m only getting better at it now, when I fly home in 5 days. Or 4 days and 19 hours, to be precise. I have a countdown on my computer.)
This post, like my last one, will mostly take the form of haiku, although I got lazy with the poetry a short way through and started just posting highlights and pictures. I do have two months and six countries to cover, after all…. My travel journal is much more detailed, so if you’re interested in seeing ticket stubs and actual stories, let me know. But for now—here we go!
New Year’s in Fort William with Sabine, Dec 30-January 3.
(Instead of staying on Iona for a week more, as was the original plan, I opted to go to Fort William with my German friend Sabine, whom I’d met on Iona. Fort William is actually a very boring place—people usually only go there as a hub for mountain-climbing—but we had fun.) More pictures here.
Hiking in the rain
Céilidh pub for New Year’s Eve
Sabine hiking on Cow Hill, Fort William
(my camera stopped working for a few days… forgive the shitty camera phone pictures.)
Inverness, Scotland, January 3-7
(Inverness was the launch of what became hands-down the best part of my travels, so I think it deserves a little explanation. My first afternoon/evening in Inverness was kind of hellish. I had bad cramps, but my boots had been leaking for about two weeks, so since I was finally back in a city I needed to go buy a new pair—so in a pained haze I navigated a shopping mall until I finally found some. Then I bought a bottle of mulled wine and a pint of caramel fudge ice cream and consumed both while I watched episodes from Season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alone, on my bunk bed, not speaking to anyone. Not my best moment.
The next morning, I was going to take the bus down along Loch Ness and hike my way back up. I missed by bus by about 30 seconds, though, and because the next one was in 2 hours and there was only 6 hours of daylight, I went down to Urquhart Castle instead. Urquhart is famous for being the site of most Nessie sightings. Anyway, while at Urquhart, I randomly met two Australian girls from the same hostel, Saskia and Celeste. We had tea and then wandered through the nearby town. That night they introduced me to another fellow hosteler, Max, an American. He told me that he had been that day to Findhorn Ecovillage, a really famous sustainable intentional community that I had wanted to visit but thought was too far away. It turns out it’s about an hour by bus from Inverness. I threw out my plans for the next day and went!
It was amazing—a beautiful community with lovely, creative little houses, community centers and communal kitchens, meditation halls, an art center, wind turbines with murals on them, even an eco-burial ground…. They even had a local currency to encourage localization of the economy. It felt calm and homey, like some sort of very real future where local community is central and the environmentalism has won. I loved it, and I’m hopefully writing my honors thesis on it….
The next day I wound up throwing my plans for the next ten days out the window completely to go to the Isle of Skye with the three of them. We had an absolutely amazing time. More on that after the haiku and pictures. But basically, Inverness was the site of lots of great serendipity.)
Made three great new friends,
Found honors thesis topic,
Fell in love with Scotland. (six syllables. so sue me.)
The Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, January 7-11ish
(“Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing, over the sea to Skye….” Highlights: climbing lots of big hills in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life; highland coos; cooking and laughing with my little Scottish family; eating way too many dee-gee-stee-vees; pissing everyone off by trying to play my new Irish whistle.)
The Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, January 11ish-15
(Highlights: climbing more beautiful hills; living in our cozy little cabin in Dervaig; reading Scandal in Scotland out loud; seeing more coos; just generally having adventures and laughing a lot.)
Brighton, England, with Sally, January 16-21
(Highlights: exploring the city, which reminded me of a cross between SF and Portland; cooking and talking feminism with Sally; seeing the wall covered with casts of vaginas; exploring the cute little town outside Brighton with fabulous bookstores; dancing to “Walking on Sunshine” with Kelly, Sally and Brittany’s friend from home.)
Rye Harbour, England, with family friends, January 21-25
(Highlights: Getting to know family friends better; going to Hastings, as in Hastings comma The Battle Of; exploring Canterbury; going to Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral, with the amazing—and adorable—boy choir; eating lots of baked apples.)
London, England, with Mimi and Celeste, January 26 & 27
(Highlights: Just being with Mimi and Celeste; watching “Notting Hill” pretty damn close to the title location; our fabulous and very extensive walking tour through the city center, Hyde Park, Kensington, and the British Museum—though my feet would disagree that it was a highlight.)
Dublin, Ireland, with Mimi, January 28-February 2
(Highlights: our self-guided walking tour; half-day trip to the little village Howth; seeing the Book of Kells; visiting Kilmainham Gaol; going to “the oldest pub in Ireland” for live music and the obligatory Guinness.)
Day trip to Kilkenny, Ireland, with Mimi, January 31
(Highlights: having tea at the posh tea room in Kilkenny Castle where the server had his iPod on shuffle, and thus hearing Mumford & Sons and Soulja Boy in a castle; just exploring the lovely city; wine and tapas; SO MUCH CHURCHES!)
Traveling to Paris with Mimi, February 2-3
I don’t know if there is a highlight here, but since this was a rather crazy 26 hours of travel, I feel it needs its own acknowledgement. This woozy Facebook conversation should speak for itself:
I am going to try my DARNEDEST to have updates on Paris, Taizé, Vienna, and Prague before leaving Berlin. We’ll see how I do. Worst comes to worst, I’ll write it on the plane home. Sending all my love from Berlin!