nostromos bLog






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07(03), 06(03), 05(02), 04(02), 03(02)
12(02), 11(01), 10(08), 09(03), 07(17), 06(01), 05(04), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(06)
12(05), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(02), 07(04), 06(01), 05(02), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(02), 09(09), 08(16), 07(02), 06(03), 05(04), 04(03), 02(03), 01(02)
12(03), 11(01), 10(02), 09(01), 08(23), 07(03), 06(02), 05(01), 04(02), 03(02)
12(03), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(23), 05(02)
09(04), 08(01), 06(01), 05(02), 04(02), 03(01), 02(01)
11(01), 10(02), 09(15), 08(01), 07(02), 06(04), 04(12), 01(06)
12(05), 11(01), 10(06), 09(12), 08(02), 07(02), 06(01), 05(01), 04(10), 02(01), 01(05)
12(02), 08(01), 07(15), 06(02), 05(03), 02(02), 01(03)
12(05), 11(01), 07(24), 06(06), 05(03), 04(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(01), 10(07), 09(01), 08(04), 07(05), 06(04), 05(06), 04(01), 03(04), 02(06), 01(04)
12(04), 11(02), 10(03), 09(04), 08(03), 07(04), 04(01)
07(01), 05(01)
08(01)
10(01)

Wed, 06 Jan 2016
day 11 in braveheart land (0 comments)
day 11, and thus the last day in scotland for us, ownoez. time flies, and so will we. soon. but first we had a last scottish breakfast for nina, and a continental one with porridge for me. then, five minutes to nine our host came to us, warning us that the power will soon be out, due to works at some high voltage line in the area. we were a bit confused and thought the power out would be later, but we misunderstood the lady, as it seemed. she tried to inform us yesterday evening, but it seems the both of us were too tired to get her exact message. well it was no problem to us, and it turned out the power out was only about 10 to 15 minutes, and not two hours as officially announced, so we even could finish our breakfast with lights on. we would not have needed electricity anyway, because there was nothing to plan or book today. our agenda for today was quite short. it only included cleaning our car, which we did at a gas station on our way to the airport, which was our second item on the list. there we returned the car. then there was plenty of time for waiting. so we did exactly that - waiting for our first flight to bruxelles for several hours. we spent our last few british pounds at the shops at the airport. then we had to hurry to catch our transit flight to vienna - timing here was not really well done. but we made it, and got on the flight home. here are a few numbers for the statistics department: * we drove 1650 kilometres (1021 miles) with our rental car, * i took 3805 pictures, from which 1167 pictures were used in the galleries, * i spotted two cats on the entire trip, nina spotted three, * we have seen two castles from the inside (the explorer pass definitely did not pay off for us), * we had not a single haggis (unfortunately), * we spent new year's eve in the most northern point of our journey, in ullapool single track, or split track for the entire trip.

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Tue, 05 Jan 2016
day 10 in braveheart land (0 comments)
today the curse of the indian man also hit me, as my gps tracker refused to process any satellite signals. during the last few days i had problems a few times, but turning it off and on again (sometimes multiple times) always fixed it so far. but today it did not help anymore. that is why today's track is not really complete, i switched to tracking with "runtastic" on my mobile phone. thus the first one and a half hours are missing. good old navin minihomer, i really loved this practical little gadget - too sad. right after leaving our hotel, which had a nice view[01-02] over loch linnhe, one of scotland's longest sea lochs, we stopped at loch leven[03-10], where one could look over to the eilean munde island[05,07-09], which is an ancient burial ground. the island has three landing places, one for each clan that buried their dead there. and although the clans were at war most of the time, they took care of the island together.
next stop was an torr[11-30], an area where we wanted to do a little hiking, but all three tracks were closed due to lumbering. the sign was from october 2014, but the gates were still closed, so there must have been a huge need for lumbering we guessed. change of plan, we walked around without a plan, and while exploring the area and enjoying nature, we came to river coe[20-30], which we walked up a little. in the meantime nina cried a river[21] because it was so beautiful here and our journey is almost at the end. i understand exactly how she felt.
to get our share of hiking for today, we stopped at the three sisters[31-75], three peaks at glen coe, a big mountain. between each pair of sisters, there is a path one can walk. we decided to take the "hidden valley"[34-75] path, that goes between the east most and middle sister (so you have a rough orientation of where we were going). on our way up we found many lovely little water falls[43-48,50-51,64-71]. also the road got more steep the longer we walked, and also more difficult to walk. we soon ended at a spot where we would have had to climb to get on. we decided to return to the car park instead.
on our way back to to edinburgh we had another short stop along the road[76-80], and one more at the loch tulla viewpoint[78-80], each one providing a great view over the landscape and mountains.
over four hours of driving later, we arrived in falkirk again, after i suggested we should have another stop at the kelpies[81-92], this time at night. and it was worth the stop, because the horses were lit in a colour changing light. from white to blue, yellow, and red. they looked like they were glowing when the light was red. really great.
it was already late, when we arrived at our last accommodation for this trip, the "ashcroft farmhouse", that seems to specialize in golf fanatics, because the golf theme was everywhere. and while watching british tv, we fell asleep. track for day 10.

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Mon, 04 Jan 2016
day 09 in braveheart land (0 comments)
being the only guests, our host had not much to do today in the morning. the usual scottish and continental breakfasts for the two of us. and again, an amazing sunset at guest house[001-007], but this time the view is from our room. with a cute sheep[005] included this time. isn't that lovely? after checking out we drove a few kilometres, had a few random breaks to take pictures of the landscape[009-013], or another fluffy sheep[013].
next stop was a little burial ground near cill chriosd[014-052], right next to the road. i was pretty amused by the sign "passing place", which usually refers to the broader spots on the roads on the pretty common single track roads here in scotland. so for two cars to pass, there are the passing places, this one was for people too. as most grave yards we have seen so far, this one was very green too, with very very ancient tombstones, dating back many hundred years, and the almost always present ruin of a chapel; seems obligatory.
then we had a short stop on the east side of loch slapin[053-064] on the outbound journey. we found a message in a bottle, opened it, but could not make much sense of it. seemed like a love letter. so we stuffed the sheet back in, and put it back where we had found it.
a short while later, we reached elgol[065-071], another small, sleepy fisher village, that seemed more like a ghost village. looks like they heavily rely on summer tourism, thus off season everything is closed, and everyone is gone. but we spotted a few people here and there, some lights in the houses, and... even two cats. isn't that amazing? unfortunately they were too far away to cuddle, but at least we saw some. since there was nothing to do in elgol, we drove on to strathaird[072-089], where we parked our car, and had a little hike. lots of sheeps were around us, but they were also pretty shy, and ran away if you got closer than a few metres. i managed to sneak up from behind on one sheep who was so absorbed in grazing, it did not see me until i was about one metre away from it. for half a second it gave me a surprised look, then ran away. so cute.
on our return journey we stopped again at loch slapin[090-116], but this time on the west side. we parked our car somewhere, and walked off road[095-102] over very soft moss, and had quite the nice view on the nearby mountains.
back in the car, we soon spotted a lot of little birds that flew in large groups of around 50 or more. but they were also pretty cautious and shy. only three birds[114-116] on one leg were courageous enough to wait for us to get as close as 50 metres (approximately). then they also fled and flew away.
at kyle of lochalsh[119-135] it was time to bid farewell to the isle of skye, as we got back again on the "mainland" of scotland. we had a coffee break at a small cafe, and when we left, we were very lucky as sunset[119-147] had just begun, and turned the mountains in a wonderful red, sometimes even pink. that was really a fascinating combination of colours and contrasts, especially with the bridge[126-128,130] to the isle of skye or the ones with the light tower[131,133,135] in the foreground. wow, that makes parting even harder.
while driving on, nina insisted on another stop, as the sunset was still going on. so we did not get very far, and had another stop at balmacara[136-147], where we also found big shells[140-141,143] on the beach. we took a few of them as a souvenir with us, because they really were big and looked amazing.
it only took us 15 more minutes to get to the very famous, and often photographed eilean donan castle[148-159]. of course it was closed already (and we do not know if it would have been opened anyway), but at least the bridge was open, so one could walk straight to the castle. surrounded by the waters of loch duich, the bridge is the only access to the castle (during high tide). the reflections on the water really looked amazing. too bad we could not see it from the inside.
well, then it was time again to make headway, as the gps navigator estimated the drive to fort william with three hours. driving past loch lochy (best name for a loch we thought), we finally arrived, almost three hours later, at "the willow" hotel, where we checked in, and went to bed early. track for day 09.

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Sun, 03 Jan 2016
day 08 in braveheart land (0 comments)
the weather forecast for today was promising. we had another really awesome breakfast at jon and pauline's guest house, due to the facts that they really have a relaxing and soothing playlist they play during breakfast, then there's the birds that chirp, caw, cry, and fly around in front of the window and then there is this wonderful view[001-003] which we had while sipping on our coffees and munching our food. we really wished everyday would start like that. but this idyll did not last long. remember the indian man's curse? well, it struck again. this time nina's bank card was retained by an atm at portree. it was sunday, so the bank was not opened. fortunately there was a phone number to call if there are any problems with the atm. someone even answered the phone and told nina that this was normal behaviour for scottish atms. they do not return the card if any problem (which ever it might be) is detected, and there is also no way she would get back her card - ever. aha. we are on holidays, we need the atm card. how about that? a local woman standing next to us tried her card, and it worked perfectly fine for her. i was afraid to use my card at this specific atm for we would be in real troubles if my card would be retained too. no, no, we did not want to risk that. so we decided to drive to a gas station or convenience store, where they also have atms most of the time. so time to hit the road... first stop was when we spotted scottish highland kettle[004-008]. we even could pet them and touch their hairdo. turns out the fur is more like dread locks; that's why their parting can withstand even the strongest wind. pretty fly.
next stop was a bit tricky to find, but it was a place jon told us about. it was an age-old burial ground, and although, according to jon, there should have been signs, we did not find any. but we finally made it to the ancient st. columba's island and burial grounds[009-053], and it was worth the searching. signs[011,027] say that 28 chiefs of a clan are buried here. jon also told us about the graves[016-017,025-026] in the shape of a knight, which really looked awesome. furthermore some parts of the ground were still flooded, which made some nice reflections on the water. here it was really calm and quiet and, again, we were the only ones.
next stop was at dunvegan castle[056-104], which surprisingly was closed too. seems like we are not very lucky with opening hours at castles. too bad. but, as we by now had learned, there is almost always a way to get to the castle somehow. and so we drove away from the front entrance[056-057] and after a few minutes drive we found a good place to start our attempt. the castle is also believed to be the home that is the longest inhabited one by a single family in scotland. walking across country along ruined houses[058-064,081-083], we made it to the backside of the castle. additionally we had company again by several seals that were curiously watching every move we made. looked like they were happy to have a little distraction, since there were no people or boats around here on this sunday. we also enjoyed their presence.
turned out the number of seals[086-093,097-099,101] we attracted grew. from around five to eight seals we spotted in the beginning, the group was now at a size of around 20. pretty cool. and while walking away from the castle, we got closer to the seals. the closest i think was about 10 metres. then their caution was unfortunately stronger than their curiosity. but so cute, all of them. we waved good bye, and left them still watching us closely.
soon we arrived at our next stop, namely coral beach[105-160]. but it took a little walking to get there. and for the first time today we were not alone anymore. but the area is big and open, so all the other people - a mixture of tourists, locals walking their dogs, families spending a day at the beach - we barely noticed. again the landscape is awesome, and the wind is strong.
the beach looks just like some tropical beach, with white sand and cyan coloured water. in fact the sand on the beach is from coralline algae that can survive in these temperatures. while climbing a little hill to get a better view we accidentally found a geocache[150], namely "peter and christina's coral beach cache". ha, i think the last time i was searching for geo caches was in ireland back in 2010. we took something out of the box and left something in the box, as tradition demands.
walking back to the car and driving to the neist point lighthouse[161-172] took quite a while, so by now it was already dark again. at the coast the wind was that strong, i was really worried that my phone might be blown away if i do not really have a tight grip on it, while taking pictures with it. also everything else that was not strapped up tightly really was at risk to be blown away. even walking against the wind was a tough fight[169]. at least the wind was blowing from the sea towards us, so there was no danger one might be blown away over the cliff and fall into the sea.
holidays and sundays here mean almost everything like shops, cafes, castles, etc. is closed. we did not think holidays would have such a big impact on everyday life here and on us. so we also were the only guests at the "luib house", right on the coast of loch ainort, and our host told us she just reopened today, as she was also away visiting relatives in some other town. so lucky us we had a place to sleep tonight. also this will be our last night on the isle of skye, a really fascinating, astonishingly beautiful, stunning, wonderful, and fabulous place to be. definitely a recommendation where one should go one day. track for day 08.

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Sat, 02 Jan 2016
day 07 in braveheart land (0 comments)
after a scottish breakfast for nina, and porridge and continental breakfast for me, we decided to stay at this guest house for at least another night, since it's well located, so we could make it our base camp and have trips to the rest of the isle of skye. also the hosts were really friendly, the rooms were comfortable, breakfast was ample and delicious, and one had a great view over the sea from the breakfast room. also there were several bird houses around the house, so the bushes were full of chirping and twittering. so cute. while getting ready for today's trip we had turned on television and saw reports about the flood damages, and pictures from the exact road we wanted to take on day 04. puh, nasty. they said it was the wettest december for over hundred years. amazing how we got away with good weather so far. today morning it looked misty and cloudy, but no rain, with mild temperatures again. usually i start my gps tracker, place it at the car window and start driving, and it soon catches up with the current satellite location. but not today. so when we arrived at the parking lot, it was still searching for a signal. turning it off and on again for several times finally fixed it. so today's track starts not at the guest house, but right at our first destination, the "old man of storr"[001-028]. walking to the old man took a while on a steep gravel road, but it was a really beautiful landscape. even some asian tourists were there, and people walking their dogs, so we were not alone this time. also we were very lucky, because when we spotted the rocks, the old man was standing out because there was a wall of fog[008-010] behind him. a few minutes later, the fog was gone, and the rock was hard to spot, because the rock face behind him had the same colour. wohooo, lucky us.
the hiking trail would have led on higher up the rocks, but we decided to go back to our car and drive on. daylight time is very limited here.
next we headed on to the lealt falls[029-033], where one could walk down the cliff to an abandoned diatomite mine[031], which we did not do. instead we stayed atop and looked down. that was when an older indian man approached first nina, and than me and was talking about how wonderful god's creation was and other rather scary things you don't say to a stranger. but he did, and also he warned nina that the ground is very slippery where she stood[032]. well meant, but nina did not like the obtrusiveness at all and gave him a bad look. at last, he stopped. later that day, we came to the conclusion that this was when the indian guy lay a curse on nina. but more about that later in this bLog entry. close to the lealt falls are the mealt falls[034-041]. seems like the scots are pretty imaginative with names. there we met the indian guy again. also there's a sign with dinosaur prints, since there were a lot of traces of dinosaurs all over the area. we placed the little plastic dinosaur[040] we found on the first few days in edinburgh for comparison.
only a few kilometres further northwards on the east coast of the isle of skye lies "staffin beach"[042-082] where we found a small group of seals[042-044,047-052,055,058-059,062,066].
while we tried to get as close to them as possible, they curiously watched our every move. so cute. one could also walk on a sort of artificial pier. this was really a beautiful place, so we spent quite a while there. again there were some fossil attractions around here, like dinosaur footprints one could see in the stones, but they are only visible during low tide. this meant we would have had to wait, which we did not want to; early sunset and such. also there was a big stone with such a footprint[077-078] right at the car park.
next stop was "the quiraing"[087-121], a still moving landslip. the landscape was very impressive and beautiful, and so we went on a little hike here. "the quiraing" consists of a few rock formations, like "the needle" or "the table". we were rather unsure what was what, so we took our guesses.
if you watched long enough you could see some people here and there also taking the hike, but they were all way ahead of us. so our only company were sheeps, which we sometimes surprised and then gave us a confused look to finally run away. too bad, i would have loved to touch one of those fluffy cotton balls on four legs. also we did not walk all the way to the top, but rather turned around and walked back to our car again. also we did not walk all the way to the top, but rather turned around and walked back to our car again. and while we were driving on, suddenly the sun came through the clouds and lit parts of "the quiraing"[104-119] which looked awesome, and forced us to stop again, jump out of the car and take more pictures. we stopped at the sartle grave yard[122-124] from which one had a great view into the big open area below.
after a few more random stops[125-130] we reached the duntulm sea viewpoint[131-159] and duntulm castle[137-138,140,143-148,151], although the castle was already more of a ruin. again windy, again we were the only ones there, and again it was really beautiful there.
it was another 30 minutes drive until we reached the place called "fairy glen"[160-179], near balnanock. it was already pretty dark when we got there, but we still got an impression of how awesome and magical this place must be during the daylight. some scenes from the movie "stardust" (the one from 2007 with robert de niro, michelle pfeiffer, and claire danes) were shot here. we will have to watch this movie again once we are home to see it ourselves.
since it was so dark, nina wanted to bring her tripod, but she could not find it anywhere. we tried to reconstruct where and when she had seen or used it the last time today. turns out it was at the spot with the seals at ""staffin beach". and indeed a had a picture taken with my mobile phone where she has it in her hands on the artificial concrete pier we were walking on. so we jumped in the car, drove all the way back there, but unfortunately the tripod was already gone. we think it was the doing of the indian man's curse. a little sad and frustrated we drove back to the "high beech house" in pitch black, as it was already past 18:00 o'clock when we left the beach again. there is a commercial on tv that was filmed in "the quiraing", so the spot[096,101] we have just been to today. we were quite surprised to see this on tv. here is the ad on youtube. another unpleasant thing was that we did not make it to the hamlet "peinlich" today. but at least we got pretty close to it. too bad. also be advised that there are not many accommodations opened during the christmas and new year holidays. many of the hosts are on holidays themselves, or take an earned out time. so told us jonathan and pauline, who will also go abroad to some sunny hot beach, somewhere south; lucky them. but after several months having strangers in your house 24/7 i can totally relate to that. track for day 07.

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Fri, 01 Jan 2016
day 06 in braveheart land (0 comments)
uaaaah, what have we done? with a pretty bad hangover we jumped out of our beds, because the room maid thought we had already left. but we did not, instead we had overslept and made it very close to check-out time. breakfast was long over, we did not shower, we felt terrible, we had no bed to rest anymore. also we had no room for tonight. so we sat in the car in the hotel's car park where we still had a wifi signal, booked a room for tonight in the next best guest house we found on the internet. surprisingly neil did not charge for all the whiskys we had the honour to taste. so the final bill was moderate - i thought it would have been way more. still, food, fuel, and accommodation is pretty expensive here in scotland. we did not think it would be that cost intensive. but back to the miserable two of us. to get in a condition near to transportable we sought out something like a cafe. and while i took a walk in the harbour area to find anything that was not closed today, nina tried to get some sleep in the car. i found exactly one cafe that was open, so we had a coffee and a little rest there. besides an older lady we where the only guests and ullapool seemed like a ghost town. what felt to be at least 10 hours later we felt a little better, paid, started the engine and our tour for today, and headed towards our next destination. i think some time really must have gone by, because by now there were some people in the streets, or walking their dogs on the bordering shore.
more than three hours of driving will lay ahead of us. nina started to drive, since i was pretty sleepy and also most likely outside the legal blood alcohol level. so nina was driving for the first time since we had arrived, and had troubles with both the driving and the gearstick on the left side.
and so we drove through impressive landscapes and loads of beautiful areas[01-29], but did not not gain anything from it, as nina was fully concentrated on driving and changing gears, while i was pretty busy dozing away. from time to time we made a short stop to take some pictures and get some fresh air. thus, there are not many pictures for today.
once i felt better i took over the wheel. nina was relieved and already exhausted from the efforts. but still there was a long distance to cover.
it was already dark and late when we arrived in portree, in the middle of the isle of skye at the "high beech house". as usual we moved our luggage to the room, then asked for recommendations where we could get some food. the owner said they are going to an indian restaurant later, but we did not feel like having indian food this evening. so he sent us to the town's main square, where we found two pubs. the first one, the "antlers bar and grill" looked really good, but was full, and the waiters also said it might take a while until we get a seat. seemed like we hit the dining rush hour. so we took the "isles inn", that was the prototype of a scottish bar. drunk lads at the bar, shouting and flirting with the waitress, shouts from the back of the bar every now and then. the restaurant section of the inn fortunately was way more quieter. each of us ordered a burger and had a soda with it. scots say you should drink the local speciality named "irn-bru", which helps with hangovers. but, to be on the safe side, we did it with a cola. the burger was average, but it helped to feel restored and regenerated again. we walked back to our hotel and were lucky to see the official broadcasting of the holiday special of "sherlock" (that makes it "S04E00" on imdb) on BBC1. how awesome is that? well, besides that, 2016 was not great so far. hopefully a good night sleep will fix that. also we haven't spotted any cat so far in scotland. but in even the tiniest grocery stores they have cat food and cat litter in the shopping aisles. so there must be cats somewhere. i hope we will spot some in 2016. track for day 06.

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