Archive for September, 2009

Bye-bye Britain

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There’s oodles to see and do in the UK, but there are places to go and people to see and so it was time to move on, with or without sampling haggis. It also drains the budget very quickly and was getting a bit chilly outside, which also make for very good reasons to limit our time.

After our Ben Nevis climb, we carried on with our roadtrip past Glen Coe and Loch Lomond; both very lovely areas to explore the great outdoors. However we just drove on through and headed for Gourock which is a ‘wee town’ just to the west of Glasgow.

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Bikes and Amsterdam

Bikes in Amsterdam

We’ve been in Amsterdam for four days now, and we’re having a very relaxed time. We’ve been biking all over the city and taking it all in slowly. Today we’re off to bike on the islands to the north with Andrea, who has been a great host to us.

We’re overdue to post about the rest of our time in Scotland, as well as about our journey over to Amsterdam. Don’t worry — we’ll get on it sooner than you can whip up some fries with mayonnaise. Yum!

Fries and mayo!

Me and my iPhone

Now that we’ve put in a few good weeks of travel, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the pros and cons of bringing the iPhone with us on our wanderings. I’ve had a couple of people ask me whether or not I was getting any use from it abroad, so here’s the answer! As I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve removed the sim card from the iPhone to disable its cell phone and 3G data capabilities. You don’t even want to know the rates that Fido would charge to use the iPhone normally over here. We’d be bankrupt already. I’ve also decided against jailbreaking the phone, even though this would allow us to buy a local sim card and drop it in, turning it into a local pay-as-you-go iPhone. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it makes it a real pain any time Apple releases a new iPhone software update, as it usually requires waiting for a new jailbreak to come out as well. It also voids the warranty (a minor inconvenience, really). But finally, there’s actually something nice about not having a phone in my pocket — there’s something romantic about being unreachable when you’re out exploring new places. That being said, we have found many great uses and applications for the iPhone, and here they are.

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Milestones:
50 days of travel

Yesterday was our 50th day on the road. Hooray! To date, we’ve traveled 10,043 km over land and sea. That’s 1/4 of the earth’s circumference, but we’ve only scratched the surface…

Our path has been tracked with a handheld GPS unit, and all of our tracks can be seen on our Breadcrumb page.

Skin crawling

icky bed bug bites on me arm

I briefly mentioned bed bugs earlier. Now I would like to elaborate because they’ve terrorized me for life and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sleep the same. This is the story of how I was eaten alive in an Edinburgh youth hostel.

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Climbing Ben Nevis

At the summit

Being avid outdoor enthusiasts, Meg and I couldn’t resist the draw of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain. Situated on the doorstep of Fort William, Ben Nevis (commonly referred to as Old Ben) rises just over 4400 feet in a steady, relentless climb along a very well groomed and well trodden path. The mountain is climbed by thousands of people every year, so we knew not to expect a peaceful remote wilderness experience — even though we did the hike on a cold and cloudy day, there was a constant parade of people going up and down with us. Still, we felt that standing atop the highest point was a great way to round out our time in the UK.

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Thoughts:
Homesick yet?

Today is day 48 on the road. It’s hard to believe that it has been over a month and a half since we left Ottawa. I was thinking about it the other day, and realized that I haven’t had any real bouts of homesickness yet. There could be a few possible explanations for this: perhaps I don’t miss home at all, or I’ve somehow found something else to fill in the gap…

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Isle of Skye

Scotland is spectacular! I can’t think of a better way to put it. Over the past few days we have driven through some absolutely beautiful countryside. We left St. Andrews and headed north to Inverness, and then on along Loch Ness and over to the Isle of Skye. Tonight we are in Fort William. Check our Breadcrumb page to see our route — we’ve covered quite a bit of the country!

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The Old Course at St. Andrews

We’ve left Edinburgh behind after a very brief stay, and have taken to the open road in a rental car (a Peugeot hatchback) to explore the rest of Scotland. Things I have learned today:

– Shifting a manual transmission with my left hand is unnatural and requires great focus.
– Roundabouts are intimidating and confusing at first, but actually really efficient once you’ve gotten the hang of them.
– It’s really easy to cut left hand turns too close, when you’re not used to sitting on the right hand side of the car.
– Even though you’re driving from the opposite side, the gas pedal is still on the right and the clutch on the left. Whew!

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Life on a Narrowboat

Our narrowboat

We have postponed our African trip until April of next year (thank you Oasis of helping us sort out the swap — more on that later). With no pressure to be in Cairo by October, we have become free to wander slowly again. And for the first time yet, we found ourselves with an unexpected opportunity, and we flew by the seats of our pants.

After the wedding, we had an invitation to join my cousin and her family on their hired narrowboat for a couple of days. We knew we wanted to head up to Scotland after the wedding but since we’re not in a rush we said “YES”! How could we turn down an offer like that? It was a chance to experience a new way of traveling for us.

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