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    "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful we must carry it with us or we find it not."

    R. W. Emerrson

    Entries in Hiking (9)


    Guinness Stew and Irish Flu

    Seeking the comfort of pub food and familiar language, we hopped a flight from Madrid, Spain to Dublin, Ireland where we encountered very friendly people and unseasonably nice weather.  We spent many days walking around the city, weaving through the crowded streets to some of the main tourist venues, and enjoying a pint of Guinness at the end of the brewery tour.  Like usual, we found greater pleasure blending in with the locals at Oxmantown coffee shop, which dealt out the most amazing sandwiches, and taking in Wuthering Heights at the historic Gate Theater.

    Another highlight was our excursions to neighboring towns like Howth and Dun Laoghaire.  Howth offered a beautiful and refreshing 12 km hike along the coast which reminded us how much we love walking through the many splendors of nature.  Dun Laoghaire engaged us with its Maritime Museum and a complementary exhibit of photos from Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Antarctic exploration during the early years of WWI.

    For our final few days in Ireland, we'd planned a trip down to Cork.  Those plans were detoured when we both encountered what we dubbed "the Irish flu" - A 48 hour illness that took the wind out of our sails and demanded a sedate recovery period.  Cork will have to wait for a future visit to Ireland, one in which we hope to stretch our hiking legs to further shores.


    Bringing Back Cocktail Hour - Switzerland

    Our time in Switzerland was fleeting, but the expansive scenic vistas secured lasting spots in our memories. The Swiss Alps revealed their glorious fall colors, snow-capped peaks, and age-old glaciers as we gradually worked our way to St. Moritz on the Bernina Express scenic train. After spending a few days exploring the extensive labyrinth of hiking trails near St. Moritz (Vail, Colorado’s sister city) we moved on to Zurich where an incredible fondue feast awaited us compliments of our kind hearted dining benefactors, Rich and Elle.

    The simple menu at Fribourger Fonduestuebli (try saying that three-times fast!) offered only two cheese choices; we selected the half Gruyere, half Vacherin option cooked with wine and Kirsch. It was delivered in a bright red pot with hearty helpings of sliced bread and potatoes accompanied by supplemental sides of pickled onions and gherkins. A red and white checkered tablecloth accentuated the creamy pot of percolating heaven which went exceptionally well with the locally sourced Soleil du Valais wine.

    We consumed the full offering of savory cheese including the “religieuse”, the crisp layer holding fast to the bottom of the pot. We rounded out the evening with refreshing passion fruit sorbet and little glasses of house Kirsch. The entire experience felt authentically Swiss as we raised our glasses in celebration of the generosity bestowed upon us by good friends Rich and Elle.


    Bringing Back Cocktail Hour - Dunbar, Scotland

    A few months have past since our last Bring Back Cocktail Hour post. We dined at several great restaurants in Scotland, but wanted to apply Mark and Sue's generously sponsored "Dinner and Drinks for Two" to something special - our celebration meal upon completion of the John Muir Way. And what a hearty and fulfilling celebration it turned out to be!

    With cold coastal winds and a tendency for precipitation, Scottish cuisine is often the stuff that warms and fortifies with large portions and rich sauces. Our entrees, served up at The Rocks restaurant, were no exception.

    - Duck confit tart with red onion marmalade and creme fraiche

    - Rack of lamb with red current jus

    - Osso bucco with chive mashed potatoes

    And to top it off, a bit of the bubbly - No proper celebration would be complete without it!

    With glasses raised, we toasted our accomplishment and extended a satisfied and grateful "Cheers" to Mark and Sue in appreciation of their thoughtfulness.


    The John Muir Way - Prestonpans to Dunbar

    The final two segments of the John Muir Way cover 31 miles with stops in some of the most picturesque towns and villages: Gullane, North Berwick, and East Linton. We counted down the final few miles, crossed a sprawling beach in Belhaven, and strolled contentedly into Dunbar, John Muir's birthplace.

    These final few sections of trail offered broad vistas of fields, beaches, and rocky seaside cliffs. At the coast we were greeted by a variety of bird species searching the surf for mussels, snails and fish. Tuxedoed oystercatchers and well camouflaged curlews plied the sand for treats while cormorants postured with wings outstretched, drying after a deep dive.

    At Dunbar, we enjoyed a celebratory dinner, toured the informative John Muir Birthplace Museum, explored the parks, and strolled a unique red sand beach. On our third and final day in town we ventured out on one final hike, a six mile roundtrip jaunt to the nearby Barns Ness Lighthouse (pictured).

    Our month long stay in Scotland offered surprisingly calm weather, diverse food, beautiful scenery, and some of the friendliest people around. This has truly been a walk to remember.


    The John Muir Way - Strathblane to Falkirk

    The third and fourth stage of the John Muir Way covers 26 miles which we hiked over three days, with nights spent in Milton of Campsie and Auchinstarry Marina, before reaching the sprawling city of Falkirk.

    The well worn path highlights the evolution of transportation in this unique corner of the world. Signboards announce the route's extensive history and numerous uses as it passes along and over:

    - The Antonine wall, an 1,800+ year old physical barrier demonstrating the northern-most reach of the Roman Empire.

    - Canal towpaths, the primary mode of transportation for goods during the 18th and 19th century before the advent of railroads.

    - Reclaimed railways, displaced by roads and freight trucking in the 1950s.

    As we trod in the steps of soldiers, horses, and freight trains from centuries past, our thoughts turned to potential future developments in transportation. How long will it take for roads to become obsolete, devolving into casual hiking paths for future generations who zip from place to place in Jetsonian flying vehicles? Or, for DINKS' numerous Star Trek fans, when will teleportation become the mod method of conveyance?

    As tempting as it may be to have Scotty beam us to our final destination on Scotland's eastern shores, we'll stick with our preferred mode of transit: Walking, an eye-level window seat view of the world.