Tuesday, August 2nd–Fort William, Lochaber/Highlands & Islands

Back to the phone place; music CD shopping at the Granite House; West Highland Museum; lunch at Café Ecosse; tourist centre; the local campus of the West Highland College; Underwater Centre; dinner at the Crofter; Lochaber Schools Pipe Band

Best Western Imperial

Black Toyota Rav4



It's been a quiet day and early evening here in lovely, small Fort William, but still it's now after 11:30 PM and I'm only just getting around to typing up my notes from today. More on that later.

I really didn't do a whole lot today, which was very nice. After a pleasant and tasty late breakfast here in the hotel, I did take my phone to the phone place up the street where I'd gone yesterday. After having the guy there call his tech guys, and me coming back to my hotel room and contacting vodafone.ie, my current cell provider, online I learned that even if I want to put a Vodafone UK chip in my current Vodafone phone, it will still take up to five business days for Vodafone IE to get the unlocking code from my phone's manufacturer and send it along to me. The guy here was able to add a memory card to my phone for me which took care of that problem. I can still use my Irish Android smart phone here in the UK, though, for a lot less money than Verizon, my home cell carrier, would charge me to use my iPhone–Vodafone IE will only charge me 2 GBP per day, which isn't too bad.

Although the phone shop didn't have the large, 128 GB USB memory drive I want for backing up the absurd amount of pictures I've been taking on this trip (I already filled one), he was able to order a couple of them from his warehouse and I can get them tomorrow. I learned I needed a new large USB drive Sunday night when I tried backing up all the pictures I'd taken last week.

I wandered around town for a while after leaving the phone shop and went into several shops, including the very nice Granite House which has a pretty decent selection of Scottish music on CDs so I bought some. I also went into the very nicely done if small West Highland Museum which I liked quite a bit.

I then had a very nice cheese and mushroom toastie (toasted sandwich) at a lovely little place called Café Ecosse before coming back here to my hotel for a couple of hours. That's actually when I contacted vodafone.ie online to ask about unlocking my Irish Android Vodafone phone.

I went back out around 4:00 PM for a walk and to get some exercise before dinner. When the sun was out it almost felt warm, and lots of people thought it was warmer than I did.

There's a long pier at this end of Loch Linnhe at which I've seen red and white boats which look like ferries coming and going, and they may indeed be ones. I walked all the way around and found a branch of the local college and an interesting place called the Underwater Centre (the video on their web site is pretty cool) which trains commercial deep sea divers and operators of remote underwater vehicles. I still don't think I found the pier where the ferries leave from, since the one by the college and Underwater Centre has signs prohibiting any unauthorized access. Google Maps shows only the one pier, though.

I wandered back into the town center from there, and stopped by the tourist office to find out when the Lohcaber schools pipe band was going to perform (7:30) and made a reservation for dinner at 6:15. I learned last night that unless you want to eat much later, or go to the McDonalds on the edge of the town center, you have to make a reservation almost anywhere else. One place I'd liked when I was here five years ago was the Crofter bar & restaurant and I decided I'd eat there tonight, so I made a reservation for 6:15 and wandered around town some more.

Dinner was quite good if service was a little slow. I had a cup of very good and filling chicken & rice soup, and pasta with chicken, bacon and leeks which was also good. Service was just slow enough that I felt I didn't have time to have dessert there before the pipe band started so I left about 7:15.

Throughout the summer the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band performs from 7:30 to 8 or 8:30 most Tuesday & Thursday evenings. The membership consists of kids from 12 to 17 years of age who are students at some of the local schools. I was pleased to see that they still have the same female piping instructor who was with them when I saw them five years ago. The kids are good, as good as any youth pipe band–and many of the adult ones as well–that I used to hear at the Highland Games back in Portland. They played for less than their usual time tonight, possibly because it had started drizzling then (it stopped later). I hope the weather will be better and they'll play longer Thursday night.

I decided not to go anywhere else for dessert or a pint afterwards but came back here to my room instead. I stretched out for a bit to read and to watch something streaming on my Kindle Fire and that's why I didn't get around to starting on these notes until well after 11 PM. Not because I was reading or watching something until then, but because I kept dozing off and sometimes pretty deeply. In fact, it's now almost 12:20 AM and I don't think I'll have too much trouble falling asleep again.

If the weather tomorrow morning is as nice as it was today, I think I'll go and ride the gondola up to the top of the Glen Nevis ski area before lunch. Then the rest of the day will be much like today–come back to the hotel for a bit, go out and walk for some exercise, come back to the hotel again, go walk around town some more and make a reservation for dinner, and come back here in the evening. Maybe tomorrow evening I'll have a pint in the hotel bar downstairs as well.

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