Friday, August 5–Mallaig, Highlands & Islands

The Road to the Isles; finding the hotel but not where to park; walking along the waterfront back to the hotel; deja vu and lunch at the Fish Market; an afternoon nap; wandering around town; dinner at the Cabin

Marine Hotel

Black Toyota Rav4



I'm having major problems with the hotel wifi from here in my room tonight. At the moment I can't get connected on my laptop or Kindle Fire but only with my Irish Android smart phone. I'll keep checking and maybe will try out by the chairs on the landing when no one else is using them. I might not be able to sent these notes out to Michael, Tim, Renee and Kelly tonight as I've been regularly doing.

I didn't go to the Glen Nevis gondola this morning. I had intended to, but I was having a problem with Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone. I didn't see the signs directing me to the Glen Nevis visitors center but I did see the signs for Mallaig so that's where I went instead. If I leave early enough on Monday on my trip to Glasgow I might stop by Glen Nevis on the way, since it's right outside Fort William which I have to go through to get back to Glasgow anyway.

Tbe road from Fort William to Mallaig of course goes through much the same territory that the train from there to here does. It's quite beautiful mountain scenery, with very few settlements along the way, mostly near the small train stations. I didn't see the Harry Potter bridge, otherwise known as the Glenfinnan viaduct, on this trip either. I checked using my Irish Android smart phone a few minutes ago and learned that I actually drove past the two places that have the best views of the bridge, I should have stopped either at the parking lot for the Glenfinnan Monument or the Glenfinnan train station itself and made the short walks from there. If the weather is good when I head back to Glasgow on Monday, maybe I'll stop there as well as at the Glen Nevis gondola.

You actually hit the coast a few miles before you get to Mallaig, and it's quite beautiful there as well.

Mallaig really is a small town, and is actually designated a village (whatever the distinctions are). There really isn't a whole lot to do here in town, which might explain why I noticed at least a couple of people who were visibly drunk when I arrived shortly before 1 PM. There are currently (10:30 PM) several people on the street outside my hotel who also sound kind of drunk.

My hotel, the Marine, is also another small town center hotel, with limited parking. I had to drive past it at first because I couldn't find a place to park and wound up on the other side of the harbor about a ten minute walk away. When I'd walked back to my car I decided to take some pictures while over there and the CalMac ferry had arrived and so I watched it dock for a few minutes.

The hotel staff are aggressive about saving their spaces for their guests, and block them off using a couple of empty beer kegs and a lawn chair with a weight on it to keep it from blowing away. I was here way too early to check in but the girl on the desk told me to bring my car back and she'd move the beer kegs so I could park. And when I got here I discovered that the traffic even here was not very polite about letting me back out of the parking spot so I could pull in better.

I still had to wait for an hour and a half until my room would be cleaned and ready for check in, so I wandered around town until then. I of course noticed that there was a young woman playing the harp right outside the restaurant across the street, the Fish Market–which is exactly where I'd met the young woman playing harp when I came here on the Jacobite steam train five years ago. I listened to her play for a while, and we chatted a bit. I don't think she's the same girl, since she told me she's only been busking for four years and not five. I of course gave her a nice tip, from myself and all the harpers I had over for dinner during this year's Florida Renaissance festival, before I went inside for a very nice lunch as I had done five years ago.

When I came back out the harper had already packed and left (I never saw her again all weekend but the weather later might have been why). I still couldn't check in, and had to wander around for another ten minutes or so. I went into the small tourist center and the small store next to it.

When my room was ready the girl at the reception desk brought my two suitcases up here to my room for me while I carried my lighter bags. I wanted both suitcases to consolidate clean clothes since I'm not going to be able to have laundry done until after I get to my hotel back in Glasgow. I unpacked most of my electronics gear, including plugging in both my clocks, and took a nap and seem to have actually fallen fairly deeply asleep for a while.

My room's upstairs on the street side of the building, across the street from one of the two grocery/convenience stores in town. It's quite a nice room, comfortably sized with lots of places to plug things into. The shower in the bathroom is one of the phone booth size ones similar to several I used in Ireland but this one has a wider door on a corner that's easier to get into than some of the ones I've used before.

I woke up around 5:30 or 6:00 PM and went for a walk and wander around before trying to find somewhere to have dinner. I walked around the corner to the ocean side and past the train station where the evening's steam train was waiting to depart, then back into the town center and uphill on the street around the corner from the hotel. While I was wandering around I went into both the small but very nice grocery/convenience stores.

There are a few other places to eat here in town, at least a couple of which don't seem to be oepn for dinner. I had a very nice seafood dish at a lovely little place called the Cabin, right around the corner from here. I was pretty lucky because I was allowed to come in and sit at the only unoccupied table. While I was there I saw a couple of other groups who wanted to come in and couldn't be seated because they didn't have a reservation, so maybe I'll have to plan ahead tomorrow.

I've booked passage on the car ferry to the Isle of Skye for Sunday which is when the local Highland Games are supposed to be. While I was wandering around earlier I saw a notice in the office window of the other, smaller ferry company advertising Highland Games on another nearby island, or at least somewhere to get to by ferry. If the weather's decent tomorrow, I might do that although it looks like an all day event, leaving here around 10:00 AM and not getting back until after 5 PM. If I don't do that, I'm not sure what I'll do. I think there is a small museum over by the train station but forgot to check when I was wandering around.

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