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Contrariwise [Feb. 14th, 2015|10:50 pm]
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I read - and enjoy - the Guardian's Travel supplement on Saturday's in a spirit of contradiction, of disbelief: is this really how people spend their holidays, flying halfway across the world, visiting places that I think of as unbelievably exotic, accessible only to the most intrepid explorers? Or, indeed, do they travel thousands of miles to spend a brief weekend at their destination? Do they organise a weekend break by selecting the hotel first (basing their choice on the quality of the toiletries) and then finding something to do in the neighbourhood? Not to mention the descriptions of glamping, glamorous camping, if ever two concepts did not belong together... And of course they do, many of them do, I am the one who is out of step.

This does not spoil the fun of reading about it, on the contrary. So when the first supplement of the year offered a list of 40 holiday destinations for 2015, I felt quite smug that not one of the 40 matched my plans. It took a degree of literal-mindedness to achieve this neat zero: one day I do hope to visit Yosemite, but not this year (California is just so 2014); I would like to visit Porto, and the Faroe Islands (though not in March, for the eclipse); it's not impossible that we might find ourselves in Rodez, I am plotting to be in the south-west of France this autumn...

Why does it become a point of pride to distance myself from the list of recommendations? I think there are two reasons. One is pure perversity: there's enough here that doesn't appeal that I refuse to want any of it. The other is vaguer, but it's something to do with not liking to be presented with a list to be worked through: not so much the 'bucket-list' as such - well, maybe it is. It's the idea that everything worth doing, everywhere worth seeing could be narrowed down to a list which someone else has compiled. I want the whole world, and you offer me a choice of 40 destinations -

Yes, it's completely unreasonable of me.

So it serves me right that the week after the article which promoted all this reflection about how out of step I am with the Travel supplement and all that is in it, it should carry a review of the Bridge Inn in Ratho, where we stayed before flying out of Edinburgh to the US; they liked it, and so did we.

Likewise, I may - I do - reject the whole idea of scoring items of a list, but I have just booked what my guidebook describes as "the ultimate tick for island collectors". Yes, we are going to St Kilda in May. That is, we will attempt to go to St Kilda: you book the boat for two consecutive days, in the hope the trip will be possible on one of them at least. But I shall be positive. The next task is to arrange a brief tour of the Western Isles around that fixed point: helenraven, I shall be picking your brains about Skye.

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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-16 10:40 am (UTC)

Maybe I really are am bit too special...

This is why I've taken so long to write this post: I know I'm being unreasonable, and yet... And I know I am fortunate to be quite well off, and to have tastes that mostly match my budget: there are places I would love to see, and probably never will, but the barriers are not purely cash (I'd love to see Samarkand, for example). My purse would not allow me to travel in the footsteps of Marisa Berenson, but really I am not sufficiently raffiné for Madame F., so it's just as well! I'd rather buy my books three for a euro at the brocante than trawl the souk for bibelots...
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[User Picture]From: helenraven
2015-02-15 07:03 pm (UTC)
My brains look forward to it!
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-16 10:41 am (UTC)
Please remind me when you were there; I'd like to start by revisiting what you wrote about it...
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[User Picture]From: helenraven
2015-02-18 01:23 pm (UTC)
I was first there in May 2006 with Jane, and then the next time was November 2009, with my mum.

And then... January 2012 (this post and the next one), and January 2013 (this post and the next two).

I recommend getting to Skye by taking the route up from Glasgow and then the ferry from Mallaig. The Marine Hotel in Mallaig is decent, or at least it was in 2006. Obviously, I'm a big fan of the Bosville in Portree, though in May it will be pricey. If you're in Portree on Friday or Saturday, you *must* eat in the hotel's Chandlery restaurant; the meal I had there in 2006 was one of the best of my life.

There are various walks near Portree, including the Old Man of Storr, though I've always stuck with the tame ones within a mile of the town because it's been winter and the Old Man of Storr route sounded scary for a lone walker in damp conditions. The circular bus route around the north is wonderful, but you'll be doing at least part of that to get to Uig, anyway. My experience of Skye has been that of someone dependent on public transport (and on a winter schedule at that), and this makes ones options very limited indeed (which is actually part of the appeal). After a day there with a car, you'll be able to tell me what there is to do on Skye.

To leave, I'd recommend taking the bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh and then doing the route to Inverness. Of course, you could do the whole route the other way around, but that would be anti-clockwise and that's fundamentally wrong.

I really envy you the trip! Of course, it also feels fundamentally wrong to me that you'll be on Skye in May and not in January as God (and off-season hotel bargains) intended. But if you want to see St. Kilda I guess you have to resign yourself to visiting at a time of year that means you don't get to experience Skye with the full quantity of driving rain.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-19 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you, that is enormously helpful, and I've just enjoyed re-reading all your posts.

I had remembered that you had been to Skye more than once, that there was a hotel you liked, and that it had rained a lot - not wrong, but not the whole story, either!
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2015-02-16 03:47 am (UTC)
Well, actually, I have a couple of friends (or sets of friends) who do in fact go to wildly exotic places for vacations, staying for short times. I'm not sure how they pick their vacations, but sometimes it's based on cheap accommodations or cheap flights ("cheap" to across one or the other major ocean). These friends have a lot more money and energy than I do, though I'd love to be able to join them.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2015-02-16 10:43 am (UTC)
Yes, I know it happens, I just have to keep reminding myself of it - you have a friend who finds it worth owning a flat in Paris, don't you? But then, this is a British newspaper I've been reading: we have longer holidays and more expensive flights than you do in the US...
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