Volksmarch column for the April 15 edition
We had a blast on our trip to Scotland, during which we walked the permanent trail in Edinburgh.
The snow that fell the night before, and during the walk, made this an unusual spring break adventure. Edinburgh encompasses several hills and has a lot of steps, so the footing was slippery in places, but we slowed our pace and enjoyed the walk.
We had our trail description, which we had printed from the British Walking Federation Web page, in a document protector to keep it dry. The route was easy to follow and there were plenty of shops to visit along the way. We kept a pen and paper handy to record the answers to the questions on the trail description.
The 10-kilometer city trail started at one of the transportation hubs, Waverly Bridge. It is a train and bus nexus, and is close to the tourist information office. From the bridge, we went through the Princess Street Gardens and then into the New Town area of Edinburgh. The route took us up Calton Hill, with its monuments and beautiful views. After descending the hill, we continued away from the center of town to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This was where we began to walk the Royal Mile through the Old Town between the palace and Edinburgh Castle. There was one side trip off the Royal Mile to see the Greyfriars Bobby statue. We turned around at the parking lot for the castle, backtracked a few blocks, went down steep Bank Street and worked our way back to Waverly Bridge and the end of the walk.
We did this walk on a Wednesday morning and there was a lot of traffic, construction and renovation going on. Because of this — and because motorists drive on the left side in the U.K. — we had to be careful crossing the street. We stuck to the crosswalks and waited for the green light to cross. Unlike Germany, where the majority of people obey the crosswalk signals, in Edinburgh, people were crossing all over the place.
The National Portrait Gallery and the Nelson Monument were closed for renovations, but we found plenty of other attractions. Lorraine found a recording of bagpipe music by the Red Hot Chili Pipers. We enjoyed stops at St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition and a light lunch at the Amber Room of the Scottish Whisky Experience. While we never did try any Scotch whisky, Bob developed a liking of a Scottish beverage known as Irn-Bru, a carbonated soft drink with a bubblegum-like taste.
After the walk, we found a post office in the St. James Shopping Center and mailed our completed permanent trail entry form, the appropriate fee in pounds and a large, self-addressed envelope with Scottish postage to the contact person for the walk. We are anxious to see how long it takes to get our IVV stamped insert cards in the mail.
After a trip back to the hotel for a brief rest, we went to the Hard Rock Café for dinner. Bob just had to try the Edinburgh special — the haggis burger — and it was pretty good. After stocking up on T-shirts and guitar pins, we were off to our next adventure, the Cadies and Witchery Murder and Mystery Tour. Led by “deceased” highwayman Adam Lyal and his assistant, we had an entertaining walk through the Old Town, listening to fascinating tales of murder, ghosts and life in Edinburgh centuries ago.
Thursday we took the hop-on, hop-off tour buses around the city and out to the Royal Yacht Britannia. We’ve come to the conclusion that our two full days in Edinburgh were not enough to see all the sights. We have already started talking about returning for another visit which will include a trip out to Loch Ness and the Highlands. Bob is looking forward to a return visit for another haggis burger with an Irn-Bru.
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If you want to try one of the prettiest walks we have ever done, head to Consdorf, Luxembourg, this Sunday and find out why it is called “Little Switzerland.”
It is not just the hills, but also the caves and rock formations that make this a unique walk.
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Don’t forget next Saturday’s Kiddies Volksmarch hosted by the Heidelberg International Wandering Club at Patrick Henry Village.
The walk is for ages 12 and younger and their accompanying parent. Walkers can start between 9 a.m. and noon in front of the library. There is no IVV credit, but the kids will get a prize and a certificate.
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Thanks to the following for sending the fliers that make this column possible: William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro; Cath and Rob Floyd; Richard and Donna Glenn; John and Evelyn Golembe; John, Mary and Tess Laub; Tim and Luchi Lynch; “Pat” and Cheryl Patterson; and Bob Gambert, Lew Harrison, Wayne Henry, Doug LeVien and Nancy Shawley.
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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s events:
• Sunday’s walk in Gültstein is a Stammtisch walk for the Stuttgart German American Wandering Club. Look for the club’s blue flag at a table in the start hall and go over and say, “Hi!”
• The distances for the swim event at Wiesbaden are 300, 500 and 1,000 meters.
For news from the Italian walking scene, Clark Soeldner sends the following:
• If you want the prize of a food bag at the Buttrio walk May 1, you must sign up before April 23. If you don’t want the prize, you can wait until the day of the walk to register. For more information, or to register for the walk, call the tourist information office at 0432-673311, or e-mail email@example.com.
• You can choose from an assortment of prizes at the Ambivere event.
• “The view of the castle as you approach Marostica is really impressive, but the walk in 2002 did not take us to the castle grounds. Marostica is known for the live chess pageants held each year. Nearby Nove is known for the ceramics.”
• “The folks in Porcia always put on a good walk, and they really appreciate the Americans who participate.”
E-mail volksmarch information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09752.