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Published: June 26th 2009
View from the hostel
I am in paradise. I am on the west side of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides staying in my 4th Gatliff Trust hostel (of the same collection as the rustic hostel I last wrote about). This hostel is actually in a national heritage site and museum -- the bunkhouse is one of 6 preserved 'blackhouses' -- a traditional Norse stone thatched-roof longhouse.
Few people realize that you can stay here and when they learn you can, they assume you would have to have booked long in advance. But you don't. You don't book at all. And so far, each night has only had a total of 6 or 7 lodgers -- less than half full.
But we are perfectly placed here. I can't imagine a better location, nor time to be here. The weather has been phenomenal -- blue skies, light breeze (just enough to keep the midges away), and about 20-25 C each day. It's right on the ocean. There is a pebble beach a stone's throw away and each night everyone sits on the stones and watches the sun set into the ocean.
The beach is in a small cove and to the
right and to the left there are peat-covered hills and steep sea cliffs, and in less than a 5 minute walk, you can be peering over the edge of jagged rocky cliffs into the swirling bright blue ocean below.
But last night was the best. The weather was ideal and after supper I grabbed my iPod and headphones and headed up to the sea cliffs. I climbed down a bit and sat perhaps dangerously close to the edge on a jutting rock so that the sea felt right below me.
I listened to fantastic Sigur Ros and stared into the sea. And then there appeared two dolphins just below me -- not at all far away - and I watched them breech the surface every 10 minutes or so for well over an hour. One in particular came so close as to seem directly below me and I got a very good view of his back as he curved up and back under again.
Oh if I could only describe how amazing it was to listen to the song 'Festival' -- a beautifully majestic and slowly building song.... the best thing about Sigur Ros is that you
Black houses, one of which is a hostel.
can hear and almost feel the Icelandic landscape through their mournful and dramatic music -- and I listened while watching the gulls glide in figure 8s below and before me as if in tune to the music, with the water swirling and the dolphins breeching and not a soul to be seen around me. Neither music nor landscape has ever seemed so beautiful. And I melted like honey over the edge of the rock.
It was a perfect antidote to five summers in a steamy concrete, balcony-less apartment on Bathurst Street -- where I wanted so badly just to be able to sit outdoors. I don't know how I got so lucky as to be able to do this. It is certainly a fantastic summer.
(photos to come....)
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