Sunday, 28 July 2019


Travelling without an understanding of local history is like going to a 3-D movie and refusing the glasses. Reading that one opening line in a book by Rick Steves has had a profound effect on Jim and I and how we have learned to travel. We endeavour, I admit not always successfully, to gain some insight into where our journey is taking us before we board that  jet. What we are visiting today is impacted by its history, art, architecture, food and culture.

The emotional impact of sites is certainly stronger with a pre-understanding of their history. From the enormity of the monument at Vimy Ridge, France to the isolated Dolomite mountain trenches of WWI in which more Italian soldiers died from exposure than battle injuries to the haunting Jewish Ghetto in Venice to the tiny Sealers’ Monument in Elliston, Newfoundland, Jim and I have found ourselves more than once reduced to tears.

And no more than with our upcoming trip to the Outer Hebrides has Rick Steves’ quote resonated with me. What was at first a means to pacify Jim who for eons has had these remote isles on his bucket list has become an I-cannot-wait-to-get-there journey for me. I had envisioned endless deserted beaches and isolated windswept cliffs. Beautiful, but after a few days.....yawn? For sure we will experience plenty of those, but it is the history of these far-flung isles and their life on the edge that has riveted Jim and I for the past months.

Books have passed between the two of us and endless discussions ensued.  Jim is currently reading When I Heard The Bell, The Loss of The Iolaire by John MacLeod and I, The Guga Hunters by Donald Murray.

 Maps have been dragged back out, routes have been altered and unique accommodation experiences (Gearrannan  Blackhouse Village, for example) have been reserved.

Who knew that when Jim first mentioned the Outer Hebrides an ordinary trip, in my mind, would be transformed into a highly anticipated adventure by simply ingesting a dose of history. 

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