August 11, 2015. For whatever reason, I didn’t make many notes today.
We decided to go back to the Rothiemurchus Forest and go to either Loch an Eilein or Loch Murlich and walk around. At the first day introduction, we heard that there was a pottery at Loch an Eilein where we could sit on high stools and look out at the various animals in the forest.
First, though, we stopped at the The Druie Cafe Restaurant located at the Visitor Centre for lunch. The Druie takes its name from the sparkling burn that flows behind the restaurant carrying mountain water from the Cairngorms down to the River Spey. Most of their food was either grown or killed in the forest, so there was lots of venison on the menu as well as Highland beef and rainbow trout.
We sat between a very interesting couple from Australia and a woman who was staying at Grantown-on-Spey (Baile Ùr nan Granndach) until the festivals in Edinburgh were over the crowds had gone home. She said she really liked the Edinburgh Tattoo, though 🙂
There was also a small gift shop and a store that sold local veggies and meats from the forest.
Rothiemurchus is incredibly passionate about its own home-grown produce, from its succulent Highland beef and velvety wild venison to fresh rainbow trout and sweet heather honey. We also work with a range of artisan producers including chocolatiers, cheese makers and vineyards to ensure that our deli is stocked to the rafters with decadent chocolates, seasonal wines by Corney & Barrow, home-made fudge, home baking, chutneys and preserves (made exclusively for Rothiemurchus), haggis, black pudding and bacon and a wide variety of artisan cheeses.
We left the cafe/shop and headed out for the pottery at Loch an Eilein. We never found that but we did find the car park for the Loch, itself so we went there instead.
Lots of people, bikes, dogs, enjoying the beautiful day, There were ducks swimming on the loch, little old buildings, old castle – what more could we want?
Loch an Eilein is a small irregular shaped, freshwater loch in the Rothiemurchus Forest about 3.1 mi south of Aviemore, Scotland.
In the late 18th and early 19th century, the loch was used mainly for two things. On the banks of the loch there is a limestone kiln where the lime stone was collected from a rockface looking over the loch. Also loggers used the connecting river to float logs down to the wood-treating factories downstream. Rob Roy and other cattle rustlers used the loch, and one side of the loch is called ‘Robbers Way’. There are only three remaining houses on the loch side (Pictures in the slideshow, below), which are now used by forestry officers.
In the middle of the Loch, on what may be a natural island, are the ruins of a small 15th century castle. At this time the castle was connected to the shore by a causeway. The causeway was lost when the water level in the loch was raised in the 18th century.
On the way back to our place, we stopped at Tesco (of course!).
Sometime in the late afternoon, Tom got a call from his client that he needed something NOW. His computer had only 1 hour left of battery (we still had no adaptor) and mine had 6 hours, so mine was commandeered again. I was worried because I always have a bit of work to do on Thursdays and Sundays. I had set up a lot of stuff to autopost before we came but some things had to be done later.
Tom worked most of that night and a lot of the next morning. I grumped and grumbled…
All pictures from today:
8:00 AM-7:00 PM
Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island’s arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba’s long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. Called Papiamento, it is a tongue that combines elements of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, African and English.
Semi-Submarine, Shipwreck & Island Drive
Your tour begins when you board the ferry “Stingray” at Palm Pier, on one of Aruba’s best beaches. After a 20-minute transfer, you’ll board the semi-sub. This is a surface vessel where you sit five feet below the waterline, the perfect way to discover the fascinating sea life that lives in these crystal clear Caribbean waters. The semi-sub will head towards the wreck of the “Antilla,” a German freighter that was sunk off the coast of Aruba during World War II. The tour is narrated and you will learn about how this 440-foot-long freighter met its watery end. You will also be able to view coral and the plentiful sea life, before returning to dry land. Here you will board your air-conditioned transportation for the short yet scenic journey to the California Lighthouse for views of Aruba’s windward coast.
The lighthouse is named after the U.S. ship which sunk in 1893, years before the lighthouse was built. Your captivating day then continues as you drive to the Casibari rock formations, where you will have time to browse the gift shop and view the amazing landscape formed by diorite boulders the size of small houses. Energetic guests may wish to climb the 80 rustic steps to the formation’s summit for stunning views of the island. Finally, it’s time to head to Aruba’s rugged north coast, to view the breath-taking Baby Natural Bridge, carved by the surf from solid coral and limestone. You will also be able to view the collapsed original Natural Bridge, and visit the gift shop here. Your route back to the ship takes you past the fascinating ruins of a 19th-century gold mill at Boca Mahos, and at the end of the tour, you will have the option to independently explore Aruba’s capital city Oranjestad. You will then be responsible for your return to the ship, which is a mere five minute walk away.
Weather Forecast: Mostly Sunny High 82 / Low 79
Sunrise 6:52 am / Sunset 6:50 pm
From the Navigator: Overnight Coral Princess maintained a southeasterly course and this morning we will make our final approach to Aruba. A local pilot will assist in navigating the vessel to our berth in the capital city of Oranjestad. This afternoon, with all the passengers onboard, we will let go our lines and maneuver out of the harbor, before altering course to starboard and setting westerly courses toward our next port of call, Cartagena.
When we woke up, we could see that we were approaching port. I watched the process from the balcony, then we went down to deck 7 (Fiesta) to wait in line for disembarkation.
Off the ship, we went through the terminal and met our bus. Turned out, Rosie and Jim were on the same tour.
We rode in the bus for a while as our tour guide mentioned some Aruba facts and showed us some points of interest. One of the most interesting and pertinent facts for me was that all restrooms on Aruba cost $.50 to use except the Natural Bridge, which was $1.00. Yuck!
One of the first things we saw was a roundabout with a McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food. I also saw a store called Rat Land which I hope means something in Dutch than in English.
Their license plates say “One Happy Island” but people are more happy when it rains. They get very little rain there. The island is very desert-like with lots of cacti, like we saw in Phoenix, AZ.
Our first stop was the California Light House. There were some mini-Stonehenge rocks there. We couldn’t go in. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891. It was formerly open to the public until a suicide occurred, which prompted authorities to restrict public access to the lighthouse.
In Aruba, they make piles of rocks, similar to those we saw in Iceland. In Aruba, tourists stack them up and make a wish on each rock they add to the pile.
Back on the bus, we went to DePalma beach. That was down a path next to the Riu hotel. All beaches here, like Barbados, are public. The Riu had a “garden” of big rocks, surrounded by hedges and flowers, complete with a gardner tending these rocks.
Lots of activity there like wind surfing, parasailing, etc. We walked past the little shops (they had Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins!) and got on a flat-topped ferry boat for our semi-submersible.
The semi-submersible didn’t submerge at all. The only “submersing” it did was when we walked down the stairs to take our seats by the portholes. In some of the photos below, you can see the bottom of our craft on the top of the water.
Even their own website says that they do not submerge at all:
The Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine is a state-of-the-art semi-submarine developed in Australia for use on the Great Barrier Reef. This unique vessel does not submerge. You step down into the hull of this cruising underwater observatory and sit in air-conditioned comfort just 5 feet below the water’s surface, viewing amazing Aruba sea life through large clear glass windows.
They should call in non-submersible instead. There must not have been a reef or anything because all we did was circle the shipwreck, the Antilla.
I was a bit upset by all the divers’ bubbles coming from underneath us. That couldn’t have been safe for them to be diving under a boat, whether it submerged or not.
From there, we drove to the Natural Bridge past Arashi Beach.
The Aruba Natural Bridge was a tourist attraction that was formed naturally out of coral limestone. The landmark collapsed on September 2, 2005. We saw the newer Natural “Baby” Arch at the northeast shore of Aruba at the same site.
I thought I had a video of this arch but it might be on my other camera. If/when I find it, I’ll put it here. 🙂
Everything where we were seemed so dry, so there was a lot of cactus. We also saw some brown doves (close relative of the North American Mourning Dove) and egrets (a type of heron).
The guide said that many of the beaches were made of coral. They have a volcano on Aruba called Hooiberg, a Dutch word meaning Haystack. It is actually a dormant volcano located close to the center of the island. The island of Aruba was formed as a result of volcanic activity.
Off to the Casibari rock formations. Geologists are uncertain about their origins, but think that a collision of the teutonic plates forced the massive slabs to the surface. The limestone steps surrounding them are signs of the changing water levels of the Caribbean throughout the ages.
Aruba is made of lava quartz diorite and limestone. There is also granite but it’s protected.
We didn’t get to see the gold mill or downtown Oranjestad but we were happy to head back to the ship. I was surprised and pleased when the crew gave us cold water and cold towels.
Back on board, we took a little nap, went to the library saw the singers and dancers do a show called Motor City, another excellent show.
After dinner in the buffet, we went to the Princess Theater to see Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.