October 28th 2014

Wayfarer Hillary Willett describes how her own, unplanned explorations have left some lasting memories. I like to arrive ahead of a Wayfarers Walk, taking some time to see nearby sites and cities. Thinking back on those travels, it’s often the stumbled-upon places that come to mind. While guides and guidebooks definitely play their part, simple happenstance can lead to fond memories. Take Bath, for instance, where I stopped off before the start of the inaugural Exmoor Walk. I might very well have read about Bath’s local theatre ahead of time; that I don’t recall. I do know, though, that I wasn’t headed there. I was simply going for a long walk with no destination in mind to absorb the feel of the place. I came upon the theatre where a matinee of Oleanna by David Mamet was about to begin. This was 1993 — prior to the movie’s release — and I wasn’t familiar with the story. What an unexpected treat that production was, not to mention the return of the cast (including David Suchet) to the stage for a meet-the-audience session afterwards. Foreign culinary delights await discovery, too. By chance, I found some of the best carrot soup in all of Edinburgh! I’ve explored this beautiful city twice — in conjunction with the Western Isles and the Highlands Walks. On my first visit, I purposely headed in the opposite direction of The Royal Mile. The day was lovely, and I wanted to see parts of the city from a non-tourist’s perspective. For lunch, I stopped at a tiny café. Nothing fancy. Not on a main street. Looked like a place that would have good fresh food with real ingredients. It was, and I’ve never forgotten the hearty meal and the hospitable family proprietors. When I returned home, I mailed them a note and enclosed the picture shown here. The best hot chocolate? That would have to be in a Galician village somewhere along the Camino de Santiago Walk. The scenic Spanish region was especially green in May of this year. Lots of rain! So, we Wayfarers veered from our trek to stop at a tavern for some respite. Besides the refreshments, we were treated to the vocals of one patron who was sitting at his table crooning Sinatra tunes — in key. The rain, no doubt, having brought that peregrino* indoors just like us. The Wayfarers couldn’t have choreographed it better! *(For those who haven’t walked the Camino: peregrino = pilgrim.)

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