Ghent (2018)

belgiumghentgermanykolnSeries: Western Europe 2018

This post follows directly on from the last one, describing some very hastily planned travel in Western Europe in the summer of 2018. For context, see the previous posts.

The city center, viewed from the Het Gravensteen
The city center, viewed from the Het Gravensteen

I've always preferred taking the stairs to taking elevators.

An elevator might never come, and can move at a lethargic speed if it does.

On foot, however, I can leap with the speed of a gazelle (and none of its grace), arriving to wherever I climb as an undignified, sweaty mess. But, a mess that didn't have to wait for a stinking elevator.

I booked a bed in a hostel dormitory.

I think I may have tried to book an AirBnb or something, but virtually everything was already booked, and I fortunately realized that the site misleadingly increased my search radius to such a large area that the results it gave were countryside farms, far away from the quick city daytrips I was engaged with.

So, I bought a cheap padlock from the train station convenience store (along with some hair ties), and bounded the steps to a dormitory bed.

I looked at the reviews enough to feel confident that the risk of a bad experience was minimal, but not enough to realize that the hostel was at the top of a multi-story parking garage.

The single elevator, ponderously slow, cramped, and already occupied by motorists.

Up I went.

2020 -> 2021

life updatesnew yearscovid-19

Dog statue after snowfall.
Dog statue after snowfall.

2020 was an unforgettable year, full of altered plans and misfortune.

I used New Year's Eve as an excuse to message quite a lot of friends of mine, ask how they were doing, and share good wishes. Wishes that they and their families remained safe and healthy, and that the pandemic gripping the globe would finally get under control.

Appalachian Trail: Caledonia Park to Old Forge Road

hikesappalachian trailSeries: Attractions of Pennsylvania

In early December 2020, my phone buzzed with a message. Someone replied to my suggestion of "maybe going on a scocially-distanced hike" (sic) from months earlier. That weekend, the weather seemed nice, and the arbitrarily chosen meeting point was (for once) closer to me than to my friends.

AT

This would be first day hike on the Appalachian trail, one of the most important hiking routes in the United States.

My company would be the inimitable Nik and Andrew, former colleagues. Both of them are connoisseurs of fruit-essenced sparkling water, experts at making strange faces, and brilliant at pointing at things. Andrew's special skill is consuming vittles.

AT

The sights?