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A Trip through the Highlands

October 22, 2011

So, I (unfortunately) have a confession to make. I had written wonderful blog posts for the remainder of my trip, but … well … they are gone. So I will be writing this from memory. I will do my best to share my experiences from memory, but they will not be as authentic as my original posts. Here goes:

Saturday morning I get up at 7:00, get ready, and walk up the Royal Mile, once again. I board a Timberbush Tours bus with 35 other tourists and we begin the long trek into the heart of Scotland.

As we pass through New Edinburgh, our tour guide tells us great facts. (Unfortunately, I lost these facts with my blog draft.) Fortunately, I do remember a funny fact: Before becoming a famous actor, Sean Connery was a milkman.

We drove through the Lowlands, making a quick stop for coffee and breakfast. The lines were long, so I enjoyed taking a moment to look at the hairy coos and stretch my legs.

Out next stop took us to Glencoe. The mountains were covered in deep fog, giving the ideal Scottish appearance. The green hills and white sky was foreign, yet peaceful.

The Three Sisters at Glenco

As we continued our trek, our guide told us stories of MacDonald Clan being massacred. It was a tragic story of miscommunication and murder.

We stopped for a quick lunch and a pick a few souvenirs from a small soap shop.

Loch Ness, But No “Nessie”

As we drove towards Loch Ness, I learned that the reason “lakes” are called “loches” in Scotland is because the Roman Empire reached England, but did not touch Scotland. “Loch” comes from a Gallic heritage, which is not the same as a Gaelic.

We finally reach our greatly anticipated destination—Loch Ness. We board a small boat to tour a small part of the loch. with an area of 21 square miles and a depth of nearly 800 feet, it is no surprise that the rumors of a large water-dwelling beast could be hidden beneath the surface. There were not “Nessie” sightings, but the area was beautiful, despite the cold rain.

The Ruins of Urquhart Castle

We reached the deepest part of Loch Ness at Urquhart Castle. The castle was unfortunately destroyed to ensure the Jacobites could not use it as a stronghold. The ruins are still lovely, but I wasn’t able to get too close.

The girl I sat beside on the bus was from Fullerton, California. While I had met many amazing people, it was nice to be able to compare observations with another American. She was traveling with her parents on vacation.

Dinner

We stopped in Pitlochry for a final break on our return to Edinburgh. I steal in a few short naps while we are on the road. The lack of sleep on the plane was catching up with me.  By the time we reach our final destination at the Royal Mile, I am exhausted and hungry. Based on the driver’s recommendation, I have dinner at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. I order ham, eggs, grilled tomatoes, and chips. It is a perfect meal for the end of a long day.

I return to the hostel, chat with the girls shortly before going to bed, then try to get a few hours of sleep. The tavern outside is loud. I decide against sleep pills because I have to be up at 3:00 am to catch my bus to the airport. I close my eyes, but sleep doesn’t come. A few times each hour, another girl would come in, turn on the light, and get ready for bed. By the time everyone was in for the night is was 12:30 am. The last time I look at my watch, it’s 1:00 am.

I hope two hours of sleep is enough to sustain me tomorrow.

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