Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nessie and Castles and Kilts, Oh My!

So as I've previously mentioned, this past weekend I went to Scotland. It was AWESOME. After living in a city for a while we decided we wanted to travel to the Highlands of Scotland in Inverness rather than go to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Everything about the trip was incredible and very go-with-the-flow. We started off at around 3am Saturday morning, taking a taxi to the bus and then the bus to the airport. We flew Easy Jet for the first time and I was definitely very happy with it. The hour and a half flight felt like 5 minutes since we slept the whole time. My favorite part was that we got off the plane and walked down stairs to the runway, without one of those tunnels. It seems silly but I've always wanted to do that!

When we got to Scotland we got ourselves a very necessary map and picked up pretty much every pamphlet at the airport. Like I said, this trip was kind of free flowing and all we planned ahead of time was our Loch Ness Cruise, which we ended up changing anyway. So we took a bus from the airport to Inverness, which is a cute town with beautiful views. Our first plan was our cruise but once we got to the bus station we learned that we had to travel 30 minutes away on our own to get to the point that the boat leaves from. Fortunately, we were able to change our booking to a trip that was about to leave from that bus station. This is where we met Sue, our lovely bus driver/tour guide. When we were first boarding the bus we thought we were holding up tons of people by changing our tickets but once we got on we realized that the two people sitting in the front were the only ones on the bus. This pretty accurately sums up the population of people/tourists in Inverness.

We took the bus to Drumnadrochit (yeah, try pronouncing that when you're looking for directions) and embarked on the journey that I've dreamed about for years. I've watched so many things about the mysterious Loch Ness monster that to actually be on a boat there was just so exciting to me. This is definitely comparable to how I felt about Stonehenge and reminds me of how I'm really doing so many awesome things that I've dreamed about for a long time. Here are some pictures and videos from the cruise:

We were also fortunate enough to have some men in kilts on the trip with us and of course I asked to take a picture with them:

After some searching and a little while traveling on Loch Ness we reached Urquhart Castle, which was pretty much ruins from the 15th century. We were still able to go up some stairs and get a great view of Loch Ness, where we took a few more pictures:

Once the cruise was done we went to check into our hostel. With hostels, you never know what to expect. At 15 pounds a night it's a little iffy as to what sort of living situation you're going to be thrown into. Once again, we got lucky with this one. The hostel was a cute hippie-esque cottage, decorated with construction paper, paint, and newspaper articles about Nessie and other Scotland related things. The hostel also included a community guitar, flags from around the world, and a beautiful view of Inverness. Luckily,we were given a 5 person room and fortunately had no roommates. Also, the staff were very friendly and accommodating. Our success with hostels continues!

After this we unintentionally went to an American-style restaurant called the Filling Station. Surprisingly, I did not take any pictures of my food but I had bread bowl chowder. Thinking about it is making me really hungry but I'm sitting in class writing this right now. Don't worry, I'm paying attention a little bit. My teacher tends to repeat himself. For anyone who is concerned, I got an A- on my first paper so there's nothing to worry about.

So anyway, later on we did another little thing on my bucket list (which can soon be viewed on the "Bucket List" tab on this blog): heard some traditional Scottish music live, at a pub. I really loved it and therefore made some videos. The pub itself, called Hootananny, was one of the best rated in Scotland. When we walked in we soon realized that we were at least 10 years younger than the youngest person there. That was interesting but we had no trouble making the best of it. We met some Scottish men who were really into the music. I'm pretty sure one of the men started crying while singing along with one of the songs. Deep.

The next day we walked to the Ness Islands and did some souvenir shopping. I bought everything I planned on buying: postcards, a Scotland sweatshirt, a magnet, and a Nessie stuffed animal:

To finish off our travels, we walked down to where the River Ness meets the ocean to look for some dolphins, which we were told could be found there. Unfortunately we didn't get to see anyway since it was too cold but the view was beautiful and we took some rocks from the beach:

That pretty much sums up our quick Scotland trip. It might not sound like much but it was honestly one of my favorite trips so far. Everything was so beautiful and Scottish culture is really cool. As for now, I guess I'll go back to listening to my teacher talk about the same aspects of Islam for another two hours. Nice man, just very repetitive. I like him though.

Next on my to-do list:
- Go on the London Eye on Thursday
- Finish booking my transportation and hostels for spring break
- Eat some fish and chips (delayed, I know)
- Simply enjoy living in London

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