We left early morning Friday on a bus tour through the Highlands of Scotland. I can't find the words to describe all the wonderful places we visited. Absolutely breathtaking, really.
After saying goodbye to my dead basil plant, which didn't quite make it past 24 hours, we ran to make it on the giant yellow bus. (Yes, I am the only person trying to grow herbs in the building). We were greeted by our friendly tour guides, Tom(who had a hearty chuckle) and Ewan(saying his name brings a smile to Lauren's face....) who entertained us throughout the 3 days with tales of Scottish heros, legends, and somewhat shockingly grotesque humor. One of our first stops was the William Walllace Monument (aka Braveheart). We walked quite a bit up this winding path to the top where we had a beautiful view all the towns the lay before us. At this point, however, we knew we were in for a rather wet, cold weekend. Managing an umbrella and an SLR proved to be a difficult(yet amusing for everyone else) task, but I luckily made it through without a scratch.
We made a pit stop (always as long as it takes for 30 kids to go to the bathroom and remember to use the ATM because they've run out of GBP again [Yeah, that's what the cool kids call pounds. G-B-P]) to see Hamish, the hairy coo who was absolutely adorable. I wasn't really a fan of him sticking his large tongue up his nostril, but he still won me over. Hamish is really quite the celebrity, and we all scrambled to get his autograph (or at least get him to eat a carrot out of our hands).
Then the most amazing thing happened: I witnessed the dazzling black and crimson Hogwarts Express pass over through the mountains with all its steam and mighty glory.
We visited this placed called Glencoe, a valley that still makes the hearts of highlanders sting in memory of the McDonalds clan that was brutally murdered in their sleep by the Campbells, an order by the throne of England to remind the Scottish the king will show no mercy. To this day, many pub owners in the area have signs saying, "No shoes, No Campbells."
Our last stop of the evening was near our hostel in the fishing community of Fort Augustus. With about twenty or so other tourists, we stuffed ourselves inside a tiny hut to watch a highlander weaponry show. We learned about various weapons used in battle, the worst of which was an axe thrusted between the legs of your enemy who was then bounced up and down before a series of other tortuous acts.
Most of us spent our first night ever in a hostel that weekend. Morag's Lodge was surprisingly very clean and had a kind of log-cabin-feel to it. We stayed in 6 bed suites with private bathrooms. It surpassed my expectations of a hostel, and it was much more like staying at a bug-free summer camp. While everyone else got ripped off buying a meal of haggis(the unused parts of a sheep cooked inside a sheep's stomach), Lauren and I headed to the nearest Spar( picture a large gas station market with souvenirs) to pick up frozen pizza and mac & cheese. Not exactly gourmet, but the exchange rate's a nasty bugger.
The hostel was about a two minute walk from the famed Loch Ness featuring not one but a staggering eighteen Loch Ness Monsters, fondly known as Nessie(s). Most of us took a boat ride on the loch, a vast waxy black body of water supposedly cold enough to preserve dead bodies. The man who owned the boat was a marine biologist who was dead convinced that these mysterious creatures(larger than a bus) lived deep inside the loch because of his extensive sonar research and a few sightings. We were lucky enough to spot something lurking far off in the distance...
A bit of karaoke summed up the evening. One of the Haggis Tour guides belted out La Bamba (more than once) among other tunes some of which were foreign to me. His lyrics to La Bamba were promising, and he may soon end up with a record career of his own. Needless to say I should never be allowed in a karaoke bar. I chickened out on singing alone, and when a group of a girls tried to sing It's My Party, I'm not really sure if the mic ever got turned on. Chad's attempt at Super Freak was surely the highlight of the evening. I can't decide whether it was the dancing or the attempted rhythm that was more entertaining.
Check back for the rest of this to be updated...
isle of sky
cliff where lauren almost died
first day of shine. truffle