Scotland, minus the mythical monsters.

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
Trip End Jul 14, 2004

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I lived through a horribly motion sickness-inducing bus ride to get to Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. This gorgeous little fishing village is worth it. Fog drifts over the mossy, rolling hills while I gaze out at the gulls and boats, absorbing the serenity. After the bustle of Paris and Glasgow and Edinburgh it's a pleasant change. I'm almost used to the Scottish accent now, in its milder forms, and although it's the height of summer and still damp through, this is a country I'm glad to have visited. I'm staying in a private room in a charming cottage hostel that would be classified as at least a three star bed and breakfast in a larger town.

I've been out to Loch Ness, had a look around Urquhart castle which was much better value than Edinburgh castle, overpriced with all else in that fair city. No sign of the monster. I also went to the lovely town of Fort William and entertained the idea of climbing Ben Nevis for half a second before giving myself the excuse of lack of time. I did sample some haggis though, a gutsy challenge for a semi-vegetarian.

My friend Lorna, with whom I studied in Calgary met me at the airport in Glasgow, which was fortunate, as I would never have managed to find her house in Glaswegian suburbia without her. I have Lorna to thank for this whole experience - I wouldn't have been able to afford a week in Pound Sterling Scotland if it weren't for her and her family's hospitality.

Glasgow to me is a definitive British city. Battered and grey, but a hive of activity and vibrancy on close inspection. I wandered around Merchant City and the old Cathedral and graveyard, visited the Gallery of Modern Art and had a few pints of Tennants wherever Lorna suggested.

By the time I left for Edinburgh, I thought I'd seen most of what Glasgow had to offer and was excited about hitting the city some call the most beautiful in the world. Edinburgh certainly lives up to its reputation, and has the price tag to show for it!

I was stunned on first impression at just how steeped in history - dark, sordid history mostly - Edinburgh is. Block after block of majestic heritage buildings begging to be photographed, along with the kilted redheaded bagpipe players who no doubt make a good living off the tourist dollar.

That evening I joined the hordes in search of Mackenzie's Poltergeist on one of Edinburgh's many ghost tours. I don't know what I was thinking in paying someone to let me into a chained-up haunted cemetery near midnight so they could scare the crap out of me, but the tour was actually quite interesting and genuinely historic. For the record, no real ghouls emerged.

As much as I would love to spend more time in Edinburgh, I think I'll wait until someone pays me to report on the festival or something, because it's not a place for the budget traveller. So back I headed to Glasgow, to meet Lorna at the free Belle and Sebastian concert in the Botanic Gardens!

We sat on the lawn amidst the masses, ate pizza, drank wine and enjoyed the music. Somehow amongst the tumultuous Scottish summer the skies cleared to reveal a flawless blue sunshine day, as if the event manager had struck a deal with the heavens.
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