Highlands Tour (Nathan)

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
Trip End Oct 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Central Youth Hostel

Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Monday, September 13, 2010

On Monday we got up early to catch our bus for the tour to the Highlands. It was a fairly small group, maybe 20 people, and our guide provided us with a running commentary on Scotland's history and the various sights we passed over the intercom. Unfortunately, the weather was extremely windy and rainy and foggy, so visibility wasn't so good, and more often than not he decided to skip a planned stop because the view was obscured. Glennica and I were also lulled to sleep by the motion of the bus really easily, so we missed a lot of the countryside.

What we did see was beautiful, and I'd really like to revisit the Highlands sometime in a less rainy season and go hiking and exploring a bit. The pictures I took don't do it justice at all. Our first stop was just a little tourist shop with a couple Highland cows, which had me pretty excited... I'd heard about Highland cows ever since we arrived in Scotland and was eager to see one. They're specially adapted to the harsh climate with an extra thick, shaggy coat that both keeps them warm and makes them look absolutely adorable in a sort of sheepdog-ish way, with long fringes of fur that cover their eyes. The ones we saw were kind of soggy and tangled, but still very cute. They're apparently very docile and gentle, though they have some wicked-looking horns.

We stopped in a small town for lunch, and Glennica and I split a steak casserole, though it seemed more like a stew to me. It was very good, though... that's one thing I've been finding overseas, is that the food seems to be higher quality. Even convenience food is pretty decent. I don't remember a whole lot more of the trip... our guide was telling us about the Glencoe(?) massacre and how it's one of the most reviled events in Scottish history, and about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, who we'd already heard about several times by now. Eventually we arrived in Fort Augustus, the farthest point on our journey and the home of Loch Ness. There was an option to go on a boat and look for the Loch Ness Monster, but we opted to save some money and explore the town instead.

It was a nice little place, and fun to wander. We found a fountain from 1897 celebrating Queen Victoria's jubilee, just another example of historical objects casually lying around as though they weren't even old, again, something you just don't see much in the United States. There was also a cute wireframe sculpture of Nessie that I assume is covered in greenery during the summer, but now looked kind of sad and mangy. On the whole, the town didn't exploit the Loch Ness Monster myth as much as I'd thought... aside from a few shirts and plush toys in the tourist shops and the boat service, there weren't that many references to Nessie. I had zero interest in going out monster-hunting, since the whole Loch Ness Monster myth lost all credibility for me when the famous "surgeon's photo" was admitted to be a hoax- before that photo, nobody ever mentioned any mysterious creatures, but afterward people couldn't stop claiming they'd seen Nessie.

The rest of the trip was pretty much a straight drive back to Edinburgh. There was a stop planned for a walk in the woods, but it was so cold and wet and miserable (and this is coming from someone who LIKES rain) that nobody wanted to do it, so it got voted down. Our guide told us his opinions on what makes a good whisky and some of the difference between the regional varieties, which was pretty interesting even though I rarely drink. The last stop was another town of tourist crap, and then we arrived back in late evening. It was a pretty disappointing trip, but I did at least get a hint of what the Highlands are like, and I saw some amazing mountains and valleys that I couldn't photograph from the moving bus. And somehow, even though it ruined a lot of the trip, the harsh cold rainy weather seemed appropriate for a visit to the Scottish Highlands.
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Daar on

Well that was a bit of a surprise, you touring in Europe. I hope you have a great trip and that my fellow europeans will treat you nicely..

Linda on

WHOA.. the Victoria fountain is magnificent and I am in love with the Shaggy Highland Cow&lt;3... Your pictures are awesome, especially with the fog sweeping the mountains.. It all looks so amazing...........what a special trip. I have my passport on my desk everytime I log into your blog and I feel as if I am one of the troupe................ENJOY!!

women_n_seamen on

Hello from Guess Who?

Kristy on

It is doodle bug with horns!

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