My Castle

Trip Start Mar 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 03, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yup, I got my own castle.  Ok.. not really... I had to share with a couple dozen other people... and Chris.. but sometimes the castle was empty except for the couple employees, so it really was like having my own castle to myself!  The hostel itself was a small four story stone castle.  The bottom floor had a small lobby and reception desk, as well as the biggest hostel kitchen I've seen yet!  The second floor had a big spacious room with a few couches and a ginormous fireplace; a dining room (aka the restaraunt where you could get affordable meals from if you wanted); a TV room with another couple couches, a TV (!), and a fireplace; and a few other rooms that were locked.  The third and fourth floors were all rooms and dorms. But the castle was mostly empty the entire time.  I think we were the only guests to actually stay there a few nights in a row.  Everyone else just seemed to stay as a stopover on their way to somewhere, whether it be by car or bike.  The castle had a few small lawns on the outside, a big stone fountain, and a great view of Loch Lomond (loch = lake).  Unfortunately.. it was in the middle of nowhere in the boondocks... like any proper castle, I suppose.

So we hopped off at the end of the line for our train in Balloch around 7pm (it had been a good 9 hour train ride from Bath to Balloch).  It was a teeny town with pretty much one small main street.  Most of the places were already closed down for the evening.  We were starving since we hadn't eaten since 11am.  "Looks like Indian food or-" I started to say. "Yes," Chris interrupted.  lol.  The food ended up being good and dirt cheap.  Mmmm. =)  Now having filled ourselves, I was much more inclined to hike the 2 miles with my pack.  Most of the walk was a long an empty road lined with vibrant green trees and plants and pasture.  Scotland is so pretty!  Its so damned green!  Obviously its green for a reason... It started to rain as we walked ( continued to rain and rain for the next several days actually).  The last stretch of our hike was along a highway.. a lil freaky, but manageable.  Unfortunately we also had to cross said highway to get to the castle driveway.  We ended up crossing that highway several times over the next few days.... it was alot like playing Frogger.  Only with a pack to handicap you.  lol.

The next day we decided to hike to next town north of us, Luss, which was a good 6 miles.  Yeah, we had nothing better to do.  I wanted to go hiking, but I learned over the next week that many of the places I had wanted to stop at were not as accessible as I had assumed they would be.  Most of Europe has great public transportation.... I'm gonna say that Ireland and Scotland have been the exceptions.  There's so much amazing hiking to be had, but you need a car to get there!  Laaaaame.  So yeah.  We trekked 6 miles up the highway in the rain to a village.  It was smaller than Cong in Ireland.  lol.  We were cold and wet, and my feet were killing me.  My feet have been hurting more and more this past month, just from all the walking.  I don't think I give my feet muscles enough time to recover, and my boots might not be great boots.  Thankfully there was a bus we could take back to our hostel from Luss.  But, while in Luss, we ate in a small coffeeshop- hot tea, hot spicy lentil soup with crusty brown bread and butter, and then a scone with jam and cream for dessert.  So freakin perfect for a cold rainy day.

We pretty much spent each late afternoon and evening back in the hostel watching TV and reading our books.  Its such a luxury to have TV in ENGLISH now!!  Especially the newspapers.  God, its wonderful to find the news in English.  And for some reason, Britain covers a lot of American news in their own papers... odd, but it keeps ME informed!  The most troubling (besides all the flooding and tornadoes in the midwest) was finding out another volcano erupted in Iceland.  Damn those volcanoes!  It spewed a bunch of ash, and now British airports have been grounding flights.  While I do have travel insurance that would probably reimburse me for all the expenses... I really just want to get home.  Its time to see family, get back to work and find a nursing job.  My bank accounts are sad now, lol.  And Chris is really looking forward to a real taqueria burrito from El Buen Gusto.

Our next day I was hoping to take a bus back to Luss, hop a ferry across Loch Lomond and then do some light hiking in the Trossachs.  There's better hiking on that side.  No such luck.  Chris had went to bed the night before with a headache, and we were out of ibuprofen. So he woke up the next morning with a massive migraine.  And this was the worst possible place he could have a migraine, believe me.  Most hostels don't do lockouts, but its still pretty common.  Its just a certain period of time during the day when they kick everyone out so they can do cleaning (not typically a problem since most people sightsee and do touristy things during the day).  We thought they might make an exception since Chris was sick, but they said they couldn't- the insurance didn't cover any guests from 10am to 3pm.  To make matters worse, it was raining again, and Balloch was 2 miles away... the closest place that would have heachache meds.  I thought about ditching him on the castle porch- it had a stone bench he could probably lie on.  But he wouldn't stay there, and I didn't want to make him.  I didn't mind walking to and from Balloch by myself, but I was worried just as much about taking him with me as I was leaving him there.  Sigh.  So he came along, and we slowly walked to Balloch.  At one point he got really dizzy and had to sit down on the side of the road.  He told me later he didn't remember most of the walk to town- his head just hurt so damned bad.  He said he could feel the blood slamming through his head and was worried about having an aneursym.  Thanks- like I needed that to think about.  I hadn't even thought of that scenario.  We did finally make it to Balloch and bought ibuprofen at a tiny lil 7-11-like store.  The we crossed the street to the train station ('s really just a platform.. you can't properly call something that small a station, lol) and sat inside one of the glass seating areas to get out of the rain and wind.  I was smart enough to bring my book since I know it usually takes at least a couple hours for his migraine to dissipate.. if it does at all.  So I read, and Chris, somehow, managed to fall asleep.  I have no how.. it looked horribly uncomfortable.  When he woke up an hour and a half later, he was down to just a small headache.  We sat there for another half hour reading a newspaper, and then went to find lunch.

The rest of the day we just walked along the loch for a lil ways, and then we bought groceries to make pasta for dinner.  After that we walked back to the hostel, where we chillaxed the rest of the night, reading and making dinner and watching TV.  The castle was at its most empty that night.  It was like having the whole place to yourself- so freakin awesome!  lol, who hasn't had a castle fantasy as a kid?  =)  The next day we headed back to Balloch and hopped a train to Fort William.
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