Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Beware the Campbells

Arriving in Edinburgh in one piece, I walked up the MASSIVE hill to the backpacking hostel that I had booked.  I booked this trip so far in advance that I had not remembered that I booked a single room! (HALLELUJAH!!!) After a week of sharing a room with 6 random girls, it was a warm (actually cold-I only had a space-heater) welcome to be able to just veg out without being interrupted.  I promptly changed into my pajamas, and finished Allegiant--bawling at the terrible ending mind you.

Then I took a nap. After meeting up with Anna and Ben for dinner. (Fish and chips! I mean why not, I'm in the UK afterall)  We then went to a pub close to our hostels. It was of the... older crowd. One pint in and we all, exhausted called it a night.

The next morning started early. We met at the local Starbucks on the Royal Mile before we joined our Highland Tour. (It's called Highland Experience and I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it.)  We booked a tour for the whole day, where we literally were in a bus for 12 hours. Now, this tour is taxing. It is a long day. However, I loved every second of it.  We began our tour in Stirling, where William Wallace and Robert the Bruce have monuments. As we drove through the Lowlands, we listened to Mel Gibson's passioned speech to his men from what else, but Braveheart. Making a quick pitstop at Loch Lubnaig to take pictures we turned off the main roads and made our way through the Highlands on twisty winding back roads.

Glen Coe was our next stop. This was the site of the Campbell Clan's massacre of  MacDonald Clan turning their back on the ancient ritual of hospitality. This was also the area where Harry Potter and Skyfall were filmed. AKA it is absolutely breath-taking. I have only been that cold one other time in my life. (NY Giants v. Panthers game in the Meadowlands where I was wearing unlined rubber boots in December with like a foot of snow) The mountains were gorgeous, the intensity of the color in this grey and rainy place was astounding.  We stopped at the site of the "Three Sisters" Faith Hope and Peace, obviously all in Gaelic.  These mountain tops almost disappeared into the mist.

On to the main attraction we headed even further north to the infamous Loch Ness.  It was as if the clouds decided to take a break, and allow the sun to shine as we arrived at the Loch.  Well take a look, it is easier to show you than to tell you. Maybe we saw Nessie, maybe we didn't.  

After a fun boat tour on the Loch, we headed to Inverness to make our turn back south. Story after story about different massacres played throughout the day but the tape told the two stories of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots on our way back. These were my favorite. It was at the end of the day, but it was so cool to hear about the history of the monarchy from the Scottish point of view. We made a pitstop in Pitlochry, a tiny fishing village, before we made an impromptu stop at the Forth Bridge built during Queen Victoria's reign.   It is a gorgeous piece of architecture. Arriving back in Edinburgh twelve hours later, we were exhausted. Promptly thanking Kenny, our bus driver in the kilt, we parted for a bit to get refreshed to go out to dinner and out on the town. Overall, exhausting day but one of the most memorable of this awesome spring break.  

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