Today is my last day off of work and I am trying to take as many Scotland memories as I can with me into the old working routine. Ever since I came back last Monday, I have been in a kind of bubble. I did not switch on the TV once, and I admit I was a bad citizen and avoided the news, too. I have tried my best to prevent myself from my everyday life, it is going to come back soon enough – namely tomorrow morning in the office. The fantastic weather here in Germany made it easier of course, I just spent most of my days outside. And I did some serious walking – I developed a new need for exercise in Scotland!
So after telling you some travel tales in Part 1, I will write down my own travel report today – to help my mind go back to all the amazing places we’ve seen and for you to travel with me if you like.
I took this picture on the tour bus in Glasgow – we figured since we only have a day there, we might choose the comfortable way to get an overview of the city. I took the sign as a sign and set my head on being in the moment instead of thinking or, even worse, worrying about stuff at home. Let the holiday begin! And the first thing we got ourselves – in Scotland!!! – was nicely sunburned noses! Glasgow as a city didn’t do much for me. It’s a city like any other big city. The only place there that did impress me was the Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery on the hill above the Cathedral – I like the atmosphere at cemeteries anyway and this one is surely special! It was there when I noticed that the focus on my SLR camera did not work – which drove me nearly mad! There was nothing I could do about it that day, so we left it and went to look for a trustworthy restaurant. And we ended up having Greek food for dinner! After a pint of Bulmer’s (yeah it’s Irish, but I’ve missed it so much) in a weird pub with sticky tables, we went back to the Alexander Thomson Hotel where we were going to spend the night. Hm. Let’s say, it’s close to the station, that’s handy. And once you take your contact lenses out before using the bathroom and don’t exactly see everything, it’s ok for one night 🙂
The next morning, we went into the city centre (after walking around there a few times the night before, we pretty much knew our way around. Homies already!) to try and get my camera fixed. And I was extremely lucky to find a photography shop with a very nice and dedicated young lady, who assured me that there was nothing wrong with the camera itself. And then she worked her way through the German menu until she had found the one setting that was blocking the focus. Yay, yay, mega yay! I nearly kissed her 😀 We also went into the first outdoor shop to find out what works best against the midges, but had to leave because there was NO WAY for me to understand the shop assistant. He was the only one I did not understand though, so maybe he had a speech impediment 😉 In the second outdoor shop we learned that, contrary to what all the guide books say, the Avon lotion does not work in all cases, so we got a repellent with the funny name ‘Smidge’. It smells lovely! They also convinced us to buy head nets because we were planning to go to the Isle of Skye and apparently the midge problem is pretty bad there. So we bought them and I guess I will be sorted for all motto parties coming.
And then finally, we started our ‘real journey’ – on the train to Oban!
Oban greeted us with the nicest weather as well which made this cute town even prettier. We did not even have to bother with a map because as soon as we got off the train and started looking around, an old lady approached us and asked where we were headed. We told her the name of our B&B and showed us the way. Thanks again, lady! After dropping off our luggage in the really nice and cosy Maridon Guest House, we went for a stroll and soon discovered the way up to McCaig’s Tower. It was pretty warm so we started to pant a little, but the tower itself and the view of Oban there are well worth it:
We decided to have dinner in The Olive Garden Restaurant which was a great idea. With the amazing sunset and the good food it felt all Mediterranean! We had some Italian wine, served by an Italian waiter, and that helped, too!
After a great night’s sleep we enjoyed the fact that Britain has finally discovered real coffee (as opposed to the instant brew that I always refused to get used to in England and Ireland), had a nice breakfast and went to catch the ferry to the Isle of Mull. It was foggy in Oban that morning and even foggier at sea, and we got an idea of the mystic atmosphere that Scotland can have:
When it cleared up, it was as sunny as it would be for most of our whole trip! We crossed Mull by bus and the landscape we got to see was spectacular. Hills, green but yet rough. Sheep, of course. And the vastness of the scenery is just amazing for the soul! From Mull, we crossed to the little Isle of Iona. The sky was cloudy and created a mystic atmosphere once again. There is not much on the island apart from Iona Abbey, but we loved to just walk around and enjoy the quietness. That night we paid another visit to The Olive Garden – never change a winning team!
The next morning, we got onto the train to Crianlarich. Which should definitely opt for the most boring place in the world. And they have a ‘tea room’ in the station which also serves the most horrible coffee in the world. Should have gone for tea, then… We got so bored, we started taking pics of our hiking shoes 🙂
From there, we took the train to Fort William. Hypothetically, the hypothetic toilet incident happened to one of us on this train 🙂 Our plan was to take a taxi from Fort William to Glen Nevis Gorge – unfortunately, I only told the taxi driver to get us to ‘Glen Nevis’. Which he did. I should have asked about the confused expression on his face which got stronger when I asked him to pick us up after two hours. Well, I should have – at the latest when he asked ‘Are you ladies going for a wee walk here?’. He left and we went to look for the way to the gorge. No signs – so we asked the girl in the shop behind us how to get there. And got a weird look again. It turned out that we had been dropped off at a camping site called ‘Glen Nevis’ (I mean, the whole area IS Glen Nevis) and it was too far to walk from there. And not enough time to call another taxi. So we decided to just walk through the little forest by the river which was a lot of fun! The head nets came in handy as photo material, too 😀 And we saw Ben Nevis anyways:
After our little outdoor tour we got back on the train, this time headed to Mallaig.
There is not much to be said about Mallaig. If you want to go to the Isle of Skye, you take the ferry there and this is probably the only reason why they have any tourism. Our B&B – the Moorings Guest House – was lovely and very British: they just love their floral designs! The landlady was very friendly and recommended a restaurant for the night, The Steam Inn. The food was… well… it served its purpose, we were not hungry anymore afterwards . But the pub next door had a lovely beergarden and live music later on so we hung out there for a while with the Danish guys who thought we were lunatics talking about midgets!
The next day we took the ferry to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. While we had not noticed the weight of our suitcases a lot before – they are four-wheelers and we just pushed them up and down the roads – there was an obstacle now: very steep steps to enter the ferry. And you have to understand, we expected every kind of weather in Scotland and had packed accordingly. So I guess we looked rather helpless and finally, a group of Austrians took pity on us and carried the luggage up to the ferry. Thank you, Austria!!! In Armadale, we took a bus that would bring us away from Skye again (which is a bit ironic) to Kyle of Lochalsh. While we had enjoyed the calm and slow attitude in the country so far, it led to us missing the next bus though. And there we were. After trying to and giving up on getting a taxi we just sat down on the ground and waited. We had time! So did Rob, a very nice English man who had missed the very bus, too, so we had a nice chat about our travels so far.
Kyle of Lochalsh
We did make it to Kyle of Lochalsh eventually and were extremely positively surprised by our B&B ‘Ardenlea‘. Not only did we have a really nice room and some kind of spa bathroom, we also had a living room and a balcony! Because we were late, there was no point waiting for yet another bus to Skye, so we took a trip on the glass bottom boat. And it was amazing!
After that, we walked over to Skye on the bridge ! We decided to get a bottle of wine for the evening and my friend managed to trip and sprain her foot on the way back from the supermarket – see what even buying alcohol does 🙂 It was not that bad though. We also discovered one of the loveliest restaurants I’ve ever been to – check out The Waterside Seafood Restaurant if you can! You would never expect a top restaurant in the middle of the station – absolutely fabulous!
After spending some time at the harbour the next morning, we got on the train to Inverness where we had a few hours to spend. We did not make it to Loch Ness but walked along the River and the Ness Islands instead, which was beautiful!
After this lovely break, we were on our way again to Pitlochry.
Pitlochry – wow, what can I say?! Such a beautiful little Victorian town and an even more beautiful B&B – The Wellwood House! Everything there is stunning, the building which resembles a castle, the rooms, the bathroom… And Jim, the owner, is a really warm and welcoming person. You get the feeling that he really likes people – he makes everybody feel very welcome!
We were so happy to be able to spend two nights there – we also started to feel physically exhausted from all the travelling. We had dinner in ‘Fern Cottage‘ and once again had an excellent salmon dish. Because we liked the atmosphere in Wellwood House so much, we decided to have some wine at the tables in front of it – oh, the peace!
The next morning was great – finally no train to catch, nowhere to be! The breakfast buffet was really good! We decided to visit Blair Castle, and it was well worth it. It was pretty warm that day, so the gardens there were good to cool down a bit. Later, we walked down to the Blair Atholl Distillery to check out the process of making Whisky (no ‘e’. Really). It was really interesting, yet I still cannot drink it!
Afterwards, we walked around the town some more and got some souvenirs and gifts. Dinner was at the really good ‘Port na Craig‘, followed by… have a guess? That’s right, wine in front of The Wellwood House.
We were pretty sad to leave, because that also meant our holidays would end soon. After a last stroll through Pitlochry, we got on the train to Edinburgh.
Another wow! After enjoying all the peace and quiet it was strange to be back in a big city – and Edinburgh is big. And beautiful, especially on a sunny Sunday! People and music everywhere! We got our room at the Radisson Blu, situated right on High Street, a really nice hotel. We dropped off our stuff and hopped on one of the tour busses again to show us around the city. Beautiful! I will defo be back for a weekend trip, but I have to admit, at this point, it was just too much. We strolled the streets again and then went for a swim in the hotel pool before having the last dinner and the last sleep 😦
I did not want to go home, really not, but every good time comes to an end. Scotland is absolutely fantastic and we had the best time ever. There are many more things to tell, and I will, but for now I shall swim in my memories!
Yours truly, madly, deeply!
All photos used in this blog are mine unless stated otherwise. Feel free to use them if you like, but be decent and link to this site!