Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'm cheating on England with Scotland... (Day 2)

Alright... if you're just joining us, make sure you have read the post below this one as it is the beginning of the journey... this is Day 2. Day two was my favorite day... yet looking back I realize it was mostly driving. Driving was not the cool part, it was WHERE we were driving that made the difference, for this day my friends was spent in the HIghlands. Now for those of you who weren't aware, God did some of His BEST work in the Highlands. Seriously breathtaking!!!
But before you partake in the sights of northern Scotland, we will begin our journey, rightfully so, with one great man, who plays a vital and undeniably momentous role in Scottish history - William Wallace (are you happy now Jeannette? hehe). Our first stop after boarding the bus at 8:30am was to the Wallace Monument in Stirling.
William Wallace himself... he actually would have dressed like this instead of the Highland garb as depicted in Braveheart, which I desperately need to watch yet again.

I have discovered something about Great Britain that I never knew before... everything is uphill. Edinburgh, in spots, was almost a vertical grade in the sidewalk... the Wallace Monument was no different, but when you reached the tower this is the view
These are all the students JUST from Royal Holloway...
And the girls
After trekking back down the mountain of the Wallace Monument we made our way towards the Highlands. Along the way, we met Hamish the Heilan Coo. The Heilan Coo is the Scottish breed of cattle. During the epidemic of Mad Cow Disease, many of the Heilan Coos were killed, but a group of school children decided to raise money to save Hamish. So he lives... and he lives in a field next to a visitor center.
He quickly took to me and even came when I called him from across the little pen he was in. He is so cute and adorable and we really hit it off. I know the hair is kind of strange and it covers his eyes, but I think that just adds to his mysterious allure.
We did have to leave Hamish and just past him and his vistor center was the entrance into the Highlands.
Excited for the Highlands
This is the point in the blog where I will just post a bunch of scenery pictures. I apologize to you because they don't even begin to capture the immense beauty of what I saw. It was cloudy and rainy, which at first I was disappointed in, but then seeing the clouds roll down the sides of the snow capped mountains was very cool!

there's a rainbow in this pic
The after winding our way for a couple hours hearing all about the adventures of Rob Roy and the warring clans of the Highlands, like the Campbells, MacDonalds, MacGregors, etc, we got to Glencoe. It is the most beautiful spot in the highlands. It is also where they digitally placed Hogwarts in Harry Potter. We got out of the coach and got to take so many pics before it started raining.

So as I said, it started to rain and so we loaded back onto the bus. Our next stop... well who could expect to come to Scotland and not pay a little visit to our friend and "underwater ally" Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. (Note "loch" is pronounced by clearing your throat at the end instead of actually pronouncing the"k" sound.
Now when I picture Loch Ness in my head and from what I have seen in pictures before, it seemed like any medium size lake... nothing spectacular. I was astounded to find that Loch Ness is SEVERAL miles long and over 1.5 miles wide!! We drove along Loch Ness for almost 15 minutes before we reached the half way point, which is where the ruins of Urquhart Castle are.
looking in both directions at the loch on top of the Urquhart Castle tower

the grass is SO green
Scottish Pride!!
On the shore of the Loch... I got a stone from the water to save. Yet, no matter how politely I asked Nessie didn't show herself.

Alright, fun facts about Nessie:
- There are prehistoric cave drawings of a creatue living in Loch Ness.
- The Loch use to have direct access to the North Sea and still today, there are underwater tunnels to the Ocean
- The Loch has such a high concentration of silt in it that they cannot put a submarine in the water to see what's in there
- photographs surfaced in the 1930s of the monster peeking its head out of the water
- Sonar continue to bring about interesting results... as soon as 15 yeas ago sonar confirmed that there is in fact two creatures living beneath the surface of the deep deep loch. Too big to be fish, too fast in moving around to be a plant or rocks, definitely a creature.
- Leading theories is a plesiosaur or giant eel
- Nessie has a friend in the Loch Morar known as Morag (we didn't visit him)
- Nessie creeps me out to no end... mainly because I thought it was more of a legend and NOT a current phenomenon.
- My leading theories: 1. It's an alien space craft hidden beneath the water surface (a la "War of the Worlds") and these are the same aliens who created Stonehenge. 2. The Loch Ness monster from the cave drawings and the one from the 1930s and even the one today is the exact same one and is in fact immortal. 3. It's the underwater city of Atlantis. 3. It's a futuristic submarine which is home to Elvis, King Arthur, Jack the Ripper, and Merlin. They are all happy and sipping Green Apple martinis and single malt Scottish whiskey and having the time of their lives.
Also at Loch Ness I bought my first Scotland souvenir, a Celtic ring!! It is pretty and it's so pretty!
So Loch Ness was our last touristy sight of the day. We did however drive past the castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was mostly obscured by trees though, so I didn't get any pictures. So, we just soldiered on to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands to our Hostel.
Our group all agreed that we were TOO exhausted to make a big night of it, so we simply went to Hoot & Annie's restaurant for really good Thai food (our tour guide boasted it's quality) and then we bought ice cream at Tescos and walked back for bed. I did however see this enigmatic sign out side Tescos (above my head in the picture)... it just has a blue circle crossed out and says, "at any time." What does it mean??? Don't WHAT at any time? We decided there is no being blue allowed in Scotland... sad.


Jeannette's Blog said...

Much better! Thank you!

kristen said...

okay now I am completely and utterly jealous...must go repent!

Laura said...

I request a picture of this really pretty ring!