Monday, November 16, 2009

Scotland is amazeballs

This past weekend I made my first trip out of England to bonny Scotland!
I’m not sure what expectations I had of Scotland, but the trip definitely surpassed them. We started off taking a train to Edinburgh on Thursday night to explore, and because our tour left early the next morning.
DSC03272 We stayed in the Old Town which was so cool looking.  Went to a pub for dinner, walked around the town a little after.
We stayed in the Castle Rock Hostel…which let me tell you, was pretty skeezy.
DSC03225 It had good ratings on, but it turned out to be a little…questionable.
DSC03223 Thank you, Mark, for looking directly at the camera.
The place was filled with some…interesting people. The one redeeming quality was nice, hot showers, which we learned to not take for granted.
We were pretty beat from a 4 hour train ride so we went to bed early. I kind of regret this now, since I totally forgot Edinburgh has a hidden underground city you can take a ghost tour through. Guess I’ll have to go back!
Saw Castle Rock while in Edinburgh, which is built on top of huge rocks.
Friday morning we met at the tour group place to start our Wild & Sexy tour of the Scottish Highlands!
DSC03531 We had a for real Scottish tour guide who made us say “aye” instead of “yes.” I felt a little like a pirate.
The tour was set up to stop at a bunch of little places on the way to bigger places. Our tour route:

At one place we saw some pretty old burial tombs made of stones. DSC03304 Also, got our very first view of Loch Ness!
DSC03321 No monster, though.
We eventually made it to our hostel, which was wayyy better than the one the night before (this one was set up by the tour).
DSC03329 The room housed 6 people—we actually roomed with two girls from Australia who had been backpacking around Europe for the past couple months. Everything was clean and the hostel was cool…except since about 50 people would come back around the same time each day, the showers were FREEEEEEEZING. Some people lucked out and got a semi-lukewarm shower. I didn’t have such luck. Not cool.
Being adventurous, a bunch of us signed up to do a £10 whisky tasting. And not the blended whisky stuff they have in the states and elsewhere….this is the fo rizzle single-malt whisky made in Scotland.
DSC03333 Even though the guy only gave us a “wee dram,” it was possibly the worst thing I have ever drank. We first went through the proper preparation steps, like smelling it, swirling it, etc. From the smell, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. I was wrong. Whisky is a very strong-tasting drink. Especially when straight. Although we were able to dilute it with water….ughhh. Didn’t help much. Still, it was an experience!
The next morning we were able to go back to Loch Ness to see it in the daylight.
DSC03343 We also stopped at Scotland Loch, which actually resembles the shape of Scotland.
DSC03357I learned that there are a LOT of lochs in Scotland, especially in the Highlands.  We were constantly driving along them.
DSC03428 We stopped at the famous Eilean Donan Castle, on the shores of Loch Duich. The castle is featured on many a postcard.
DSC03412 The Scottish love their legends about wee people, fairies, stuff like that. One of the rivers we stopped at supposedly has magical powers.
DSC03433 According to legend, one time a lady had a disfigured face and wanted to marry a guy but he wouldn’t because of her face, etc etc, and a fairy told her that if she put her face into this river for 7 seconds, she would have eternal youth. And she did.
DSC03434And now I will too.
Tour guide Scottish Stevie took us on a wee hike where we got to see some prettty cool views from the Isle of Skye.

Took some rockin pics as well.
DSC03474We wrapped up the day with another legend: if you took a drink from a particular waterfall, then took another gulp in your mouth, ran down the hill, touched a certain stone, made a wish, and swallowed the water, your wish would come true.
DSC03496I got the drink and had the other gulp in my mouth, however I couldn’t stop laughing on the way down the hill from the sounds Mark made with his mouth full…and I choked and had to swallow it. No wish for me.   I was just going to wish for eternal youth anyways, and I already got that covered.
That night at the hostel we went to a Scottish Highlander show, which this creepy guy in a kilt held in his creepy house and was pretty creepy when dressing up people in Scottish wear. All in all, pretty creepy. But when we went back, a fiddle and accordion player (both girls in their 20’s) played at the hostel and they were awesome.  They taught some Scottish dances, which Emily and I kicked butt in.
Hands down, highlight of our last day on the tour…
DSC03570 Tour guide took a little detour when we heard there were some Highland cows out on the road. They were possibly the cutest animals ever.
Baby coo!!
DSC03560 We ended the tour with an awesome drive back through the Scottish highlands to Edinburgh, while listening to traditional Scottish music.  Pretty awesome.
DSC03659Scotland has most def been my favorite trip so far while across the pond. It was so cool to travel around see a place I’d never been to before.
This coming weekend I leave for Amsterdam/Bruges! I’m actually going by myself on this trip, although it is through a tour company.  I’m looking forward to it, as I’ve heard Amsterdam is beautiful.
For the comments: Where is one place you hope to go in your lifetime?


GardenofEdee said...

This looks awesome Alyssa! I'm glad you are enjoying yourself!! Scotland looks gorgeous!!

Don't they have cows like that in Newburg? lol at least they use to...

Alyssa said...

I don't remember any cows like that in Newburg. But I guess there could have been!

Alisa said...

Alyssa, your photos are phenomenal! you've now made scotland go on my list of places to go! and to answer your question: my one place i hope to go in my lifetime is the loire valley in france. :-) keep having a fabulous time!!

Alyssa said...

Alisa-Scotland is definitely worth seeing! Especially a tour of the Highlands.