Saturday, January 11, 2014

Aye! Dreary Beautiful Scotland

Day 1: Touristing

After a 9 am arrival and a little nap, I was ready to hit the town. I had no major plans. I was told I had to go to the castle, so off I went.

 Street musician on the Royal Mile. Reminds me of the movie, Once.

Edinburgh Castle

I joined the tourists for the castle situated at the top of the Royal Mile. Looking back, this was one of the few times I saw blue skies. The castle itself was all right, but the views were amazing.

 View of the city from Edinburgh Castle. Sun setting around 4 pm.

 "I am packing my bags"
by Louise Burgeois at the Fruitmarket Gallery

I love visiting the local galleries. Clearly I liked this saying. I also caught some Christmas markets and cheer.

Day 2: Random Edinburgh
Traditional Scottish Breakfast at my Guesthouse

Missing is black pudding, which I'm still not sure what it is, but I ate it. I've really upgraded since my backpacking days where breakfast (and lunch) was toast and cheese from the hostel.

At the base of Arthur's Seat

I really wanted to climb this, but the weather was oh so gray and rainy and I didn't have my hiking boots or rainproof pants that all the locals were sporting. Sadly, I just did a little trudging around the base aimlessly and then hopped on the first bus I saw to escape the wet and cold. Luckily it headed to city center.

Lost in Dean's Village, but still in good spirits

After finding myself in a mall, I hop on the first bus headed in the direction of the modern museum and jumped off at the nearest point ... which ended up still far away. Just me and the rain in winding, hilly paths of this picturesque village with no one to ask for directions. I think I'm wearing more than half the clothes I bought with me here. I finally made it ...

National Museum of Modern Art in beautiful grounds

Well worth the trek. I was the only crazy one arriving and leaving on foot.

View of the city from Carlton Hill ... in the sketchy night

So, I wanted to go to the Collective Museum for local artists at the top of this hill.  Now, I don't scare easily, but when I arrive, no one is in sight except two sketch guys. It's dark and windy and deserted. Does this not sound like the perfect set-up of a horror movie? I dash around, snap this quick photo while still moving and descend back to civilization.

I thought I was going to 3 pretty normal sights, but somehow I managed to get off the tourist trail and alone meandering. I guess it's not that surprising. That's how I roll, even in normal cities.

Day 3 and 4: Highlands cows?

Overall, I'm not the group tour type of gal, but it was impractical for me to rent a car solo. I went with Rabbie's Tour since it gave us lots of independent time. Yes, there was lots of "cheese" talking and all, but it was an easy way to the Highlands. We went two days with stops in Fort Williams and Fort Augustus and an overnight in Inverness, where I stayed in my favorite B&B, Corran House.

Meat Pie #2 (out of 4): Steak and Haggis
in the Lowland town of Callendar en route to the Highlands

You have to try haggis, the national dish of Scotland. In my first bite I realized that I broke my two food rules when travel: 1. No mutton (thanks Kyrgyzstan). 2. Don't eat anything I dissect (FYI, I have dissected sheep pluck - heart, lungs. liver). No thank you to more haggis.

And now for some scenery...

Highland Scenery 1

Highland Scenery 2

Highland Scenery 3: Me at Glen Coe 
(where they filmed Hagrid's Hut in Harry Potter 3)

Highland Scnery 4: Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness.
Nessie, where are you?!
This was my favorite castle of all because it was in ruins. I love exploring fallen shambles.

Highland Cows. 
What you lookin' at?
(Much easier to photograph than cubs hiding in the dark)

I wish I could have driven around and hiked in the Highlands with Shinae like we did Ireland in the summer. But it was still amazing!

Back in town...
Beaming Totty (hot lemon, honey, whisky)

When in Scotland, it's a crime not to go to a pub. I heard Graeme Pearson playing folk music at the Black Bull Pub in Grassmarket Square. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of bustling at night. I guess this isn't a major city afterall.

Dolly the sheep, first mammal to be cloned(!),
at the National Museum
Of course the biologist in me flipped out seeing this. I've taught about Dolly for years!

View from my hotel at Grassmarket Square

The Scotland I dreamed of 13 years ago did not disappoint! Although it was often gray, rainy and cold, I had an awesome 4 and a half days here. Getting across the continent and ocean does wonders. And I do enjoy traveling solo sometimes. But now, off to London to meet Elaine for the second leg.


caroline said...

Great photos! The scenery is beautiful, and Hagrid's Hut is awesome! I think you definitely deserve better than toast for breakfast and lunch. Haha.

sharock said...

wow you did so much!

Angela said...

Caroline: Thanks! I saw the actual Hut in London, but the place where it was filmed in Scotland. So much HP stuff all over the UK. Oh yeah, and I went to Elephant Cafe where JK Rowling wrote most of the first HP.

Shar: Yes, I did a ton. You know me. I suspect we will also go go go.

M said...

yes, beautiful photos! That's great you got to see the snow in the highlands.