Wednesday, September 20, 2017

UK + Ireland Part 2

Welcome to Scotland!

I had never taken a train before so I booked myself a first class seat on Virgin East Coast. From the moment I arrived at the correct train station in London, everything was smooth railing up to Edinburgh! 

First class single seat with all the outlets, free WiFi, and food & beverages a girl could ask for. It wasn't until I was served breakfast that consisted of a role stuffed with bacon that I really understood that these are my people.

The Waverly station seemed like a whole little city within a city and I found myself on these steps several times throughout my stay in Edinburgh.

I had two nights in Edinburgh on either side of my highlands tour and I decided to stay at the same place, The Place Hotel, both nights (green flags). I have never met a friendlier group of people that work in a hotel. 

I spent my first day walking around town, popping in and out of shops and pubs trying to escape the large crowds.

What they don't tell you about Scotland, or at least what no one told me, is that it's incredibly hilly! I'm pretty sure it didn't matter what direction I was headed, I was always going up.

Since there was one direction, up, I went as high as I could and checked out the Edinburgh Castle. I arrived just in time to catch the firing of the 1:00 gun and view the crown jewels and the stone of destiny. I'm not much of a history buff, or a fan of large crowds so I buzzed through a few more buildings before calling it good.

Edinburgh Castle

There was something about the city of Edinburgh that I completely fell for. It wasn't a place I had longed to visit, but now that I have, I know I will definitely be back in the future.

The Royal Mile/High Street

The Royal Mile/High Street

The Royal Mile/High Street

Victoria Street

 When you're in a pub, drinking a tasty new-to-you cider and you look across the street and see this, you know you've found your happy place.

On my way back to my hotel, I wasn't quite ready to call it a night, but wan't to find a place closer to home and stumbled upon a comedy club across the street from my hotel. I thought the Scottish accents would be really fast and thick and I wouldn't be able to understand much, but it was one of the funniest comedy shows I have ever been to!

Days two and three in Scotland were spent driving throughout the highlands. I booked myself a two day bus tour that took us from the east coast to the west (only a 45 min drive) and all the way North up to Inverness.

 The first day of the tour took us to Glasgow, Wallace Monument (two pictures above), the city of Killin, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Fort William, where we spent the night.

Wallace Monument

 View from the top of the Wallace Monument

 Lunch stop in Kilmahog
This rascal ignored me until I turned my back to take a picture.

 These cows are some of the silliest looking things and I hope to have one grazing in my back yard someday. They also like carrots and potatoes just as much as I do.

Rannoch Moor

 Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter train bridge)

The white house was my B&B for the night in Fort Williams

I wasn't sure what my time in Fort Williams was going to be like. I was staying at the B&B by myself, the rest of my tour went to other hostels/hotels. After I checked in, I walked in to town which was about three blocks of closed shops and a few restaurants/pubs. I was lucky to get one of the last tables in a restaurant called The Tavern where I enjoyed my first fish & chips of the trip along with a Ben Nevis whisky. Remembered, I hate whisky.

I didn't want to sit at my B&B - the hosts were quite rude when I checked in, so I wandered into a few pubs before I found one I liked. It just so happened that I was also the only girl in the whole pub. There were a few futbol/football matches going on so it was sporty and lively, just the way I like it.

As I ordered what was to be my last cider of the night, two guys approached me and absolutely made my night! From sharing about our lives, what we do, asking questions about America and Scotland, it was exactly what I needed. They explained all the appropriate times to call someone a 'wanker', how they use the 'C' word in a completely different way than we do here, and also taught me a few phrases. Luckily I recorded one of them, but lord knows what the guy is actually saying.

Anyway, Dom & Rich from Inverness, thanks for showing an American girl a great time in a quiet Scottish village.

 Day two of the tour started out rainy and cold and ended rainy and cold. We visited the Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness, and Ben Nevis before heading back to Edinburgh.

 I was slightly bummed out about visiting the Eilean Donan castle. It was very high on my list of places to see and unfortunately it didn't live up to my hopes and dreams of what it could be. Blame it on the recording of pots and pans clinking in what was supposed to be the kitchen, or the rain, wind and cold, I don't know. I think I had built it up so much in my head from all the movies I've seen it in that seeing the cheesiness of what they've done to it, just took all those special thoughts away.

 Just one of many full rainbows I was able to see. 

It's amazing what you can cram in to three days in such a small country.

My final leg of the trip is Ireland. Recap to come soon!

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