Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trip Recap - Part 1 of 4

I was having a really hard time deciding how to post about my trip since there is SO much to say. What I've decided to do is to write one post about each of the main aspects of the trip and hopefully, tell you all about it without boring you to death. If you aren't interested in reading about the trip, no worries, just skip past these posts. They will likely be long post and very picture heavy but I wanted to document the trip in detail for my own sake!

Part 1 - A Scottish Road Trip

The first three days of the trip were spent driving through Scotland. The girls rented a car and picked us up straight from the airport in Glasgow. We had flown on an overnight flight, where neither of us got any sleep thanks to the extremely "friendly" man beside us (read: drunk idiot who did not stop talking the ENTIRE time). From there, we began heading up the west of Scotland, making whatever stops along the way that we wanted to.

On the first day, we stopped at Loch Lomond, The Inverary Castle, Glencoe and finally made it to Fort William in time for lunch at a pub. We had our first lunch at a pub called The Grog & Gruel where we had our first taste of Scottish pub fare and Irn Bru (a Scottish soft drink). After lunch, we did some shopping, sightseeing and then we were on our way. Next we stopped at the Commando Memorial, Loch Long and most importantly The Eilean Donan Castle. When you see the pictures below, if you are a Patrick Dempsey fan, you may recognize this castle. It was the castle used in the filming of "Made of Honor" and as such, was a highlight of the trip for all of us. We did not get to go inside the castle this time because it was already early evening by the time we arrived and it was closed but we decided we'd come back the next day. Shortly past this castle, we drove across a bridge onto the Isle of Skye. What a beautiful spot! I'll talk more about the Isle of Skye on day 2. The hostel we were staying at for the first night was here so we got a glimpse of the countryside, cows and sheep as we drove towards our accommodation. We saw Old Man of Storr and ended up at our hostel, Dun Flodigarry Hostel, around 8 pm. Then, we made and ate dinner, settled in and called it a night around 10:30, at which point Logi and I had been awake for 36 hours straight. If you know me at all, I'm sure learning that I was NOT crying or screaming by this point is pretty amazing. The hostel was very comfortable and homey with a view that would knock the socks of you.

Here are some pictures highlighting day one:

Katie and I in the car leaving the airport (it took me QUITE some time to get used to the whole driving on the wrong side of the road and sitting on the wrong side of the car thing - good thing I didn't have to drive)

Loch Lomond

All of us at Inverary Castle

My first castle experience


Beautiful mountains

Fort William for lunch

Irn Bru (more like Irn Poo in my opinion)

Amy at the pub

Commando Memorial

Eilean Donan Castle

Me and Eilean Donan

Old Man of Storr

Eating dinner at the hostel

In our hostel room

The Hostel

View from the window of our room

On the second day, we dragged ourselves out of bed to begin exploring the Isle of Skye. The countryside there is breath taking, although the weather was not on our side. It was quite hazy and rainy most of the day which made the lookouts not as nice, but it was still beautiful regardless. We stopped at Portree around lunchtime where we ate at Well Plaid and saw the street with the colorful houses (which is also featured in the film Made of Honor). We walked around and explored the town a little bit where we found MacKenzie's bakery (for you, Em). It was here that I was introduced to the beauty that is Bannoffi. More about that to come later. After lunch, we stopped at Moil Castle where the Legend of Saucy Mary indicates that you must flash the castle. Well, umm, no further comments. Finally, we made it back to Eilean Donan Castle where we were able to explore the inside. This was the first castle Logi and I actually went inside and so we were quite pumped. Next, we wandered to Loch Ness where we searched and searched for Nessie. I still think I caught a glimpse of her gliding in the water. We made it to Fort Augustus by dinnertime where we had Katie's all time favorite fish and chips and stayed at Stravigers Lodge. This hostel was also quite nice, although not as homey as the first one. We spent the evening playing cards, Skipbo and charades. None of us will ever forget the fright we experienced when all of a sudden a very loud noise came past the window of our room. We eventually determined that it was some sort of jumbo jet flying past. It flew past about 5 times, but luckily stopped before we were ready to head to bed.

Pictures from day 2...

The trip wouldn't be complete without a Highland Coo
Lunch at Well Plaid

Portree - the road with colourful buildings

MacKenzie's Bakery

My first, glorious taste of Bannoffi

Castle MoilEilean Donan Castle

Bagpiper at Eilean Donan
Looking for Nessie

Don't fall in (at Loch Ness)

Planning day 3

Hostel room

On day three we did a lot less seeing and a lot more driving because we had a lot of ground to cover. It was a very windy day. We spent the better part of the day driving across Scotland and down the east coast to arrive at Dunnottar Castle. This is the ruins of a castle that was built on top of a giant cliff. It was rainy when we got there but we were determined to walk the 187 (I think) steps to get there. And thankfully, the sun came out while we were there and we were able to really enjoy the beauty. We then drove down to St. Andrews where we saw the Old Course, The St. Andrews Cathedral and the St. Andrews castle. This was a beautiful town and I would have loved to spend more time there. When we finished up at St. Andrews, we began the trek back to Edinburgh where we stopped at ASDA (their version of Walmart) to pick up some groceries for the rest of our week. We found a super sweet deal on Nutella and some reduced to clear doughnuts so Katie and I made a goal to polish off an entire jar of Nutella was I was there. Do you think we were successful? I'll let you decide. We headed back to their flat where we made a spaghetti and bruschetta dinner and crashed!

Pictures from day 3...

I told you it was a very windy day

Dunnottar Castle

Down the steps to Dunnottar
Logi and I

I found the outlines of where the chimneys and fireplaces would have been very fascinating. This was the blacksmith's shop and home.

The castle grounds

This window overlooks the cliff face which drops to the ocean

The group with Dunnottar in the background

St. Andrews Castle

St Andrews Cathedral

At the 18th green of The Old Course

The Old Course Clubhouse

The 18th Green

And we're done ...

The roadtrip was fabulous. We put nearly 1,000 miles on the car in the course of three days and saw so many unbelievable sites. Saturday morning Katie and Amy had to work so Logi and I took advantage of the down time and slept in until nearly 11 am. Then, we began our explortation of Edinburgh. To be continued....

If you are really brave and want to see even MORE pictures of the roadtrip, you can find them here.


Snow White said...

wow - your trip sounds amazing. I'm in love with the castles :)

Southern Pathways said...

ah, I'm soooo jealous. I've always wanted to visit Scotland... thanks for posting all the pictures - they are gorgeous!

Thanks for stopping by my site! :)

Holly said...

Oh, I remember Irn Bru (iron brew). As I recall it was kind of like a mixture of mostly orange soda with a little bit of cola, flat. I could be wrong, though. It was years ago.