Scotland, och aye!

August 13, 2008 § 2 Comments

Everyone keeps asking me if I saw Nessie on my trip to Scotland.  As if it were a big deal or something!  I saw Nessie all over the place!  In fact, she wouldn’t leave us alone!  Kept asking to use our mobile phones.  She’s a seriously annoying monster.

Our first day in Inverness it rained, and I discovered that I had worn a big hole right through the sole of my right shoe.  Packing light, these were the only shoes I had other than my flip flops to be used in dirty hostel showers.  So… for pretty much the rest of the trip, I had one soaking wet shoe.  That first day it was like walking around with one foot in a swimming pool.  After that, I started stuffing plastic Sainsbury’s bags into my shoes in an attempt to keep my socks dry.  It was better than nothing, but I looked the fool.

It led to fun episodes like this one, where we decided to pull off the road and hike to a waterfall.  And I hiked it in flip flops.  The mud and flip flop combination was definitely interesting.

We drove all along the length of the Loch Ness, which was very beautiful, and even had some castles along the way.

We also saw some bagpipers.  I was travelling with a Swiss girl, a Dutch girl, and a Canadian.  We learned that “bagpipes” in German and Dutch was pronounced “doodle-sack.” (Doedelzak in Dutch, and Dudelsack in German.)  This brought out the 5 year olds in the Canadian and myself, and the entire trip was filled with loud shouts of “DOODLE SACK!!!” followed by ridiculous giggling.

Then we headed over to the Isle of Skye, which was just brilliant.  For the two days we were there, it stopped raining.  We were incredibly lucky.  The island is gorgeous.  The hills and mountains look fuzzy and green.  We found an old, old graveyard of the MacLeod clan.  Our hostel was lovely too, and really quiet.  We all got a lovely night’s sleep in the countryside.  The only downside was that I must have been allergic to their detergent because I woke up with hives.

We trespassed to the ruins of an old church.

We saw so much beautiful scenery as we drove around the entire island.

Then we were back on the mainland, and drove through the mountain region, which was also breathtaking.

Then we were in Glasgow, and it rained again.  My feet were once again, miserable. We didn’t spend much time in Glasgow, other than the 4 hour adventure we accidentally found ourselves on when we attempted to return our rental car in the city.  We were quickly on the train to Edinburgh, and we were there during the festival.

There were lots of street performers and people handing out flyers for their shows.  We made sure to stop and try a deep-fried Mars bar.  I was terrified to try it, but after doing so, it kindof almost makes sense to me now.  It was actually a pleasant taste, although I’m pretty sure I could feel my arteries harden just after I swallowed it.

We couldn’t help but notice the preparations for the Scottish Military Tattoo, probably the biggest show in the festival.  The stadium, built right up against the side of the castle, looked like a Quidditch stadium.  It held over 6,000 people.

The show was a display of military marching bands and color guards.  Lots of guys in kilts playing doodle-sacks and drums.  We desperately wanted to go, but tickets get sold out months in advance and cost about 50 quid anyway.  My friend and I tried to get close to the castle so that we could at least hear the bands, or maybe spy some people in uniform.  The police had blocked off the street leading up to the castle, unfortunately, and we were sad when they wouldn’t let us pass.

But then!  One of the cops saw how much we wanted to go, and just like magic, produced two tickets from his coat!  He gave them to us!   Of course, there were four of us and only two tickets, so the Canadian and the Swiss girl were gracious enough to let the Dutch girl and myself go.  And we RAN!  (The show was already half over.)  We ran up a huge cobblestoned hill, in the rain.  And I slipped on the wet stones and did a faceplant on the ground.  Apparently I made a group of 16 year old girls’ day.  But I got right back up and kept running.  I couldn’t believe it!  We were going to see the  biggest show of the festival, for FREE!

Not only did we see the second half for free, but we had the BEST SEATS.  Directly across from the castle, which was where the bands entered the stadium from.  It was a spectacular show.  Military marching bands from all over the world- I think they all had some connection to the Scottish army. His majesty the King of Norway’s Royal Guard was my favorite.  Their set opened with vikings on skis zooming into the stadium with blazing torches.  The whole thing brought out the band geek in me, and I literally squeeled when they brought out the drumlines.

It ended with fireworks.  Some of the best I’d ever seen.

During the whole show it was raining, and I was wearing my only change of clothes and no raingear.  We got soaked TO THE BONE.  After, we retired to our 38 bed dorm, and I changed in to my pj gym shorts and flip flops and wore them to the hostel bar for one last drink.  (Note to self: next time bring an extra pair of pants.)  Believe it or not, I actually slept quite well in that crazy hostel.  Earplugs are the key.

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