Blogging Around the World Scotland | Scotland | Edinburgh

Blogging Around The World

Cover Design: Cara Williams Photography: Cara Williams Copyright ©2006 by Cara Williams All rights reserved

By Cara Williams

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CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Chapter 2: Chapter 3: Chapter 4: Edunburgh The Isle of Skye Ben Nevis Glasgo Glasgow sgow 3 4 5 5

Chapter One
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After initially discarding Scotland as a holiday destination due to the incessant rain you always hear about, I decided it was time to finally find out if Scotland is every bit as dramatic as I have been told by my (admittedly biased) Scottish friends, and after spending five wintry days travelling around the country, I am pleased to say that Scotland surpassed my expectations in many ways. Friday 5th February I started my journey in Edinburgh. The first thing that surprised me was the Hostel I came across while looking for a place to spend the night. The Castle Backpackers, Edinburgh – (£20 pppn) was a spacious, comfortable and well equipped Youth Hostel. It has been designed like a castle, with rooms spiralling up a turret. Breakfast was left in the rooms for the morning and the staff were extremely helpful. Although I didn’t have a chance to see much of Edinburgh, what I did see was beautiful. From the train station, to Arthur’s Seat, the sense of grandeur and history was apparent on every street. Saturday 6th February My most sensible purchase of the holiday was a Citylink Explorer Pass, which for £39 gave me unlimited travel on any Citylink bus countrywide for 3 days. This was well worth the investment, as the buses are comfortable, (most have toilet facilities on board); the drivers are friendly and patriotic, (which is unsurprising once you see the country) and the scenery along the way was breathtaking. My first experience of CityLink took me to Inverness, which I imagined to be mossy hills and ghosts on the moors. Sadly, I didn’t see any ghosts, but there was certainly a sense of mystery surrounding the town. I was lucky to experience a mild, sunny day in the town and used it to take a walk by The River Ness. In the afternoon, I went to the infamous Loch Ness using Jacobite Tours – (£14.50 inc 30 min boat ride and guided coach tour to Urqhart Castle). This was the highlight of the trip for me, as the views from Castle Urqhart over Loch Ness were incredible. The sun was setting as I explored the ruins and although I

didn’t catch sight of Nessie having her early evening bath, it was a great place to watch the sunset.

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After being dropped back at the TIC, there was just enough time to sample the local cuisine (KFC) before boarding the next bus to Portree in the Isle of Skye to see some authentic Scottish coastland.

Chapter Two
Sunday 7th February I caught the next Citylink bus to The Isle of Skye from Inverness (3 hours). This journey showed me just how dramatic Scotland’s landscapes can be. The lochs are vast and clear, surrounded by mountains that are eerily shrouded in mist. There are tiny cottages dotted about the landscape which add a sense of charm to the surroundings. I couldn’t stop taking pictures for fear of missing the next stunning shot. Needless to say, I got plenty. Portree is one of several Scottish islands that make up The Isle Of Skye. Each island has its own spectacular views over a loch and each is self contained. Unfortunately, I reached Portree on a sleepy Sunday, so the dolphin tour I had been looking forward to was not happening. Also, the cinema was only showing one film (from 2003) and there was no other form of entertainment for young people. However, the pub I ventured into was almost antique in décor and the hearty fireplace was a welcome distraction from the biting cold. I would have been quite happy to spend the remainder of my visit sipping £2.50 Chardonnay in that bar! Despite the lack of entertainment, I enjoyed walking round the tiny island, having a look in the ornate novelty stores that had a 1950’s feel to them. There was one supermarket on the island and one small hospital to service all. ‘Quaint’ as us Brits say. The best thing about Portree was the hospitality. I stayed in a family run Guest House overlooking the loch and it was exactly what I had hoped for. A small, one floor bungalow with double rooms, each with an equally breathtaking view and a full Scottish breakfast served at whatever time you wished the next morning. Much needed and recommended accommodation!

Monday 8th February

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After an early night and early start to fit in the 3 course breakfast, it was on to Fort William to see the infamous Ben Nevis. This leg of the journey took a good 5 1/2 hours, during which time the weather was miserable but reassuringly for me, reinforced the preconceptions I had of Scotland as a dramatic land under an equally dramatic sky.

Chapter Three
Fort William itself was different again to the previous places I had seen. It incorporated a mismatch of styles, with cobbled stones and Victorian architecture juxtaposed with contemporary high street stores. It is unimposing nevertheless and has the added benefit of Britain’s highest mountain peak providing a backdrop. I was eager to see Ben Nevis up close, but wasn’t prepared for the 1.5 hour trek to the mountain from the bus station. With a10kg backpack and my trousers getting muddier by the second, I would have planned my journey differently if I’d known how far I would have had to walk, but the exercise was good for me. However, the incessant drizzle wasn’t! The changeability of weather in Fort William is something to consider when planning a trip here. The mist and rain set in unexpectedly and while this makes for dramatic scenery, it is not ideal if you are not prepared with an umbrella. The last part of my journey was from Fort William to Glasgow and then a change of bus back to Edinburgh. This was the longest leg (7 hours) and most draining of them all. Light was fading and mist was gathering to the point that you could not see the scenery. By this point I was fading in and out of consciousness and yearning for a bed.

Chapter Four
After the mammoth journey, Glasgow was an unsurprisingly cosmopolitan paradise. A combination of High Street Stores, multi storey cinema complexes and every type of cuisine you could imagine, I only saw it by night, but it seemed vast and energetic. I know that along with Edinburgh, Glasgow is a mecca for tourists and as such, is well prepared for them. 5

An hour later we were back in Edinburgh, and I had trouble finding accommodation as the city was gearing up for the Christmas season. But luckily I managed to find a room in the swanky ‘Bank’ Hotel. It was located about half an hour out of town and from the outside it didn’t inspire me with confidence. However, when shown to my room, I was pleasantly impressed. The rooms paid homage to iconic Scottish writers; I stayed in the Robert Burn’s room. It was a regal Burgandy colour, with an en suite bathroom and a king size bed. There were manuscripts and quotes from his writing on the walls and it was obvious that the Scottish have a deep sense of pride about their heritage. My overall impressions of Scotland were that it was both intimidating and awe inspiring. It was everything I had expected and more. From the mist rolling over the hills to the biting cold and incessant rain, it is most definitely unique and a place I will come back to.

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