A good trip with a bad start.

There’s a bus that literally goes from the door of my res to the train station, 5-10 minute trip. I gave myself 45 minutes to catch the train.  Didn’t happen. Nice mr. busdriver rearends someone on the way. Tries to get the other driver to admit that there’s no damage when it’s impossible to tell in the dark. So she calls the cops to get things in line (I would have too, he was being horrible about it. Acting nice, but completely refusing to admit that he may have done anything wrong or that there was in fact even an accident.) So I missed the train. I was livid. The whole time I was sitting on the bus it was building, by the time I got to the train station I was shaking because of it. At first I thought I was going to have to turn around and go home, which would have meant missing the tour and everything. Luckily there was another train heading to Edinburgh soon after, and the people at the train station were more sympathetic to me than the stupid bus driver was. It was all very distressing though, and I had to make a change-over to a different train at York. I hate having to make a change-over on trips. And I hate not having a reserved seat.

And none of that fate crap. The train I was supposed to be on was not the one that crashed either. Both the train that I was on and the one that I was supposed to be on were on an entirely different route.

Anyways, I arrived safe and sound, eventually. Had a very nice chat with the taxi driver on the way to the hostel too. And got some Scottish money. The pound is the official currency, and British bank notes are accepted, but Scotland has notes of its own. All the coins seem to be the same though. So it was interesting receiving my change from the driver.

Checked into the hostel. I’m so glad that so many of them are open 24 hours, I ended up checking in after midnight. Then I had to get up nice and early to catch the tour. I was so worried about sleeping through the alarm that I slept super lightly and ended up waking up fairly often. You can tell I was excited about this tour. I didn’t sleep through the alarm though, and walked to the meeting spot for the tour. This was about a 10-block walk with my big backpack full of stuff, good incentive to pack light. Met the tour guide and my fellow tour-mates and headed out. Genuine Scottish guides, and I must say I adore that accent. And the guides all seem to be pretty easy on the eyes, and they’re all young guys. Somehow I think the person who does the hiring does that deliberately. Heh, I’m not complaining though!

So we set off. First stop was Forth Bridge. (I apologise right now if I get any spellings wrong, please correct me). I’m not big on bridges, when it comes to architecture I’m more into buildings. But this was an impressive one nonetheless. Especially since it was built well over a hundred years ago (sorry, didn’t get down the exact date, look it up if you’re interested).

After that we went to a hermitage for a hike. This place has the second largest tree in all of Scotland. I didn’t get the name down though (I was more prepared with pen and paper the second day). Beautiful waterfalls, and a place that was used as an opium den in the 1800’s. And we had some tea while we all got to know each other. Quite a varied group. A few from the states, a pair of couples from Australia, one person from New Zealand, one from Spain, and a couple that are actually going to UWO.

Next stop is the House of Bruar. This is apparently a rather famous stop in Scotland. And of course expensive to boot. Our reason for stopping was to use the ‘cloakrooms’ (aka bathrooms. VERY la-dee-dah) and to take a short hike. There’s a waterfall there that is absolutely gorgeous. Yes, I have pictures.

Then on to Aviemore for lunch. This is a popular place for skiiers to visit. Had some fish and chips, and found myself a tie in the colours of the Rose clan tartan there, so I was pretty happy about that.

After that it was on to the Culloden battlefield, where Bonny Prince Charlie’s army fell in the end. The English burial field is now the dog-walking area. Funny how the Scots get their revenge one way or another.

On to Loch Ness. Sorry, no sightings this time. Some of the girls did go for a wee dip though. In water that was just above freezing. I must say the loch wasn’t what I expected. I always thought small and round. It’s huge, not wide but miles long and quite deep.

After the loch we all had a nip of Scottish Malt Whisky to warm us up. Does it ever! (“It burns! It burns! Aaargh, I’m melting!”)

Then it was too dark to see anything, so on to the hostel for the night. We stayed in Stromferry. And the hostel is owned by the tour group, so it was just us and another tour group. This was where we met one of the other guides. Half the girls were following him around drooling. (well not really, but you get the general idea).

We had a late dinner of wild boar. The other group’s leader insists that he wrestled it to the ground with his bare hands etc etc. But I must admit it was really really good.

As for what happened for the rest of the trip you’re just going to have to wait a day. Bedtime for merzy.