So i had originally planned to do a post about the trip daily but the Internet in Scotland is not as easy to be found as I had hoped for. I believe I connected two or three (or more) times to check in on foursquare. Lol. Well I tried many beers and some whiskey too. I saw things that I am not going to see anywhere else, such as stone circles, and cairns, and more castles than you'd like to see in a week. I am sorry to go and happy to return home all at the same time.
Well i am sitting here waiting for my flight to board in Scotland, I will finish this later.
Well i am sitting here waiting for my flight to board in Scotland, I will finish this later.
OK so BACK UP YOUR STUFF because I wrote half of my trip and then accidentally hit one wrong key and wiped out the entire blog of my trip to Scotland. -_- WE ARE NOT AMUSED.
The first WOW moment wasn't actually in Scotland but in London. Let me tell you that it was very strange to look around and find yourself in a place full of sight you have seen so regularly on tele. DR. WHO for instance it is really weird to see so many places your recognize from the show like that big ferris wheel on the river or big ben, or even that hospital that disappeared, the palace, so very ery peculiar to see these things.
Well the first interesting observation that I had was actually flying into Edinburgh, I noticed that everyone was reading, books, papers, magazines, or reading on their phones, ipads and pc's too. That was weird you don't see so much reading going in the US we would be wise to do some more of this I thought. Then the steward (yes a man) gave me candy. :) He is now my friend. Oh and their little desserts and what not have much less sugar in them than ours and another thing that delight me is that everything tells you how much energy is in it. It is much nicer to about how much energy your consuming than calories, just saying.
Okay so I touch down in Edinburgh but I don't go to see it because we have a breakneck 7 day tour of Scotland to execute and I spent a week on google maps planning it all out, but since I don't have any way to access data other than free wi-fi along the way the plans sorta go out the window in a way. :) Hey I love adventure, bring it on!!!
So we hope straight into the the car and I decide that I will be helpy helperton and be the navigator for my dad, this was maybe the most annoying part of my trip and I found out I am a bit stressed out in this role, but over all it is funny. So let us talk about driving in the UK.
IT IS CRAZY!
Oh did you want a description? The car was wider than almost all the lanes we traveled in, the roads are extremely narrow and everyone seems to be going a million miles an hour. I always expected it to be in km like in Canada but nope its all in miles, wow confused. Anyway the roundabouts are kinda like being on a ride, but the difference being that getting off is a game and in this game if you manage to correctly understand all the signs with their bizarre arrows pointing vaguely in any direction you never really know if your lost or on your way somewhere!!
We got lost more than we didn't.
It was pretty funny and fun and sometimes not as funny and fun.
So Day 1 we get to Linlithgow and this my first view an old city, and I mean old in the sense that I am from the USA and everything here is less than 300 years old and in some places old is 80 years old! So this place is much older. Linlithgow was started with a manor house in the 12th century. I went to see they remains of it's palace which was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and burned out in 1746.
Okay so I admit I accidentally deleted 90% of my photos from Scotland, oh well, they are backed up in my brain luckily. Here is the interior of a church on the castle grounds too.
Next we moved on towards Glasgow and headed north to Balloch Castle, this was in repair but I also saw the oldest rhododendron ever. See!
We drive up Lock Lommond, it was raining heavily by this time and I have no pictures of one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland of my own but instead will share someone elses with you. This picture was taken by wanderingsoul @ deviant art. This was much like the day I saw it so enjoy!
Next we reach the wee town of Arrochar we stayed at a small B&B much like we would do the entire trip. Let me say most of the way to survive in Scotland seems to be around owning a B&B, there are many of them. This being my first set my expectations low. The family was nice, but the place wasn't extremely comfy, but ok. The beds were lumpy, not used to that but I think the standards for beds must be lower in Scotland than other places. Some interesting things were using tiny little hot water heating units in the showers that instantly heated your water. The toilets were weird. LOL, what they were! Okay also, there buildings were all very old and some were gorgeous, some were not as gorgeous. This place was RIGHT on the highway like 3 feet away, and it was right on the Loch Long.
I went for my first Scottish meal at the Village Inn, it was delicious, I had Neeps and Tatties and Haggis and it was seriously so damn good I could of died and went to heaven right there, but instead it got better because the beer was delicious!! Funny part was that upon entering the place there was sign letting you know that you should not get upset about their poor service. Something like "Please do not get upset about our poor service, it may ruin your experience and noone wants that." Hahaha. Well, gotta love Scottish honesty, realism, and sarcasm.
It snowed! I woke up to snow. We then traveled to many places around one of the oldest most ancient areas in Scotland. From Inveraray to Oban on the coast. The first stop was to see Loch Eck, then on to see castle Lachlan which was a piece of crap, and its graveyard. Then we got pulled over by a road block set up just to catch us and threatened to be taken to jail if we broke the limit again.
Let me tell you the speed limit signs are confusing when it isn't a number its circles and dots. It took until the 2nd day before we even figured half of the signs out!
Okay back on the road to go see those damn Campbell's and their bloody castle. Here is is. Pretty nice!
Next was the cute little town of Inveraray. Sorry lost those pictures. So instead of a picture I will tell you a little story. The Campbells were dicks. Why you may ask? Well look at all the ruined castles everywhere, it was probably the Campbells. :) No seriously my family actually used to sing a song called the Campbells are coming and it wasn't to celebrate them.
Okay another small bit of information and I don't know why they are doing it but hey guys clear cutting your trees off your lands for a quick buck is a huge fucking mistake, KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF! Thank goodness it wasn't happening everywhere but it was sadly happening in some of the most beautiful places.
The next place we stopped was in the valley on the way to Oban near Kilmartin which had sites of some of the most ancient ruins, standing stones, cairns, hieroglyphs and the like in Argyll Scotland. Just amazing!!
|Cairn and stone circle|
|This photgraph is an aerial not taken by me ignore what google said lol|
So it takes FOREVER to get to Oban because we also stopped to see a radical castle. It was called Carnassarie towerhouse and was ruined in the late 17th century. I believe the first Gaelic/English bible was written here but don't quote me.
|Yes they had a Colosseum, it was built for an art fair I believe.|
Inside the Colosseum there was a fluffy bunny. That walk was murder after a long day of sight seeing and hikes to other castles and such but curiosity got the best of me and I hiked to the top of this town to see what it was there for.
We stayed at a very nice place here in Oban the bed was sooooo soft I didn't want to get up the next morning but I did because Scotland wouldn't wait for me to sleep in today I had to go to Loch Ness and go see the Glen Finnan Monument dammit! Hey and I accidentally found that that the Jacobite Steam train was the train seen in Harry Potter chugging along the trestle. Yeah how cool is that? Yup.
So this place was interesting it was an ancient pictish standing stone I happened to see coming down a hill and after we parked and walked in, there we found ruins and several cairns, very cool!
|Castle Stalker north of Oban|
|Glen Finnan Monument|
How about that train!! This is a picture from the telegraph in the UK because again, I lost most of my pics somewhere for now if not forever, but yep we all know how to get Hogwarts now!
Ok after this we saw Loch Ness and went and saw some interesting stuff at the Loch Ness Exhibition Center, I recommend the stop it is factual and fun oh and DO have some coffee here it was freaking AMAZING. We decided to skip Urquhart Castle as it was such a tourist trap area to be in and we had seen so many castles and still had several others planned. So I took a few crappy pics of Loch Ness but I lost them anyway so I will now share someone else's effort with you.
This is from Castle Stuart's website, we tried to go look at this castle but it was private and too hard to see.
Okay finally we arrived to a very very nice manor house that used to help run part of the Stuart Estate and stayed there. By the way most places have what is called a family room made up of a queen and one twin bed and this was what every place we stayed in was like B&B wise anyway. I took pictures of this place but again I am unable to find them if I do I will add them later but trust me it was very grand. It was called the Morayston House. We had a few hours of light left so we figured we pop over to eat at the Culloden Moor (yeah weird place to eat, on an infamous battleground). I had a minced burger and they are always served with this crazy thick coleslaw AND chips!
We then we accidentally found out way to the most mind blowing site I saw in Northern Scotland known as the Clava Cairns near the River Nairn.
The three chambered cairns, each surrounded by a ring of standing stones, form one of the most impressive prehistoric sites in Scotland. Several of the stones have carved cup-marks.
|Here is a not crappy pic taken by: lundinandlargo.blogspot|
I hope to find my pictures, they were only taken on my S3 but still they were mine. This site was abosultely remarkable and even more in the fading light of the day, so magical, so wonderfully powerful and eerie. No answers either, just unbelievably awesome sight to behold. The sheer size of these cairns and the stone circles surrounding them was interesting, something of interest was that there were stone circles of many varieties in the area which would indicate that this area had been used for thousands of years as a site to build these cairns or circles for whatever purpose they held burial, worship, calendar... who knows. But it sort of cataloged the evolution of these circles. Very unique and I highly recommend the visit if you are visiting Culloden Moor.
|This is some info from megaliths.net|
|Pic taken from: lundinandlargo.blogspot|
DAY 3: Next up was visiting the Culloden Moor again in the morning to check out the center. Well we had a long way to go and I wish we would have went on the tour however we skipped it and it was raining so horribly we didn't walk out on the moor, but who needs wars tours I guess, plus I studied every inch of this battle so much in research for a book that I suppose I didn't need too.
Then we drove trough the highlands which really reminded me of home funny enough. We stopped at the highest altitude distillery in Scotland to enjoy some Dalwhinnie Whiskey and bought some little bottles I still haven't found.
Then we drove on to Killiecrankie where we had a nice hike to see the spot where a guy jumped the 18 foot gap in the river to escape Jacobite soldiers, pretty crazy. It started to rain again so we didn't stick around long. But I saw a train pass by on this bridge. There was a hilarious quote up there where he talks about his shoe falling into the river but I can't recall it now.
Next up we stopped at our clan castle Ogilvy's Castle Blair. It was BEAUTIFUL and touring it was fun. Some of the ancestors really looked familiar that was kinda weird. This house was massive AND I bought some great Whiskey called Bruada made there locally and not available as an imported whiskey it was honey and sloe berries very very sweet and unique.
|I had a tasty sandwich and haggis chips at Blair Castle!|
Then on a random happenstance we saw a sign for a famous Chocolatier somewhere in the Scottish countryside and we did indeed visit this place and buy some chocolate. http://www.highlandchocolatier.com/ I must say it was good but not as amazing as the wording famous chocolatier invokes, I guess I have watched willy wonka too much.
The shop was pretty neat.
Next we traveled again through the country side into the center of Scotland, and it became just BEAUTIFUL! Very rolling and green and kind of what I expected Scotland to look like. We were scheduled to stay the next two days in this are and we got a bit side tracked on genealogy which I promise to NOT bore you with. We stayed at a very nice older man's place, he doesn't really let new people come out his B&B these days, not since his wife passed away. He usually only take repeat people but this time on a whim decided he hadn't seen any Americans for a while and took the reservation. HE was a goofy old dude and told stories and was really quite the Scottish farmer and host.
DAYS 4&5: I really liked the two days there.
We explored Blairgowrie, Coupar Angus, Kettins, Alyth and Meigle. Met local country folk, ate good food and I even saw the grave of the man who wrote Peter Pan in Kirriemuir! Saw Castle Glamis too. This entire area felt close to me, I could tell this was where my family came from. It was absolutely the best time of the trip as far as just enjoying the local sights and flavor. During this I found a lot of neat pictish carved stones, these were often combined with the influence of Christian religion and they weer very unique, I saw Castles, found some family land, and interesting family ties in a few graveyards.
Alyth, Alyth Burn
Had some amazing Scottish style Salmon at a place called the Old Cross Inn outside of Blairgowrie in Rattray.
DAY 6: My last full day in Scotland.
Edinburgh, first we drove to the Castle or Tower house more accurately that we were staying in, it was Carberry tower.
On the way to Edinburgh tower on hillside, these are all over Scotland
It was awesome to be able to stay in and explore a castle!! I seriously cannot even express all the childlike joy and wonder I had exploring this creepy ass place and let me tell you it scared the crap out of me! I had nightmares all night long!!
Queen Mary's sitting room
My Knight in shining armor
So then we went to find the train to Edinburgh. I was so impressed by the trains, they moved SO fast that I couldn't even snap a picture with the my S3 before they were already passed by us!! Hauling ass my friends! The next shock was coming out of the subway into Edinburgh itself. Let me just say that as someone who grew up in rural 'merica we are easily amazed by the sheer size of cities anyways but when it is huge and heavy and gothic and mid-evil towers spiraling into the air with massive unbelievable bridges over your head and you understand the ages of these things and the city and its history it is unbelievable!! It was magnificent! Inspiring and I was awestruck.
I came out of the tunnel from the subway and looked up into the sky to see this, it was absolutely huge and solid and stoic and so Scottish and yet so beautiful.
Beautiful Gargoyle on one of the spires towards the top of the Sir Walter Scott monument.
Make note of Castle Edinburgh at the top, easy to understand why this Castle was never taken.
Note: the glass roof in the bottom left, this was the subway/rail system, look at the bridge this is where I came out into the city. Also fun fact this used to be a loch in which they drained and put all of this so that bridge did once cross water. Also there is a saying that the cemetery that was at the shore of the lock in the center of town was called the "dead center" of town. It is believed this is where his saying arose from.
I had a fancy pants meal it was like a french/scottish experience. It was very good, oh so damn good. It was in the Ballmoral Hotel.
Scottish Coffee with clotted cream (eeeew will never do it again)