Okay, so this post is dedicated to my top ten favorite things/memories about Isle of Skye/The Highlands of Scotland. I’ll attempt to make it more humorous then tedious for you to read considering it’s a list and all. 🙂
ISLE OF SKYE
So, I have to say. I think that this trip may be may favorite so far! I about 7 others from Wright’s Houses (my student accommodation building) went a tour with MacBackpackers which is based in Edinburgh. At first, I really hated the idea of doing a “tour.” I wanted to be able to be independent and explore places on my own! But, let’s be real with each other here, that is mostly pride issues. And looking back I am SO thankful that I did a tour. I learned more over those 3-days than I have in my whole Scottish Culture & Society Class. Figures. Experience is always better than learning via classroom. So, on that note…THE LIST. (I really loved everything so the order is semi-irrelevant)
1. THE FAERIE GLEN. Only the most magical place I’ve ever been. It had been raining all morning but when we got to the Glen, the sun peaked its way out! The grass was the greenest color I’d ever seen and as we walked around the meadows and braes of the Glen, I couldn’t help but feel quite happy and peaceful. We walked into the “faerie castle” and even walked through the faerie circle. Legend says that if you walk in, give a gift to the faeries then walk out backwards that they will let you into the faerie world. I did just that and left a small piece of candy someone had given me a week early that I had found in my pocket. Apparently that was not sufficient for here I sit today to tell you this tale. But that’s just fine! I think I like this world most of the time. In fact, I believe that the faeries played some serious pranks on me while I was in the Glen. I am usually at least semi-coordinated but I fell I kid you not upwards 7 times. Ask anyone that was there with me…they all saw…and laughed. ALOT.
2. Hike in Flodaigearraidh. Yeah. I don’t know how to pronounce it either so don’t worry too much about that. If I had to guess I would say “Flow – dAeg – ERAH – DAY” but I mean who really knows. Anyway, we went hiking or “hill-walking” for about 2 hours or so through what our group decided to call the road to Mordor because the entire landscape resembled the land that dear Frodo and Samwise trekked in L.O.T.R. Bless. Tolkien actually had a house on Skye so, according to our tour guide Mike, the landscape had a huge role in the inspiration for the novel. Parts of Stardust and a few other movies were also filmed here. Whilst hiking I also felt the strongest wind I have EVER felt in my whole life. We took this picture here to celebrate making it out alive. I mean, guys…I swear I was lifted into the air for a few seconds.
3. The Bus Ride. On no other occasion will I ever say that I LOVED a bus ride but this was quite different. Not only were the seats themselves quite comfortable but the whole time the driver had music by Scottish artists of all shapes, sizes and styles playing! The Americans on the bus danced (aka some nice low-key shoulder movements…I mean we were sitting) and sang at every chance we could get while the Australians looked cool and chilled out and the Japanese slept. A few other countries were represented but their general demeanor isn’t so easily stereotyped. When the music wasn’t playing, Mike was telling us some tale relevant to the places we were driving through or headed toward and he told every story like it was an epic and hilarious adventure he had been on to a best friend at a pub. It was captivating. It made me remember what I love about history. We learned everything from the story behind how a man is actually built in to the Forth Bridge to the intensely dramatic and confusing off-and-on relationship of England and Scotland.
4. SEEING NESSIE! Yep, I saw her. The beast that thousands have searched for for centuries. She was quite green and had a precarious grin. And she was quite 2-D. I found her on a wall. No, but seriously, going to Loch Ness was one of THE coolest things I’ve done so far here. We also took the Whiskey Challenge where you get to swig some cheap whiskey (woo) if you take a dip in the perpetually chilly waters of Loch Ness. I had no bathing suit but I mean come on….YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, RIGHT?! Of course, I did it. And it was freezing. No regrets.
5. Getting to see all the adorable small towns up and down the East and West coasts of Scotland as we headed up to Skye and back. It was such a unique experience to be able to see each little village and get a feel for the kind of culture of that place. It made me love and appreciate Scotland even more than I already did.
6. The drive through Glen Coe. Not only was the land filled with stories of clan wars and rich cultural history but it was also stunning. I would love to go back there in the summer and camp out at the base of Ben Nevis, the biggest mountain in the U.K.
7. Hanging out at the TWO pubs in Kyleakin–the fishing village our hostel was in on Skye. This may sound like a small number of pubs but if you saw this village, the Scottish love and appreciation for the pub life would be so much clearer. This place warranted really only one pub. I’m not complaining. Saucy Mary’s was definitely my fav. It’s called that because way back in the day, when part of Skye was a Viking fortress, one of the leaders, Mary, would flash people traveling past in order to kind of make fun of them since her people now had the land. Viola! Saucy Mary’s! Besides the cool atmosphere, I loved sitting down around the table and getting to know our group and our mysterious tour guide a bit better…is he over 40? We still don’t know.
8. ALL THE RAINBOWS. I mean, what?! I think we saw at least two a day, which is a lot for rainbows. It just amplified the fact that Skye is one magical place.
9. All the funny things we did because Mike told us it was a part of some “legend” that would bring us the best sex ever for the next 7 years, happy marriages, and faerie-guarded beautiful faces. These things included but were not limited to dunking our faces in freezing cold water for 7 seconds, never whistling or having our hands in our pockets and drinking the water from an enchanted waterfall down the mountain from the famous Old Man of Storr statue. Needless to say, the next 7 years of my life should be pretty good. Here’s to hoping.
10. Making new friends from all over the world and getting to see such a special place that has captivated the world over for centuries with its beauty and mystery.