Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We've haggis a great time!

Ok, so the posts a little late... sorry about that. I have been sick in bed most of the week without the strength or motivation to lift my head so we're a little delayed on this Scotland post. You will have to forgive me, anyhoot... I'm on the road to recovery and excited to tell all you avid readers about our thrilling week in the land of Scots!!!

Our trip started with a 5ish hour train ride out of London and along the coast hitting into Edinburgh at around 2 in the afternoon. We found out hostel relatively quickly and strolled along the Royal Mile towards the impressive Edinburgh Castle. Where we foolishly purchased an audio tour each and no sooner had we collected them were we offered a free guided tour, oh well! We wandered the Castle learning all about Mary Queen of Scots, James VI and I (of Scotland and England respectively) and all the scandalous details that any good Castle endures during its reign. We concluded the day with a pretty standard hostel dinner and a ghost tour of the vaults where J was treated to a little spanking from our guide and had Bec scared out of her mind the rest of the evening!

The second day we tried (and tried ... and tried) to collect our car before lunch, but despite our efforts we were told to come back around 2ish, so we opted to head to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament. Both equally amazing in their own right, I'd show you the pictures but due to a small camera fault most photos were deleted... but we wont go into that. In the afternoon we jumped in our car and successfully navigated our way to St Andrews. J spent the afternoon admiring the old course and Bec stood baffled as to why one big stretch of grass had captivated Jarratt so. We raced around to the ruins of the Cathedral and Castle and within 2 hours had efficiently 'done' St Andrews and both agreed we'd set off early the next morning for Balmoral Castle.

Soaking up as much of St Andrews golf course as he could, the next morning J ordered breakfast and marched us down to the R&A for one last happy snappy. Afterwards we jumped in the car and headed out to Balmoral via the Grampian Mountains where Bec proceeded to go mental at the amount of snow, as I'm sure you'll appreciate when you look over the video we have uploaded. Balmoral was amazing in the sense that you walked around going "Who lives like this?Oh right, the queen... whoops" but without the snow I don't think it would have been half as spectacular. After a Venison Burger at the Queens Cafe we made a beeline for Inverness and the Battlefield of Culloden, passing many a snow-covered Highland Cow along our way. Culloden proved to be quite an insight into Scottish history and really triggered great interest in us both to find out more. Afterwards, exhausted from a long day of driving we headed to our modest accommodation for the evening, Culrain Castle (!!!!!) Little to say, i was a bit excited! :) Despite being an amazing building and everything I hoped for, amazing big gates, atop a hill and... haunted... We had a great, well lit sleep!

Day Four saw us head to the Isle of Skye via Loch Ness for a brief session of Monster Watching! Both Loch Ness and Isle of Skye proved to be very picturesque, with amazing gorges, beautiful mountains and sweet little boat houses hugging the shoreline. We spent one relaxing night there and then headed back to the main land via the Skye bridge passing Scotland's most romantic castle, Eilean Donan. We continued on our way to Oban stopping twice along the way. The first was at Fort William, home of Ben Nevis (Britain's tallest mountain) where we followed the Ben Nevis lookout road all the way to the end, continually quizzing each other with "is that it?' as we went. Upon arrival at the lookout we were told that "you can't see Ben Nevis here because you're too close and other mountains hide it from this point" Of course you can't, how silly of us to think that we could actually see the Ben Nevis mountain from the Ben Nevis lookout point (?!?!?!!). Our second stop was at Glen Coe, the home of the most famous clan massacre in all of Scotland. When we finally reached Oban we were welcomed by a strange little hostel owner and his dog and two wonderful glasses of Oban's finest scotch whiskey! All in all a good day was had.

The next morning we played bargy bargy for breakfast in the kitchen of our hostel and then headed out to Kilmartin Glen. The birthplace of Scotland... and the finest examples of ancient standing stones and cairns! However, since these are off the beaten track (literally... you need to navigate through paddocks to get to them), there wasn't your normal plethora of fellow tourists to snap a picture for us, so we resorted to timer photos... and boy! did we have fun with those! (As you can see by the evidence below) Afterwards, we dropped into Glasgow for an obligatory whirlwind visit (as we were not impressed with the place in the slightest) and ended our day cooking dinner in an amazing Stirling apartment and watching Braveheart!

Stirling proved to be an amazing place in the world, full of medieval features such as castle gates, city walls and cobbled streets... but more importantly host to the historic Scotland weekend and in full support for free entry to all its attractions and sights (yay!), taking full advantage J and I headed straight to Stirling castle and then on to the Wallace Monument before ending at the field where the Battle of Bannockburn took place! We ended our day in the city walls (pub) drinking Scotland's finest and eating some Haggis!

Our final day saw us racing back to Edinburgh to recreate some happy snaps that had been earlier deleted, rolling through the Scottish history Museum and listening to how Whiskey is created on our Whiskey Experience tour! We strolled onto our 3:30pm train at about 20 past and within 6 hours were home, unpacked and in bed! You gotta love London......

Tomorrow we're off to Turkey and cannot wait!!!! But enough about us... how have you been? :P

Jarratt at the 18th hole of St Andrews Old Course

Us at the first hole of the Old Course at St Andrews.

In the excitement I may have forgotten to put on my jumper... maybe that's why I got my cold (tee-hee)

Snow-covered Highland Cow

Our intimate castle accommodation, with J and our transport for the week in front.

On monster watch at Loch Ness.

At Scotland's most romantic castle, Eilean Donan.

Us at Ben Nevis, (we think) its the one peaking out from behind covered in snow!

Oh what a feeling! Stone Circles! Defying gravity through the magic of timer photography.

At Stirling Castle's Gates.

Stirling Castle's lookout over the Royal Gardens.

Great Scot!!! That's a lot of snow!