Thursday, March 20, 2014

Skye High: Scotland Adventures

I spent roughly a week in Scotland and loved every minute of it.
Here goes:
I had a decent 3 days here in Aberdeen to visit Amber, see the city, and relax before my Haggis Adventure Tour!
I had the best luck with my flight from Luton! I was sitting next to 2 super friendly kiwis who had just spent the last 6 months travelling around both America and Europe. They had the most fantastic stories, we literally spent the WHOLE flight in conversation and they made me even more excited for my travels. 
Who knew that would be possible.
Their friend offered to drive me into the city so I wouldn't have to deal with public transport which absolutely made my day!!
After just 10 mins of driving in from the airport I could definitely understand why they call this gem 'The Granite City'!
The streets are lined with stunning grey granite buildings which have such intricate detailing and beautiful facades. I was completely blown away by the intensity of these buildings.
However, as beautiful as they are, they contribute a little bit of a dull atmosphere to the city. 
I still loved it though.
I spent the days relaxing and wandering these wonderful streets, spending my first day just walking up and down Union Street (the cities main street) getting my bearings and soaking up some sunshine (I couldn't be too sure how long this would hang around).
During my stay I managed to visit the Marischal College (now used as council buildings), the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Union Terrace Gardens, the Train Station, Union Square, the Maritime Musuem, and St Nicks Kirk, as well as spend some quality catch up time with Ambo!!
I regrettingly missed out on the Tolbooth Museum out of pure forgetfulness and the Provost Skene House because of demolition in the area :( so incredibly gutted (google it, it sounds amazing).
I won't bore you with my experiences of each of these places, all I'll say is that I enjoyed each and every one and I'll leave you with some photos;
Marischal College
Art Gallery Interior
His Magesty's Theater
Union Terrace Gardens
Inside the Maritime Museum
St Nicks Kirk

I want to live here.
There is something incredibly jaw dropping and mind blowing about Edinburgh. The beauty of the Architecture and city scape really speaks for the city's character and history! It is absolutely stunning.
I didn't spend much time here at all so I didn't do any of the touristy visits or tours, I just wandered around both Old and New Edinburgh for a few hours.
I fell in love.
I am definitely coming back here. 

The rest of my week in Scotland was absolutely jam packed with travel and sightseeing, all thanks to Haggis Adventures.
I fully recommend doing one of these tours, there is no way I could have seen what we did, heard what we did, and got to do what we did without the aid of the tour guide! 
Trip of a lifetime!!!
And I met some incredible people; 
people I hope to be friends with for a long long time and possibly even visit them later on in their home countries...
(Hint hint)
Bright and early on the friday morning we met and started awkwardly introducing ourselves to the strangers who were to become our friends, then jumped on the bus and set off down the Royal Mile!!
The guide was fantastic at telling us the Scottish myths, legends, and history throughout the tour, stories told with such enthusiasm and excitement.
She enticed us with challanges at each stop and entertained us with some Scottish tunes while giving us a truckload of information to digest and understand.
Following are just a few of my definite highlights and most memorable moments of the trip:

Whiskey Distillery
This was a definite must do while in scotland.
We did a wee tour, was taught the process of making whiskey, learnt about how to properly drink it, and then finished off the tour with a wee taster!
I can't say I was the biggest fan. I thought I did like the odd whiskey, buuuut this was so strong in flavor I can't see myself drinking a lot of it in the future!
A very interesting tour!

Fairy Waterfall
Hearing about the fairies was very entertaining.
These myths were my favourite ones.
It's a nice idea, believing that these creatures are looking after the landscape for you.
Here at the waterfall we were challanged to make our way up to the top, grab a mouthful of water, run back down and spit the water on to the fairy rock. It is said that in doing so the fairies will grant you a wish (you make the wish while spitting).
This was a lot of fun.
It sounds easy enough, but this was terribly muddy and slippery and rather difficult, running back down with a mouthful of water deemed itself to be quite the challenge.
After a couple of slips, mud splashes on my jeans, and extremely muddy shoes, I approached the rock and made my wish.
Challenge completed.
Now just to wait for the wish to come true.
Fingers crossed.

River of Eternal Youth
Before reaching the river we were told a story of a lady who, on her way to her marriage to a member of an rival clan, tried to cross this river, fell off her donkey, hit her face on a rock, lost an eye, munted her face, basically came out looking the like the ugliest woman alive. Her father sent her to marry anyway, covering her face and tricking her husband to be. After their 'I Do's' the veil was lifted and the husband was so disgusted he cut out the donkey's eye and banished them.
So the lady and her donkey, on their way home, came across a fairy and asked it for help. This fairy worked its magic, told them to dip in the river where the accident happened and they came out looking more beautiful than ever before, with eternal youth and beauty. And the donkey turned into a black stallion.
So the story goes, if you dip your face in the water, you too will receive eternal youth and beauty.
So, of course, thats what we did.
It was cold. But so fresh.
And quite a lot of fun!

Eliean Donan Castle
I absolutely loved this place.
There was a battle here long ago and the castle was blown up from the inside, turned completely to ruins.
Many years later the owners found the plans hidden away at Edinburgh castle and set to rebuilding it exactly as it was designed.
It is a beautiful place.
I actually think I preferred the ruins of castles that we saw throughout the trip because of the state that they are left in, leaving more for the imagination to create, but it was pretty incredible seeing one in working order, still occupied by people, in its full architectural glory!!!

Culloden Battlefield
This is a pretty sombre space.
Incredible crazy story of battle and death.
I thought the information center building was very tasteful and effective, and the wall of the dead was striking.
It definitely grabbed my attention and seriously made me stop and think.
Each stone sticking out represents 10 people who died in this battle
Incredible place.
Can't even describe.

The Hermitage
This walkway is home to some of the tallest trees in Britain.
A very cool place and an amazing waterfall.
This was one of our last stops before we arrived back in Edinburgh, and we spent a lot of time here taking photos and just soaking up the stunning scenery!

Winnie the Pooh
He was our tour mascot.
We had a bit of fun with him.

All in all this was a fantastic trip to Scotland and a great way to break into the touring life.
I'll definitely be coming back!
Next stop,
Europe on Topdeck.

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