A Series of Unfortunate Events: the Homeward Bound Edition

When we left Glasgow Monday morning, we were filled with excitement at the prospect of being home in around 16 hours. However, after making it through security and finding the gate for our flight, the day’s nightmares began. As we waited to start boarding, an announcement informed us that due to bad weather in Amsterdam, our flight would be delayed by nearly 3 hours, which was not good news for us. We had only 55 minutes to transfer flights in Amsterdam, so with the delays we would probably miss our flight to Chicago. And so that came to be.

We ended up leaving Glasgow a bit earlier than they had expected and arrived in Amsterdam around 1 pm. From there, we were told to go to the transfer desk to see about getting put on another flight to Chicago. This was the beginning of the worst part of the day. My estimate is that around 300 people were already in line by the time we got to the line. We ended up waiting in that line for almost three hours. The airport did give us some water and some candy to sustain us, but standing in that line still sucked. After nearly three hours, we had only made it halfway to the desk. It was then that we were informed that there would be no more flights to the U.S. Monday night.

We were then directed to proceed to the KLM hotel desk, where they would then be placing us in a hotel for the night. We were also told to call KLM to see about getting another flight. So we proceeded to pass through the passport check and found ourselves in another long line, which we would end up waiting in for over three hours. Unfortunately, my phone did not work in Europe, so I could not call for a new flight. I was freaking out because people around me were saying that some people flying to the U.S. couldn’t get flights until Wednesday!! So I called my amazing mother and asked her to call KLM to get us another flight. This wonderful person that is my mother was then able to get us on a flight for Wednesday into Chicago. With that taken care of, we waited patiently (ok not so patiently) in line to get our hotel.

While waiting, I checked my KLM account and found that they had somehow put me on a flight on Tuesday to Chicago with a connecting flight to Paris. However, they had not put Nettie on that flight. So I called my mother once again and had her get on the phone with KLM again. By that time we had reached the hotel desk and the lovely lady there also called the ticketing desk asking about my flight. With both people in contact with the airline, we were able to fix the error and get me back onto the Wednesday flight.

Our wonderful airline then put us up in the Sheraton hotel for the night. We were provided with a late dinner and breakfast, and an amazing room. Unfortunately, we had to go back to the desk in the morning to get put into another hotel for Tuesday night. Luckily, the line for that was really short, so we were soon put in a new hotel. We checked out of the Sheraton and hopped on the shuttle for our new hotel. This place was equally as nice and we were provided with lunch, dinner, and breakfast. It was all pretty amazing. What could have been an even worse situation turned out to not be that bad because our wonderful airline took care of everything at no charge to us. I am very impressed with KLM and will definitely use them again.

We probably could have gone into Amsterdam on Tuesday, but we decided to just stay in and relax. I was desperately needing a nap, so we just chilled in our hotel room for the day. It was then that we encountered another problem. I was supposed to start a wonderful job at the public library on Tuesday, but that obviously wasn’t going to happen. My family was also going to go to my cousin’s graduation in Indiana and we had planned on just going up to Milwaukee for the night then heading to Indianapolis a bit early. However, my work desperately needed me to be there this week because the summer reading programme started on Monday and they needed me to prepare for that. So, we searched for a way to get me back to Marshfield without my mom having to drive the almost five hours back north to get me home. We ended up getting me on a greyhound bus on Thursday morning from Milwaukee to Abbotsford, where my dad would be picking me up. I will then be going in to work at 4 on Thursday, but that’s ok. I am looking forward to getting back to work.

So, while these have been, and still will be, some pretty crazy days, they ended up not being too bad. We were completely taken care of by our airline. Currently we are sitting in the airport awaiting our flight home to Chicago in an hour. Soon I will put this nightmare behind me and get to see my friends and family. I look forward to seeing everybody. I will probably write a few more posts this week to tell y’all about some more travels and getting home, so stayed tuned dear readers! Cheers!

This Isn’t Goodbye, It’s See You Later

I know it’s cliche, but it’s amazing how fast time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was last-minute packing for Glasgow and jet-setting off on a new adventure. Now that adventure has come to a close as I head back to good old Wisconsin tomorrow morning. It sure has been a fabulous time though. I have made some amazing life-long friends here and met some pretty awesome people from all over the world. Though I had a tough time with my classes here, every dime I spent (and I spent a lot on this adventure) was completely worth it. Scotland is a beautiful and breathtaking country. It has been an absolute privilege to see the amazing wonders that God has created in this wonderful country. I cannot wait to return here in two years (fingers crossed).

So, I think some thanks are in order for all the people who made this possible and for those who made it one of the best times of my life:

First, to my parents. Nothing I have done in this life would have been possible without your love and support. This adventure definitely would not have happened without your emotional and financial support. Thanks for helping us out when we didn’t budget out properly. We are forever grateful. You guys are stars.

Second, to all those people out there who supported this adventure and helped me out during it. From academic support to financial, I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help.

Third, to my amazing flatmates: Kayla Gardner, Josefa Errazuriz, and Shu-Yin (Susan) Chang. God definitely placed me in the right flat. I couldn’t have asked for better people to share my semester with. Thanks for all the amazing times. Y’all are the best. Here’s to more adventures again in the future.

Fourth, to my two best friends from home, Katrina Weber and Brianna Bodoh. Thanks for putting up with me basically bragging about all the cool stuff I got to do here and for keeping me up to date on everything back home. I love y’all. Sorry I missed out on stuff with you this semester. Can’t wait to be back with y’all in the fall!

Fifth, to all the wonderful people I met this semester, especially to my fellow German classmates. You made that difficult class much more fun. I wish I could have spent more time with you. Hopefully I will get to see some of you in the future. Have fun next year!

And last, but not least, to my sister. I’m so glad I got to go through this semester with you by my side. This adventure would have been much harder without you. I had a fabulous time spending this semester with you abroad. I love you to death. Thanks for being my fellow partner in crime and adventurer.

And so this is it everybody. By this time tomorrow I will be home, but I will be leaving a piece of me behind in this amazing city. Though I’m glad to be going home to my friends, family, and pets, I’m seriously going to miss this place. It’s been great Glasgow, but it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. But don’t worry, I’ll be back someday. So this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.

A Final Journey in Scotland: Cycling Around Cumbrae

Well folks, this is it. Our last trip to somewhere in Scotland and it sure was a great way to end a fabulous semester of some great Scottish adventures. On May 14th we embarked on our final tour with Student Tours Scotland. Gary sure knew how to make the semester go out with a bang. It was time to go on a bike ride around an island.

The day began like all the others, except that the tour started an hour later, so we got to sleep a bit longer! Yay! At 9:45 we were off to the Isle of Cumbrae. From Glasgow it is only about an hour long journey. We travelled to Largs, which is a nice coastal town. From there we took a 10 minute ferry ride to Cumbrae. Once we arrived on the island our bus dropped us off near the bike shop. We then proceeded to pick up bikes from the shop, strapped on some helmets, and were off! Us on the Isle of Cumbrae .jpg

The Isle of Cumbrae is only about 11 miles around, so it is relatively easy to bike around. It is also mostly flat, so the ride is not difficult. It is also really biker friendly, so cars have to yield to cyclists. We biked a mile or two out of the town, then stopped by one of the sightseeing points. From this point of the island you can sit on some beautiful rocks and admire the view of the Isles of Arran and Bute, both of which I have been to. The weather was absolutely spectacular. The sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. It was also warm enough that I didn’t have to wear my sweatshirt. Overall a beautiful day to sit, relax, eat lunch, and admire Scotland’s beauty.

After eating lunch we continued on our bike ride. There were many lookout points to stop at. I will just put some pictures here to show these stops, though the pictures do not do this amazing island justice. It was absolutely stunning.

Once we finished our cycle around Cumbrae we had time to do a bit of exploring in the town. We ended up walking to see the Cathedral of the Isles, which is one of the smallest cathedrals in Europe. It is situated on some pretty beautiful grounds and the inside of the church itself was simple, yet beautiful. The wooded path leading up to the church were simply stunning. I imagine that many people like to take their wedding pictures there.

After the cathedral we walked back towards the bus. On our way back we got some ice cream, then boarded the bus to travel back to the ferry terminal. While we waited for the ferry, we saw an absolutely adorable dog sitting in the basket of a bike passing by. It looked like a little teddy bear and was seriously the cutest thing. The front of the bus (especially me) was freaking out. After the ferry ride we stopped for a half hour in Largs. It is a rather nice little town and I hope to explore it further in the future.

Once we left Largs it was straight back to Glasgow. The journey should have only taken a little over an hour, but we got stuck in a huge traffic jam, so it ended up taking over 2 hours to get back into Glasgow. Luckily this gave us plenty of time for another fun game of bus bingo (I didn’t win 😦 ).

Overall, this trip was a fabulous way to end our semester of travels with Gary. I am seriously going to miss him. He is my favorite person in Scotland. I really hope to see him again when I come back to Scotland in two years after my semester in France. He is honestly the best, and funniest, person to show you around Scotland.

And so dear readers, we reach the end of my travels in Scotland. The next week was filled with finishing up my finals, which were pretty killer. On the bright side, after finals we had another fabulous trip coming up, this time to Ireland! So stay tuned for that adventure my few readers! Cheers!

The Day of Killer Hiking: A Saga

When Gary said that this tour on May 7 was going to be awesome, I jumped at the opportunity to go. A nice hike on the Isle of Arran? Yes please! However, I seriously underestimated this hike. Sure, Gary said that not everyone would make it up to the top and that’s ok, but I thought that this fairly avid hiker (me) could handle it. Haha, I laugh at my own stupidity. I was in for a killer walk.

The morning began as usual, but our travel plans were a bit different for today. We were headed to the Isle of Arran, so, naturally, we would have to take a ferry. This time though, the bus was not coming with us. It dropped us off at the terminal and it was up to us to get on the ferry. Once we got on board we settled in for a long ride. It would take over an hour to reach the island, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. I especially enjoyed this ride because there were tons of dogs on board. I got the pet some black labs for around 5 minutes and it seriously made me the happiest person on the planet. (I am extremely pet deprived here, so being able to pet a dog was heaven on earth. I see SO MANY dogs here in Glasgow but I can’t pet them. Instead, I take out my excitement of seeing so many cute puppies on my sister’s arm in the form of slaps and punches while squealing “Puppy! Puppy! He’s so cuuuutttteee!! Wook at him!” Sorry Nettie! No, wait, I’m not. Muahahahaha! 😉 )

Arran from the Ferry

Shortly after my dog petting session we landed on Arran and were off to hike. There were several large hills on the island and none of us, aside from Gary of course, were sure which one we would be climbing. We hoped it wasn’t the big, tall looking mountain in the distance. We only had a bit over 5 hours on the island, so we were pretty sure that we weren’t going to have time to climb that one. We were mistaken. It soon became evident that this mountain was our hiking destination as we walked along the shore towards it. The walk there was mostly nice, since we got to walk through a path surrounded by these beautiful yellow flower trees/bushes that smell like heaven. However, we also had to walk on the sand for a bit, which quickly sapped much of my strength. Walking through deep sand is extremely tiresome.

Isle of Arran Flowers

Following the trek in the sand we took a nice wooded path to the start of the trail up the mountain, called the Goat Fell. It is the highest point on the Isle of Arran at 874 metres tall and we were about to climb it. Gary told us to take our time climbing and reminded us that not all of us would make it to the top. Stupid me thought that this wasn’t going to be so bad. I sure was wrong.

Sign for Goat Fell

Nettie and I started out at the head of the pack alongside Gary at a very brisk pace, but we soon found out that we were not cut out for that fast of a pace. We soon dropped to the back of the pack, then soon found ourselves left behind. I was a bit ashamed. I hike a lot with my family and I have been walking a TON all over hilly Glasgow, but I sure was not prepared. I was seriously dying. I had to take so many breaks. Yes, I’m a bit fat, but I’m not in THAT bad out of shape. This climb was fairly steep. It sure was not my family’s usual Sunday hike of Levis Mound in WI. I felt like a pathetic dying person.

Luckily, about of a third way up, we found some other people chilling and eating lunch, so we decided to join them. They were also pretty much dying, so we didn’t feel quite so alone. However, after we finished eating, all but one of them soon left us in the dirt. On the bright side, I made a new friend who was struggling just as much as me. We ended up having a great time together.

Now, even though this hike was pretty killer, it was also seriously amazing. I have never climbed a mountain before, and the view as we climbed was incredible. It would have been even more amazing if it wasn’t so cloudy, but it was still pretty awesome. On a sunny day, I bet you can see the coast of mainland Scotland across the water.

We ended up not making it to the top because we didn’t have enough time. We needed to take a lot of little breaks, which entailed me finding a rock, saying “You see that boulder? That’s a niiicce boulder.” (I channelled my inner Donkey), and promptly sitting on it for a few minutes. If we had another few hours, we probably could have made it all the way to the top, but alas, we lacked the time. When I visit Scotland again I am planning on making it all the way to the top.

After making it about 3/4 the way up the Goat Fell, we headed back down the mountain, which was much, much easier than climbing up it. On the way back we got to see some more Highland cows, which was awesome. We also stopped and got some hydration at a café, then took a nice stroll along the beach, which I loved. Putting the fishy water smell aside, I love standing on a beach watching the waves crash on the shore. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to linger much longer, as we had to get back into the town to catch the ferry. If we missed it, we would have to find our own way back to Glasgow, which would not be fun at all.

However, after rushing to get into the town and make a quick souvenir stop, we found out that the ferry was delayed by about an hour. We ended up having to wait out in the rain for a while, which was a bit of a bummer. Once we got on board though, the ferry ride back was fairly pleasant. Then, back on the bus, it was time for the best part of the day: bus bingo. Though we didn’t win, it was an enjoyable game as usual.

Overall, while this trip was very exhausting, it was still pretty amazing. One thing I love about Gary’s tours is that he takes you to places that most touring companies won’t and you get to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do with other companies. This tour was definitely one of my favorites and I really hope to repeat it in the future.

Stay tuned for probably my favorite, and last, tour with Gary on the Isle of Cumbrae. Stay tuned dear few readers! Cheers!

Off to Hogwarts: A Journey to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Oh, and a Visit to a Caribbean Beach

Ok, I didn’t actually go to the Caribbean, but I did go to a white sand beach on April 24. I also got to see the bridge that the Hogwarts Express crosses on its way to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. Combined with a visit to Platform 9 3/4 in London, my inner Potterhead was jumping with joy. My inner history buff also got to enjoy a visit to a really cool historical site. I present to you a wonderful trip through Scotland.

The day started off like all the other trips. Bright and early to rise and arrive at the bus, early to depart Glasgow. Routine to us by our eighth trip with Student Tours Scotland, although we were especially tired today due to a late night concert Saturday night. Unfortunately, the route to our destination involved driving through my least favorite spot of roads, the winding roads past Loch Lomond and into the beginning of the Highlands. I don’t know what it is about this drive, but it never fails to make me carsick, an occurrence which rarely happens for this veteran of long road trips.

We made two quick stops at some rest areas, then continued towards our first destination, the Princes Cairn. On the way there Gary told another of his awesome history/mythology stories, but I completely missed it. I unintentionally conked out during the story, so I didn’t get to hear this story. I have to make Nettie retell it for me, though it probably won’t be quite as good. Soon after I woke up from my much needed, but ill timed nap, we arrived at the Princes Cairn, which is a small monument commemorating the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland to start the last Jacobite Rebellion. The history of this rebellion is quite fascinating, so I encourage you to look up some stuff about it. It marked the beginning of a very sad time for Scotland. Anyways, the Princes Cairn is situated right on Loch nam Uamh (also know to Gary as Loch Nom Nom) and the view is absolutely gorgeous. Plus the sun was out, so it was even better.

By the Princes Cairn

We next headed to the Silver Sands of Morar, which is a white sand beach on the west coast of Scotland. It offers views of several islands, but the beach itself is stunning. The walk down to it was beautiful, but nothing compared to that lovely white sand. The weather was absolutely perfect; warm and sunny with hardly any clouds. Once we gathered on the beach I immediately took off my shoes and socks and sank my toes into that soft, warm sand. It was absolutely heavenly. I have never been to a white sand beach before and it seriously felt like I was in the Caribbean. We had almost an hour on the beach, which Nettie and I spent wading into the freezing water, taking photos of us doing crazy things, and just generally enjoying the amazing weather and the sand between our toes. It was honestly one of my favorite experiences here. So lovely.

Unfortunately, it was soon time to leave the beach. 😦 After attempting to get as much sand off my feet (it didn’t come off so well), I put my shoes back on and headed back to the bus. My sadness at leaving the beach was soon overshadowed with excitement because we were heading to see the HARRY POTTER BRIDGE! I was so jazzed. We drove past the Princes Cairn on our way and soon arrived at the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It was time for some sightseeing, but first, a toilet and postcard shopping stop was in order.

Our first sightseeing stop was to see the view from the hillside. We walked up a lovely (aka killer) path to the view point, but the walk was worth it to see the amazing views of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Sheil, and the surrounding countryside. I could have sat up there the whole time, but we were on a time crunch, so it was time to go see some other spots.

We next walked up to the viaduct. A trail leads right up to it, so you can actually go and touch it, which of course I did. The viaduct is pretty cool. It looks like something straight out of Roman times. It made me really want to go and watch the Harry Potter movies though. Now I can say that I have actually been there! So cool!

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Following the viaduct, we only had a bit more time, so we decided to just go see the Glenfinnan Monument on the shores of Loch Sheil. The monument commemorates the spot where Prince Charles raised his standard and began the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Unfortunately, it is currently under restoration, so you can’t see much of it. You can, however, admire the view of Loch Sheil, which is one of Gary’s favorite views in Scotland. It is definitely one of mine. The pictures do not do justice to this beautiful spot. The sun was shining down on the loch, giving me a dazzling view of another of Scotland’s beautiful waters. We just stood and admired the amazing view. I also went to dip my hand in, which is a ritual of mine whenever we visit a loch.

Soon after that it was time to load back on the bus and head back to Glasgow. It was again time for some intense bus bingo, which we did not win. 😦 Once we got to Glasgow, we decided to go out for dinner with one of our friends at a lovely cheap restaurant downtown. Nettie ordered the Highland burger, which comes with haggis on it. Surprisingly, I like haggis; it tastes absolutely delicious. I just have to not think about what it is comprised of. We ended up staying at the restaurant chatting for almost two hours, bringing a lovely end to a fantastic day.

More adventures are headed your way dear few readers, so stay tuned. Cheers!

I Went to Loch Ness and Didn’t See Nessie: A Story

Loch Ness Sign

Well folks, I did it! I went to Loch Ness and have lived to tell the tale! The Loch Ness Monster didn’t get me! This story would be so much more epic if I actually saw Nessie, but I didn’t. 😦 She decided to take a trip to London and is probably still traveling around England. (For those of you who don’t know, there was a sighting of some strange thing in the Thames that some think might have been Nessie). Anyway, this trip definitely ranks high among our adventures. It was a fantastic day made even better by the fact that our flatmate Kayla was along for the ride with her parents. They were visiting this past week and decided to go on a tour to Loch Ness.

The day started off fairly well, aside from a little mishap in the morning because we forgot that the subway doesn’t open until later and had to catch a taxi. Within the next two hours however, the trip began to get interesting. First, many people on the bus were seized by the lovely carsickness that comes with the beautiful yet nauseating drive through the winding roads of the Highlands. Nettie and I were among them. I did not feel good at all, but my sickness was nothing compared to a poor Asian student on the bus. She got so sick that she threw up and was feeling so unwell that she caused us to leave our rest stop later than planned. Gary moved her up to the front, where she promptly spent the next 45 minutes moaning and throwing up once more. She was feeling so bad that we had to make a stop in Fort William to drop her and her friend off at the train station so they could go back to Glasgow. I felt bad for her because of the money she would have had to pay to take a train back, on top of the price of the tour she decided to leave. Poor girl.

Following that small detour, we continued towards Loch Ness and made a few stops at some other lochs, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy (which translates to Lake Lake haha). Though the weather was very overcast, cold, and a bit rainy, they were still gorgeous views. Following those stops, we drove past Loch Ness and made a stop at Invermorriston, which was a much needed stop because I had to use the restroom like none other. I seriously was dying. Thankfully there was a toilet at this stop, so I soon felt much better, along with the vast number of other people who were also dying for a restroom.

After the toilet, it was time to do some exploring. Along with Kayla and her parents, we walked through some woods down to the River Morriston. The path provided some wonderful views of a waterfall and there was also a stone hut that looked over the waterfall. We then walked over to the bridge over the river, which also gave some amazing views of some rock formations and the water. One thing I love about Scotland is that the water here is so clear. A lot of the rivers feed from the Highlands, so they aren’t muddy at all. Sometimes they are this beautiful blue green color or just the clearest water you will ever see. I love it.

After exploring the nature of Invermorriston, we hopped back on the bus and heading back into Fort Augustus, which sits right on Loch Ness. Our first stop there was to go to the farm of a family friend of Gary. He gets us exclusive access to get up close and personal with some Highland cows, a few horses, and a dog! It was heaven on earth. The property sits right on the loch and gives you some stunning views. First, however, we were occupied with finding some Highland cows and petting them. On our way to the cows, we stopped and petted the two ponies and one horse on the farm. They were so amazing! We were all in heaven. After the horses, we looked for the cows. We didn’t have to look far and soon came across three of them in a field. And oh my goodness, they are just the cutest things to walk this planet. We were seriously in heaven now. Two of them were pretty friendly and allowed us to get up close to them and take some pictures. One of them, however, was a bit of a grump, so we steered clear of him.

Following these amazing cows, we went and did some exploring of the farm. On our way to the shores of Loch Ness, we came across the farm’s dog, a super cute and lovable golden lab. I think that her name was Pearly. I have been seriously animal deprived here, so this day was seriously a slice of heaven. After our time with the dog, we went and looked over Loch Ness. The weather was still pretty overcast, but the loch was nevertheless very beautiful. I wish we could have had longer there, but we soon had to head into town to do some exploring before we had to leave Fort Augustus.

Nettie and Pearly

Once we got into the town, we went to explore the shores of Loch Ness again. There was a small piece of land that juts out into the loch which provided some more great views of the loch. I also went down by the water and put my hand into the water. Nessie didn’t come say hi, so all I got out of that was a freezing hand. After that we went and looked at the locks on the Caledonian Canal, which is a huge canal that connects Inverness in the north to the west coast near Fort William. We got to see the locks in action, which was pretty cool. After that we stopped at a gas station to grab some snacks, then loaded back on the bus to head back to Glasgow. I wish we could have had more time at Loch Ness, which would have been even more amazing if the weather had been nice. Oh well, it was still an amazing trip. Nettie even won a postcard from bus bingo! Poor Kayla did not win the cute stuffed animal Highland cow she wanted so badly.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip with our flatmate and her parents, who are lovely people. I hope that I will get to see them when I hopefully go visit Vancouver this summer. I can’t wait! So, dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed this story of my trip to Loch Ness. More is headed your way, so until then, cheers!

 

March: A Month of Adventures, Week 1, Part 1

This post is the start of my tellings of the many trips and events of March. Here begins the first week of March:

Even though it had only been two weeks since our trip to Edinburgh, by this weekend we were itching to get out and do some more exploring in Scotland. It is amazing how fast time is flying by. At this point, we only had three weeks of classes left before spring break (crazy right?)! Our spring holiday is also almost a month long and will be filled with more adventures both in and out of Scotland. These past two weeks were filled with classes and planning for future trips. Wednesday I had to face an awful German test, which literally had me on the verge of tears because I knew I had done so bad. And that day was made worse by the fact that I tripped and fell going up some concrete stairs in front of about twenty people. Talk about having a bad day. Luckily the day was later made better by the purchase of an absolutely divine caramel cheesecake. Made me feel instantly better. And by the next week, I found out that I had done better on the test than my previous one, which was a pleasant surprise.

After this rough week of classes, Nettie and I were ready to take a whole weekend of travels. We decided to take two trips with Student Tours Scotland. The first was to Oban and Inveraray, and the second to Glencoe and Loch Lomond. I will write this in two parts. So without further ado, our trip.

Oban and Inveraray

As with our past trip with Student Tours Scotland, our day started off with an early morning departure to the meeting point by Glasgow Caledonian University. After getting everyone checked in, we were off! Our journey started by heading north out of Glasgow. We passed Loch Lomond and soon were in the Highlands. This was our first time really in the Highlands and they were amazing. For someone who is not from a mountainous area, they seemed like mountains to me. Most of them are covered in snow and looked absolutely gorgeous in the early morning sun.

One thing I did not like about the Highlands was the roads. Driving through the Highlands on twisting roads in a coach bus is not fun. I am not normally someone who gets carsick, but those roads did it for me.  Thankfully, we soon took a rest break at the, wait for it….Rest and Be Thankful spot (hahaha those puns were intended but probably aren’t actually that funny to anyone else but me). Anyways, I was feeling real thankful for a short break outside of the car and this stop couldn’t have been more perfect. The Rest and Be Thankful spot sits at the top of an absolutely stunning valley nestled in the Highlands. Words cannot describe how beautiful it looked with blue skies and the shining sun. Simply breathtaking. It was the perfect place to stop.

After that we hopped back on the bus and continued towards Inveraray. On the way we passed by a private castle that you can only see from the outside. We only got a small glimpse of it, but the loch it was situated on made up for it. Loch Awe was gorgeous. It is situated right in the Highlands and is the longest loch in Scotland. Now, for those of you who don’t know, a loch is a lake, but don’t ever call it a lake in Scotland. It’s a loch and if you call it anything else, a little part of our ginger tour guide’s soul dies and since he is a ginger, he doesn’t have much to go on anyways. I am going to have issues calling a lake a lake when I get home. I think loch sounds so much cooler.

Anyways, soon after seeing that castle we arrived in Inveraray, which is one of my favorite places in Scotland. It sits right on Loch Awe and is just the quaintest, most beautiful little town I have seen. The views of the loch and the Highlands are simply stunning. It also has a castle. What could be better? And this castle is pretty legit. It looks like something out of Disney and sits in one of the most stunning landscapes imaginable. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can visit it because it is privately owned, but you can admire it from a bridge that crosses the mouth of the river that flows into Loch Awe and runs alongside the castle. I seriously felt like I was in a Disney movie. It was very picturesque.

Sadly, we weren’t able to spend much time in Inveraray. Before we knew it, we had to say goodbye to this beautiful little town and continue our journey to the next stop. And would you know, on our way to the next location what did we see? A castle of course!! As we passed another loch we stopped the bus on the side of the road, jumped off, and took a quick picture of the castle. Granny tourism as Gary calls it. Then back on the bus and on to St. Conan’s Kirk.

Castle in the Distance

St. Conan’s Kirk is a lovely old church that sits right on Loch Awe. It is surrounded by a lot of beautiful vegetation and the view of the loch from the church is absolutely stunning. The church itself is beautiful. It isn’t huge, but is still a fairly elaborate stone church. Overall, it was a lovely stop and a chance for us to get out and stretch our legs.

After that, it was on to Oban, which is a town situated on the western coast of Scotland. From the moment we arrived, I loved Oban. The town sits on the side of several hills and faces a gorgeous bay. The way we took into the town descended from the top of the town down to the bay and gave us a lovely view of Oban. Our first stop in Oban was to go on a walk along the bay. It was quite a lovely view and we also got to see an old castle from the distance. Gary also told us some mythology about the area, which is my favorite part of his trips. We also saw a ginormous ferry coming into Oban from Mull, one of the bigger islands of the Hebrides.

Oban

After that we were given free time to grab some lunch and explore Oban. We decided to go to a fish and chip place and ended up eating our lunch with two German guys we had been talking to. After our lunch we went to a delicious chocolate place/cafe and got some hot chocolate. According to Gary, it is the best hot chocolate in Scotland, but I thought that it was just ok.

We then met back up with the group and walked up to McCaig’s Tower, which is a memorial in Oban that looks like the Colosseum. Though it provided a beautiful view of Oban and the bay, the hike up there was not fun. The memorial sits up on top of a steep hill and we hard to march up it. I thought I was going to die. However, it was a nice view, so the grueling hike ended up being worth it.

Unfortunately, soon after our hike it was time to head back to Glasgow. However, we did make another stop to see a lovely waterfall by an old stone mill. Though it was only a quick stop, it was nice to get off the bus and hike in the woods a bit to see more of Scotland’s amazing nature and scenery. Back on the bus, we proceeded to play a game of bus bingo. For those of you who might have missed my last description of the game, I will describe it again. Bus bingo is just a normal game of bingo, except you have to cross off every number on your sheet (about 15 numbers I think). This game is taken very seriously by everyone on the bus. We are all in it to win the Highland Cow stuffed animal or the lesser prizes of little Nessies and postcards. Neither Nettie or I won on our last tour, but this time luck was on my side. I was the first winner, so I won the Highland Cow!! I shouldn’t be this excited about a little stuffed animal, but Highland Cows are just so darn cute and the stuffed animal is equally adorable.

Waterfall by Old Stone MillHighland Cow Stuffed Animal

And so concludes our adventure to Oban and Inveraray. It is a trip that I would highly, highly recommend for anyone traveling to Scotland. The locations are absolutely gorgeous and well worth your time.  I really hope to see them again someday.

More posts are coming your way dear few readers, so until then, Cheers!