Posts Tagged ‘macbackpacker’

The Highlands were nothing like I expected.  They were about ten thousand times better.  I haven’t had the opportunity to upload any more pictures, but when I can I will.  Although photographs can’t do them justice. 

The tour consisted of four South Africans, four Chinese people, two Indians, two Americans–me and a boy from Kansas City–two Polish ladies, a Londoner, and a buttload of Aussies. 

We saw Loch Ness, visited innumerable impressive old castles and wee villages nestled in the glens of the craggy mountains, saw Glen Coe and visited a whisky distillery.  We saw the Isle of Skye, which was gorgeous.  We went to a place called Fairy Glen.  The legend goes that the natural rock formation on the top of this hill was a fairy castle (it looks like it.)  A man built a house in the glen, and the fairies, angered that he built so close to their castle, cursed him.  First his livestock died, then his children, and finally his wife.  Then his house collapsed and the man killed himself. 

Talk about a happy legend, eh?  The ruins of the house are there still.  Oddly enough, all of the trees in this fantastic area are wee stunted little things, except for three or four great big things that have rooted themselves right in the stone walls, as though to continue tearing it down and conceal it from the fairy castle.

We weren’t supposed to climb up to the top of the fairy hill to the castle, so we immediately did so.  The small expanse of ground at the top feels hollow when stomped on and you can see how a big slice of the hill will occasionally shear off into the valley below.  Definitely not safe.

We were told not to whistle either, or sing, as apparently it calls the fairies. 

The Aussies amused themselves by whistling and chasing sheep.  That must be the fun thing to do in Australia. 

Loch Ness was disappointing as Nessie didn’t actually appear and it really isn’t that remarkable of a spot otherwise.

The Isle of Skye was the most gorgeous thing I think I’ve ever seen.  We spent two nights there.  During the day we climbed a mountain.  It’s all bogs and mud and treacherous wind and quicksand all the way up.  We were told very firmly to stay on the path.  This climb was about five million times worse than climbing the wee little mountains on the Dingle Peninsula.  At the top we got the treat of seeing a giant natural stone formation that looks exactly like a huge erect penis.  This thing must have been thirty feet high, what we could see of it through the mist. 

Of course there is a legend for that, as well.  Apparently it is the penis of a giant.  There’s another rock formation on the island that is supposed to be his head, and the island itself is the body I believe. 

After that exciting adventure we spent our last night in Oban, a truly nice town.  We went to our second caile.  A caile is a tradiational dance session with a live band.  They’re a lot of fun, because no one knows how to dance but do it anyways, and as the evening progresses and the weather gets more drunk out, the dancing gets progressively worse instead of better. 

After the tour was over I felt kind of weird–just as I was used to having people around all the time and not having to plan anything, I was on my own again.  But Thursday night I had booked a flight for Amsterdam, and so Saturday morning at about four o’clock I headed for the airport. 

There’s this great feeling that you get after successfully navigating something strange or new in a foreign country on your own.  I have yet to actually use my guidebook.  So far I’ve managed everything on my own.  Besides, that guidebook is really really heavy to carry around all the time.


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That tour was pretty intense. I just got back to Edinburgh a few hours ago and I’m about half dead from exhaustion, but I can’t sleep yet.  I still have a few things to do–namely delve into the frighteningly unwashed depths of my backpack and repack everything–somehow–because I’m leaving at about 4 o clock tomorrow morning for my  flight to Amsterdam.

I decided to skip London and England altogether, for the moment.  I just wasn’t super excited about it and I’ve never been really interested in the English countryside.  The Netherlands and Germany I am excited to explore the tiny wee villages and all that so it’s straight to Amsterdam tomorrow.

This is just brief.  I’ll tell everything that I did on the tour later.  Right now I must jsut say that the Highlands are nothing like I expected but they are spectacular beyond all description.  The most gorgeous, rugged, barren, fairytale landscapes can be found in the Highlands.  I never would have imagined the millions of lochs or the mountains or the groves of somber Scotch pines–but most of all the mountains.  These are the oldest mountains in the world.  They are ridiculously startling.  I wasn’t aware that geography could do that, but apparently it can.

Anyways, I’ll be back tomorrow or so with more.  Right now I have a lot of stuff to and about 30 hours of sleep to catch up on in 7 hours.  Hmm.

Cheers, kids.

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