People love Scotland but after the majestic scenes of Africa for me it was too similar to home.
+07/09/2009Getting out of London
Left my crappy wee hotel in Shepherds Bush and took the Tube to Kings Cross. £50 a night gets you sweet all in London; the hotel in Dubai was cheaper and far, far more luxurious than the cramped little hole I had here.
Got the 10 o'clock train to Edinburgh - which involved a long line behind queue C that I ignored, which was just as well as it disappeared in a mad rush as soon as the platform was announced - and enjoyed the free wifi for the 4 hour trip.
+07/09/2009Arrived in Scotland
Arrived in Edinburgh around 2 in the afternoon pretty much smack bang in the middle of the city. Castle Rock Hostel was a nice short walk (up hill though) and was a really pleasant surprise. You often get to a hostel and wonder why they don't make a bit more effort to make it a nice place but it was fantastic. Great atmosphere and in a fantastic location right next to Edinburgh castle.
I was a bit aimless in my wanderings around Endinburgh but visited the castle, saw some Spanish exhibition - Goya to Picaso - at one of the galleries and had a look around both the old and the new towns. The weather wasn't exactly great, it rained pretty solidly on the only full day that I had to explore, but Edinburgh seems like a fantastic place.
+09/09/2009The Isle of Skye
The main reason for coming to Scotland was to see some of the highlands and visit the Isle of Skye which people seem to have a tendency to rave about. To be fair there's some lovely scenery and maybe I'm a bit spoilt at the moment having just traveled around Africa, but it all seemed pretty ordinary to me. It's all very scenic but not terribly different or exotic from what I've seen before.
The way that I chose to see the country probably didn't help either. I took one of those three day Isle of Skye tours from Edinburgh, Rabbies to be exact. And I'm glad I did for the most part as the guide was extremely knowledgeable and without him I doubt it would have been so rewarding. But you are covering a lot of ground in limited time and don't really have a chance to do your own thing. A bit of hiking would have been nice, the country seems to have been built for it, but there some in the group that didn't want to. The others seemed like a nice enough bunch but they were pretty much all couples that seemed quite happy to stay together and do there own thing. The other thing about these tours is that everybody stays in separate lodgings so once you've been dropped off you don't really see them again. Of course Portree is tiny so it's not hard to run into, or arrange to meet up with them but it seemed to set the tone; at least on this trip.
Portree itself is essentially made up out of a single main street with a decent enough selection of cafes and pubs to choose from. It's a cute little harbour town but doesn't offer much else in the way of entertainment; not that you need more than the pubs for the couple of nights we stayed.
+11/09/2009Eilean Donan and Loch Ness
Fort Augustus, Scotland
On the way back from Portree to Edinburgh we stopped of for a look at Eilean Donan which is apparently the most photographed castle in Scotland; I remembered it from the opening scene in Highlander. It was pretty cheap to do the tour, only £4, but somehow disappointing not that I can explain exactly why. It's well worth a visit and from the outside is one of the coolest looking castles I've seen. Apparently it was rebuilt in 1932 from the original plans as it had been totally demolished earlier.
Later in the afternoon we went through Fort Augustus and gave the boat ride on Loch Ness a go. To be honest it's probably best missed unless you enjoy sitting on a boat looking at pine trees or black water for a while. But then what else would you expect to see :)
+11/09/2009Back in Endinburgh
The tour got back at about 7pm, right on time, and I'd booked another night in the hostel. The room wasn't quite as good this time - down in the basement somewhere - but it did the job. Starting to feel a bit run down at this stage, I've been travelling for almost 12 weeks now and it's definitely getting to me; need a break which I'll have soon enough.
In the morning I booked a hotel in Glasgow, had a leisurely breakfast, then caught the train to Glasgow.
OK so I didn't make enough of Glasgow as I should have but I'm knackered and feel like shit. I did have a wander round town in the afternoon and the place actually appealed to me; this may have had a lot to do with the sunshine and clear blue skies of course. Walked along the riverside and spent a couple of hours in a restaurant on the river sitting in the sun, drinking Magners and eating. One of the most enjoyable meals I've had in a while even though there was nothing spectacular about the food. And after that? Nothing! I retired to my hotel and enjoyed doing nothing.
+13/09/2009This trip doesn't end where it started
So along the way Spindrift talked me into going back to SDG for a few weeks. So from Glasgow it was off to Liverpool, not London.