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Entries in Travel (11)

Monday
Dec212009

Scotland - Last day

This was our last day in Scotland.  I wish we had longer because even though we saw a lot, we missed so much.  We did manage to see another castle, Inveraray Castle. 

This has been the home of the Campbell clan since the 1400's.  The Campbell's have been around even longer than that, but they lived somewhere else before the 1400's.  In the 1700's the Duke decided to tear down the old castle and had the current castle built.  We were able to tour a part of the castle, but much is blocked off for the family as this is still the home of the current Duke of Argyll. The entrance and hall are filled with spears, pikes, shields, daggers and other arms that I couldn't identify other than to know I didn't want to get hit with one of them.  The old kitchen had been restored and had some amazing contraptions.  I think you had to be pretty strong to be a cook and I can't imagine what a production it must have been to prepare for dinner, let alone some of the feasts they had.  We also got to see the dining room, the sitting room, the china room, and one of the bedrooms.

We had lunch and a quick walk around Inveraray.  The architecture is the same throughout the town as it was torn down and rebuilt when the castle was redone.  The town was also moved a bit so the Duke would have a clear view to the water.  They have a bell tower with a ring of ten bells, which we got to hear.  It really added to the charm of the town.

There was a quick stop in Loch Lomond.  As you can see, we had another beautiful day.

A section of the town is perfectly landscaped and maintained because they film a Scottish Soap Opera there.

We drove by the Scottish Open on the way to Glasgow.  We couldn't see anything except a lot of parked cars.  It was late when we got to Glasgow so we didn't have time to stop and look around, just a quick drive by.  Then, it was back to Edinburg for the flight home.

Scotland was a beautiful country.  Visit if you ever get the chance.  No matter how long you stay, it won't be long enough.

 

Monday
Nov302009

Oban

This was the most relaxing day we had in Scotland.  We didn't have to travel anywhere.  Well, David and Mike did, they went fly fishing.  David had never fly fished before so it was quite an adventure for him.   He liked it and he even caught a fish.

Margie and I stayed in Oban and walked and shopped through the town.  We managed to find several  lovely shops.  Margie was able to add to her pottery collection and I found a necklace to remind me of the trip.  We had a little snack and shopped a little more and ran across a chocolate shop.  This necessitated another snack in the name of research and I am happy to report Scottish chocolate is quite tasty.   

After the boys returned from fishing, we wandered back to town and toured the Oban Scotch Distillery.  It was really quite fascinating.  The distillery was built in 1794 and the town was eventually built around it.  It has two pot stills so it is the smallest distillery in Scotland.  The contraption that all the scotch flows through as it is drawn off the still was rather amazing.  I can see it in my mind, but there's no way to describe it.  It was much smaller than you would think and looked kind of like a chemistry experiment from the movies enclosed in glass.   The first part of the run isn't used and neither is the tail end of the run.  A man (title long since forgotten) watches and tests the run to determine when it is good and draws it off.  It's part art and part science.  We had a little taste before it was aged and it is fairly harsh (some might say extremely harsh) at that stage.  Then, off to the tasting room for a wee dram of the finished product.  My, what a difference a barrel and some time make. 

Most of the group bolted down their dram and headed out, but I was finding the tasting quite fascinating.  Who'd have thought!  We had been chatting with the manager through the tour and asking lots of questions.  When I asked him how to properly taste the scotch, he told us and started explaining the differences between the distilleries.  Somehow I ended up with about three different wee drams to taste.  It was really surprising to me how unique they were when you slowed down and actually thought about what you were tasting.  It changed my opinion Scotch and I will have a sip now and again.  Of course, I bought a bottle to bring home.  

After dinner, we went to a Skipinnish.  You might be wondering what is a Skipinnish.  It is a place where musicians and dancers gather to perform.  We saw, and participated in, Scottish dancing.  Well, not all of us participated and I will spare you the photos.  Actually, I didn't take any because I danced with Margie.  You can make your own assumptions about who didn't dance.  One man played the bagpipes, a lovely girl played the violin and harp, there was a singer, a girl that did several traditional dances, and a drummer and a few others that I have misplaced somewhere in my brain.

Sunday
Nov152009

Iona

Sadly, we had to leave the castle.  It was one of the quietest and most peaceful places I can remember.  I could have stayed and watched the water for days.  Our next stop was Iona and it was another trek.  As we were going, we saw these:

They are Scottish Highland cows.  Aren't they just the cutest cows you have ever seen? 

This is the Island of Iona.  It was another beautiful day and the water was so blue.  It made you want to just jump right in.  Probably not a good idea as it was also icy cold. 

We ferried over and started walking toward the nunnery. The nunnery is in ruins now, and has been restored as much as possible.  

It was a short walk to the graveyard and the monastery.  The first monastery was founded by St. Columba in 563 a.d.  The Vikings burned it to the ground and a new stone monastery was built a little to the south.  The Vikings came back several times to raid and damaged that monastery.  The surviving relics were moved to Dunkeld and Kells.  It was virtually abandoned until 1200 a.d when a Benedictine Monastery was built on the site.  It was abandoned again during The Reformation.  The 8th Duke of Argyll started a project to preserve  the abbey ruins in 1874.  Restoration of the grounds began in 1902 and, as you can see, they are still working on it today.

The stone path in the front leads to the graveyard.  At least 48 Scottish kings have been buried here.  The surviving grave monuments have been moved to the abbey museum and are being restored.  This is a replica of St. John's Cross.  The original fragments are inside the museum.

I could have spent a lot more time here too, but once again, we had a ferry to catch (actually two ferries) and it would have been bad to get stranded.  Off to Oban!

Monday
Nov022009

Glengorm Castle

Another travel day in Scotland.  We drove from the Isle of Skye to the Island of Mull.  It involved another long ferry road, but this time I knew what to expect and went to sleep.  We took a much bigger ferry to Mull. 

We arrived in the charming town of Tobermory.  The houses are painted very similar to the houses in Portree. 

The best thing about the Island of Mull was the castle.  We slept in a castle.  It was sooooo cool.  The castle was built in 1860 by James Forsyth.  He was known for his part in "The Clearances".  As a friend of the king, he was given the property.  He chased all the tenants off the land and burned their cottages.  Apparently, someone cursed him on the way out, and he died in 1863 before the castle was finished so he never got to live there.   This is the castle.

Hmmm,  I cut the turret off.  I think that's better than having the picture crooked though.  The castle was beautiful inside.  We sat in the drawing room (I think) for a while and looked out over the fields and ocean.  Our bedroom was huge, the bed was comfy, and the bathroom had the most magnificant tub and I had a lovely bath.  This is what we saw when we sat in bed.

I think I could get used to this.

Friday
Oct092009

Isle of Skye

Our fourth day in Scotland was on the Isle of Skye.  We stayed in the very charming village of Portree.  That's me, looking at the water.

 Skye is very sparsely populated and most of the day was spent driving around and looking at the mountains.   I didn't take a lot of pictures.  But I did take a picture of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Scottish thistles are wicked, I was truly impressed by them.  They are even more stickery and spiny than the Canadian thistles I grew up with.  They are the official flower of Scotland.  Legend has it that Vikings invaded Scotland on a regular basis (I think that part is actually true).  One day, in the fort while waiting to be invaded, the lookouts got sleepy and nodded off.  The Vikings landed and were creeping up to the fort, but someone stepped in a patch of thistles and yelled.  This woke everyone in the fort up, and they were able to beat back the Vikings.

Doesn't the weather look beautiful.  I had expected it to be chilly and rainy most of the time.  We were so lucky and had sunshine for most of the trip.