I’ve got some time to waste before my flight to Paris this afternoon, so I thought I’d write a post about my trip to the Isle of Skye. I should probably be (a) doing homework or (b) researching what I want to do in Paris, but I don’t particularly feel like doing either. So I will write instead.
So this weekend, I went to the Isle of Skye in northern Scotland with the University of Glasgow’s International Society. Ariel and Aldonza came along, too. We left bright and early Saturday morning at 8 am and came back Sunday night around 7 pm. There were two big buses full of students. If I had to guess, I would say there were over one hundred students. That sounds like a lot, but it really didn’t seem like it.
Anyway, on Saturday as we drove up toward Skye, I got my first real look at the Scottish Highlands. And, let me tell you, they did not disappoint! I’d heard the Highlands were gorgeous, but I didn’t really realize how wonderful they were until I saw them in person. We passed numerous lochs and glens (valleys) and bens (mountains), making several photo stops along the way. The hills were much larger than I expected, more like mountains really. They were tall enough to have snow on their peaks and, at some points, sheer rock walls near the road. Pine forests covered some of the hills, but most of the land was this beautiful golden honey moor with spots of water and rocks dotted throughout. We were also incredibly lucky–the sun was shining for the entire trip excepting a touch of fog the first morning and a bit of rain the next. We really couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather.
We stopped in a little town called Fort William for lunch (I had mac and cheese) and then continued north. After a few more photo stops and a half an hour at Eilean Donan Castle, we arrived to Portree on the Isle of Skye around 5:30 pm. We dropped our things at the hostel and went out to explore the town. Unfortunately, all of the shops closed at 6:00 and remained closed on Sunday, so I wasn’t able to do any of the shopping I’d planned on. I was a little disappointed, but hopefully there will be other opportunities.
Portree was a picturesque little town. For anyone interested in visiting Scotland, it is a must-see. Pretty, little white-stucco shops lined the quiet streets, and down on the wharf a row of colorful houses looked like something out of a film. The water was still, the mountains rugged, and the sky clear. We wandered down to the water and were lucky enough to see a gorgeous sunset over the water (which you can see in the video in my last post). It was surreal!
After that, we went back to the hostel for dinner–homecooked by the student leader and a team of volunteers. Since there isn’t much to do in Portree at night, the rest of the night was spent meeting new people, just talking and having fun.
On Sunday morning, I managed to convince Ariel, Aldonza, and some new friends (Angela from Romania and Alan from New Zealand) to wake up early to see the sunrise. We left the hostel around 7:30 am to head down to the wharf. It was raining pretty hard at first, so I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to see the sunrise. But luckily the rain stopped just as the sun was coming up, and my doubts were erased. I didn’t know it was possible, but the sunrise was more beautiful than the sunset. I kept taking pictures because it just kept getting better! I’m running out of adjectives to describe how pretty it was so I will just let you look at the photographs above.
On the way back to the hostel, Alan showed us a scenic trail he had discovered the day before. We walked alongside the cliff next to the water and stumbled upon the circle where they play the Highland games in the summer. The view was unparalleled. When we couldn’t feel our fingers and toes anymore, we went back to the hostel. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up our things, and got back on the bus.
At 10 am, we left Portree and drove around the Isle of Skye for a couple of hours. We stopped at the harbor town of Uig for a little while. Then we went back to Portree so that the other bus, which had stayed in a different town, could explore a little. I had my first real Scottish scone with cream and jam, it was quite delicious! Although I had to eat it really fast, since we had to get back to the bus.
The rest of Sunday was spent driving back to Glasgow. I got to see more of the gorgeous Highlands as we passed them by, including Loch Ness, but we didn’t make very many stops. We did stop at Fort Augustus for lunch, though. They gave us 45 minutes, which should have been enough time, except for the fact that the chip shop we stopped at took over half an hour to give us our food. All we ordered was chips! I don’t know why it took them that long. We got them to go and walked back to the bus, only to be told that we couldn’t take our chips on the bus. So I had to eat as much as I could really quickly and throw away the rest. That, combined with the long bus ride and the winding roads, did not help the slight carsickness I had been experiencing on the trip. Don’t worry, I was fine, just uncomfortable. I felt better when I closed my eyes, but the trade-off with that was that I didn’t get to see the lovely scenery. Oh well, what could I do?
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. The Highlands are officially one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I got to make some new friends. And I’ve got a stack of 332 great pictures to sort through. Couldn’t really ask for a better weekend.
Well, I’d better go read through my French phrase book and make sure I have everything I need for Paris. Thanks for reading. Check back next week for my post about France. Until next time…