I have decided that I am going to write a separate blog for Scotland and every city we visited in Italy over Spring Break. Since we visited Scotland first, it will be the first of five to come!
We left for Edinburgh, Scotland the first Wednesday after our management class ended, and after a short 4-hour train ride, we were there! After checking into our hostel, we immediately met our ghost tour guide in the lobby.
That’s right, a GHOST tour guide, for our ghost tour. He took us to some key spots around the city: most notably where the old city jail once stood, St Giles’ Cathedral, and our last stop: the Edinburgh vaults in the South Bridge.
The approximately 120 vaults were built in the 18th century to house the goods of local merchants but were only used for about six months. You see, the rooms were made of limestone and limestone does not protect anything from water! The merchants were sick and tired of having merchandise damaged because of the moisture so they abandoned them.
At the time, homelessness was a crime in Scotland, so the vaults essentially became the slums. They were inhabited by poor families, murderers, thieves, rapists, and bad people in general. The police would not go near them because they were so crime and diseased-ridden, so obviously it was a great hiding spot for criminals and the only option for others. Because of its dark history, there was no place better for a ghost tour!
Probably one of the most interesting things we saw down there (since we thankfully didn’t see a ghost) was a working Wicken temple. The Wickens that practiced there said they wanted to be there to help calm the evil spirits in the place…. Right. I found it humorous that off all the vaults they could have chosen, they chose the one closest to the exit. After the tour ended, we got to go to the”Banshee Labyrinth,” a pub right next to the vaults. They gave us delicious shortbread!
Edinburgh Castle by night
After the tour ended, we were all free to go for the night. We chose to eat at the Deacon Brodie’s Tavern for dinner. It was so good! This is also the place I tried haggis. This was also the only time I had haggis. It wasn’t bad, but the texture was SO strange. After that, we walked around Edinburgh and saw it by night. It was funny; we really had no idea where we were going and accidentally found Edinburgh Castle! Oops! No big deal. Definitely not disappointed that happened.
We headed back to the hostel after a little while and went to bed.
The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast at the hostel, and boarded our private bus for a day tour of the highlands! We took the tour with “Wild and Sexy Tours.” That, and the fact that our tour guide was HILARIOUS, were the indicators that it was going to be a great day!
And a great day it was. Our first stop was the castle they used when they filmed Monty Python and the Holy Grail, one of the funniest movies ever made! We stopped for coffee after that.
Our next stop was Loch Lubnig. The translation was “lake with a bend in it.” You’ll NEVER guess what it was! Ok ok, I’ll tell you! It was a lake… with a bend in it. It’s ok to be shocked, we were too. After we finished taking our pictures there, we headed to two mountains known as “The Sisters.” A lot can be said about these mountains, but I think every GLS would agree that two words describe them more than anything: #1 beautiful, #2 windy. Seriously, it was SO windy! Check out the MOST TAME picture of our hair. Proceed to laugh, it’s fine.
The most tame picture of our hair at The Sisters
After climbing on the rocks for a while, we boarded the bus again to head to our next destination: the Inverlochy Castle. This was one my favorite stops of the whole day. The castle was from the 13th-century and was the site of two battles. It is really cool because it has remained largely unchanged since it was constructed.
Now: when the bus driver let us off at the stop, he specifically told us that it would be a bad idea to climb on any of the rocks because it was spitting rain and had been raining earlier. He informed us the rocks would probably be unsafe and slippery. So what is the one thing most us did? Well, we ran to the castle and used it as our jungle gym of course! How could we not though? It was calling our name!
We all made it out without breaking something, spraining something, fracturing something, or concussing. What I’m basically trying to say is we were daredevils and made it out without a scratch! That is what GLS kids are made of.
When we got picked back up, we were on out way to Loch Ness! The views the entire way there were breathtaking, and Loch Ness was nothing to sneeze at. It was AMAZING! Beautiful dark water with choppy waves and a vivid rainbow reaching across it. It was breathtaking.
We also went to one of the stores in search of a fried Mars bar. Everyone told us that they were a specialty in Scotland, and we HAD to have one before we left. We thought the little village outside of Loch Ness would have them, but they didn’t. However, the sweet people at the shop we tried told us where we could find them when we got back to Edinburgh, and find them we did. You’ll read about that later.
At Loch Ness
After we visited Loch Ness, we began our journey back to the hostel, but on the way, we stopped at one more amazing place: Loch Laggan. It was a beautiful lake with a big dam that was spewing water! It was bizarre!
The rest of the way back, we watched “Austin Powers: Goldmember” and sang hits from the 1990s, both courtesy of out tour guide! When we got back, we basically went to bed.
The next day, we checked out of our hostel and headed straight to the Edinburgh Castle for our tour, then got to explore the rest of the afternoon. After spending A LOT of time at the castle, we went to the Scottish museum and saw some pretty cool things, like Dolly the cloned sheep. Then, we scrambled to find a friend Mars bar. We finally found one (after getting lost… 2 different times.) Anyways, we ended up trying a friend Mars Bar, fried Snickers, and fried Twix. We split the bars six ways… so we won’t get heart attacks RIGHT away… right? After that, we got on the train and had a peaceful ride home…
Haha (: Just kidding. Our train lost power on the way back, so it go delayed! Luckily, when we got stopped there was an AMAZING lighthouse out the window to look at. (Much prettier than the landfill we got stopped in on the way INTO Edinburgh… it was LITERALLY a landfill.)
Overall, the trip was VERY successful. I feel like all of Scotland was breathtaking, I had never been in such a scenic place in my entire life. I felt like everything I saw was worth catching of camera. That is probably why I took 237 pictures in a little less than three days. (Sorry I’m not sorry!)
Italy and a work update soon (: