Friday, July 17, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 1C

It's a suitably rainy English summer day, so it's time to finish up the Scottish interlude. From Portree, we headed southeast, over the bridge and on to Eileen Donan.

This is the quintessential castle. Perched on an island looking out over a lonely loch, mountains all around, isolated in splendor. It was almost completely destroyed in 1719, and rebuilt 200 years later. It's now a major tourist attraction, and you can actually go inside and walk through many of the rooms and hallways.

From there, we headed inland a bit and drove up the Great Glen. We looked for Nessie, but the only signs of her were the stuffed monsters we saw in numerous gift shops. So we decided to visit another castle - you can never have too many!

This beauty is Urquhart Castle, on the west side of Loch Ness. In stark contrast to Eileen Donan, Urquhart is a ruin. But you can still imagine what a massive beehive it must have been when occupied.

It was a suitably rainy Scottish day, so the girls took advantage of the drizzle to get quite wet and grubby.

We spent that night in Inverness, and the next day we headed up to Chanonry Point, north of town. By this point, we were all feeling a bit worn out, so we spent most of the day throwing rocks into the ocean and watching the dolphins playing in the surf. Himself got some photos:

These don't do them justice. There were two, and they started off maybe 200 meters off shore. By the time they were done however, they'd come in to maybe 50 feet away, and had treated us to some spectacular full-length displays as they leapt out of the water. Just like at the Aquarium the wild.

After some good time sunning ourselves, we headed back towards Inverness. Miracle of miracles, both girls passed out in the car, so we took the opportunity to go to the National Heritage Site at Culloden, site of the final stand of the Scottish Jacobites in 1746. The Visitor Centre there had a phenomenal display of the history of the Jacobites, and the events leading up to the disastrous last stand on Culloden Moor. Fascinating stuff. The moor itself is an eerie, eerie place. They are in the process of trying to restore it to it's "original" condition, complete with the marshy sections that played a big role in the failure of the Jacobite charge. We had our own reenactment of sorts when Boo decided that it was a good place for a meltdown.

It seemed like a good time to head back. The next day, we headed southward again, and made it to the airport by the skin of our teeth. A short hop back to London and home. One trip down.

Now we're gearing up for our next trip: to Paris on the train to see the last stage of the Tour, then off to the Alpes so Himself can throw himself up a mountain on his bicycle. I've been waking up in the middle of the night trying to recall my (almost 20 year old) French, without much success. It should be...interesting!

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