The Highlands

For the start of my break, I decided to head to Scotland.  On Wednesday night, I headed down to London to catch my bus, an overnight sleeper bus to Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands.  Twelve hours later I was groggily stepping off the bus onto Scottish soil.  As I quickly learned, the Highlands are well-known for their mercurial weather, and during my first day in Inverness it went from rain to sun to rain to sun and back to rain again all in only a few hours.  Despite the rain, I did some exploring around the city, ultimately finding a beautiful view overlooking the River Ness from the back of Inverness Castle (which is now used as the police station).  I also found myself wandering the Inverness museum for a couple hours; it had a particularly good exhibit of Pictish carvings.  That night back in the hostel, I played probably the most interesting game of Taboo that I’ve ever been a part of.  The teams consisted of 1/3 native English speakers, 1/3 Germans, and 1/3 French speakers, resulting in all sorts of mistranslations and hilarity.

On my second day in Inverness, I went on a Jacobite boat tour along Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle.  As we travelled down the Loch, I couldn’t help but marvel at the mountains surrounding us.  Even though most of the trees were still brown from winter, the view was absolutely stunning.  Exploring the castle ruins was an absolute delight.  I felt like I was living in a fairy tale, with the mists surrounding the ruined castle on the shore of Loch, I was half-surprised not to see Nessie’s head rising out of the gloom.  Suddenly the stories started to seem much less far-fetched.  From the castle, we went to the Loch Ness Visitor’s Centre where we learned all about the Loch and the history of its famous monster.

Sadly, after two nights in Inverness, my travels in the Highlands had come to a close.  I met some wonderful people and I hope to return there many times throughout my life to continue to travel and explore.  The Highlands had once last treat in store for me before I left, however.  My bus ride from Inverness to Stirling (where I am now) took me directly through the Cairngorms National Park, a massive national park in the middle of the Highlands.  Every turn of the road brought new breath-takingly majestic views of snow-topped mountains and shining lochs.  At one point, it truly felt like we were driving through a cloud, the mist and snow making it impossible to tell where the snow slopes of the mountains ended and the sky began.  I will miss the Scottish Highlands, and I take comfort knowing that this visit will by no means be my last.

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