Thursday March 13th I arrived at the airport in Edinburgh, Scotland at Sunrise. Louise picked me up from the bus station, and we greeted each other like old friends. I’ve only known her through online photography groups, so it was nice to finally meet in real life. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I knew it just from the bus ride from the airport into town. We dropped my things off at her flat and then headed straight for the hike up to King Arthur’s seat.
The hike up to King Arthur’s seat.
Details on the seat.
The seat itself.
Louise is a redhead in Scotland, but she is actually English, despite this, her red hair gets her lots of questions about directions from other tourists. She told me this and mid-sentence, someone stopped and asked her for directions. It happened 4 other times that day. She took me to a Scottish lunch at Biddy Muligan’s, in Grassmarket, which is just off the Royal Mile.
I want to ship some of this cider home, it’s absolutely delicious!
A Scottish pie and mash. It was amazing.
On the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a road leading to a giant castle that sits on a hill right in the middle of Edinburgh.
Louise said she could find me a blue phone box dad, but we ran out of daylight. Maybe somewhere else I can take a photo of one for you.
This is Gert. I met him while perusing the touristy part of The Royal Mile. He seemed interesting to me, and his little stand was not what all the other tourist-trap tent setups looked like, so I stopped to see what he had. He asked about why I was there, then once I told him I was backpacking Europe, he opened up with a whole story about how he had backpacked Europe at 24 and done it for a few months, just hitch-hiking. Then he told me about how he sailed from Africa to Cape Verde, and then ended up in South America, around Patagonia, and stayed there for five years. He said, there is a time when you will know you’re ready to come home. But until then, you must travel. “I decided it was time to go, and I didn’t come back for 1o years.” He’s Polish, so he’s not technically home yet, and he talked about visiting Patagonia again very soon. He let me take his photo, and we talked about the places we had both visited in New Zealand. I also bought one of the leather bags he made (to hold my coin pounds) as well as a small leather bracelet, to help him on his way, and as a thank you for the stories. I was very glad to have walked through the tourist center at that moment. These are the kind of things I like to collect on my trips. Something I will treasure forever, knowing who made it, where it is from, and knowing that it’s maker is off somewhere exploring the world.
After the Royal Mile, Louise took me to an area called Princes Street Gardens.
Louise took me to grab a soda on our way to our last destination, and oh my I fell in love with this one. She said it’s what her grandmother used to always drink.
Bell’s Brae, also known as Dean’s Village.
Louise took me down a thick forested area among old houses, and said, “Okay, you just have to trust me, this will be cool.” We walked down a muddy path and past some broken stone fences. We hopped down a ledge and turned a corner to find the trees open to this little waterfall. We sat there listening to the water a while. We were just seconds from the main road but all you could hear was the water.
On our way back to her flat, this guy caught our eye, and when we looked up, we saw he came from a Gelato store. So, Louise and I were lured in, so I could have my first taste of Gelato.
I can hear my mom now, “why don’t you ever paint your nails!” Sorry mom. I just can’t keep nice nails. Gelato is amazing. I don’t know how I will go back to regular ice cream. And Louise says Italian Gelato is 100000X better than what we had in Edinburgh. I can’t wait.
Louise dropped me off bright and early at the train station. It felt as if we had been friends for years. I was very sad to say goodbye to her. I will see her again some day though, of that I am sure. Next I would meet Barbara in Glasgow. From there, we would leave with her friend Mads and his father, for the Isle of Skye.
Man-made devastation to nature. In the photo is Mads, Barbara’s Danish friend who joined us to our trip up to Skye.
On the way to Skye
What I wish I was traveling in!
Castle just before Kyle of Lochalsh
The mountains of Skye as we entered at night.We arrived at our hostel, Bayfield Backpackers, around 7pm. We made dinner and headed off to bed.
March 15th we got up early to explore Skye with Mads and his father, Ole.
Our first hike was the Old Man of Storr. It was misty and cold, but we decided we’d go for it anyway. We had no idea what we were in for.
The hike was only 2 hours, round-trip, we’re not sure how far we went though. The wind blew so hard we couldn’t even stand upright. Everything started as a mist, but then it turned into pelting rain. I couldn’t hear anything past the wind whistling in my ears. We hiked off trail to a sort of valley in the middle of giant cliffs that disappeared into the fog (This was the Old Man of Storr, which we could only see the hazy outline of). In the small valley, wind ceased and the rain turned into a light mist. The silence was eerie. My camera was soaked and I had run out of dry things to clean the lens off with. Water was rolling off my pants and into my boots, that had prevented water from getting in, until now. Walking out of the rocky opening, we were back at the mercy of the wind and pelting rain. My legs went numb about 20 minutes before we reached the car, as my pants were completely soaked through.
Mads running off ahead like always.
Mads and his father Ole.
It was the most exciting and amazing hike I’ve ever been on. I would have liked to see the Storr in clearer skies, but I wouldn’t trade that hike for anything.
This is Jann’s Cakes. We stopped here for coffee, and oh man do I recommend going here if you are ever in Skye. It was definitely a gem. It is in the town of Dunvagen.
I had my first ever scone here. I asked Jann what to get on it, since I had never had one. She told me “Oh, I will make it for your full Scottish style, don’t you worry darlin’.” It was amazing to say the least.
Mads getting his coffee fix.
Exploring back roads, not marked by the map, made the end to a very soggy, yet exciting day. Tomorrow we explore Skye with Lorenzo, Sam, and Young. We met the three in our Hostel as we cooked dinner. Sam speaks french, and so does Barbara, so they began speaking and we found out that the two who had shared their car previously left that day, so they had two spots open. Sam is from France, and Lorenzo is from Italy. They are both friends from London. Young is Korean, and from London as well, but had just met the other two only the day before, and hired a car with them to tour the Island. Barbara and I were a bit relieved to not hitch-hike all day, as it looked like it would be more rain.
Sunday March 16th, marked day two of exploring Skye.
Barbara, Sam, Lorenzo, Young, and I hiked up to this stone in Dunvegan first thing. It is a piece that has been carried from the castle and set up on the hill, not far from the coffee shop we visited yesterday.
Young exploring Coral Beach
Barbara and me at Coral Beach.
We hiked around Coral beach for 2 hours. We were looking for seals, but never found them. We ended up finding a small cliff that we climbed. We got to the top and the wind was deafening, and we all yelled out over the water as if we had just summited Everest.
Hiking back to the car, we got lost, but it was fun none the less.
Sam’s second day ever driving on the left side of the road, I didn’t know France also drives on the right side.
Our last stop was Neist Point Lighthouse. The man running our hostel said it is the number one thing to see in Skye, but since you can only access it if you have your own car, not many people can get to it, since lots are taking buses or hitching.
The long path to the Lighthouse.
We got to the Lighthouse to realize it was abandoned. We all had assumed it was still in use.Lorenzo exploring.
It began to storm right as we got back to the car, and we were glad to have avoided the rain this time.
On the way back to the hostel for the night, we took a small detour, as Young was wanting to see a waterfall in the distance. It led us to a small boatyard. From there we headed back to the hostel, where we had dinner with the three guys.
Monday, March 17th – Today was the day we all left Skye. Young left early in the morning so we didn’t get to say goodbye, but we were up in time to say our goodbyes to Sam and Lorenzo. I’m not sure if I will see Sam again, but Lorenzo will be in London when I am, so Michael and I will be seeing him for a day I’m sure. With a large hug from Sam and a Italian kiss on each check from Lorenzo, Barbara and I said goodbye to our new friends and began packing our bags.
We spent the morning exploring Portree, where we had stayed.
I was sad to leave this place. I hope I can go back soon. It was quite amazing. The weather can change in an instant, so it’s definitely not for those looking for tropical and warm climate, but if you want a place full of adventure, I’d recommend coming here for sure. We left Portree on the bus, and Isle of Skye slowly disappeared behind layers of cloud and fog. In the blink of an eye, the magical Island was gone, hidden to anyone who may not know it’s existence. Tonight we will arrive late in Glasgow, Scotland. And I am so happy to have one more day with Barbara. We are perfect travel companions. I am on the train now, thinking about how I have some Apricot jam and bread left I can have for dinner. I splurged on getting some sweets and coffee on the island, so now it is back to bread and butter (in this case jam) for a while.