23 December 2014

Hunting for Nessie

The last of our Scotland adventures took us to Inverness.It's not quite as old and not nearly as charming as Edinburgh but since we were there pretty much for Nessie that didn't matter so much.

River Ness

Inverness Castle

Saint Andrews Cathedral

We took an early morning train from Edinburgh and arrived in Inverness...or did we? It was so, so foggy that we could have arrived in Budapest and I don't think I'd have known the difference. Between the weather and my back the first day was a wash. We walked around a little bit and went to a Highland arts and crafts fair. My back had got so bad though that I was walking like a feeble, old person, moaning a little every few steps. The craft fair was a nightmare for me. The venue was really too narrow to shove as many stalls in it as they did and it was so crowded that I was getting bumped every other second causing me to emit increasingly less brief, piteous moans of pain. It was worth it though because that's were we found Damn Fine Cheese.

Thanks to the magically curative beds at Pitfaranne Guest House, I was virtually cured and ready to hunt down Nessie the next day.Pitfaranne Guest House, by the way, is a fantastic choice for your stay in Inverness. It's very central and everything is within walking distance. The beds are so comfortable, breakfast was great, and the owner, Pearl, was so lovely and helpful.

Me freezing on the Loch

Urquhart Castle from Loch Ness

Of course the real highlight of Inverness (aside from the cheddar) was the trip to Loch Ness.  We booked a tour that picked us up at the central bus station and brought us to a boat for our Loch Ness cruise, picked us up at Urquhart Castle, then took us to the Loch Ness visitors' center. The last, which chronicled the history of the lake and the monster was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. We also had a lovely guide who provided laughs and some fun an interesting information.

For example, no matter how cold it gets, Loch Ness never freezes. There is simply too much water. In fact, Loch Ness holds more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. And at 755 ft (230m) deep and covering 22 square mi (56 square km), if it were to be emptied of water it could hold the world's entire population. Multiple times.

As much as I would love to be able to say that we saw shadows moving under the surface of the water or a head breaking the loch's surface...we didn't. We had fun freezing our butts off on the boat though and wandering around the ruins of Urquhart (pronounced: er-kit) Castle. Thankfully the weather was no where near as foggy as it was our first day; but there was still enough haze around to lend the loch and castle a sense of mystery and the promise that a monster could be lingering nearby. We learned all about the hoaxes people have perpetrated and the natural phenomena that could be mistaken for a monster. My favorite was the deer. Apparently the local deer like to swim across the loch, which I believe is a mile across. Deer where I'm from don't do that.

This is as close as I got to Nessie

Just because we did not spot Nessie did not make this a wasted trip. If nothing else, the excellent, comfortable beds at Pitfaranne cured my back injury. I really enjoyed this brief glimpse of the Highlands though. The Scottish country side is stunning. I didn't even mind the cold.

Thus ends my adventures in Scotland. I fell in love with the country; especially with Edinburgh. I feel very much about Edinburgh as I felt the first time I came to Istanbul. Unfortunately the UK dosn't hand out residency permits with the same sense of abandon as does Turkey so the chances of my up and moving to Edinburgh are pretty slim. Which is a pity. For the time being I will have to make do with more visits. So ta for now, Scotland!

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