Friday, April 29, 2011

Scottish Highlands: Skye

Alrighty, folks. This here is gonna be a mammoth post, so strap on in.

The problem with our trip to Skye was timing: we got there at 5 o'clock on a Saturday (quick: name the song!), and left Monday morning. So, essentially, we were there for Sunday. Problem is, the buses around Skye don't run on Sundays. In another view of timing, we also got to our hostel right after the utter adorableness that was our Inverness hostel. Basically, we showed up in Skye for two nights, with nothing to do, and an incredibly bleak hostel waiting for us. Our mentality the first night was something along the lines of "Oh god, what have we done?" You see, there was a time when we had considered doing two nights in Inverness and only one night in Skye. This was suddenly seeming like really the right option.

We decided to just make the best of everything. We went to the local grocery right before it closed and bought food, brownie fixings, and magazines. We figured that we could spend the day lazing about, and it would be lovely. The common room had a wonderful view of the lake.

But before that, we ventured out into the biting cold for a quick bubbles session along the lake in front of the hostel:

I'll have to wait until Clarissa posts all of her pictures to get you most of the pictures of myself blowing bubbles- after the first set or so, I took pictures of her, and she took pictures of me. I'll update the posts and post a quick update notice with links when I get them, should anyone be interested.

The next morning, as we sat in the common room eating breakfast, a very loud large group of mixed exchange students (about five different accents and languages) discussed what they would do with their day in Skye sans buses. Through them, we learned the very critical piece of information: today was the first Sunday of the year that the tourist center was open! Clarissa and I rushed off.

We learned of a two-hour hike that looped from Portree along the beach and then around back to Portree. Sounded like a plan. 

The loud crew decided to take the same walk, so we stalled for a bit (to let them gain some ground on us) and had another Bubble Session!

After we deemed that we had given them enough of a head start, we continued down the path. Only to have them show up right in front of us! Curses! 

It turns out they had discovered a little side path that was worth looking into. We waited for them to empty out, then ventured in. 

Clarissa ventures

I don't have any pictures yet (all on Clarissa's camera), but I climbed up next to the waterfall

When we finished, the Loud Crew was well and truly ahead of us, and we were able to move on and view the stunning scenery in peace. 

The walk started along the beach, then curved up onto a hill along the sea.

I accidentally stepped in a huge mud puddle/swamp thing

We swung to the left for a lot of switch-backs up a large hill...

...which led us into some adorable farmland, with men on tractors and lots of sheep.

The supposedly two hour hike took us well over three hours to complete because we kept stopping for pictures, but it was wonderful. We felt so pleased with life when we were done.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out in our common room, doing puzzles. We met a fun Australian couple (Hannah and... Mike? Matt?), and got to know the previously-surly front desk guy. That evening, we made the brownies we had purchased the night before, but ran into a snag: the kitchen didn't have a good brownie pan! Out came the large bowls, and the microwave.

They turned out amazing. We shared them all around (earning me the sobriquet "Chocolate Brownie Girl"- I'm not sure why Clarissa was not similarly named), and apparently the German girl had never had brownies before. She was so enamored that she was already making plans to make some the next day. We gave her our microwave directions (2:15, but with pauses at each minute mark- this gives a more brownie-like consistency than just microwaving all the way through, as we did with Clarissa's bowl).

The next morning, before our bus to the island of Oban, we hitched a ride with the Australian couple on a loop around the peninsula. We got out at two separate points for better views and picture-taking, and they were highly amused by our bubble antics. Also quite impressed with the durability of our bubbles- some of them could still be spotted almost 50 meters away, down cliff faces and the like. Not bad for $1.50 (insert pound sign in place of dollar sign) for a six-pack!

Kilt Rock

One of the more gorgeous sights of my life!

After the drive, we hung around Portree for a few hours, writing postcards and waiting for our bus to Oban.

Far from being the worrisome stretch of time we had anticipated upon our arrival, Skye was a wonderful time! Fun sights, fun people.

Now onto the next island....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scottish Highlands: Transit to Skye

On my ferry from Athens to Santorini right now- the WiFi is achingly slow, but it does exist. To continue with my Scotland tour, so that I can hopefully get you a live update from Greece!

The trip up to Skye from Inverness was absolutely lovely, and pictures abound. It's going to be mainly scenery, so I've thrown in a few pictures of my hair being awesome to change things up a bit ;)