Whiskey with a view!
05.01.2015 - 05.08.2015 55 °F
Hello from the beautiful hills of Scotland!
A week ago I had no idea I would be here and I have to say, this has possibly been the best decision I have made all trip. Scotland has blown my mind and surpassed all of my expectations.
After Rome, I needed space.
I needed somewhere I wouldn't wait in line once all day. So, in a matter of hours I had booked a flight to Edinburgh, rented a car and planned a four day driving tour through this beautiful country.
And speaking of driving, they drive on the left side of the road. Steering wheel on the right and stick shift on the left. Awesome.
(Why does my arm look so fat? Probably all that pasta I ate in Italy. Apologies.)
Fun fact: I don't drive stick shift. In fact, I had only ever done so once for a weekend about 8 years ago. I may or may not have youtubed "How to drive a stick shift" an hour before I picked up the car. Nothing like diving into the deep end! I actually picked it up very quickly - even the roundabouts - which run clockwise.
I spent two days in Edinburgh (more on that shortly) and then headed north to Inverness, then over to the Isle of Skye and then back down to Glasgow.
To help give you some idea, here is a map of what that tour looks like:
The most incredible place was the Isle of Skye in the northwest.
This place is huge.
I'm not kidding.
And there is no one around.
Here are a few shots from my road trip:
I took a ferry across to the Isle of Skye and caught this shots while crossing.
One morning I had breakfast on Loch Ness but there was no sight of Nessie. I guess she wasn't tempted by delicious meats and cheeses.
Despite these shots, I still felt like they failed to truly capture just how grand this landscape is. So I put together a one minute montage of some of the sites to help give you a better feel for it all. Best played on full screen.
Besides needing a little space, coming to Scotland to tour some of the whiskey distilleries has been a major bucket list item for me for years. I was able to make it to three of them over a day or so and it was really cool to see the whole process from start to finish.
I visited the Dalwhinnie distillery. It is the highest in Scotland and it snowed as I reached the summit for my visit.
I also took a tour of Glenfiddich:
As well as Talisker:
The funny thing about the tours is that they are all the same. The overall process for making whiskey doesn't differ at all from distillery to distillery so by the third tour I was well ahead of the tour guide. I think the thing to do is to go for a tour of your favorite distilleries but when you visit the others, just do a tasting. Still, all in all, I was very excited to make these visits happen during this trip.
As I mentioned, I stayed in Edinburgh for two days and really loved the city. Here are a few shots in and around town.
I also took a hike up Arthur's Seat (Thanks Paddy!)- a chain of hills in Edinburgh that provide great panoramic views from the top. It is described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design." Who was I to argue? Up I went!
The hill itself:
A nice view from the top:
As equally enjoyable as the landscape are the Scottish people. They are warm and welcoming and genuine. Over the last few days I have wandered into pubs without knowing anyone and by the end of the night, I was well drunk and felt like I had 40 new best friends. Between the guys on a bachelor party who were teaching me traditional Welsh greetings and showing me their tattoos to the young Scot who also ordered a Glenfiddich because I did and then proceeded to take it like a shot, only to have his eyes water up and a "I've made a huge mistake" look wash over his face - the people I have met have made this experience that much better.
I know this post has been unlike many of my past entries. I wish I had a lot of witty or funny things to say about this leg of the trip but the truth of it is that for the most part, it has just been me, my trusty Honda Civic and a land that seems to be frozen in time.
I know that sounds lonely, but it's funny how a bit of wide open space will help you sort through things in your head. It's almost like it gives your mind space to breath as well.
That is really what this whole trip is about and I have been grateful to this beautiful country for allowing me that opportunity.
I can't wait to return one day.
With all of that being said, I am super excited that on Saturday morning I meet my brother in Iceland! I have enjoyed every minute of traveling solo over the last six weeks but I am really looking forward to linking up with him for another overseas adventure. We have quite an itinerary in store so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading.
Go-go gadget long undies, wool mittens and scarves! To Iceland!