Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Highlands and Loch Lomond

You take the high road
And I'll take the low
And I'll be in Scotland before ye
For me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond

So the essays are all done, and I spent my weekend gallivanting around the Highlands and Loch Lomond with the International Student Center (ISC). I woke up bright and early Saturday morning and walked in the snow to the ISC office. The morning started with check-in during which three small buses pulled up, one blue bus and two yellow buses which said "Haggis Adventures Wild and Sexy" on the side. This should give you some idea of what my weekend was like.

Lee and I got on the blue bus, ascending the stairs to a song whose only lyrics were, "Me so horny." The blue bus was driven by Tony, or Uncle Tony as we so fondly called him by the end of the weekend. I brought my iPod and a book for the bus journey, but it turned out I didn't need either. When Uncle Tony wasn't humorously relating bits of Scottish history or telling us embarrassing stories from his childhood he was playing silly music. Some of it was 80s and some was techno, but he also played Flight of the Conchords and Paul McCartney.

Anyway, the first stop on our trip was the William Wallace monument in Sterling which is the tallest monument to someone named William Wallace. The monument is on a hill and offers an excellent view of the town. Next we payed a visit to everyone's favorite hairy coo (highland cow) Hamish.

Isn't he cute?

For lunch we stopped in the small town of Aberfoyle. Lee had packed lunch for us, but after eating in the cold we decided to take refuge in a nearby cafe and get a pot of tea. We sat around drinking tea and eating caramel chocolate eggs and sugar cookies with icing (which I had made the night I finished my essays) for almost an hour. The sugar cookies dipped in tea were lovely. After tea we took a short walk around the town and then headed back to the buses and on to our next stop on the trip: Daivd Marshall Lodge at Queen Elizabeth Park. We took a nice nature ramble through the woods near the lodge and I took many a picture of zip-liners zipping over tree tops and a waterfall. By this time the sun had started to peak out from behind the clouds, so the ramble was very refreshing. Afterward we took a quick stop at one of the two lakes in Scotland, and then made our way to famous Loch Lomond. We took a walk around the banks of the loch and climbed a hill which marked the boundary between the highlands and the lowlands. Here is a picture of the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond.

After our long walk we headed to the place we would be staying for the night: an old caste converted into a hostel. Upon exploring the castle Lee and I discovered that most of the rooms had been converted into bedrooms with bunk beds, but there was a main hall that was quite pretty as well as some other rooms that hadn't been too modernized. For dinner the organizers made tortellini and cucumber salad, and Lee and I had alcoholic drinks which we bought in Aberfoyle. When dinner finished we assembled in the main hall to watch a traditional Highland costume and weapons display, following which we had a Ceilidh (a traditional Scottish dance party). The Ceilidh was so much fun. Lee and I danced the night away. My favorite dance was the Flying Scotsman, which involved lots of galloping. When the Ceilidh became a modern day dance party Lee and I took our leave and went outside for a short walk around the castle grounds. At about 12:30 we headed to bed.

Here is a picture of Uncle Tony in front of our hostel. He is on the left:

In the morning we had a delicious breakfast of toast and cereal. I had buttered toast and half peanut butter half chocolate spread toast. I love toast! After breakfast we packed up and headed to a snowy mountain and valley area that was quite pretty. Then we went to a little town called Inverary which had a nice castle owned by the Duke of Argyle. The town was right on the waters edge so Lee and I walked to the pier and then walked around the town. We saw a church that looked like a mini cathedral, and also saw lots of cozy restaurants and bakeries. Next we went and saw a castle that once belonged to the nasty Campbell's (the Campbell's are not a well respected clan in Scotland because they massacred the clan MacDonald at Glenco in 1692). Then it was lunch time. For lunch Lee and I both had a delicious bowl of Cullen Skink, which is a traditional Scottish soup of potato, onion, cream, and smoked haddock. I know, I know I am a vegetarian, but I had to try it because it is a traditional Scottish dish. Also it was a cold day and I wanted lovely, warm soup.

After lunch we went to a town called Killin where the clan McNab have a burial ground. We were meant to take a brief stroll, but Lee wanted to go into the burial ground so he jumped the fence. He didn't get back to the bus at the pre-appointed time, however, so I had a bit of a freak out, but of course everything was fine and he soon made it back to the bus. We then moved on to another little town which I forget the name of and then headed back to Edinburgh. It was quite a full weekend.

Sunday was Lee's birthday. I made him a chocolate orange cake and we got Chinese take out from a super cheap place called Good Will.

So far this week I haven't done much of anything. Monday I took it easy. Tuesday I had class all day. Yesterday I took a three and a half hour walk during which I walked down the Royal Mile to Parliament, around Holyrood Park, and up to Prince's Street. Then I walked up Castle Street for a while and up some other streets until I found myself in a really posh neighborhood. After walking around there for a bit I got really tired and so I headed back toward my flat, stopping at Piemaker along the way. I bought one savory pie filled with tomato, basil, and mozzarella which I ate in the shop and one apple pie which I saved for later. When I got back to my flat I had tea and biscuits with Aby.

Today has been a wonderful, lazy day. I stayed in bed for a long time, got up to have coffee with a friend, went to my Genetics, Nature and Society class (which I love!), had dinner, and now I am eating a delicious cupcake with butter cream frosting. Lovely.


  1. I have a postcard with a highland cow on it, and the back says the cow's name is Flora.

  2. Fatty came back from abroad with a postcard of a highland cow, AND THE COW'S NAME WAS FLORA. Is Flora, I hope, but I don't know if it is still living.


  3. so much yummy in this post... OM!


    And Ariane, we're totes gonna have pies ALL THE TIME, right? And cheap Chinese takeout? AND TOAST?

  5. Oh Fatty! Oh Flora! You two!

    Yes, Fatty, yes we are. And we will also have cheap, delicious Indian food and a fried Mars Bar and chips and something delicious from the chocolate shop across the street. I AM SO EXCITED!