So after my parents left, I took off to Loch Ness. I only got to spend a day there, but I felt there was no way I could be in Scotland and not see Loch Ness. And after doing some serious touring and sight-seeing, I feel there was no better way for me to refresh then to strike out on my own again and head up north and take things a little slower.
This of course meant that I traveled from London all the way up to the Highlands in one day, which took me from 10:30am to 8pm with an on hour break somewhere in between. The scenery was nice, but I definitely had chronic nausea derived from being trapped on a moving box on wheels. But these are the sacrifices one must make to see the world, I guess.
As I was traveling, I realized my new pet peeve of the traveling experience: seats that do not accommodate your head. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Whether it be in planes, trains, or buses, the seats always seem to bubble out at a head rest. This means that when you want to sleep-and most people do while traveling long distances-your head can not rest back. For some reason they decided it was a good idea to NOT provide an enclave where your head would be and instead placed an enclave for your neck-which clearly needs it (???) This inevitably causes your head to fall forward as soon as you relax, waking you up from what could have been a very restful sleep.
Do they do this on purpose? Do they want us to stay awake and stare out the window in boredom? What about those of us who want to throw up when we’re awake?
I was thinking about this pet peeve when I noticed this guy experiencing all my frustrations sitting across from me, so I snapped a picture. Mean?? It was for a good cause.
As soon as we hit the highlands, I fell in love. This was my only chance to see them, and they are beautiful. Toward the tail end of the bus ride I sat with my face pressed firmly up against the window. I was captured by the hills as they rolled off into the distance in bleak, romantic beauty. The area before Loch Ness was covered in short purple plants and waterfalls-without a tree in sight and clouds of fog drifting around them. There was a dark, almost dreamlike beauty about it, and in response to this glory, I left a face print.
I finally arrived in the town of Inverness right on the northern tip of Loch Ness. I got there late so I picked up a few provisions and wandered down the road to the camp site. I guess people don’t normally show up that late because I just wandered right in. There wasn’t a soul to greet me or take my money. It was dark by the time I unloaded my backpack and set up my fancy little tent and rolled out my zero degree sleeping bag, so I immediately went to bed. The reason why I chose camping over a hostel is that, well, I felt like I should make good use of my tent and sleeping bag seeing how I bought them for this trip. It also saved me about 7 pounds (that’s about 15 USD), and the owners where just the cutest little old man and woman I had ever met. They were so sweet and trusting that I probably could have just walked out of the campsite and never paid. But, well, I’m not like that. And I love giving money to cute little small business owners, anyway.
The next day I wandered over to a few Islands on the Ness River which links up to Loch Ness. It was quite dreamy, but I
had to take off so I packed up, grabbed lunch and then headed to grab a bus. But as I walked around in the town, I noticed something I had only heard about. Bilingual signs, in both English and Gaelic. I’ve already listened to the Gaelic radio station, whose DJ’s mysteriously still have English accents, but it was exciting to see the old Celtic culture still slightly alive.
Finally I arrived at the station, but alas, the next bus left in an hour so I had to sit and wait. This shouldn’t have mattered much except that the bus driver forgot to let me off at my intended stop, so I stayed on the bus for an extra fifty minutes while he drove the rest of the route and then turned around. Bummer.
And yet, somehow still not a bummer. I missed out on taking a boat ride onto Loch Ness and going into the castle there, but my internal travelers flexibility kicked in, and I was still deliriously happy to be there. I walked out to Loch Ness, wrote a few post cards and took some distant pictures of the castle.
And no, I did not see Nessy.
When I got back into the “town” (of like 20 buildings) I snuck into the only restaurant available and slid into my seat-for-one. At which point three gray-haired cheery men leaned over and said, “are you alone??” We chatted for a second before we got our food, but when we got our food they let me eat in silence. Later they invited me to have a glass of wine at their table and I just thought this was so kind and welcoming. I had heard them discussing environmental issues; plus they were bantering back and forth and chuckling. How can a girl say no?
I sat with them for probably an hour and a half, laughing and discussing economics and food justice and the like. I found out that they are intrigued by America cities and feel the same pull to visit them as I feel to visit cities in Europe. That threw me for a loop. You mean you want to visit these cities that are only 200-300 years old? Really? Your cities are a THOUSAND years old, and you want to see ours? But they explained that it wasn’t because of their age, but because they did grow so quickly, in comparison to European cities. They were still fascinating, even if they were new. They also explained having an idealistic view of American cities because their childhood was heavily influenced by American music singing about American cities. It made them seem magical, apparently.
These kinds of conversations continued on, and they kept having rounds of drinks (their alcohol tolerance is clearly higher than mine) at which point they would offer whatever they were having, be it Gaelic coffee, whiskey or wine. Save the first glass of wine I declined each time saying if I had anymore they’d wish they hadn’t invited me to sit with them. I was flattered by their kindness and courteousness. It was like having three ornery uncles trying to take care of you and catch up on your life. When it was time to leave I thanked them for the company and they made sure I’d be ok walking back to the hostel.
These are the reasons I like traveling alone.
Even with such a chaotic day, I ended up walking back to my hostel, safe and sound, feeling utterly blessed by this world I live in.
Now, onto my next farming adventure.