Scotland Day #5: Isle of Arran to Isle of Skye

September 12, 2014 § 2 Comments

And so, Day #5 sees Mr. Italian and I drive from one island to another, continuing northward into the Highlands and just keeping on getting impressed by every single turn in the road.

We woke up to another frosty morning in the car; our pathetic attempts at getting out shoes to dry on the top of the car failed miserably with the constant drizzle that surrounded the Loch Lomond region.  However, we did manage to keep the reeking stink of the muddy shoes out of the car, so it wasn’t a completely desolate situation.

Arriving from Ayr and the Isle of Arran, this was our first day of exploring mainland Scotland and seeing these Highlands that I have been dying to see.  And they certainly did not disappoint!

Highlands2

Can you imagine driving through this scenery for hours?

Highlands1

And it only getting more and more impressive?

Highlands4

And the blues more blue and the gold more gold?

Highlands5
While the mountains keep getting taller?

Highlands3

 

Needless to say, it was very difficult for us to articulate any sort of words.  We just rolled along in silence, gaping and gasping and laughing and getting giddy with the cool air.  We had a pit stop at Fort William, where we stocked up on warm breakfast rolls and listened to some impressive street music (if that guy become’s Scotland’s Glen Hansard, let me just say that… I told you so!).  Then, we hopped through the Old Inverlochy Castle (and saw the Harry Potter train, at the train depot right next door!) and took a mini stroll around:

FtGeorgeCastleCows

And then we zoomed onward, northwest.  Once we passed Fort William and left all of the tourist buses behind, we had empty roads for the next couple of hours.  It was almost stifling, the grandeur of the nature around you, and the stillness (except for the wind, but even that, despite its constant blow, seemed strangely still) that accompanied the intensity of the colors.  No cars, no people, no fences, no buildings, no animals.  You could just get out of the car and walk to the top of any of these soft, green, tall hills- well, probably not, because you would sink in the constant layer of mud, but so it seemed, and it was a liberating thought.  We learned that if a building exists, it’s important enough to be put on the European Atlas we were traveling with- even in this is just an abandoned shack or a single house, it was put on the road map.  Misleading, when ignorantly planning out food and gas stops.  No sir, not in the Highlands!

Eventually, we made it to Eilean Donan Castle- one of the most recognizable castles of Scotland that appears on all of the shortbread tins:

HighlandsEDCastle
So, we had some coffee and cake at the cafe’ to the beat of a bagpipe player outside of the window.  Anything with bagpipes is automatically good; add a kilt and it’s even better!

EDCastleKiltPlayer
From there, we moved to the Kyle of Lochalsh and over the bridge that leads to the Isle of Skye.  If I had to pick one part of the world to spend the rest of my days on, it would be here, on this island.  I didn’t even know nature existed on such a scale.

But, before we properly tackled Skye, we first tackled a boutique cafe’ in Broadford.  This was definitely our one fancy meal of the trip:

IsleOfSkyeLambBurger
Him: lamb’n’mint burgers.  Me: game fowl with ratatouille.  Us:  goat cheese salad, glass of African white wine.  Us:  absolutely satisfied.

And then, it was another short stretch of driving to our bunkhouse, through scenery that seemed like some sort of backdrop in some sort of fantasy movie:

IsleOfSkyePanorama
Then, an indescribable (and unphoto-able) sunset over a cliffy bay.  And then, checking into our cozy bunkhouse- which was, ideally, a few minutes above the Talisker distillery.  Yet away from everything else; isolated, under the starry sky, with fuzzy blankets and a tea cabinet and a fireplace, with a quirky design and board games, and inspiration to move away from everything, forever, and build my own purple bunkhouse.

It also had a heater, so, for the first time all trip, I slept comfortably and without my winter coat.  In other words, a perfect night in the perfect place.  Which just kept getting more perfect the next day, so keep on stayin’ tuned!

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