Scotland and the Storm.
Senna had planned a trip to Scotland 4 long years ago and, somehow, ended up in Malaysia, where we met. The trip was her Christmas present and we landed in Edinburgh for our two week Scotland tour knowing nothing of the impending doom, and thus foreclosure, of Corona and our travel plans. Berlin to Slovenia for 6 months is now cancelled so our memory of Scotland is all we have to get us through these trying times. We will resume travelling when it is both considerate and fair to the countries we leave behind and the ones we arrive in.
With Storm Ciara on its way we decided to take a few days in Edinburgh before moving up to Inverness and working our way back down. We stayed in the ‘Easy Hotel‘, Princes Street, that is a stones-throw away from Edinburgh Castle, sat on castle rock which saw human activity 3000 years ago. Besieged an incredible 23 times, Edinburgh Castle is the most embattled fortress in all of Europe. This skyline view is both an incredible sight and a wonderful walk up towards. Surrounded by bars and pipers, you may get lost a while on the ‘Royal Mile’ ending at ‘The Worlds End’, the final bar inside the old city walls. We sat and enjoyed a dram of whiskey there for half an hour and chatted, deciding to continue through the city. We came to Holyrood Palace, a magnificent monarchy residence since 1678. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the ‘Scottish National Gallery’, perusing the various biblical and monarchical art work there, for free. Following live Scottish bands around the various bars in the evening we ended our night and slept with the Castle in view.
We took the coach to Inverness, twisting through the winding Scottish roads with incredible snow drift backdrops. Senna slept for the journey, still stale from the strength of strong whiskey, a common feature in our little tour. We stayed in a small BnB, of which many are available, a bridge away from the city centre. Our first evening I took Senna to experience a real British tradition, an evening at the Wetherspoons. After a few beers we searched and found another place with live Scottish music and Haggis available (Click the link for a traditional recipe). Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. I love it and even Senna said it was quite nice, grimacing as she swallowed. We planned to trek to Loch Ness the next morning as we lay in bed and read about the impending storm. The next morning our trek was off the cards. The rain battered down and all of the local bridges were closed. We walked to Ness islands which was nothing more than a few breaks within the river where people would walk their dogs. As the rain fell heavier and the wind gathered pace we returned to the shelter of our room and played ‘Risk’ on the IPad. England v Scotland Rugby was on the television but the signal waned rapidly as the storm came through Inverness. I braved the rain to fetch supplies and that was our next few days. Trains and coaches were all cancelled and we ended up either in the room or in Wetherspoons. We found one incredible bookshop that sold very old leather-bound books with a great wood fire burner in the centre. We both brought back something special as the first coach available we took to Edinburgh, where our flight would leave a few days later.
As disastrous as our trip had been so far, we still had a few days left and the rain and the wind had died down a little. We decided to return to Edinburgh, closer to the airport in case of further storm disturbance, and re-booked the ‘Easy Hotel’ for our castle view. We wandered the ‘National Museum of Scotland’ with its interactive and enlightening displays, ranging from its pre-historic fossil collection to its steam engine and printing press, scoping everything in-between. National museums in the United Kingdom are all free admission. somehow we were accepted into the Edinburgh student union building, a bar with an incredible library/bar, as we watched a man half our age questioned (i kept my scarf over my face to cover the lines and wrinkles). We spent the last of our money on the ‘Scotch Whiskey Experience’ , possibly the best thing we did. The tour is short but well made and the final tasting bar is great for relaxing with a little liquid gold. Sadly, as with some travels, our Scotland trip ended as it had continued, full of rain and storm, as we sat in the ‘Brewdog Bar’ and sipped the rain away, returning to Holland the next morning. All in all, a wet and windy Scotland trip watched from bar room windows and umbrella shade.