Okay, now I travel to possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. And I’ve been to Florida, people!
Edinburgh 3/Travel/Isle of Skye 1
- We took the taxi which is a first for me. It was much nicer than I expected. I feel like Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “I just love riding in cars!”
- We got on the train. and it had a layover in Glasgow. Then we got on another train to Mallaig. The train was interesting because it separated halfway through so it was important to sit where you were supposed to or else you might get taken to the wrong place.
- While it wasn’t exactly very pretty in Edinburgh, this train ride through the Scottish Highlands was the prettiest sightseeing I’ve ever done. We went over the viaduct, or as most people probably call it, the Harry Potter bridge along the way.
- We got into Mallaig finally, and it was a beautiful seaside town. Very kid-friendly.
- I’ve never been on a ferry before. It’s much bigger than I thought it would be. I feel like by the time I get home I’ll have taken every from of transportation available besides a rocket ship and a helicopter.
- We got ice cream by a shop near where the ferry offloads while waiting for the bus to come. We ran into one of Sydney’s friends from York named Justin. He was even on the same ferry. It’s a small world.
- The bus was fourty-five minutes late so we got to talking a little with some of the other people waiting. Two were girls from Hong Kong. They were nice and were also on the ferry with us. They weren’t staying in Kyleakin though.
- Though it was late, the bus did come and we did get to our hostel. Though this was probably the most…surprising of the ones we went to. Our room was basically a glorified camper they called a “caravan.” We were also told which bunks were our by the names that were posted on the bunks. They were all named after the local fisherman of the week. Thankfully it did look nicer on the inside than it did on the outside. It was plenty warm having three space heaters in it too so that was nice.
- Afterward, we met up with Allison—another American girl we met at York—and went to eat at this pub called King Haakon. We all got fish and chips, and it was glorious. We ate them while looking out over the ocean/loch. It was beautiful.
- So the hostel only has wifi in the main building so everyone in the whole hostel was in there all the time. Either that or everyone was super friendly. The three of us introverts noped out of there pretty fast. (Allison stayed in another hostel.)
6,000+ steps, 2+ miles, 3 floors
Isle of Skye 2
- Something we quickly found out was that if anyone turns over in their sleep or walks in the “caravan,” the whole thing shakes. But thankfully there was only us and one other middle-aged lady so it wasn’t bad.
- We met up with Allison in the morning and caught a bus to see the castle Eilean Donan. It was on a sort of tiny island and has been used in a few movies before. It was actually a more modern castle built to look old because it was destroyed however many years ago. But because of the renovation that meant the windows sealed correctly and it was warm. It was also furnished and gave off the most home-y vibe of any of the castle/palace things we’ve visited. It was my favorite out of all the castles I’ve visited.
- After going through the castle, we waited for the bus. And, suddenly, a huge, black bomber plane flew by between the islands low and fast. I snapped a quick picture of it and sent it to Dad who informed me of exactly what kind of plane it was but also what base it probably came from. As evidenced by the cool military amphibious vehicle and helicopter there must be a base close by.
- We took a bus back to Kyleakin and met up with our other friend who was to travel with us—Krystal. Like Allison, she is also another American student studying at YSJ. After meeting up, we went to eat lunch at Castle Moil which is the restaurant that is attached to the same place that we ate dinner at the previous night. Basically, Castle Moil is open for lunch and King Haakon is open for dinner. Their menus are almost identical and they’re pretty much the two choices in the whole town for food.
- After eating, we then went and hiked around this tiny broken tower nearby that only has one wall sort of in tact. It was a fun little like.
- Then we went over the bridge and took pictures. We were going over there to see if we could walk to the lighthouse, but it was closed off because they wanted us to, like, buy a tour of it or something stupid. So we went back over and walked along the beach to look at shells.
- For dinner we went to, surprise!, King Haakon. For dessert I got Skye-made ice cream and it was heavenly. It had the consistency of icing/frosting and tasted like a really rich french vanilla. My tummy was a little shocked by it the next day, but I regret nothing.
- Because we didn’t have a car, the only way you can really see the Isle of Skye is to go by bus tour. The only other pub in town (which also owns the hostel that Allison and Krystal are staying at) called Saucy Mary’s has a tour so we went to talk to him about it. His name was Bob and he was very good to us. He had a grandfatherly air about him. He told us that because we were the only ones who wanted to go we would basically have a personalized tour.
14,000+ steps, 6+ miles, 14 floors
Isle of Skye 3
- The next morning, our tour guide showed up—bringing along his buddy for the trip too. They later introduced themselves as Jack and DJ.
- We went first to the Fairy Pools which were probably some of the most beautiful pieces of nature I’ve ever seen. I took way too many pictures/videos. We also ran into the two girls from Hong Kong we met at the bus stop so that was fun to see them again.
- The next stop on the tour took us to a distillery on the island and while Allison and Krystal were eager to go, Mackenzie, Sydney, and I chose not to go, opting instead to just go find some food somewhere. We found a pub/inn appropriately called The Old Inn. It had a pretty cool atmosphere, and I had fish and chips again. I regret nothing.
- Next we quickly drove through the “capital” of Skye called Portree. We didn’t want to stop there particually because it was just a town and we wanted to see the outdoorsy things. That took us this rock formation called Old Man of Storr. We hiked most of the way, but Mackenzie and I stopped along with DJ and Jack as the others kept going. I just didn’t feel like hiking up a mountain to see how cool a giant rock would look even closer. We were so exhausted from hiking that Mackenzie and I were joking that unless Jesus Christ was up there, unless the transfiguration was happening again up there we would not go.
- The roads on Skye were often one lanes with “passing points” which were little wider parts at regular intervals where people can pass if they were going opposite directions. There were no speed limits—only signs that told you to slow down in preparation of an upcoming turn so you didn’t go flying off a cliff. To make matters even more interesting, the bus was a stick shift so we were a little tossed around. A few of us were feeling some motion sickness by the end.
- There were a lot of sheep on Skye. Most of them had one or two babies following after them so it was really cute to look at.
- We took to calling it Skye instead of Isle of Skye like we were locals or something, but we had no idea how to pronounce any of the names of the towns. All the signs on Skye were in both English and Gaelic. I never heard anyone speak it the entire time we were there which was a little disappointing.
- Apparently many of the people on Skye were pro-Scottish independence. There were many “yes” signs and stickers that were left over from the vote. Just an interesting trivia for you.
- When we got back, unlike all the previous other hostels, this one made me have to call the cab myself. Though they did let me use one of their own phones because we don’t have phones that work in the UK. Anyway, that was an interesting experience to try to communicate over the phone with someone with a thick Scottish accent. Everything worked out though.
- That night, we went to King Haakon again and tried to wait around for the live music that was supposed to be played. Our group ordered ice cream and hot chocolate from the bar which really confused the bartenders. Sydney and I split the ice cream this time because I knew my stomach barely survived the last time I got it. Still, there’s only so often when you can have ice cream from the Isle of Skye so that was my compromise.
18,000+ steps, 7+ miles, 84 floors
Isle of Skye 4/Travel/York
- In the morning, we shared the taxi with a middle-aged couple from Calgary, Alberta. They had already been to Edinburgh and had done what seemed like a very similar tour to what we had done from the facts the spouted off. They’re going to Glasgow for a day then going to Ireland after that.
- The cab driver talked mostly with the Canadian couple but I could overhear obviously. He explained that kids in school are required to learn some Gaelic. He doesn’t speak any himself but his daughters do because of school. There’s also variations of Gaelic even breaking down to different Skye variations. He told a funny story about how there was an English guy working at a train station in Scotland and there were two Scottish guys who decided to talk about him in Gaelic, but the Englishman somehow knew Gaelic and gave them a what-for in Gaelic. It sounded legendary.
- We got to the ferry with plenty of time. This time we sat inside the ferry. Freezing ourselves to see the views was fine on the way over. We didn’t feel like we needed to go for round two. It was actually really nice inside the ferry. There were restrooms and nice seats.
- Our Canadian friends needed help finding the train station so we helped them. After we went to a cafe to get sandwhiches for the long journey back, we had an interesting encounter with a seagull while waiting on the platform. A seagull walked under and into the little glass shelter we were sitting in and couldn’t figure out how to get out. It just started flying and running into the glass so we booked it out of there. It found out how to escape rather quickly once we were gone. Seagulls make the weirdest noises by the way.
- The train ride from Malliag to Glasgow was still beautiful even though we took this exact line to Skye. We went over the Viaduct again, saw some caribou, lots of sheep. It was absolutely gorgeous weather outside.
- The train to Glasgow was fine but the layover was…interesting to say the least. Our Canadian taxi/bus-mates said goodbye to us, and I hope they stayed safe after the game was over. Anyway, there are a ton of police around because apparently there was a football game on. On the train itself, there were a bunch of guys who practically got in a fight next to us with this one guy rooting for the opposing team. They were dropping the f-bomb every other word and doing so right in front of the little kids right across from them. The other girl whose table we joined tried to tell them to shut up but that didn’t do anything. The guys were so annoying. They kept clapping cheering and probably already drunk.
- Thankfully the police were prepared and even had several officers on the train itself. They showed up and basically planted themselves between the opposing groups as well as shielding them from the kids. They forced the big group of about five guys off who were being the most annoying off at the next stop and were still giving them a good talking to once the train left. The other guy they were arguing with felt like he won but it took care of any fights.
- I was worried that all the police had left the train but they still had two left as well as the tough ticket-checker guy although he had no time to check any tickets. It was funny because he almost received more respect than the policemen/women with his suit. The way his pockets jingled with pound coins and how he flicked through his keys threateningly. I don’t know. After the crazies—well, some of them—got off, the atmosphere of the train relaxed. The police still hung around and patrolled up and down constantly. Props to the Scottish police. I hope those kids stayed safe during the game.
- Thankfully the train back to York was much less exciting than the one to Edinburgh.When we got back, it was 8pm and we had been traveling since 7:30am. By the end of that day we had taken the cab, the ferry, the train from Mallaig to Glasgow, the crazy train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, the train from Edinburgh to York, and then walked back uni from the station. So we were a little tired by the end of that day. We picked up some pizza at a take-away place near the uni and happily secluded ourselves for the rest of the night and practically the whole next day.
5,000+ steps, 2+ miles, 2 floors
- All in all, I’m glad I had the opportunity to have all the experiences I’ve had. I really doubt I’ll be able to do anything like this again so I’m glad I was able to seize the day. I have to shout out to my family for praying for me the whole time. God really surrounded us with a shield of protection for the entire journey.
- The YSJ Cultural Event that Lucky Fish is dancing at is coming up really soon so I’m eager to get back to practicing. Don’t want to let my fellow Fishes down! Fighting! And this weekend is the weekend that Sydney, Yuka, and I are traveling to London again to see all the sights we missed our previous time there!
- Oh yeah. There’s also that school thing I have to do. And I have to start applying for internships. So there’s a couple not-so-fun things I have to be doing too. Please pray that I don’t get overwhelmed and that I prioritize and think clearly.
I’ll try to update soon! Thanks again for all the prayers and support while I’ve been away! I miss you all!