Friday, September 13, 2013

Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands - Beautiful Scottish Scenery

The Scottish Highlands - picture courtesy of Janice!
 Despite our shared hatred of package tours, Janice and I decided to take the Loch Ness Glencoe Highlands day trip as a part of our experience in Scotland. We both knew it was a packaged tour (through Haggis Adventures), yet we were both somehow disappointed by the fact that it was a packaged tour at the end of our day!  The scenery was breathtaking and the historical facts our tour guide spouted as we drove on the six hour journey were fascinating, but the rushed, packaged feeling (and the type of travellers you meet on tourist packages) was not.

1) The fact that the people we were sitting next to were talking SO LOUDLY we couldn't hear the commentary was incredibly annoying 

2) The fact that people on the bus got SUPER annoyed/catty/offended when we moved seats to hear better after our first stop (to seats without people's stuff on them, of course). Apparently moving seats "confuses" the tour guide and "causes an issue" for the travellers.  

3) Everyone seemed to just want to snap a photo and leave. Loch Ness -Check. Glencoe - Check. SERIOUSLY? What happened to enjoying the scenery, hiking, wandering and discovering a place for yourself?  Next time, I'll have a British Driver's License and take a car! (Trust me, I ranted on their feedback form)

We also discovered the same day that there is (*GASP*) a food Janice doesn't like --- haggis! Janice likes every food I've ever seen her eat (or talked to her about eating ;)

Here are a few fun historical highlights, followed by a slideshow!

  •  In 1707, James VIII of Scotland became James I of England through a Union of the Crowns
  • 1709 was the last year that a "witch" was hung in the Scottish witchcraft trials, which started in the 1500s
  • We saw Forth Bridge, County of Fife, but it was a bit tricky to snap a picture as we drove by. There was a much more beautiful bridge in the Highlands, but we drove by that one too quickly, too 
  • The Stone of Destiny is a Scottish symbol was taken from the Scottish by the British. Legend has it they gave the Brits a "fake" stone and the real one still resides among an order of the monks (The Knights of St. John) in the Highlands today
  • In 1950, a Scotsman named Ian Hamilton tried to "steal back" the stone from the British and bring it back to Scotland...and broke a piece off in the process! Apparently he had a stonemason friend of his glue back the piece of the stone, but legend has it that before he did so, he wrote something on a piece of paper, and stuck it in the stone. Our tour guides (including ones on the Edinburgh free walking tour and literary pub tours that we also did) disagreed as to what really happened!
  • Ben Nevis is Scotland's tallest mountain, 1344 meters tall
  • Braveheart was NOT actually William Wallace!  Robert the Bruce was the man who really the hero (more on him in my next post!)
  • Gallic and Gaelic are the same thing - the former is the Scottish pronunciation and the latter is the Irish 
More on the history in my next post on Edinburgh's free walking tour and historical guide. (I'll find a way to arrange all my notes and come up with a shortened version of Scottish historical highlights) For now, enjoy the slideshow and stay tuned!

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