Monday, October 28, 2013

Isle of Skye

Today I took a minibus (van) tour of Skye. The one I took picked me up at my hostel at 11:30, and dropped me off again at 16:25. (Cost £35.)

We saw the Old Man of Storr (almost visible here). 

The gorgeous Mealt Waterfall with Kilt Rock in the distance.

The East Face of the Quirang

 The Cuillin Hills

It was beautiful; windy, rainy, and cold. 

I'll be heading back to Oban tomorrow morning, but now it's time for soup and tea. 

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

On Saturday I left Oban by bus (£9.40 to Fort William plus £10.20 to Urquhart). When I got to Urquhart Castle I realized that paying wasn't optional. The toilets, gift shop, view of the water, and tour of the castle were all one entrance. Since the next bus to Kyleakin was in six hours I decided to pay the £7.90 admission.

View of Loch Ness from the footpath to Drumnadrochit.

The full story is that I missed my stop at Urquhart and got off 2 miles down the road at the next stop. Luckily, there was a paved footpath along the road back to the castle, unluckily, I was carrying my 20 pound pack. 

I read every plaque and walked every inch of the castle ruins. That took about an hour, with much staring out at the water. 

View from castle ruins; of part of castle and Loch Ness. 

I then bought a hot chocolate at the cafe (£2.50) and plunked myself down at one of their tables watching movies on my phone until they closed at 16:30. 

I walked around the gift shop for a bit then decided I'd rather sit outside and hope a bus came early. It didn't. I waited outside until 17:45. In the rain. The bus to Kyleakin was £20.40!! And it was dark out so I didn't even get to enjoy the view. I wasn't expecting to spend so much on bus fare, and I had just enough. 

Skye Backpackers was mercifully close to the bus stop in Kyleakin. I stayed in one of the caravans (Starship Enterprise, Sulu bed) behind the hostel (£12/night). 
It's a bit loud and chaotic here compared to Oban. The showers are spread out in the main building, and aren't as nice as Oban's. The people tend to clump together based on language spoken, which is unfortunate. It's not a bad hostel by any means, and the price is good, but it isn't as homey as Oban. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Slovakian Schnapps

Just say no when a group of Scots and Australians offer you alcohol. 

Unless you are trying to forget your terrible day at Loch Ness. 

Then don't let them pour. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Manly Scottish Battle Cry

A fellow American traveler and I decided to walk to Dunstaffnage Castle today. It was supposed to be an hour walk there. It took us five hours round trip.

On the way there we stopped at the beautiful beach just a ways outside Oban and climbed a hill. 

We also encountered some ferocious young Highlanders practicing their battle cries.

Then we walked to Dunstaffnage Castle while discussing David Tennant's beauty and Scottish men's general sexiness. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kilmartin Standing Stones

Saw my first proper standing stones today. Another traveler and I took the bus (£5 one way) to Kilmartin this morning. It was a lovely drive, and there were only three of us on the coach! The bus schedule was a little limited so although we set off early in the morning we ended up missing the only afternoon bus back to Oban. We decided to hitchhike back to Oban. We only waited about 15 minutes before someone picked us up. The gentleman was nice and friendly, and pointed out interesting bits of history along the way. He was kind enough to drop us off right in the center of Oban.

Cairn with Stone Circle

This was a standing stone formation just outside the town. They say it's an X-formation aligned to the phases of the moon. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Necropolis

So, because I'm not a huge fan of partying I didn't enjoy Glasgow very much. (My fellow travelers at the hostel here in Oban assure me Glasgow has fantastic warehouse parties.) Originally, I thought I'd stay there for a week then go to Oban for a day. Two days were plenty for me in Glasgow, but I think I could stay in Oban forever. I did enjoy my tour of The Necropolis though. It was a gorgeous cemetery patterned after the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Here are the highlights:

The Outside, Northwest corner

Ghoul Gate near the entrance

Weeping Angels. Don't Blink. 

The best-preserved monument I saw. Many of them were missing pieces, leaning, or had fallen over. This one was nearly perfect. It was also about 20' tall. 

Glasgow isn't always rainy, here's proof. 

More Weeping Angels. I think I was being followed. 

The variation on monuments even next to each other was amazing. 

Saw this on my way from my hostel to my guesthouse. This was before I saw the Weeping Angels. 

This is just outside the Necropolis, seen after the Weeping Angels. 

The really odd thing about The Necropolis was the smell. I kept smelling men's cologne as I walked around it, both inside and outside the cemetery. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Train through Cyrodiil

Today I took the train from Glasgow to Oban. The scenery on the way here was gorgeous. I swear this is what Cyrodiil was based on. I didn't get any pictures though because the rain on the windows obscured the view too much.

Here's a look at Oban though. I like it much better than Glasgow.

And an obligatory view of my room at Oban Backpackers (£17/night in the 6-person female dorm). I'm in the Cinderella bed. :) So far, I'm the only one in there. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Here's what happens when you don't book a hostel before arriving in Glasgow on a drizzly Friday evening:

That's the full tour of my 6 bed female dorm at The St Enoch Hotel (£14). I'll spare you the horror that was the bathroom in this place. The toilet only flushed every 10th time you tried it. My dorm mates apparently couldn't shower without getting water everywhere. I mean literally everywhere. The floor, the top and back of the toilet, the shelf of the sink had an inch of standing water.
The good: a bagged breakfast of apple juice, milk, and cornflakes. The beds were reasonably comfortable, and the sheets and towels (small bar of soap and packet of shampoo also included) appeared clean. 

I decided to get the hell out of there and pay a ridiculous amount for a room to myself at Alison Guesthouse (£50). I have my own fireplace. I'm currently drying my things by it as I got lost on my way here and got DRENCHED, but by the magic of wool, not cold. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'm in Dublin!

This is me just before take-off. I looked a bit rough upon landing. Didn't sleep a wink, but did rewatch Star Trek: Into Darkness. My seat mate was a pretty blonde Irish woman with a good sense of humor.

I took an overpriced (€6), but comfy bus to my hostel, Jacob's Inn, from the airport. Check-in wasn't until 3:00 pm so I locked my bag in a locker (€2/day €10 deposit) and wandered around for a bit. I happened to return to my hostel just as a walking tour was leaving so I joined up with them. It was interesting, but I was so tired I had to go back after only half the tour. 
I took a nap on one of the couches in the hostel's lobby (along with several other weary travelers). 
After a nap in my 8 person dorm room I ventured back downstairs to use the wifi and locked myself out. Classy. The staff gave me a temp key though so there wasn't any problem. 
I'm going to try to get up early tomorrow to catch the ferry to Holyhead and then take a train to Glasgow. 
Night all.