Sunday, July 15, 2007

Final post

Well, since I am no longer in Scotland, and since I have finally finished the posts of my last adventures there, I am officially ending the "Barb in Scotland" blog. I will leave it online, but will no longer be adding to it.

I am starting a new blog, though, to document my life from this point forward. I hope you'll visit my new blog from time to time, though I don't promise my posts will be as frequent as they were in Scotland, and I can assure they won't be nearly as interesting. Oh well, hopefully I'll have something to share on occasion. You can find "Barb's Wire" at See you there!


Saying Goodbye

My last few days in Aberdeen were quite trying, with having to say goodbye to all the wonderful friends I made while I was there. Amie and I continued to spend most of our time together. We visited Torry Battery one last time and finally caught a glimpse of a dolphin, though he only jumped once and that was before I had my camera out. Bummer!

We also spent a little time at Kings College, taking some photos to remember "my school" by.

On Tuesday, my last day in town, we went down to the beach and put our feet in the North Sea. This was something I had been wanting to do since I arrived, but I had been waiting for a day when it was warm enough that my toes wouldn't freeze. Well, I was out of time, so it was now or never. Let me tell you, that water was like ICE! But Amie was kind enough to join me so I wouldn't freeze alone.

After our toes warmed up, Amie, Kristianna and I went to pizza hut for my "last supper." It was a fun time of fellowship, though there was certainly a sense of sadness in the air too. We took a few pictures by the beach before heading home, and then came the moment I had been dreading - saying goodbye. It was very hard, but I know that I made some lifetime friends these last six months, and we have promised to keep in touch.

Highlands and Islands - Counting Sheep

On our tour of the highlands and islands we saw sheep EVERYWHERE!! They would lie in the passing places on the narrow roads, or simply walk down the middle of the road like they owned the place!

There were fat sheep and skinny sheep, old sheep and baby lambs, white sheep and black sheep, sleeping sheep and playing sheep. There were speckled sheep and horny - I mean horned - sheep. Okay, that's a joke, I said "horny" instead of horned the first time I saw one with horns, and it just stuck. Oh well.

But my favorites were the “tame” sheep. While we were walking to the youth hostel on Iona, we saw a bunch of sheep in the middle of the road. I told Amie that I wanted to try to pet one, so she had her camera ready. The first few sheep ran away as we approached, but one stayed in the road without being fazed. So I reached out my hand and petted his head. He just looked at me. Then another sheep started heading over towards me like, “Hey, what about me? I want my head scratched too!” So I petted him too. When we started walking away, the first one followed us for a bit. It was like “Mary had a little lamb”! Too cool!

Highlands and Islands, Day 6 - Eilean Donan Castle

Our last day! This was a really fun trip, but I think we were all ready to be finished driving. We started the day by driving across the Skye Bridge, a bridge linking the island with the mainland. This bridge was a really big deal when it was built, and I took several pictures hoping to have one to add to my collection of bridge photos.
Continuing down the road, we came to Eilean Donan Castle, the most photographed castle in Scotland and another must-see sight for me when we planned this trip. The weather was not cooperating too well with us, and the hills around the castle were shrouded in mist and clouds. As they say in Scotland, "the hills did not come out for us" on that day. But the castle itself was beautiful. We didn't go in the castle, because we were ready to head for home, but we stopped and walked around the grounds for a little while and had lunch in the car park (it was raining).

Our next stop was Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. I visited this castle with my family when they were here in March, and Amie had also been there a couple of times, but it was a first for Laurie. Since this castle is a part of our Historic Scotland membership, Laurie and I went in to explore it for a little while. We climbed up to the tallest point of the castle for amazing views of Loch Ness and the whole castle ruins.

Our last stop on the road to home was the ruins of the Elgin Cathedral. For the second time, I arrived half an hour after the cathedral closed (this happened to my family back in March as well). But Amie had never seen the cathedral, so we walked around the ruins before heading to McDonalds for a treat and continuing our drive back to Aberdeen.
We finally made it home around 8:00 pm, tired but happy. We had a great vacation, with memories to last a lifetime, and fantastic photos as a bonus!

Highlands and Islands, Day 5 - Fairy Glen and Storr

On day 5 we woke up to rather wet weather, which was quite disappointing. But we didn't let the clouds and mist stop us from exploring. We headed out to the fairy glen, a magical little glen with a river winding through the hills, amazing green grass, and a "fairy castle" complete with stone circles. We climbed all over the hills and up to the "castle," enjoying the mystery of the location before we finally decided we had had enough of the cold and wet for one morning.

Our drive on this day took us around the northernmost tip of Skye and back down the other side, past the grave of Flora MacDonald (an instrumental figure in the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie), Kilt Rock (so named because the rock formations look like the pleats in a kilt), and other amazing views of the cliffs and the sea.

A highlight for the day was a stop at the Old Man of Storr, an impressive rock pinnacle jutting up from the mountains. Laurie hiked up to it, and I do mean hike - it was a 30 minute walk uphill on a muddy track. Amie and I started the walk but gave up because I didn't want to stress my ankle any more than the lighthouse walk did yesterday. We did get to take several photos of the Old Man from the road, though, and Laurie got some great ones upclose.
We finally wound up in Portree for our last night, visited a couple of art galleries, and spent the rainy evening playing cards in the hostel dining room.