We met where the tour departed from at 7:45, which fortunately for me was only about a 10 minute walk from where I live on the Royal Mile. We got on a bus that was very fancy, a mercedes complete with leather seats that reclined. Here is Matt (Tulane) and I on the bus:
Our tour guide ended up talking a lot about Edinburgh as we departed the city, and the most interesting thing I learned about was the levee. When the levee was drained a few hundred years ago, they found over 100 female skeletons at the bottom. Why? witches. Just like we learned about in middle school, if a woman was suspected of being a witch in the medieval times, she was tied up and tossed into the river. If she floated, she was then deemed a witch and suffered a horrible death. The alternative, sinking, and ultimately drowning, means you werent a witch. Then the townspeople would send a written apology to your family for wrongfully accusing the woman of being a witch. Interesting stuff.
I just thought that the bus was going to take us to Loch Ness and back, but we ended up stopping at a bunch of different places, the first being Stirling. After passing the place where Monty Python and the holy grail was filmed
we stopped to see Hamish, the higland cow (pronounced kew).
Hamish was quite the fellow, he liked to entertain the crowd with his lovely eating habits. After our little stop in stirling, we continued our tour up into the highlands. The roads were very narrow and windy, and I was a bit uneasy at times, but the scenery was gorgeous and it was absolutely beautiful. We passed Glen Lyon, which is the longest Glen in Scotland. That is not why it is most famous though, it is probably more famous for the fact that Pontius Pilate was born there. He had a Roman father and Scottish mother, was born in Scotland, and when he became an adult he decided to go and find his father. Lo and behold he ended up being the one approving the crucification of Jesus.
Our first stop in the highlands was Glencoe, a beautiful place to take pictures. This is me with Kristina (Penn) and Becca (McGill):
Actually, some nasty historical stuff happened here in Glencoe. In February of 1692 in the bitter cold, Captian Robert Campbell and 120 of his men attacked the MacDonald clan while they were sleeping in their houses in the middle of the night. 38 people were slaughtered in their homes and another 40 women and children died after exposure to the bitter cold. To this very day, anyone with the last name Campbell is looked down upon in this northern area of Scotland, for this very low massacre.
We took a longer ride through the countryside, and heres a lovely video of the goregous scenery.
It is pretty cool, because there are a series of Lochs in Scotland that connect to each other, those of which run from the east coast to the west coast of Scotland. It is possible to take a boat from the east to west coast.
Our next stop was in Loch Ness, about after 5 hours of driving. We got our picinic lunches (vegetable sandwich and a biscuit (thats scottish for cookie)). We sat to picinic next to a beautiful canal. Then we had our boat tour around loch ness, which was really cool. Loch ness is very cool itself; If you were to drain all of the lakes in Scotland, Whales and England, their combined volume wouldn’t even fill Loch Ness. It is over 1000 feet deep in the very middle, which is pretty crazy. It’s also shaped like a bathub, so the dropoff is very close to the shore, which is pretty atypical of your standard lake.
I ended up talking to this guy on the boat, who does a lot of research with MIT and the whole Loch Ness monster stuff. I didnt actually believe that there was such a thing as a Loch Ness monster, but I do now believe that there is some sort of creature that lives in there that is hard to know anything about. He showed us this picture on his phone that he took while he was kayaking on Loch Ness, and had it researched by NASA to see if the picture was genuine. It was this large hump of a fleshy type creature that was suspected to range in about 15′ in length. Apparently he was offered $20,000 for the picture, but he refused it. I’m not sure how much of this mumbo jumbo i believe, but I do think there is some sort of creatures in there that is hard to learn about. There is another creature carcass under the water that was discovered and studied, but due to the Scotland national preserve, they aren’t allowed to take it out of the Loch, which is silly to me. Talking to this guy was definitely well worth the price of the trip. Here is me and Kristina on the boat!
Unfortutely I didnt snag any pictures of Loch Ness itself, but I did get a nice picture of the boat.
After we got off the boat, the canal that I was talking about earlier was actually being used. I was geeking out so much it was so exciting. I’ve never seen a canal working before, so this was definitely cool
On the way back to Edinburgh from Loch ness, we made a couple of more stops. The first was at the Commando Memorial and the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis.
The Commando Memorial was very moving, I really enjoy learning about historical things like this. A lot of British soldiers go to the scottish higlands to train, and once upon their completion of this training, they recieve the green beret, which is the most prestigious honor a British soldier could get.
Overall, the tour was fantastic, well worth the money, and I would recommend Haggis Adventures to anyone. I think that it would’ve been better to do a longer (2-3 day tour or something) to see more of the sights, but I got to see so much in just one day. Our tour guide talked a lot about the braveheart movies, and the actual people that the characters were based off, and he knew so much about the Scottish history. I particularly enjoyed his take, because it seemed like he knew a lot about Engineering.
Next up- my weekend trip to Dublin! chao!