Scotland and Ireland - Part 2

Day Three:

We packed our bags and said goodbye (for now!) to Edinburg and headed to St. Andrews. Watching the countryside pass by was quite fascinating. Each farm had a small yard around the home that was fenced with walls of stones. Instead of the fenceposts that we are used to here, their farmland is also mostly fenced off by a wall of stones. My understanding is that while rock picking to create farmland, they had to put the rocks somewhere, which stands to reason why many of their structures are made of stone.

Cody was particularly excited to see this part of the country as St. Andrews was the birthplace of golf. We had hoped to get more time to view the golf course and the golf museum, however there was a tournament going on that day. We learned that Justin Timberlake and Bill Murray were taking part in the tournament (no, we didn't see them :( ).

To the left you'll see at the top of the map where the ruins are of the old St. Andrews Cathedral.

Here's a website that gives a brief history on the church, but also gives a bit of an aerial view so you can appreciate how impressively large this cathedral once was.

From the cathedral, we made our way to the pick up spot near the golf museum.

Fun fact: If you follow the Royal Family at all, you may know that William and Kate both attended St. Andrews University. There's a coffee shop here where the allegedly met for the first time. And the rest, of course, is history.

Below: the entrance to what was the castle that was here.

Below: The Bay of St. Andrews. You can see where these steps might have led to some docks. The castle once looked out onto this bay.

We had hoped to get back to the pick up spot in time to see the museum. However the walk from the cathedral here had taken up more time than we anticipated.

The bonus of not seeing the museum at the time means that Cody will simply HAVE to go back... right? lol Once we got on the coach, Cody was able to snap a couple photos of the grounds.

From here, we headed out to Loch Ness! To get there, we had to drive past Culloden (where the Jacobite Rising came to a very abrupt end in 1745) and through Inverness.

Once we reached Castle Cruises at Loch Ness, we jumped on a boat and we travelled a short distance to a castle ruins called Urquhart Castle. We weren't able to get off the boat, but the view was still beautiful.

Above: The Witch's Stone. Folklore here tells of a tale of two witches across the loch that had a battle. It is said that one of the stones missed its mark, and remains here still this day.

Below: We checked out the souvenir shop, and obviously, they had an Outlander section. This jacket is 'Jaimie's Jacket' - feast your eyes ladies.

Side note: No... we didn't get the jacket. It would have been a neat addition to the kilt, but not for 400 pounds hahaha

We finished the evening with supper (more haggis!) at our hotel with a trivia night. It was certainly an older hotel, and it was fascinating to see all the artwork of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Apparently the sentiment still reigns in Scotland!

Day Four:

It was an earlier day, but we hopped on the coach and headed deeper into the Highlands. The country side was amazing. There was a lot of driving this day, but also a lot to wonder at on the way.

This day was also 'Tartan Day'. So those that purchased any scarves or kilts were encouraged to wear them this day so that we could get a group photo at our first stop, the west of Eilean Donan Castle. I specify the west side, because we come back from the highlands this way and make another stop right at the castle.

After our group photo we were off again. We made another stop at Sligachan. Here, there is a beautiful bridge that crosses a small river. The folklore behind this river comes from the tears of a daughter who cried for her warrior mother. Her mother was known to be the best fighter in Scotland, and when a male warrior from Ireland heard of this, he was determined to do battle to see who was best.

The daughter cried, upset as the battle carried on, and asked for help. The fairies came to her rescue, and beckoned her to dunk her face into the river. They gave her the knowledge of what to do next, and off she went.

You can find more detail of the tale here:

Ultimately, the legend says that because the fairies were disturbed there would remain a portal to the fairy kingdom forever. So by dunking your face into the river, you would be graced with eternal beauty.

So when in Rome....

And then it was off to Portree! (Where Cody was met with several hugs... he really needs to remember when he's wearing that shirt haha)

When we arrived at Portree, we grabbed a bit of lunch and headed to 'the Lump' to get a view of Loch Portree.

We did a bit of shopping where I found a book of all of Robert Burns works in a quaint little bookstore. (If you've never heard of Robert Burns, he's a big deal in Scotland. Flagstaff County honours his birthday once a year, and this year we happily checked it out!)

We headed back to the mainland and stopped right at Eilean Donan for some more pictures. I would have loved to have toured the castle, but we were short on time. Next time... right Cody?

From here we drove through Fort William to the 'Commandos'. This statue faces Scotland's highest mountain Ben Nevis.

After following the water's edge we came to our last destination for the day: Oban. Our hotel was right near the water's edge on the doc. You could see a cruise ship sitting out on the water.

We were on our own for supper that night,

and this is where we discovered our love for Wetherspoons.

At this pub, you basically find a table, sit down, and look through the menu. Once you know what you want, you download the app, place your order, pay with your credit card, Apple Pay or what have you, and wait.

We shortly received our drinks, and our meal didn't that long after that. If you want more to drink, you order through the app again.

Neat hey?

Below: This Roman like structure is called 'McCaig's Tower'. A man by the name of John McCaig was a successful banker in the town of Oban. And though the structure was never completed after his death, it's understood that this would have been a location for a museum or art gallery. Though uncompleted, it looks impressive from the water side.

After supper we got our dancing shoes on and headed to a local venue to learn how to dance at a Cèilidh. We learned different traditional dances... and drank our fair share of scotch!

Stay tuned, next stop, Stirling!

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