Summer in London - Days 26 and 27

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July 20th 2018
Published: August 2nd 2018
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Loch NessLoch NessLoch Ness

Today's trip included a scenic tour of the Loch. Unfortunately, no Nessie.
Days 26 and 27 - To Scotland, by Train and Car

Our train to Edinburgh left a little after noon so we had time to relax in the morning, get packed up and make our way to the station. We decided to try a place claiming to have authentic mexican burritos and check out their claims. While the burritos were fine, they didn’t have quite the same flavor of home, definitely a European twist on burritos.

We opted for First Class tickets of this train since it was over 3 hours and not too much more expensive. This meant we got to wait in the First Class lounge instead of the noisy, crowded, unairconditioned station, a real bonus. They also had free snacks and drinks and comfy chairs.

Once on the train they fed us lunch and we were able to watch the scenery fly by. A passenger sitting next to us had gone to college at Cal Poly Pomona and we exchanged stories of what he remembered of California in the 80s.

Once we reached Edinburgh it was time to pick up our rented wheels and make the 3 hr
We had to tryWe had to tryWe had to try

aaand.. it was just as we expected. Edible.. possibly good in it's own way, but certainly not, by any stretch of the imagination, quality Mexican food as the signs suggested.
drive to Inverness. It was an uneventful but beautiful trip. After a late night arrival at our B&B Michelle and Tony went out to get a bite before heading to bed. Anne opted to go right to bed. She said navigating from the left side was very exhausting.

The next morning we were up and out to explore Inverness after a lovely breakfast provided by our hostess. Inverness sits where the River Ness flows into Moray Firth on the coast. We walked a good bit along the river and then up and around the castle before packing up and driving toward Loch Ness. We planned to drive down one side through Drumnadrochit and then back up the other on our way to Aberdeen. We stopped to hike to a waterfall in Drumnadrochit and then went a little further down the shore to Urquhart castle.

Urquhart castle is a good example of what can be lost when historic sites were cleaned up before modern preservation methods. The ruined castle had many chapters in its life from Pictish hill fort to Scottish Castle to English occupation. It was built and rebuilt over the years with new
Consolation PrizeConsolation PrizeConsolation Prize

The food wasn't very good, but they had these excellent sombreros on the table.
parts sometimes being built right over older sections.

From Urquhart we headed to Fort Augustus at the other end of Loch Ness. The Caledonian Canal runs through Fort Augustus connecting Inverness in the east and Fort William in the west. It made a lovely place to eat lunch and watch the locks in action. The sun finally came out while we were there and we shared a lockside table with a pair of locals who had just finished the North Coast 500, a 500 mile road trip through the northern part of Scotland. It is reminiscent of Route 66 in the US. Tony thinks it would be a great trip to take one summer. After lunch we watched them load up the locks with a full complement of boats and then work their way down the locks toward Loch Ness. We also stopped in at a gift store to get a stuffed Nessie for Anne.

From Fort Augustus we let Google plan our route to Aberdeen. The roads in Scotland get very small once you leave the main roadways and much of our travel to the east end of Loch Ness was on single
First Class LoungeFirst Class LoungeFirst Class Lounge

Highly recommend First Class on trains. The waiting lounge has free food and drink, as well as being air conditioned (and, we assume, heated in winter).
track roads with passing places built at strategic points. Tony thoroughly enjoyed the drive. We passed by beautiful views and some very startled sheep. Some of the roads did not seem to be frequently traveled by tourists.

We made it to Aberdeen after about 4 hours of driving. Just in time to catch some dinner with friends from home who just happened to be in Scotland at the same time we were. We opted to head to an indoor miniature golf park over by the beach instead of hanging out in their flat. We also decided to walk rather than take the bus. It was the only time it rained on us the whole trip so far. So, of course, Tony and Michelle danced a bit.

The adventure golf was fun and Michelle pulled off a victory with a score of 42 while Anne came in 3rd with 47. Tony had a rough night and came in 5th. The area where the mini golf was located had a whole bunch of rides, arcades and other attractions. One that caught Anne’s eye was a warehouse sized inflatable bounce park called Innoflate. They were just closing
It's YorkIt's YorkIt's York

It's Not New
when we arrived on the boardwalk so we made tentative plans to visit the next morning.

The golf was fun but the long day was catching up with us and we had places we wanted to visit on our drive back to Edinburgh. We headed to bed planning to revisit the beachside before heading to Falkirk and Edinburgh.

Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 25


Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

We got a little closer to it later on, but never got inside of it.
Famous BridgeFamous Bridge
Famous Bridge

Anne and Tony watched part of a documentary on this bridge. It's the worlds longest of it's type (with a single row of cables suspending.)
OMG, a sweater (and a cow)OMG, a sweater (and a cow)
OMG, a sweater (and a cow)

This was the first time in the entire trip where it was cold enough to justify wearing sweaters. At a rest stop for a quick break, and saw this random red cow.
Inverness CastleInverness Castle
Inverness Castle

During our morning exploration of Inverness.
Inverness ArtInverness Art
Inverness Art

At a local church, some angelic statues.
Inverness Walking PathsInverness Walking Paths
Inverness Walking Paths

Inverness is really nice. Quiet walking paths, a fair, lots of old buildings and parks.
Off the beaten pathOff the beaten path
Off the beaten path

Why do normal tourist things when we can go hiking in the middle of nowhere?
Such a pretty WaterfallSuch a pretty Waterfall
Such a pretty Waterfall

Well worth the short, but steep, hike. It was slippery, and it hasn't rained here in more than a week. Wear good shoes.
But WaitBut Wait
But Wait

Let me take a selfie.
Return HikeReturn Hike
Return Hike

We took a slightly different path back to the car, and were rewarded by a casual walk down a small country road.

There are lots of sheep in Scotland
Urquhart CastleUrquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Beautiful castle right on Loch Ness. I believe it was in Outlander.
We love castlesWe love castles
We love castles

Tony made us stop for a picture, when all Michelle really wanted to do was go explore the castle.
I wonder what those were forI wonder what those were for
I wonder what those were for

So much previous restoration and rebuild has been done, that there is little evidence left about what different areas of the castle were used for or how it was originally laid out.
Living HistoryLiving History
Living History

Michelle has been hoping for a living history location... she got it!

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