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Published: October 14th 2015
Scotland in three words: castles, nature, rain. I think I spent the month in my raincoat! Rain, rain, rain. What would gorgeous nature be without rain. By the way, the flag automatically pictured with this post is NOT the Scottish flag. Humph. Should be blue background with a white X.
My trip began with 4 days in a rental car to Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, and other points in southern Scotland like Wigtown. Adventures included:
-Castles: In Castle Douglas I stayed at a quaint B&B and explored the Douglas castle, called Threave Castle. When you get to Threave grounds, you need to ring a bell and a boatman comes and gets you and rows you across a moat to the island where the castle is. I also went to Culzean castle and then Caerlaverock castle where I heard my first live bagpipes. Sweetheart Abbey wasn't even on the list but might have been my favorite of the whole month! And, those are just some of the castles I saw in Southern Scotland!
-Hikes: I drove to Galloway National Forest in Glentrool and did an incredible day long hike around a loch. I also stayed in the Mabie
Forest for two nights and hiked there as a way of being: post breakfast hikes; after dinner hikes; hikes with views; hikes among fields of sheep.
-Off the beaten path: Wigtown. I started at Bladnoch Distillery for a scotch tasting where I also bought a Douglas tartan plaid scarf. I asked for directions to the nearest bank. At the bank I learned about the varied GBP currencies, sweet talked the teller into selling me one of each, and then she told me about a witch burning stake worth checking out in the town. On the way to the stake, I happened upon a shop that sold quaiches and was also an engraving shop! Yes, I bought one!!!
After dropping off the rental car I spent the next 3 weeks in: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands and Outer Hebrides (north western Scotland) with a tour group, and at a yoga retreat.
Edinburgh highlights: I was there pre-Fringe Festival and caught a couple live music gigs. One was a bar in an old church. Unplanned great experiences also included: free walking tour, Scottish Parliament tour, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, St. Giles cathedral for a free string orchestra show.
Hidden Lane Tea Room, Clyde River cruise, Riverside Museum of Transportation, Tall ships exhibit, Kelvingrove Art museum, arboretum where I happened upon a Bagpipe and Drum group practicing for a couple hours! Accents in Glasgow are so thick! I had to ask one tour guide to repeat herself like 3 times and finally gave up. Funniest part was she had to ask ME to repeat MYSELF!
Group tour: I spent 6 days, 5 nights with a 12 person tour group in the highlands of Scotland. The tour guide and everyone in my group was very nice. In practice, I didn't like the Rabbies company philosophy on our housing during the tour. They like to spread the business out in each small town, so each night they dropped each of us off at different accommodations. I don't think we had any dinners together. For me having companionship is a part of the reason to be with a tour group. The places we visited were all incredible! We went to: Loch Ness, Ullapool, Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides on the Isle of Lewis, Callanish Standing Stones, Harris Tweed weaver's workshop, peat burning black "long house", Isle of Skye, Neist point hike,
Eilean Donan castle.
Yoga: Yogascapes trip. What luxury! We were on a property "off the grid" run completely on hydro-power from the raging river on the property. I slept in a yurt, in a bed meant for a queen. Every single day I sat in the hot tub which was in a geodesic dome! Homemade, bountiful vegetarian meals. Every other day we went on a group midday trip and on the other day we could relax or do a hike on the property. Have you ever done a hike and used all 5 senses? Key component: wild raspberries! Oh, and yoga of course! Yoga twice a day was very grounding and connected to nature for me. We learned lunar salutations which are more feminine to the more famous masculine sun salutations. Each day I left yoga class thinking about being kind and thinking about accepting things in nature and in life, like rain, rather than resisting or fighting them.
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