Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Flashback: Scotland

It's impossible to believe that eight years have passed since I went to Scotland with my friend Cherissa, especially as I remember the two weeks we traveled as if it was yesterday. But in mid 2002 I loaned Cherissa my copy of the book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which takes place in the Scottish highlands during the Jacobite Rebellion in the 1740's and Cherissa loved it as much as me (VERY much, in case you were wondering). And when she was done reading, she called me up and said, "Let's go to Scotland and see all the places that were in the book!"

Now, I'm not what you'd call a brave person. The idea of getting a passport, hopping on a plane and traveling to and around a foreign country scared the pants off me... but I said YES! anyway, because seriously, how could I not?

So we saved our moolah for a few months, then off we went. For nearly two weeks, we marched up high streets, trekked through castles, ate fish and chips, stepped in dog poop - oh wait... that was just me - and had an AWESOME time!

We started out in Edinburgh - prettiest city I had ever seen in my life!

I was googly over all the unicorns everywhere

While emailing in an internet cafe in Edinburgh, the alarms sounded and a loud voice announced for all of us to evacuate immediately because the building was on fire. I'm not sure why that was a highlight for me, but it was an experience that I obviously felt needed documentation.

Cherissa at Edinburgh Castle

The best thing about staying in hostels was definitely meeting other travelers... we wouldn't have seen the Old Packhorse Bridge - built in Carrbridge in the early 1700's - if it weren't for the recommendation of a bunk mate traveling from New Zealand.


Inverness Castle!

True Fact: This lovely building is Burger King.

In Outlander (the book), the main character goes back in time by touching the standing stones near Inverness. There she meets a sexy Scottish highlander hunk.

Cherissa and I tried to shove ourselves through the stones, but alas, no time travel or sexy highlander hunks for us.

But we did meet a highland cow!

It's a coo! A wee heilan' coo!
(that's how the Scots say 'highland cow')

Cawdor Castle
(think MacBeth!)

Culloden Moor - where the battle of Culloden was fought in 1746

And the wax figures in the museum brought it all to life before our very eyes!
(only they didn't move, so I had to shut my eyes to imagine it)
(which I didn't actually do, because imagining the battle of Culloden would have been awful)
(But if you want to imagine it, you should read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series)
(You won't be disappointed - the series is fantastic)

We went to a tartan mill. Very informative.

And sailed across Loch Ness in hopes of seeing Nessie the monster. Unfortunately, Nessie was photo shy that day, but we did end up seeing Urquhart Castle, which was neat-o.

I feel right at home in castles.

The Cia-aig Waterfall
Legend has it that a witch plagued the cattle of the nearby Campbell clan and was drowned in the water under the fall, known as the Witch's Cauldron. Creepy folklore is fantastic!


Doune Castle
(which you might recognize if you are a Monty Python fan)

Beautiful views from atop all the castles!

(Also, just a note: if you ever travel to Scotland with Cherissa and visit Doune Castle, watch out, because Cherissa is notorious for snapping pictures of smiling people (for example: me) in small dark rooms, and then shutting said smiling people inside said small dark rooms whilst eyes are adjusting to the flash. You have been warned.)

Loch Lomond hostel. A hunted mansion, by the way. Which was awesome especially as Cherissa started talking in her sleep (and by talking I mean having an entire conversation about Madonna and tea parties and how we supposedly had a tea party with Madonna that day) and we were the only two people in a HUGE empty room.

And did I mention the mansion was haunted? I thought Cherissa was possessed.

Cherissa at Stirling Castle

Our hostel in Stirling - a renovated kirk which came complete with a graveyard where the most recent gravestone was over 300 years old.

St. Andrews Cathedral

And, of course, I couldn't leave Scotland without buying a box of naughty Scottish toffees


After two weeks of non-stop travel, I was knackered. But I loved our time in the UK so much that a year later I signed myself up for the study abroad program in Bath, England. Never would have done my adventuring if it weren't for that book by Diana Gabaldon and that phone call from Cherissa! (thanks, Cherissa!)

Have a flashback of your own to share with the world? Head on over to Tia's blog and join in the flashback fun.

Happy weekend, folks!



Cherissa said...

I don't even know where to begin with my comment...I'll start with thanking you for choosing cute pictures of me! It brings a tear to my eye everytime I think about how hard we (ok, I) laughed when you stepped in dog poop, you were so mad, and I was so tickled...which sounds mean, but it was just so darn funny! But actually the most important thing to mention is: READ THE OUTLANDER SERIES! Greatest books! I think it is hysterical that the "highlight" for you (us getting rushed out of an internet cafe due to what I imagined to be a raging fire that was engulfing said cafe, leading to my untimely demise), was the catalyst of my first ever anxiety attack! I loved "hiking" the Wallace Monument...when you tried to convince me that you were actually and truly going to DIE if we had to go up one more step, AFTER we hiked up the hill that lead to the monument. It's a shame that those rocks didn't come through for us and deliver us nto the arms of a sexy highlander hunk...but ultimately we both found hunks of a different variety. Remember the secret garden at Cawdor Castle? So amazing! And the intriguing gypsy lady who lead us to Doune Castle....check your travel journal, what was her name? The haunted hostel in Loch Lomond was entertaining for you (after I went to sleep), but the ghostly sensation was dimished by the herd of German highschool students running up and down the stairs all night.

This vacation is by and far one of the highlights of my life! We balanced each other out so well, and laughed nonstop! Who would have thunk that 2 young girls like us would have had the guts to just do GO!? I thank you and Jamie Fraser! xoxo

beka said...

Ohh, goodness.
Lovely trip!
I read a series of books set in 17-1800's Scotland. (by Liz Curtis Higgs) Ah! I would love to visit that place someday:)

Jonathon Arntson said...

Wow, awesome post, M! I am jealous of it all. Will you go with me soon so I can find a man?

Elspeth said...

Ok, I'm insanely jealous. I've lived here all my life and I've only done a fraction of what you have.

Come back, and I'll happily show you some of the slightly less glamourous bits :D Honest, it'll be fun! heh x

Unknown said...

Cherissa - haha, I had to mention the dog poop moment just for you, because that black moment in my trip was definitely a highlight of yours!! :D

And oh yes, I did not forget the panic in Edinburgh... so glad you met those awesome girls from that shop!! And ahaha, I was laughing over the Wallace Monument photo of me DYING as I HIKE up a huge MOUNTAIN. Man, that trip was FUN.

Unknown said...

Beka - It was so amazing, and so fun to see the places in the book we read!! I definitely recommend a trip to Scotland when you have the chance!

Jon - Oh yes, definitely. You need a man with a sexy brogue, for sure!

Missbaah - isn't that how it always is when you live somewhere... you never remember to be a tourist and see all the awesome sights yourself! I can't wait to go back and visit... would LOVE to travel off the beaten trail and see the *real* Scotland!

Tia Colleen said...

Marisa, that is so awesome.

I'm sitting over here pouting, because I never dide any traveling. I've never been to a castle. Do your girls know you've been to castles? Do they freak out? Eleanore would die if she thought I had been in a real castle, haha. She thinks some of the buildings downtown are castles, and goes crazy everytime we drive past them, lol.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking of you two SO much lately! Rich and I took a UK cruise this summer and we got to see some of the places you visited. I adored Scotland and Wales and standing on Culloden Moor was so moving...I kept thinking of Jamie and Claire and wishing that I had much more time to explore. Since I didn't have that luxury, I came home and reread my Outlander (book 1) and intend to reread my way through them all. WHAT a series!!
Eileen F.

Wilvis said...

Lovely post Marisa! But lets be honest, Wales is the country to visit. We may not have the outlander series but we do have Tom Jones Greatest hits!

Missbaah, it's funny you should say that because when I was in Wales I never saw any sight or monuments or anything. When I met Marisa though, I wanted show her Wales' finest and Fell in love with Wales all over again!

Unknown said...

I have Outlander on my bookshelf and have NEVER read it, but I'm definitely going to now!!! I love your photo flashbacks. It sounds (and looks) like you and Cherissa had an awesome time. :-D

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