Scotland 5: Day 31

03.30.16 | Edinburgh Hostel | 23:49

My hostel in Edinburgh has been having internet issues at the moment. I originally posted this day right on time like the other days, but for some reason, my blog service has since lost the post. This is a repost, but since I didn’t save what I’d written, I’ve had to retell the story. If you already read about day 31, then hopefully I’ve added some more information. A lesson has been learned: I’m going to keep the notes I take about each day in the off-chance that this happens again. To quote a line from the song She Doesn’t Know by Michael McLean, my post was “…lost somewhere in cyberspace!”

What I do remember about day 31 is that there was another walk up Arthur’s seat. I managed to take a few more pictures while I was up there. This was perfect because there was hardly anyone on the mountain yet.


The absolute best part of the day was going on a ghost tour at night! This is where we went into the old Edinburgh underground, well after dark, where tens of thousands of homeless people had once lived, many years ago. The tour guide shared a story of when the city passed a law making it illegal to be homeless. Any person without a roof over his or her head at night was collected and shipped off to Australia, or worse. This is the reason that so many of the homeless people would end up underground at night- they were hiding.

Back then, it was also illegal to be the child of a single mother (like you had any control over who your parents were). The city council decided that all these bastard kids would no doubt grow up to be thieves since they didn’t have fathers to teach them right from wrong. In order to keep this from happening, the city officials would take the child from the mother and sell him or her to the orphanage to make the child work. Often these kids would have to literally work their fingers to the bone.

These underground passages were filled with so much disease that many of these homeless people would die. Their deaths were actually looked by the city as a way of controlling the homeless population. The limestone walls would slowly dissolve in the damp conditions due to all of the feces and urine that was being dumped into the streets overhead. This would drip down on these people.

In order to remove the damp caused by this waste, the people would spread tons of straw on the ground to absorb it all. This was done every 6 months or so when the seasons changed. It would get so dry and nasty that this underground world would become a major breeding ground for rats and other pests.

The tunnels had decent air ventilation but no plumbing. Because of these conditions, if there was ever a fire in the underground, it would burn hot and fast. The firemen and police would refuse to ever come underground to fight these fires. This was yet another way to control the numbers of the homeless population.

During our tour, one girl in our group actually fainted while our guide was telling us all these scary, sorted stories. At first, I thought she was planted in the group and that she was supposed to faint to make it scarier for us, but this was not the case. Another one in our group had been on this tour three times already and this had never happened while she had been underground.

The tour ended up at Greyfriars, a very old cemetery that was once the only place Edinburgh had to bury their bodies. Even though there are less than 200 graves, it was estimated that over half a million bodies had actually been buried in the small area. Years ago, they had the soil tested and found out that up to 2% of the soil was actually human remains. CREEPY!


Back to the beginning of Scotland 5 | Forward to Scotland 5: Day 32

Scotland 5: Day 30

This church that sits toward the top of The Royal Mile is now some sort of community building. I love it!

03.30.16 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 18:27

I left the hostel this morning and walked to the top of the Royal Mile to find some breakfast. I also wanted to find a specific booth a man had set up. I saw it yesterday, it was some beautiful photography from around Edinburgh- I spied one I really liked but didn’t want to carry it around with me so he told me he’d be back the next day. I never did find him, though. Hopefully, he’ll reappear tomorrow.

Breakfast was at a little cafe inside Deacon Brodie’s close. Brodie’s real life is believed to be what inspired Robert Lewis Stevenson to write Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a few years after Brodie’s death.


I walked down the length of the Royal Mile, stopping at Holyrood Palace at the bottom. I wanted to find out if this was the place that James II was buried. There’s a good chance that I may be related to this king on my mom’s side of the family. I found it once while searching for my own family history charts, but I’m having trouble locating it again. So either a correction was made to my family line, or I’m just looking in the wrong place.

Further research is needed. I asked one of the tour guides, and he told me that James II was buried here, even though most of the grave has been desecrated. I would love to see it day-after-tomorrow, as the tourist season opens on the first of April.

Next, I decided to hike up to Arthur’s Seat. This hike takes a little more time and is a little steeper than I’d remembered. Still, it was great to make the ascent, even with many tourists getting in my way. It was hard to get a good picture at the top of the climb because of the massive number of people on the mountain! I did manage to get a few, however.

When I’d reached the top of Arthur’s Seat, I ate this macaroon. Even though I do like Irn Bru, this combination was quite nasty!

And now we come to last night’s dinner. I wandered up Victoria street and found a really great French restaurant. I’m not even sure what the place was called. The main course was a seafood gumbo- delicious! My only complaint: I wish that restaurants would always de-shell the shrimps and prawns that they serve. It’s horrible to have to reach into a hot dish and make a mess of everything trying to disassemble the poor, delicious, dead creature.


Scotland 5: Day 29

03.29.16 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 15:50

It’s great to be back to my favorite city in the world (well, my favorite so far- there are many places I’ve yet to travel)! I love this place! It’s been too long! You know I prefer the country over the city, but still, I love this one! On the train over, I happened to sit by three high school students: Aydan, his sister Aila and a girl traveling by herself named Maricel. They were a blast! We all drank Irn Bru together, like best friends or something. Aydan and Aila were continuing their journey and live in Essex, England. Marcel was from somewhere in the Edinburgh area.


On my way to the hostel, I was coming down a steep hill, and since my pack is so heavy, I misstepped and fell on the sidewalk in front of plenty of people. I rarely get embarrassed, because I try to cover up whatever happened with a joke. I stood up, brushed myself off but couldn’t think of anything witty to say. So I just laughed at myself. Several people approached me and asked if I was ok. I smiled and told them all was fine.

Once I settled in, I hadn’t had lunch yet, so I headed directly to Monster Mash to get some bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes). This is a favorite comfort food of mine. When I got to the location, I couldn’t see the restaurant… did they go out of business? But they were so good! I was disappointed.

I decided to go into the restaurant that was in its place called Mum’s Comfort Food. Once inside, I recognized it right away. I asked one of the servers if this used to be another place. She said it was indeed Monster Mash before- same owner, same recipes, just change of name. The day was saved!

I wanted to do something, but my leg was starting to bother me a bit, from that nasty fall I’d had earlier. I went to the cinema and saw a matinee. The only thing playing at the time was Zootropolis. Ok I know it’s a kid show, but I really enjoyed it! Stop judging!



Walking back tonight, I decided to take a picture of the skyline. That is Edinburgh Castle on the right, plus the top of the Royal Mile to the left. I’ll take some better pictures soon, I promise.

Scotland 5: Day 28

03.28.16 | Inverness Hostel | 21:36

We’ll call today a “maintenance day”. It was time to get another haircut (it was such a great experience in Oban, that I needed a repeat performance). I found a barber shop in a nearby Victorian marketplace. He did an okay job. Not as good as the gal in Oban, but pretty good.

It was massage time. I remember the last time I was in Inverness, I got a really great deep-tissue massage and this is what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, the guy who gave me the massage last time (five years ago) was no longer working there. All that they had available was one of the female therapists. No big deal.

When I met the therapist for my “quick consultation”, just before the massage, I asked her if she could do medium to deep pressure. I told her I’d had better luck with male therapists in the past, just because they have been able to do the massage a bit deeper. I’m not saying girls can’t do a good, deep massage, but for me, it’s been much more relaxing rather then relaxing and therapeutic, if that makes any sense. She said she understood.

The massage starts and she asks me how the pressure is feeling. I’m thinking this is very, very, very light pressure, so I ask her to double it. She says ok and continues to give me the exact same pressure as before. Three separate times throughout the massage I asked her if she could apply more pressure and she said she would each time, but never did. It was weird. Usually, I only have to ask once, and then if feels like the therapist is applying so much pressure that I’m going to bleed internally. Not the case today- the poor girl just couldn’t do it. I finally gave up all hope and just relaxed and enjoyed it for what it was- a nice back rub. Bless her heart.

Next, I walked again to the River Ness since I’ll be leaving tomorrow for my next destination. I ended up back to Eden Court, where I saw a play called The Railway Children. This was put on by a company from York, England, but it was recorded, so I was watching it in the cinema. It was really good! I think I even got a little teary-eyed once or twice too. Just a fun, feel-good story.

Back to the beginning of Scotland 5 | Forward to Scotland 5: Day29

Scotland 5: Day 27

03.27.16 | Inverness Hostel | 21:41

Warning- this post gets a tiny bit religious. Read on!

Today was Easter Sunday- I celebrated by going to church. The service was quite good, with an impressive musical number by all the men in the congregation. I think about 13 guys were standing in the small choir seating area, singing a mostly-in-key version of Because I Have Been Given Much. It was great- I’m a big fan of music, as you probably know.

The bishop gave the lesson in Sunday school. He started to talk about recognizing the voice of the Savior. This was quite interesting when he used me as an example. He pointed to me and told the class that there was no way he wouldn’t recognize my voice. It was my accent, which let him know that I was from America, how he loved the sound of my voice. He went on to make his point about recognizing the voice of Jesus in other people.

After the lesson was over, he shook my hand and thanked me for letting him use me as an example (like I had a choice- haha). I told him that was fine- I explained that the things he said meant a lot because I have never liked my speaking voice. This is something that I have struggled with over the years. I told him that one day it dawned on me that yes, I hate my speaking voice, but my singing voice, on the other hand, is something that I’ve always enjoyed.

I’m not trying to sound egotistical- that’s the last thing I want to do. If you’ve heard my voice and you don’t enjoy it, that’s ok. But this lesson was for me- I love to sing. I love the sound of the singing voice I have been given, and I love to share this with others. He asked me why I didn’t come up and sing with the men in for the musical number. I told him that I didn’t want to invite myself up. After all, I hadn’t been in the area during any of the practices. I didn’t know what they were doing with the arrangement, etc. Plus, it was nice to sit back and enjoy the music with the rest of the congregation.

He then tells me that I need to sing for them and asks me if I’ll come back sometime and sing in church. Heck yes! I tried to remain calm and act like this kind of thing happens to me all the time. I’m not sure when Scotland 6 will take place yet, but I now know that Inverness will be on the route. How cool would it be to add “International Gig” to my music resume?

Scotland 5: Day 26

03.26.16 | Inverness Hostel | 21:19

I’m walking by the river ness on a stretch of the street called Ness Walk, actually. I glance over and see this glass building called Eden Court. It looks interesting so I walk up to it to find out what it is. Turns out this is a place for cinema and performing arts, also there is art on display and a cafe/restaurant. I walk inside and there are a lot of people in the lobby.

I go up to the ticket counter and ask when the next event is. They tell me it’s a musical called Me And My Girl and the next one starts in a few minutes. I ask the guy if it’s good and clean and he said it is. I ask him if there are any seats available and if so, how much would it cost. He says there are a few seats still for sale and one would cost me £19. He had me at ‘musical’. I purchase the ticket.

When they open the doors, I go in and find my seat. I notice that I’m sitting in the middle of about 30 elderly ladies. Awkward? Not really. One of the ladies sitting next to me shakes my hand and tells me her name is Laura. She tells me that the only reason I was able to sit with their group is because one of their friends had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t make it. So they turned in the extra ticket that got sold to me.

During our chat, I find out that this group of ladies call themselves The Aqua Girls. I was thinking that this may be something like The Red Hat Society but I find out that it’s all senior citizen ladies who happen take a water aerobics class together. She told me that since I was sitting with their group, they were going to make me an honorary member. So I’m happy to announce that I am now one of The Aqua Girls, a badge I will wear proudly.

Me And My Girl was a fun play- even if I wasn’t enjoying it quite as much as the other Aqua Girls. Every time a song would start I would see their heads start bobbing, and some of them even singing along or clapping their hands in time. I was actually quite entertained by watching all the head-bobbing. The play wasn’t bad but just seemed to be another twist or variation of My Fair Lady. The actors weren’t professionals, but were at least high spirited! Great fun!

Back to the beginning of Scotland 5 | Forward to Scotland 5: Day 27

Scotland 5: Day 25

03.25.16 | Fort Augustus, Scotland | 07:38

I’m sitting in my bed, hoping that the ‘clacking’ of my keyboard doesn’t wake my two hostel roommates. One is a girl from Florida who is currently attending University in Dublin, Ireland. She told me that she has a few days off, so she’s traveling through Scotland with two of her friends. The weird part is that she arrived yesterday and spend the entire afternoon in the bedroom, reading or working on her computer. Maybe she has a class assignment due. There’s not a whole lot to see here, but there are a pretty loch and a few restaurants, at least. I wonder if her two friends are staying at another hostel.


The weather today is perfect! There is no cloud in the sky- this is the first day on my trip that I don’t have to wear even a light jacket! I just walked down and grabbed some breakfast, and said goodbye to the sweet old ladies who fed me for the last three mornings. They wished me a safe journey.


I guess the good weather was short-lived. I’m watching as clouds are quickly rolling in. It looks like rain.

Inverness, Scotland | 15:50

I just took a walk around part of Inverness and took some pictures, mostly of old churches. I love love, love churches, especially old ones



The Inverness hostel is just as I remember it. The only change I can see is that the piano has been moved to the other side of the common room, and it needs tuning. Oh- and the staff has changed. Andre, the current manager, tells me that they tend to change up staff about every 4 to 6 months. He says in another four months he’ll probably move to another hostel with the company. I think that would be a sweet job! Think of the number of people you’d meet!

I met a guy staying here named Grant. He’s originally from British Columbia but is living here now and working for some restaurant. We decided to see Superman vs. Batman at the cinema last night. I had such a hard time staying awake during the movie. I never actually fell asleep but did catch myself trying to yank my leg hairs out in an attempt to wake myself up. It was brutal! I thought the movie was good, but I will most likely see it again when I have some energy. In my mind, there is a HUGE section of the plotline that is missing.

Scotland 5: Day 24

03.25.16 | Fort Augustus, Scotland | 07:27

Yesterday was a very laid-back kind of day. I had planned on following one of the nearby trails to take some pictures and take in some nature, but when I woke, it was raining hard. I walked into town to find some breakfast and realized that I didn’t want to be out in the weather. I just wasn’t feeling it. After eating, I headed back up to the hostel to wait it out a bit.

The rains stopped by mid-morning, but it stayed just as cloudy, and I didn’t really want to change it and try to make my way down a muddy trail. I decided that I would spend the day indoors. It got boring- thank goodness for movies.

By late afternoon, it was looking good again, so I went out to find some dinner. I had an excellent lamb shank. So here’s my question: Are baby lambs treated the same way as baby calves are- that are used as veal? I have rarely ordered veal because one of my nieces told me that the calf is poorly treated. So, where do you draw the line? What’s acceptable and what isn’t- in your opinion? I know that animals are here for the use of humans, but what’s your stand?

Wow- this post just took a dramatic turn, right? Anyway, last night I took a few pictures of the loch after dinner and headed back to the hostel. I sat and chatted with a girl who is from Oregon. She has quit her job (not sure why) and is trying to travel the world at the moment (this I can totally relate to). I asked her if she was blogging about all this, and she said she had a blog, but she has only posted to it once so far. I’d love to follow her blog- but since she never posts… oh well.

Scotland 5: Day 23

03.23.16 | Fort Augustus, Scotland | 19:08

Today was simply incredible! I left the hostel at about 09:00 and had planned on booking an hour ferry ride on Loch Ness. Years ago, I did this from the Inverness (north) side, and it was a really great experience. When I approached the ticket office, I noticed that there was one ride that offered a 90 minute trip on a speed boat that went all the way from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle and back. I thought this would be better.

I told the guy behind the counter that I was interested in the 10:00 90-minute ride and he said that one had to be canceled since there weren’t enough people interested. Instead, I purchased the noon ride.

I found a restaurant and went to get some breakfast. As I approached, I turned back around and saw a bunch of people getting onto the ferry for the 10:00 ferry ride, and the guy who I had just spoken with was the one letting them on. This confused me- he had just told me it was canceled. I thought that maybe this was a private group and they’d chartered the ferry for them self. Still, why would he lie to me and tell me that it was canceled for lack of interest? I was determined to find out the answer. I decided that once I was done with breakfast, I’d go back and ask that same guy what the situation was. I was going to be nice but needed an answer.

After breakfast, I crossed back over the street and approached the guy behind the counter. He informed me that that was the hour tour and that since I requested the 90-minute tour, that’s the reason. Ok, it’s all clear now. All is well!

Let me tell you- I am so glad that I waited for the noon ride! This was no leisure float on Loch Ness- this was stinking awesome! Our guide was a man named Marcus. I think he said he’d been doing this for 22 years or something like that- so he knew his stuff! He was funny and interesting and all that. He told us he was a bit rusty because their season had just started 3 days ago and we were the very first group he’d taken out on the water so far














Not only did I get some a few pictures, but I shot some video! This afternoon I spliced them all together I have entitled this Loch Ness Tour. Make sure your volume is turned up! Enjoy!

Scotland 5: Day 22

03.22.16 | Aberdeen > Inverness Train | 09:22

IMG_0748 (2).JPG

Another steeple, as I am walking to the train station in Aberdeen,

I checked out of the hostel in Aberdeen just after 06:30 to get to an early train. I found breakfast at the train station: The Pumpkin Cafe. A breakfast sandwich that had been sitting in a cooler. I could taste that it hadn’t been made in the last 2 or 3 days. A danish with chocolate chunks and a bottle of Ribena washed it all down. If I recall, Ribena was one of my friend Colee’s favorite parts of the United Kingdom when we visited years ago (this trip was my very first visit, back in 2002).



I just passed through the town of Keith. I have dear friends who told me they are coming to Keith sometime soon. My advice to them is to bring your own entertainment- Keith looks like a very small village, at least that’s my perspective from a train passing through.

Fort Augustus Hostel | 18:19

Once I arrived in Inverness, I walked down the street a few blocks to the bus station where I purchased the fare to Fort Augustus, yet another destination I’ve never been to. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous at what it’d be like, the bus driver kept referring to it as “Fort Disgust-us”.


The road from Inverness to Fort Augustus follows Loch Ness.

Thankfully, Fort Augustus is anything but disgusting. I actually love this small town on the beautiful Loch Ness. Before you ask, yes I have seen Nessie earlier today. We hung out.

Fun fact: The guy who served me my fish n’ chips at lunch looks just like Jared from Subway. That is to say, child-molester Jared from maximum security. It was a bit freaky. Picture Jared but with a Scottish accent.


The hostel is a pretty big house, and there seems to be a large group of students staying here who are very loud. I may be forced to hurt somebody. I have three other guys in my room, all of them are staying here long term and working in the town. In my mind, they would have much better options if they moved to one of the cities instead. But what do I know?

Back to the beginning of Scotland 5 | Forward to Scotland 5: Day 23