Scotland 6: Day 33

03.31.18 | Glasgow, Scotland | 23:27

Today has been a slow day. In fact, I don’t have a whole lot to report. It was hard for me to even stay awake on the train since I hadn’t got much sleep the night before. The room in Oban was full, and two of us four were snorers. I’m glad that the snorers were able to get a good night’s sleep at least.

When I got to my hostel in Glasgow, the first thing I wanted to do, after checking in, was take a nap. I crashed hard, and I think I was out for about three hours or so. This means that it’ll probably be a struggle getting some sleep tonight. Oh well, the nap was sorely needed.

Tonight I went to see the movie, Ready Player One. Unlike the last movie I saw, I really liked this one, and will probably be adding it to my library when it finally comes out. I often log into and play around in Second Life, which is a virtual world. It’s not advanced like the virtual world depicted in the movie, but I still think it’s a blast to be able to set up the world however I wish. Maybe some psychologist would want to tell me that it’s an escape from the “real world”… I would have to disagree since I really love the real world as well. This is a whole other blog entry on a different day.

For dinner, I got reservations at an Italian restaurant called Verona. You know I eat out (more than I should) and this restaurant had the best red sauce I’ve ever tasted! I don’t know what they put in their marinara, but it was really good- I got it with some chicken dish. Amazing!

Scotland 6: Day 32

03.30.18 | Tobermory, Scotland | 15:17

Today I’m thankful that breakfast is included in the price of my hostel. It’s not that it’s a particularly lovely breakfast, but this trip could quickly become way too expensive. I travel best when I eat a big breakfast, a small lunch (or just get something in my stomach), and a medium-sized dinner, although many people give me too much food at the night time.

I could save money by buying my own groceries, but in most of these places I’m visiting, I’m only here for a couple of days, and I really don’t want to walk around with groceries in tow- that’s just more to carry. It’s the little things that help, like the cold cereal that my hostel is providing.

I made my way again to the ferry terminal and purchased a round trip to Craignure on Mull. When purchasing a round trip here in Scotland, they call this purchasing ‘a return.’ In the states, the return is just the second half of the journey. If you ask for a round trip ticket, they know what you mean, but they may look at you funny.

I bought my ticket this morning without doing any kind of research because I was in the mood to be surprised. I figured if I googled anything about Mull, that would be cheating. The one thing that someone told me was that I would want to get on the bus to Tobermory.

Once I left the ferry, the bus to Tobermory was right in front of the terminal. It was easy, and I, once again, snagged the front seat to shoot some video of the landscape along the way. This was a double-decker bus, and every other passenger walked up to the top level. So the bottom tier was just the bus driver and me. We had a great chat on the ride.

Tobermory is a lovely little town. Now I’ve found another place that I have to come back and visit in the future! My list of “must-see” destinations in Scotland is continuously getting longer and longer! I asked the bus driver (I should have got his name) where I should bring lunch, and he directed me to the Fish Cafe on the opposite side of the bay. The food was incredible!

I wandered to an old church at the waterfront. When I entered, a woman was reading her bible in the front row. I didn’t want to distract her, but she started the conversation. She told me that she felt the need to study today since it happened to be “Good Friday.” I had totally forgotten that it was! We had a great chat, all about my travels and her life while living in Tobermory.

We were deep in conversation, and suddenly, her husband comes in with their two dogs on leashes (I had never seen a dog in a church up to this point). He announced to his wife, “Sorry for the interruption, but the time is right now!” He told me that he was referring to the very moment Jesus died on the cross- she smiled and nodded. They said that the savior was pinned to the cross at noon and stayed alive for three hours before he died. This I didn’t remember, or maybe I didn’t know. I guess I need to study the bible again.

I walked through the town, up the hill, and discovered the cemetery. Mull is one of my ancestors’ places, so I hoped to find the surname McLucas since that is my family name from this island. I know they left in the mid to last the 1700s, however, and the oldest stone I could find was dated 1810.

Oban, Scotland | 19:18

One exciting thing that was pointed out today by the lady that I spoke to within the church- not only were those who left the Scottish isles looking for religious and other freedoms, but they were actually being driven out by the English. The crown decided that they could make better use of the land by using it for sheep grazing rather than letting people live their lives. These people, and possibly my own ancestors, were slowly being pressured out by the monarchy. I wonder why the monarchy didn’t just give these families some sheep to raise for the crown.

The ride back to Oban was nice. Since it had grown overcast and the wind was getting worse, I decided to stay inside the ferry rather than go back on top as I had on the ride out to Mull. It was much too cold to be outside.

Scotland 6: Day 30

03.28.18 | Fort William > Crianlarich | 12:35

This morning went rather well. I walked down the hill into town and found some breakfast. The Crofter wasn’t open yet, so I went to the far side of the downtown area and found a Witherspoon pub/restaurant. I knew I wouldn’t be getting lunch today since I’d be on the train, so I got a big Scottish breakfast.

I’ve noticed that I am strange compared to other travelers. Some people use travel as an escape and are more reserved. I swear I will strike up a conversation with anybody. I have always been that way unless I happen to be upset or tired at the time. This morning, I met a couple from Dallas, Texas (not sure what they’re doing here because our conversation didn’t last that long), and a girl who is originally from South Korea, but she’s lived in Australia, England, the U.S., and now Scotland. Her accent was a funky convergence of all of these nations- it was inspiring and weird. I need to remind myself constantly that some people don’t really want to chat with me.

The rain started again, about the time my train left Fort William. Since then it’s been a combination of rain and snow. Beautiful, but I don’t really want to be in it at the moment. I hope Oban, my next stop, has some sunshine while I’m there.

Crainlarich > Oban | 14:27

It looks as if the bad weather is clearing up, at least for now. I just had to change trains in Crianlarich, and on my new train, they told me to sit on one of the first two cars, because on the journey, it splits and the back half goes somewhere else. This is confusing, especially when I’m doing things like reading, watching movies, or updating this blog. Ok- paying attention now.

Oban | 23:02

It’s so good to be back in Oban! This is the coolest little coastal city! When I first got here, it was still raining, so after I checked in to the hostel, I relaxed for a few minutes. Soon, it went from raining to partly-cloudy, so I was able to walk around and get a few pictures of the bay. Not a whole lot, since it was still pretty cold outside.

Scotland 6: Day 29

03.27.18 | Fort William Hostel | 23:51

The good news: The sleep I got yesterday was just what I needed! My feet and legs are feeling back to 100%, as I’d hoped they would. The bad news: It is raining today. I’m not about to go hiking up the side of a muddy mountain, especially not in the shoes I brought with me. Today might be all about reading and movie watching.

I did walk into town earlier to find some breakfast, and the rain was just starting as I’d arrived back to the hostel. I went back to The Crofter and ordered some french toast with eggs and bacon. They didn’t have syrup though. I’m pretty sure that syrup is not just an American thing.

On the opposite couch, a girl with a sexy Australian accent is eating very loudly. I’m pretty sure they teach manners down-under, in fact I know they do. I am, for the most part, a happy guy and there’s not a lot that gets under my skin. This, however, is one of my few pet peeves. Put the food in your mouth, close your mouth, chew said food silently, swallow the food, do not open your mouth again until it is totally empty. It also doesn’t help that she’s eating a salad- salad is extra loud.

The highlight of my day was being able to eat, once again, at Crannog Restaurant. This is a restaurant that I “discovered” two years ago. The main attraction for me was the cullen skink, which is a soup, much like a chowder. The main difference is that they use smoked haddock instead of clams. Thank goodness they still had it on the menu (come to find out, this restaurant has been around now for 25 years)! My main course was some kind of venison plate. I’ve noticed that a lot more restaurants serve venison in Scotland. I’ve had it plenty of times back home, but it’s not often found in very many restaurants- I wonder why that is.

Cullen Skink

Scotland 6: Day 28

03.26.18 | The Crofter, Fort William, Scotland | 11:17

The bus ride from Portree to Fort William was so beautiful, but if I could have dozed off, I would have. I didn’t fall asleep until after about 23:00 last night and didn’t sleep the best. A deep, recurring dream kept me from falling too deep if that’s a thing that happens. All I know is that when my 06:30 alarm went off to get ready, I wished I could just stay in bed.

My foot still hurts a bit from the 14-mile walk that I went on yesterday. It doesn’t help when you’re carrying a large pack, either. Still, I was outside waiting for the bus early, since I really wanted to get the front seat again. I brought chocolate in the event that a cute little mountain goat tries to board the bus again. I hope chocolate doesn’t make goats sick (or kill them) as it does with dogs.

My bus arrived in Fort William at about 10:30, and I made my way up the hill to the hostel. This is the same place I stayed two years ago, an old and quirky hostel. I loved it so much that I decided to stay there again.

When I walked in, I knew they were going to tell me that it was too early for me to check in, but the guy told me I couldn’t check in until 17:00! I told him that wasn’t the case when I came here two years ago but didn’t want to sound like I was having an argument. I just said, “Really?!” So much for my desire to take a nap after checking in. I’ll just sleep really well tonight.

I walked into town to find a place with free internet, and to get an early lunch. Unfortunately, they don’t serve the lunch menu until the afternoon, so I’m going to chill for a little bit. Later there will be walking and picture taking. I saw two graveyards already, and I’d like to check them out.

Fort William Hostel | 21:13

Lunch ended up being a really good burger that had a barbecue and pulled pork. I remember eating at The Crofter a few years back and remember that the food was good back then, as well. I decided that this called for dessert as well (like I need to make up excuses for eating desserts).

After sitting for a bit, my leg started hurting again. I hope that I didn’t do any damage from my walk yesterday. I decided that I would postpone the hike I’d planned. It’s too cold for a major hike, but there’s an old cow trail, up behind the hostel here that I remember exploring the last time I was here.

Dinner was at an Indian/Thai restaurant. I went in with a sense of adventure, hoping to order something that I had never tried before. I tend to order the same things, once I find something that I like- because that’s usually the whole reason I’m back at a restaurant in the first place. I may be craving that particular dish. This was a new dish, and even though it was good, it wasn’t as good as my go-to. Life is about variety, I guess.

Scotland 6: Day 27

03.25.18 | Portree Hotel | 20:04

When I was eating breakfast this morning, I decided to get a longer walk in. If you recall, my walk the other day to Loch Ness was cut short when my foot started hurting. I refuse to believe that my foot was the problem. Instead, I think it’s the shoes I’m wearing. That being said, after the morning rain was through, I decided to walk to The Old Man of Storr. Storr is about 6 1/2 miles one-way from Portree.

What a beautiful walk! It took me a few hours, and I even ended up with a nasty limp toward the end. However, the good news is that I know it’s the shoes and not the wrong foot because today, the opposite foot hurt. Nike running shoes are not the best, especially for long hikes.

Scotland 6: Day 26

03.24.18 | Portree Hotel, Portree, Scotland | 21:35

This morning I had to be up rather early, in order to check out of the hostel and catch the bus to my next destination. I walked into the bus station and purchased a steak pie and a Dr. Pepper. This would have to be a well-balanced meal because I didn’t have time to get the eggs that I’d been craving.

Once I located the bus, I lifted my heavy backpack into the cargo hold and boarded. I chose the very front seat- and this was a brilliant plan! I had the most breathtakingly beautiful views. If you ever want a beautiful drive, you need to drive from Inverness to Portree. I shot a bunch of little videos because the bus was moving a bit too fast for still pictures. The water you see off to the left is Loch Ness.

On our journey, we even came across some wild mountain goats. They crossed in front of the bus while we were parked, but one of the youngest in the group was a little too curious. As you can see by the videos, he (I’m assuming it’s a ‘he’) very cautiously tried to board the bus. Actually, I think he was hoping for some kind of treat from us- the cutest little guy!

Tonight I’m in Portree, on the Isle of Skye. This is a first for me, and can I just say that this is the coolest little (and I do mean little) town! I do believe that one of my cousins told me that she has ancestors who came from here. I went for a walk around the area before the desk clerk would allow me to check into the hotel.

Scotland 6: Day 25

03.23.18 | Inverness Hostel | 23:20

Over the years, one of my Inverness traditions has been to walk to Loch Ness. If my memory serves me correct, it’s about 6 miles from the hostel in Inverness to the northernmost end of the Loch. On previous trips, I’ve been able to get some awesome pictures on the journey.

Yesterday I thought I would continue this tradition, and I set out to do the same thing. Here’s the problem- about halfway there, my left foot started killing me. I ignored it at first, but it just seemed to get worse and worse. Soon, I was limping. I hope this is bad shoes and not old age.

Soon I had to give up and start my limp back to the hostel. I’m somewhat upset, but by doing this, I avoided being stranded in a very heavy downpour. So there’s the silver lining in all of this, I guess. Even though I didn’t make it to Loch Ness, I still managed to get some pretty beautiful pictures along the way- no regrets!

After resting my feet for a few hours, I was on the road again. I walked all the way to the cinema (my feet didn’t bother me this time) and saw Pacific Rim: Uprising. This was a fun movie. I really enjoyed the prequel, Pacific Rim, as well. In fact, I’ll have to add this one to my collection once it comes out.

Scotland 6: Day 24

03.22.18 | Inverness Hostel | 11:19

My hostel mate here in Inverness is amazingly lazy. I’m not sure what his deal is- here’s what I do know so far. He’s from Italy, and he stays in bed all day. I plan on getting to the bottom of this real soon. Maybe he’s on his own vacation and this is all he wants to do. I do enjoy taking it easy and even taking naps on some days, but I know I’d go stir crazy if I were to stay in bed all day. I plan on asking him what his deal is. You have the whole world to explore, and you can’t do that while you’re laying in bed.

After breakfast this morning, I walked over to the T.K. Maxx store. I asked the lady and she said it’s the same company as T.J. Maxx back in the states. I do wonder why the name change, but I’m too lazy to do the research. Anyway, I bought a cheap beard trimmer so that I can keep my manly facial hair under control. I don’t want to shave clean anymore because it reveals my fat face. Maybe when I lose the face weight I’ll try it again. Some guys just look better with facial hair (myself included).

23:06

Since the cold weather was creeping in, I decided that I would spend most of the day inside. I crossed the street to get some snacks and enjoyed some reading (understand that I’m not an avid reader, so the fact that this is happening is a big deal!).

Soon I was going stir-crazy and so I jumped l line to see what was happening in Inverness. Over the years I’d been to see some plays and movies at Eden Court, and I discovered that there were tickets for The Wizard of Oz available. It turned out to be a fun-filled evening!

Scotland 6: Day 22

03.20.18 | Thurso Hostel | 20:20

As I entered the hostel kitchen this morning, there was five guys sitting around eating breakfast in silence. Since I don’t do silence very well, I was the first one to speak up, “Where are you guys from?”. I got the chat going, as I tend to do. When I spoke with Samson, a guy who is originally from Uganda, he told me that he could tell I was from America before I told him. I asked if it was because of my accent. He said, “No, Americans will talk to anyone and they don’t know how to sit quietly.”

All the guys stated laughing, myself included. And what can I say? It’s true! I’d rather chat and make a friend than the alternative… although I’m not really sure what the alternative would be- since I’m always talking to strangers.

I left after three bowls of cereal (they are small bowls, so please don’t think I’m an over-eater). I was walking through town and thinking that I really wanted to get my hair died again. The “steel blue” that they gave me in Glasgow was now just looking white. I wanted something brighter and more toxic. So I was thrilled when I found an open salon with an available chair. So now I’m a redhead. The best part is the fact that she only charged me about $14!

I walked to the beach, since it was turning out to be a perfect spring day. It was a bit windy, yes, but the sun was out and it felt so good! After about an hour of walking around, I decided that I did still need my other coat layer and scarf after all. I walked back to the hostel to grab them.

On my way back to the beach I decided to stop and find some early lunch. I found a great little cafe/ sandwich shop. It was lovely! Their version of a club sandwich, which was close to the American version, only they added barbecue sauce. It was quite delicious!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the beach again. I would explore the shore, watch all the dog-walkers play, and I even got some reading in. I’m reading this book called “60 Degrees North” that I bought in a gift shop in Lerwick. So far the book seems to be quite fascinating. It’s a true story about this guy who is from Shetland and he travels all around the world to see what the other places that lie at 60 degrees north have in common with Shetland. It’s a lot better than it sounds.

I found a small steak/seafood restaurant right on the beach. I ordered a swordfish steak. So good! It had little pieces of chorizo sausage and the green purée that they used to decorate the plate was pretty awesome! I wish I would have taken a picture of the front of the restaurant because it was incredible! I will definitely be back on future visits to Thurso.