Anyway, this post is about my weekend up in Scotland. And by the way, I just went back and peeked at the entire post....hope you're comfy! This got rather LONG! It should have been at least 2 posts....but you know me.
And AWAY we go. We left to drive up Thurs after work, and got up into Edinburgh around 10pm. We were staying about 7 miles from the city center (cheaper hotel!). Turns out that 7 mile drive takes about 20 minutes. The traffic as you get into the city gets pretty horrendous, and lots of one way streets/etc.
Friday morning we took off for Loch Ness. That was the focus of the entire day. The drive up thru Iverness and down to the lake (doing a CCW loop) took almost 4 hours, but was pretty scenic as we entered the Highlands along the way. There was still snow up on the peaks and it was rather chilly as we got near the lake.
Our destination along the west side of the loch was the Loch Ness Center, which is pretty much all there is other than a HUGE lake. The center is nice as it gives you the details on the lake, along with the full (and honest) scoop on the hunt for Nessie, and whether she (it) could possibly exist. To say that a WHOLE Lot of money and time has been devoted to the search is an understatement. And considering that Loch Ness is the largest body of water in all of Great Brittan, well...there is a LOT of water to search.
It was a beautiful drive down along the lake, and south of the Center was the famous Urquhart Castle.
After we left the castle it was all lake as we drove, and drove, and drove.
Finally rounding the southern edge we headed east slowly working our way to a road that was hopefully larger than a 1 lane bi-directional road. As it as getting dark we realized how low our gas tank was. We also realized that we were in no-mans land and the only towns we were seeing were TINY. As the onboard computer told us we had less than 30 miles to empty (and by empty I mean EMPTY), we were getting rather worried. We set the GPS to get us to the nearest "petrol" station. Off the main road in another 1 horse town, and closed. Next station, another 1 horse town, this one hasn't been open in 20 years. Another few tiny towns and closed stations and the display showed we were under 10 miles before empty. We're REALLY worried now. We have no choice but to go where the GPS tells us as we know nothing about the area. One final chance, into another town. This one appears to be a TWO horse town...and as we descend from the main road into town we realize that we'll most likely never even make it back up to the main road if this one is also a bust. But THIS one was still open, HOORAY!
We now have a full tank (about 44 liters, roughly 10 gallons) and are good to go! SAVED by BP! We made it back to our hotel around 10pm, and that was our day. Up next is Edinburgh! We got up and out kind of late, and arrived downtown around 11:30am and found a place to park.
"Buried deep beneath Edinburgh's Royal Mile lies the city's deepest secret: a warren of hidden streets that has remained frozen in time since the 17th century. For hundreds of years the true story of the Close has remained untold - until now! In the company of an expert guide, you can explore this unique site and experience what it was really like for the people who lived, worked and died here".
Oh, and in case you were wondering, there was no photography allowed in the Close. You know, those 1000 year old rock walls are very delicate and can't sustain the repeated assault from photons apparently. Or possibly, being as it's dark, they wouldn't appreciate flashes going off every 7 seconds blinding everybody. I'll go with them being delicate.
I had a tasty Steak and Ale pie along with an unknown dark Cask Ale for my selection, all for around 10 pounds (about $16). That's about as good as it gets. And a bonus: NO SMOKING inside public places all over the UK! 5 years ago they didn't have that law, and you could barely see the people and your clothes had to be burned when you got home. This was a good law!
Sunday was our travel home day, but being as we missed the castle tour on Sat we came back Sunday morning. A little bonus we accidentally found out: FREE PARKING on the streets on Sunday! I can't believe it! A GIFT! Anyway, we toured, and toured, and toured. Hours. Taking dozens of pictures. I won't bore you with them here, you've seen the castle from the distance. However I will include these shots of the most remarkable place in the castle walls: St Margaret's Chapel. In 1317 (after the Battle of Stirling made famous by the movie Braveheart, which actually took place around 1297 I think), Edinburgh Castle was occupied by the English. Robert the Bruce and his army took it back, at which time they destroyed the castle as they didn't have enough troops to leave behind to guard it, and didn't want it used against them again. But they left the chapel, which is now the oldest part of the castle. All other parts were built after that.
Sadly, it was under restoration so we couldn't go inside. But imagine that this building is coming up on 1000 years old. THAT is impressive. Even more impressive that as you walk around the castle grounds looking at the rest of the buildings, they all look petty much the same (as in construction methods and appearance).
I won't bore you with the dozens (MANY dozens actually) of pictures I have of the castle and grounds, but suffice to say it was a fun tour and a fun weekend. Also it reminds me that there's NO PLACE LIKE HOME (even a home away from home rented apartment).
I'm going to be riding my bike whenever it's reasonable out. However the long range forecast has it raining from Friday all thru NEXT Thursday. Hopefully they are wrong. I won't be able to ride Saturday anyway, as I'm helping a new friend (local guy I work with) move that day. Possibly on Sunday too if necessary.
Have a great week everybody and stay warm (and dry)!