A weekend at the Isle of Skye (Part 1)

 

First off, the Isle of Skye is absolutely beautiful. The rugged terrain and picturesque cliffs make it a must see for tourists (and non-tourists) in Scotland. Once again due to a lack of car (and fear of driving on the left side of the road) I decided to take a tour to the Isle of Skye. This time I went with International Student Tours (ISUKTours). If your interested in the website, here is the link: https://www.isuktours.co.uk/. The trip was two days, so for this post there will be a part 1 for day 1 and a part 2 for day 2. This way I can add even more of the lovely photos I took!

Day one started bright and early with the bus leaving Glasgow at 8am. Once outside of the city the scenery is quite pretty, and you’ll get to see lots of adorable sheep and cows.

Town of Luss:

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Our first stop was at the quaint town of Luss which is located on the banks of Loch Lomond.  The town is very small but there is a footpath that takes you to the loch where you can take pictures from the docks. After that the path loops back through the main town area and ends at the parking lot where the restrooms are located. Be warned that you must have spare change because you have to pay to use the bathroom!

Loch Tulla and the Caledonian Forest:

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Our next stop was a scenic lookout point. The area overlooked Loch Tulla and the Caledonian Forest. The view was gorgeous, and the rain was kind enough to stop while we took our pictures (side note: always, always, always come prepared for rain. Even if it is the sunniest day you have ever seen, it could still rain. So, don’t be sad and wet and always bring an umbrella.)

Glencoe:

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Glencoe is a famous place for several reasons…1. It was the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in which 38 men and women of the McDonald Clan were murdered. 2. It is the site of many famous films such as Skyfall and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 3. The Three Sisters mountains are the best place to take pictures. However, the photo lookout point for the three sisters is very crowded due to a lot of tours. So when you see that perfect picture take it fast!

Fort William:

After so many photo stops it was time to break for Lunch. The town of Fort William was nice and had grocery stores if you are looking for a cheaper lunch option. There are also an array of pubs and restaurants.

Eilean Donan Castle:

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The Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in the world and has been featured in many movies, such as ‘Made of Honor’. The castle looks as if it is from a fairy tale. Originally build in mid 13th century, it fulfills everything that you thought a castle would look like. You can also purchase admission to view the inside of the castle and this is a popular tourist attraction. Unfortunately, due to time restraints we could only stop for photos but if I could go back I would definitely make sure to see the inside.

Kyleakin:

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After stopping at the Eilean Donan Castle it was a short drive to the Skye Bridge. This bridge connects the Isle of Skye to main land making it easy to access the Island. We stayed the night at Saucy Mary’s Hostel located in the village of Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. After arrival I hiked to the ruins of Castle Moil with some of the other members of the tour. You can also walk down to the ocean or check out the boats in the harbor. The perfect end to the day was getting to see the sunset from Skye Bridge.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Isle of Skye adventure!

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Discovering Loch Ness…

 

The place I wanted to see the most in Scotland was Loch Ness. The mystery of the Loch Ness Monster has always fascinated me, and I knew I had to see for myself what was so amazing about this place. Due to a lack of car (there was no way I was going to rent a car and drive on the other side of the road), I decided to take a tour to Loch Ness.

I went with Student Tours Scotland, based out of Glasgow, Scotland. This tour company is amazing. It is a privately-owned company run by a tour guide named Gary. He is absolutely hilarious and on the bus ride home he always plays bus bingo with prizes. I promise this is much cooler than it sounds. Student Tours Scotland offers a variety of weekend day trips for students and non-students. I recommend checking out their website at: http://www.studenttoursscotland.com/.

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Okay, now for the trip! It was fantastic! We first stopped in Invermorriston (slightly past Rort Augustus). Here we went on a short hike along the River Morriston. The views were gorgeous, I could not stop taking pictures! We parked in the parking lot off of road A82 directly across from St. Columba’s Well.  Then you can take a path from there to explore the scenery.

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Next, we backtracked to Fort Augustus for lunch (this is where Loch Ness is). Although I did not get to see the Loch Ness Monster (which was very sad I assure you) it was still great to see the loch and cross it off my bucket list! While I was there I also got to make friends and pet some highland cows (another serious highlight to my day).

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When you visit Fort Augustus don’t forget to take your picture with the Loch Ness sign located near the canal office. Also, if you want there are river cruises on Loch Ness available. These are located across from the Clansman Center.

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Overall, it was a great outing and thank you Student Tours Scotland for such a great trip! I will definitely be taking more in the future!

Happy Travels Everyone!

 

***Disclaimer: I am not responsible for external website content.

Top Attractions in Edinburgh, Scotland

 

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Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is the perfect place to spend a day (or more) while visiting Scotland. The city is rich in history and has many free walking tours for tourists. It is hard to see and do everything in this large city in a day, so I’ve compiled a list of some of the top places I have found to be fun to visit.

Edinburgh Castle:

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It is entertaining to spend a couple hours touring the buildings and museums housed in the castle. However, be warned that Edinburgh castle is a very popular tourist attraction and can become very crowded. I recommend buying tickets in advanced, as this will save you having to wait in line. Some top attractions to see here include the Scottish National War Memorial and the collection of crown jewels. For tickets and open hours visit: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/

The Royal Mile:

This street leads to the castle of Edinburgh and is lined with eateries, shops, and tourist attractions. Many free walking tours start here such as City Explorers Edinburgh. Although I have not been on one of their tours, I have heard that they can be fun and informative. For times and to book a place visit: http://edinburghfreetour.com//

Hike Arthur’s Seat:

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This hike is not long but it isn’t for the faint hearted. The entire hike is uphill, and by the time you get to the top your calves will be screaming. That being said, the view is worth it. The top of the trail overlooks the whole city of Edinburgh and the ocean. The whole hike took us about an hour and a half. Wear non-slip hiking boots as the trial can become slippery when it rains! The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh, is located next to the hike end point. After completing the hike we went to lunch at the café there and enjoyed cappuccinos with cute crowns designed in them. For more information about the Palace of Holyroodhouse visit: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse

National Museum of Scotland:

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First off, this museum is huge so make sure you bring your walking shoes. The museum hosts everything from medieval artifacts, dinosaurs (my favorite part), art, geology, and technology. It is also home to the taxidermy of Dolly the sheep. Dolly was the first cloned mammal and coming from a science background, I find this pretty cool. Also, the museum is free to the public! For open hours visit: https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/

Greyfrairs Church:

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This church house’s the cities oldest graveyard and was the final resting place of many famous people including the poet Allen Ramsay. It is said that author J.K. Rowling used the cemetery to find inspiration for the names of many characters of her books. Also, the cemetery is home to the loyal Skye terrier Greyfrairs Boddy. After the owner died and was buried in the graveyard, the dog refused to leave the grave site. A shelter was build for him after he refused to leave. Bobby lived there until his death 14 years later. A statue of Bobby was build outside the church in 1873. For more information visit: https://greyfriarskirk.com/.

These are a few of the many attractions in Edinburgh. It would take closer to a week to see all that Edinburgh has to offer. But, if you only have a day or two in Edinburgh I hope this list helps you narrow down what you want to do. Happy Travels!

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Top 5 Things to do in Glasgow, Scotland

 

Glasgow is one of the biggest cities in Scotland and since it is not as touristy as the capital, Edinburgh, it makes for a great place to spend a day. I recommend if you go to Scotland to make sure you set aside a day or two for Glasgow. This industrial town may not be as famous as the capital of Scotland, but it’s charm and friendly atmosphere make it a must see. After living in Glasgow for almost a year I have found that there is always something new to see, but due to time restrictions I will tell you the top five places I recommend going to while you are here…

1. University of Glasgow

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yes… I know…why do you want to see a school while you’re on vacation? Well, this school is an architectural wonder and looks like the school from the Harry Potter movies! Although it was not actually in any of the films (I double checked this) it is still one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Also, the famous cloisters are a great place to take pictures. The school also houses the Hunterian Museum and the Hunterian Art Gallery, both of which are free for the public. The school offers tours of the school or you can spend a day walking around the campus yourself. For more information about tours visit: https://www.gla.ac.uk/explore/visit/attractions/.
2. Kelvingrove Art Museum

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I have spent countless rainy days wandering the halls of this museum. The art is spectacular, and the building itself is awe inspiring. The museum also hosts a variety of artifacts including fossils, taxidermy, and an ancient Egypt room complete with a mummy. This museum is also free! For open hours visit: https://beta.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/venues/kelvingrove-art-gallery-and-museum.
3. Glasgow Botanic Garden

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The gardens are a perfect place to go if it is raining because they house two gigantic glass houses filled with a variety of plants. The large white glass house houses plants from around the world in its large center chamber. The other glass house has a different theme for each room. My favorite is the room that houses a large tropical pound. There is also a Tea Room on the grounds if you want some refreshments after walking through the gardens. For open hours visit: http://www.glasgowbotanicgardens.com/
4. Glasgow City Center (Buchanan Street)

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This large shopping area hosts a variety of tourist shops, eateries and street performances. It is within walking distance of both the Modern Art Museum, Glasgow Cathedral, and City Hall. My favorite place to visit in City Center is Glasgow Cathedral, but be warned it is a farther walk from Buchanan street so I would recommend taking a bus. During December most of the Christmas markets are also within walking distance from Buchanan Street. *Note: the photo above is of Glasgow Cathedral
5. Pollock Country Park

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This park is a little far from City Center, but it is worth the bus ride. The park has miles of walking trails, a golf course, Pollock Estate and Gardens, and Highland Cows! That’s right… they have adorable highland cows. I recommend spending a morning or afternoon touring the estate and gardens then wandering to the pastures that house Clydesdale horses and Highland Cows. On specific days they have meet and greets with the cows that are housed there! For more information visit: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/?articleid=16592

I hope you found this information useful and stay tuned for more fun adventures to come!

***Disclaimer: I am not responsible for external website content.