Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Inverness, Scotland (Friday, September 28)

On Friday (day 2 of my Scotland adventures!) we visited Inverness. Inverness is located way in the North of Scotland, along the North Sea. The city itself is moderate in size, and is known for its highland scenery, access to the North, and (of course) for its proximity to Loch Ness.

The trip started out, as was our habit for the weekend, with an early a.m. train trip. This image is pretty much what I looked like on the trains the entire weekend. I would take a little Dramamine and read my massive, 800 page (though it felt more like 8,000 pages) anthology on the History of London (that's what I get for taking the upper-level courses here!). This gargantuan read (yes, gargantuan) is due in about a week, and I had a lot to catch up on.

Inverness itself was really neat. The city has a lot of history built in to it, and has done a great job of preserving that history. The city has also made an effort to get these really nice (and consistently labeled) plaques for all the old or historic sites in the city. I knew, every time I stopped at an older building, that I could look for the little green shield and read all about the site's history, architectural style, and significance. Kudos to Inverness' city administration for taking the effort!

Inverness also, as most cities, has a healthy shopping district that is tons of fun to walk up and down in between sight-seeing. There are a lot of touristy shops, but then there are some neat local boutiques that make the experience unique.

Speaking of unique experiences -- we were wandering down a street and out of nowhere heard this terrible, awful, painful, LOUD Screeching. It took us a minute, but finally we located the GIANT BIRDS OF PREY demonstration/booth and the two ENORMOUS owls that were sitting there screaming at passers by. Seriously, they're huge!:

You're not allowed to touch/pet/feed them, so I kept my distance - but stopped long enough to get a shot. If you look at my Inverness photo album, you'll see how red and evil-looking their eyes are... I was scared out of my mind - but definitely loved them!

At about 1:00 in the afternoon we met a bus in the city center to go out to Loch Ness for a pre-booked boat tour of the Loch, Urquhart Castle (pronounced irk-ert) and the "Nessie 2000" exhibit. As was to be expected the trip out there was absolutely beautiful, and the boat trip was even better. Loch Ness is the largest freshwater body in the UK. It's about 22 miles long and varies in depth - but the Loch itself is larger than all the other lakes in England, Wales and Scotland combined. It is estimated that the Loch could hold the world's population 3 times over - and still have room for a few mysteries ;)

Speaking of mysteries, you'll never guess what we saw!! I think this photo might be worth something:

I don't know... it's dark, shadowy, and appears to show some sort of creature swimming along in the background.... I might have something here!

In all reality, the Loch was absolutely gorgeous and I got some of the best pictures I've ever taken.

We went back to Inverness that evening after the various tours (the Nessie 2000 exhibit was neat, but did a good job of convincing me that Nessie WASN'T real... that was sad... ) Since we had had Italian the night before, we opted to stretch our international culinary experience even further by eating at a Czech restaurant. However, inside, we ended up eating Chili and Nachos, with an Irish Coffee for dessert and some rockin' 80's music videos on a screen above. So. It was Tex/Mex food, in a Czech restaurant, in Scotland, with Irish Coffee, and Boy George on the TV. Seriously - it blew my mind...

When we got back to the Hostel that night we ran into a bunch of other travelers... FROM WISCONSIN. It was a group of students from UW-River Falls, and one of them was even on the River Falls Forensics team! What a small world it is...

We unpacked our shopping bags and turned in early to get some sleep before our next big adventure. I was just thrilled that I had found the best purchases of the entire weekend:

Yes that's right - I bought a rubber stamp and some supplies IN SCOTLAND. If you're curious, that an "Outlines" stamp (where you can stamp it 5 times and cut out different layers, then stack them to make a cool 3-D card) with a big Snowflake in the middle. Everything at this craft store was 50% off, so I got the stamp for about $4.00 --- woo-hoo stamping!!!

And with that we turned in (shared a room with a 30 year old woman that was learning English and traveling all over the UK). We got up the next morning at 5:45 and hit the road for Glasgow...

For the rest of my Inverness photos, click here:
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KJ said...

I can't believe you experienced a craft store, McGonnogal's pub, an Irish coffee and wind that blew your hair straight up - all in one day! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

Anonymous said...

glad you are thrifty

Matthew said...

Well, I think other cities should follow Inverness lead and embrace their history.

Wisconsinites and Forensics? How bizarre yet cool.