In case you missed it, I'm currently traveling through Europe, exploring hidden corners and must-see spots in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the UK. I've been posting daily updates from my adventures on Facebook and Twitter, but in case you missed some of those, I've also decided to put together a weekly round-up to update anyone who's interested on what I've been up to for the past 7-ish days.
Here we go with Week 7! (With the days being cumulative.)
Just as happened in London, I got waylaid from my Edinburgh sightseeing plans by cooler things going on. I had planned to do a free 3-hour walking tour of the city and perhaps visit some museums, but instead went up to Calton Hill, visited Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles Cathedral, and saw a bunch of Fringe shows. I don't regret it, though, since all the shows I saw were great! I guess I'll just have to return to Edinburgh sometime soon for all the sightseeing.
Bright and early Saturday morning, I checked out of Haggis Hostels and made my way to the Royal Mile to meet up with my Haggis Adventures tour group. For the next 5 days, we'd be exploring the Scottish Highlands together in our Wild & Sexy yellow bus. As soon as I got onboard and met our driver and the rest of the group, I knew it was going to be an insanely fun 5 days. On day one, we visited the William Wallace Memorial in Stirling (no, he wasn't just a made-up Mel Gibson character!), met some hairy Highland coos, saw some gorgeous lochs, and even conquered a mountain in Glencoe (with the aid of a chair lift…). In the evening, we made our way to the small but pretty town of Oban, where we had a blast learning dances at a local ceilidh.
A “Highland Fling” with Haggis Adventures is just that — a true fling in the sense that you get to experience a LOT of Scotland in a short amount of time. On our second day, we had mock “Braveheart” fights on hilltops, visited Loch Shiel where some “Harry Potter” scenes were filmed, and toured Eilean Donan Castle, which is perhaps the most-photographed and filmed castle in all of Scotland.
Day 46 was all about the beautiful Isle of Skye. When I think “Scottish Highlands,” THIS is what I picture. Waterfalls, mist-topped mountains, and LOTS of green. Our guide, Andy, loves the Isle of Skye, and so took us to some of his favorite bits — which included short hikes to some of the most beautiful scenic spots we saw on the trip. From the Isle of Skye, we headed for our hostel on the shores of Loch Ness, stopping at a Scottish clans demonstration along the way, where two members of our group got to dress up in sexy traditional outfits. That night, we had an epic pub quiz/drinking extravaganza at Morag's Lodge.
After recovering from a rough night, we headed back out into the Highlands surrounding Loch Ness on Day 47. Our morning began with planting 2 trees in the “Haggis Grove,” which is one of the ways Haggis lives up to its pledge of sustainable travel. Then we hugged some trees and rocks and went to find the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie was quite elusive, but we did enjoy a cruise on the lake full of “proof” of her existence, followed by an incredible sunset. Then it was back to Morag's for another night of fun — this time including kilts!
Our last day of our Highland Fling was a slightly more subdued affair, with a trip to a whiskey distillery and a picnic beside a river since the weather was so nice. Then it was back to Edinburgh to say our farewells. I was truly sad to say goodbye to this group! That evening, I caught the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, which is a show full of bagpipes, bands, marching, dancing, and more in front of Edinburgh Castle.
This day marked the 1-week-left point of my trip, which is insane. I caught an early-ish train from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and eventually made my way downtown to meet up with Kasey and Max, two friends from back home. We had a fairly uneventful evening wandering around Glasgow, which was exactly what I needed — I didn't even take a single photo!
The Week in Numbers
Each week, I'll try to give you an idea of how I'm traveling, and what things generally cost.
- Number of flights: 0
- Number of trains: 4
- Number of times it's rained: Maybe 4 or 5 times; I've been lucky with the weather!
- Number of times I've nearly passed out from the heat: ZERO!
- Entry to Edinburgh Castle: $25 USD (way too much!)
- Student tickets to 3 Fringe shows: $36 USD total
- Hostel dorm room in the Scottish Highlands: $28-$45 USD
- Entry to Eilean Donan Castle: $9.25 USD
- Cruise on Loch Ness: $18.50 USD
Me with our yellow bus!
So there you have Week 7 of my European adventure! Come back next week for Week 8's round-up (the last one!).
If there's anything more you want to know about my weeks, tell me in the comments!
If you missed previous weeks…
*Note: I did receive a complimentary tour from Haggis Adventures, and was invited to stay at Haggis Hostels in Edinburgh (the BEST hostel in the city!) As always, though, opinions are entirely my own.