Our Scottish highland getaway

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
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Trip End Jan 10, 2013


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Saturday, October 6, 2012



There is so much we loved about Scotland, we were surprised by the amazing sights of the rugged highlands and disappointed we didn't visit more frequently when we lived in London!


We flew across the North Sea from Norway to arrive in Aberdeen just in time for afternoon tea. We'd missed lunch so figured it was ok to indulge in some delicious traditional fare of scones with jam and cream and sticky date pudding. Hmmmm yum.


Perhaps it was the shock of our hotel experience which led us astray? The lovely lass who checked us in told us we'd been upgraded which we are always happy to accept! She told us not to be freaked out when we went in there and that all of the rooms were ours exclusively. We kind of shrugged it off not really knowing what she meant. Thankfully there was a hotel worker to carry up our bags to the third floor... all 71 stairs to the top and he did so carrying both 16 kg bags in each hand!


At the top, slightly out of breath we were greeted by a small dining room (four chairs) and not one, not two but TEN closed doorways! It was a three bedroom apartment with a kitchen, two bathrooms, a lounge room, a very large broom closet, a walk in robe and the front door. Now we understood what she meant. Now big decisions to make... do we take the nice big bed in the front room (at the street front) or the smaller bed at the back of the building... we took the latter.


Fire regulations here dictate that all rooms must have automatic closing latches. It is really nice and it is such a luxury for us to have a bit of space as mostly the places we've been staying in are quite compact. Now if only Leigh could hear me when I call out to him!


Annie Lennox who grew up in Aberdeen was the feature of an exhibit we visited "exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, features costumes and accessories worn by Lennox together with photographs, personal treasures and awards, ephemera from the political campaigns she has championed, music videos and a specially commissioned video of Lennox in conversation." It was interesting to read and hear about her, I always loved her music but didn't know too much about her as a person.


Our drive through the highlands on our way to Strathpeffer was lots of fun! We had a little Golf and it was manual so we went (safely) hooning through the streets of northern Scotland. We really loved having a responsive car to all of the winding road we went through. They were mostly B and C roads for those in the know of British roads.


Now we've seen some interesting road signs in our travels around the world but "Caution Otters" was a new one. They not only have the signage but on the stretch of road we were on they also have 100 reflectors that are designed to reflect light towards any otters that might be approaching the road, causing them to delay their crossing. We also saw many signs warning of deer crossing and we we're unfortunate enough to see a bus almost hit a deer! I don't know how they missed each other but it was a miracle they did and would have caused a major incident given all of the other cars on the road. So when you see those signs warning of animal crossings... keep your eye pealed to the road.


Strathpeffer itself was a small town, only two pubs, but we stayed there to experience a nice old fashioned hotel.  We had our car so we did some drives to check out other towns and castles in the district. Dunrobin was the most standout attraction though we didn't do too much research. We had a beer or two at the Strathpeffer Hotel which were lovely but we did make a big mistake in eating there! We ended up with food that looked like it went straight from the freezer to the deep fryer to our plate... needless to say we did not go back for more!

 
We would never have signed up for a falconry display but as we arrive the Scottish old timer wearing a kilt advised there was one to start in 15 minutes... so off we went! We were bedazzled by the might and precision flying of these savage birds. The Falconer had these birds flying around between the crowd watching the display which was unnerving, you could feel the rush of wind that came along with them. Scary. I screeched at every swoop much to Leigh's amusement.  At least we knew they were after their lunch rather than us! 


Inverness was a lovely highlands town but our greatest adventure was driving through the mountains south of there. We drove through Loch Ness which I must say felt like a bit of an anti climax. It is beautiful but we didn't see any monsters at all except the ghastly touristy type.


We went on a bit of a pilgrimage to find some of the Macgregor clan and found Rob Roy's grave site (famous Scottish folk hero and outlaw of the early 18th century). It is rumoured that he, his wife and sons are not actually buried there but there is certainly a following to go and visit there. The small village is nothing really, a church, a cemetery, a pub and a few shops but it is idilic in it's beauty. We stood in the cemetery for some time just looking over to the mountains.


We had some delightfully good and horrifically bad meals in Scotland, I guess they are not known too well for their culinary treats. A highlight was going to Jamie's Italian restaurant for our last night in Scotland. You do worry going to places like this that it is not going to live up the hype but it did! Really nice, rustic and reasonable priced fare. Leigh had the grilled garlic & rosemary chicken with a tomato, olive, chilli & caper sauce... mmmm. I had a delightful finely minced black winter truffle with butter & parmesan cheese. Aside from the delicious food I really liked the way they kept it local, the beers were local draft beers and the decor was very much Scottish in flavour with a painted city scape of Edinburgh spanned the top of the walls near the ceiling. A great way to end our stay in Scotland... with a delicious feast.
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