Fort Augustus to Lewis (With Photos!)

Trip Start Jun 23, 2010
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49
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Trip End Oct 08, 2010


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday 24th August

Haggis itinerary:

'This morning we took the 'Road to the Isles' with a stop at the Corrieshalloch Gorge, a breathtaking mile long gorge set amongst the trees before we arrived in the wee fishing village of Ullapool.  This evening we took a ferry to the Western Isles.'


OK, so before discussing the events of the day let me introduce to you the crew, well the people who I remember from the tour anyway. Some have already been mentioned but I want to give a run down here so I don't have to continually introduce new people to the stories. So here's the people you know (if you've read the previous few entries):
- Russ
- Deanna
- Mel
- Justin (Stinky)
- The Trunch
Here's the rest of the crew:
- Chris (Tour guide, good bloke, loads of knowledge about Scotland, great story teller).
- Analise (Really nice girl, but also really crazy. She was given the nick name 'Fairy girl' as she was always talking about fairies and was also off with the fairies. Her standard attire (regardless of what activity we were taking part in - which included walking through mud, on cobblestones, through fields and other uneven or slippery surfaces) was high heels, a floral skirt and then a hoodie. When I wasn't drinking one evening (she was), her response was to tell me to, 'just pretend that you're flying to make up for not drinking'. Weird, but completely harmless and actually very interesting to talk to cos of some of the stuff she came up with. 'Quirky' would be the best describing word.
- Anna (German girl, really nice and as we found out later on, amazing singer)
- Wendy (From Oz, we had some good chats about travelers as opposed to tourists)
- Bruce (South African, good bloke)
- Peter (Mid 50's, from Oz, very patient)
- Peter's wife (Mid 50's, from Oz, talked for ages about anything and everything and all her stories went no-where and seemed to have no point. She struggled to get through the last few days of the tour cos she was so tired, but the way I figure, she was doing a tour aimed at 18-35 year olds, so only had herself to blame).
- Other Peter (Irish but lives in Oz, 70's, plays the bagpipes at absolutely every single bloody opportunity he gets. This was a cool novelty at first but by the end of tour it was pretty annoying. I love the bagpipes, but in small doses and credit to this guy for having a go, but he wasn't much good).

I can't really remember any other names but here are some of the others:
- American guy (hooked up with one of the Aussie girls)
- Aussie girl 1 (hooked up with American guy and was always laughing way too hard at his jokes, which was a bit annoying after seven consecutive days of hearing it).
- Aussie girl 2 (friends with Aussie girl 1)
- Other South African guy (not Bruce, seemed OK, just quiet, but then he tried to exchange details with Mel on the last night after not even speaking to her at all for the entire trip, which is kind of weird....he said he'd, 'add her on facebook').

OK, this is where I pause and rant about how shit facebook is. If you like someone then grow some balls and actually go and speak to them. I genuinely think that people hold back from making real contact with others because they know that if they don't, they can always resort to the, 'I'll add you on facebook' line as a lame attempt to stoke up some kind of connection with someone they don't even know, but actually had a shit load of opportunity to get to know. Facebook can be great and can allow people to stay in touch with many people who they otherwise wouldn't - when used in this way it can be really useful. But don't use the thing as a dating tool, because doing so just makes you look like a tool yourself. I understand the irony of me using written communication to say this, but written communication is the least honest form of communication that we have, because it's so easy to lie - both passively and actively - using writing. Verbal communication is much more honest, but non-verbal communication is the most honest of all....you can't lie with a reaction, it's real. Written communication has it's place, I'm using it now to make a point, but I just hope that verbal and non-verbal communication is not completely replaced by the written form. It seems that some people avoid making actual contact because they can 'fall back' on the written communication that is made available by technology. Like I wrote before, used in the right way it can make life a lot fuller, but used because you're lazy or for some other lame reason, it's just shit.

OK, rant over, let's continue:
- Jess Schipper look alike (no description, we didn't speak for the entire trip)
- Jess Schipper lookalike's friend (see above description)
- Malaysian guy (really nice, but quiet guy....chewed with mouth open)
- Yen (Japanese girl, again really nice and quiet, but chewed normally)
- The Trunch's traveling partner (another guy from South Africa, the poor bloke, don't know how he managed to put up with The Trunch, or for that matter, why he wanted to....it's a mystery. He snored heavily).
- Negative girl (From Oz, teacher, negative (very), enjoyed complaining and also taking about herself)
- Lucy (From Oz, nice girl, seemed as tho Chris was pretty keen to have a crack, for all I know he may have).
- 2 others who I can't think of right now.
So there, in a nut shell, is the Haggis crew. Now lets continue......

Today we had a couple of walking/photo stops and took in some of the cool scenery. On the road to Ullapool the scenery changes really suddenly from forests and mountains and lakes and rivers to barren nothing...just rocky outcrops and some grass. Really dramatic change that was quite cool to witness. Once in Ullapool we went to a beach to skip some stones. Russel and I made up a cool game that was called, 'smash large rocks with even larger rocks', which was great fun. I could have stayed smashing rocks all day but we had a ferry to catch. We boarded the 2.5 hour ferry to the Isle of Lewis in the late arvo and then played cards on the trip over. Once in Lewis we found our hostel and then went to the local pub. It was pretty clear that we (when I say we I mean Russ, Deanna, Mel and me) had kind of been outcast by most of the rest of the tour so we wanted to make a real effort to try and make some friends. I don't think that most of the others did it deliberately, I think they just figured that we had our group so they'd leave us too it. After an hour or so at the pub it was pretty obvious that things weren't really going to change, so we decided to head to Tesco, buy cheaper alcohol, and the drink at the hostel instead. But Tesco stopped selling alcohol at 10pm, it was about 10.30 when we got there. So we figured that if we couldn't have alcohol, we'd have ice cream instead. There were packs of 4 cornettos for 1.30 so I bought a pack and ate all four pretty quickly, amazing! After our fix of ice cream it was time for bed. Another really cool day and I was really looking forward to exploring the Western Isles of Scotland over the next few days, couldn't wait to see what they had to offer.


Wednesday 25th August

'Today we visited the stunning Callanish Standing Stones, Neolithic in age and dating back more than 4000 years. Less busy than Stonehenge, these are said to be some of the most impressive and inspiring of any of the ancient stones in Britain. These Hebridean islands are predominantly Gaelic speaking and have an unbroken culture dating back thousands of years.'

The standing stones were amazing. They are in the shape of a Celtic Cross but they were erected around 3000BC, which is about 3500 years before the Celtic Cross came in to being, so there's a lot of mystery surrounding them, the people who put them up and what they were used for. They were covered in years and years of dirt and heather until quite recently when they were excavated. The fact that they were buried for a long period means that they are pretty much complete as no one has had the chance to knock them down.

After the standing stones we did a loop of Lewis and took in the scenery. We stopped at a massive old round house, which we got to climb. It was pretty high, but Analise still climbed to the top in her heels, crazy girl. This was part of Scotland I'd never been to before so it was interesting to see what it's like. It was definitely worth the trip, the place is very different, both in scenery and in culture. The Western Isles of Scotland were occupied by Vikings, so the Viking culture has rubbed off on the locals, who are already very isolated and have their own unique way of life. The scenery is mainly barren, not in a bad way tho, and some of the landscapes are very interesting and rugged.

In the evening we (again Russ, Deanna, Mel and I) played drinking Monopoly. We came up with the rules throughout the day. We invited many of the others to play too, but we were declined on every account. The rules:
- Normal Monopoly rules apply for the game play
- Drink every time you pass go
- Drink every time you buy a property
- Everyone drinks when you buy your first house (house warming)
- You drink every time you buy an additional house or hotel
- If you land on someone else's property you drink
- If the property has houses on it you drink the same number of drinks as there are houses (hotels equal 5 drinks)
- If you land on your own property you nominate another player to drink (if your property has houses the person you nominate must drink the same number of drinks as there are houses, again hotels are 5 drinks)
- If you go to jail you drink half a glass
- If you land on free parking you nominate another player to drink half a glass
- If you land on waterworks you drink half a glass of water
- Train stations are dry zones (no drinking if you land on them whether they're owned or not, but you drink when you buy them and if you land on your own station you can nominate another player to drink).
- If you point with your finger you drink (pointing with elbows only)
- If you accuse someone of needing to take a drink when they don't have to, you drink.
- At any time another player can be nominated to drink and if the majority of the other players agree, the nominated player must drink.
- New rules can be added at any time if all players agree

I think that's about it....oh, no there are a few more:
- One drink equals a mouthful
- The game finishes when the first player goes bankrupt. The winner is the person with the most overall wealth (money and properties) at that time.
- The loser must drink half a litre of melted ice cream.
Let's repeat the last one:
- The loser must drink half a litre of melted ice cream.
I lost! So I downed half a litre of melted ice cream. I'd already consumed a fair bit of junk during the day and for dinner alone I ate a large pizza, garlic bread and three bowls of regular ice cream. Then there was all the drink that went with the drinking Monopoly, then half a litre of melted, chocolate fudge, ice cream.....it was actually pretty damn good and I finished it all. Hardly a punishment for losing! After Monopoly we played a few more drinking games, then bed sometime in the early hours. Bloody good day.

Cheers, photos up soon,

Mark
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