If you didn’t read about my first full day in Edinburgh, you can check it out here. My tour of the Highlands started at 8:15 am. I was very excited to go see the landscape of this great country. Before I got on the bus, I grabbed a cup of coffee. But the place didn’t have coffee. So I got a vanilla latte. How hard could that be? Obviously pretty difficult for this guy. He didn’t have the liquid dispenser so he just poured it straight from the bottle into the cup. I took about three sips and threw it away.
I walked back to the group and got on the very back of the bus and made myself comfortable. It was an 11-hour trip. The trip scoured the Highlands and made a few stops.
CALLANDER AND A LOT OF BREAKFAST ITEMS
We stopped first in Callander where people typically go to retire. It was a really quaint town. I went inside a bakery called Mhor Bread & Tearoom because there was a big line and it seemed like the place one should go. I was just going to get a pastry and coffee, but when I went to pay they said I had to spend at least 10 pounds (about $12) to use a card. Seeing that I didn’t have cash, I grabbed more than I could eat. Needless to say, I didn’t go hungry.
One of the pastries I bought was a steak and haggis pie (upon the lady’s suggestion). It was my first time to eat haggis and I must say that it was delicious. I also bought a fruit scone and two other fruit pies. I was telling people to order what they wanted. No one took me up on the offer.
We jumped back onto the bus and headed onward to the Highlands. We finally crossed into the Highlands and you can definitely tell a difference from the Lowlands. I guess that’s why they call it that. Makes sense. One is high. The other not so much.
GLENCOE AND THE MACDONALD MASSACRE
Next we crossed into Glencoe, which has a story of great significance to my mother’s namesake: McDonald (MacDonald). In the late 1600’s, the MacDonalds had held out in swearing allegiance to William III until the very last minute. They were to sign their allegiance by the end of the year (1692, I believe), but they missed by a few days. The king saw it as an opportunity to kill the MacDonald clan. The Campbells, another clan, were sent to kill all of them.
After coming to the MacDonalds during the dead of winter, they were welcomed into the MacDonalds homestead because it is a Scottish custom to help anyone in their time of need, even if they are your enemy. After a couple of weeks of eating, drinking and making merry with the MacDonalds, the Campbells instituted the slaughter. Only a few escaped and many of those died in the mountains due to exposure. Since then, there is a saying in Scotland that you can never trust a Campbell. There is still division between the two namesakes. In fact, it was proclaimed that as long as there are trees living in Glencoe, the Campbells will never be forgiven for what they did. The MacDonalds hold a tree-planting ceremony every year.
LUNCH ALL ALONE
After stopping close to Glencoe and hearing the stories by our really good tour guide, Ben, we went to Loch Ness. I was dropped off by myself for a lunch I had signed up for. I thought most people would have signed up for it. It was to offer the finest of local Scottish food. It was good, but unfortunately, I wasn’t that hungry due to my massive breakfast.
Where I ate was a nice little lodge with a beautiful setting. It would have been better had there been people in it, but alas, one can’t be too picky. I did eat what was provided (well, as much as I could). I received soup, bread, haggis, smoked salmon, cured venison, berries and sorbet, and Dalwhinnie whiskey (Dalwhinnie is a local distillery, which we passed later).
Everyone else went to Loch Ness. Some took the tour. Alessandro, a visitor from Italy, said I didn’t miss much with the tour. I took my time eating. I finished and went to take a few quick photos. Before our bus left, I decided to use the restroom since it would be a few hours before we stopped again. The lack of cash was again a problem. No cash. No restroom. So I ran back to the restaurant, did the business, and ran back only two minutes after we were supposed to be on the bus. Not too bad for a lack of cash. Had I just got on the bus, there would have been a longer and much more inconvenient wait.
ANOTHER STOP IN ANOTHER TOWN
I call it “another town” because I can’t remember what it was called. It was a small town. Ben told us to buy the whiskey flavored ice cream. I think that’s what most of us did. It was very good. The older ladies selling the ice cream were also very kind.
After ice cream, we headed back to Edinburgh. I can’t say enough about how good Ben was as a tour guide. He really knows his Scottish history, which I assume you have to be in order to have that type of job.
A STOP INSIDE CHRISTMAS
Before heading back to the house, I stopped inside a year-round Christmas store. This is another reason why I know I like the Scottish people. They love Christmas. I’ve seen several of these types of annual Christmas stores.