Scottish Diaries pt 1
It's always been a dream of mine to go to Scotland, mostly because of Braveheart, but also because of all the dreamy pictures of the landscape contrasted with the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh. With such a rich and interesting history, I was so excited to see some castles and maybe some men in kilts. So, even though it was a while ago, I thought I would share some highlights from the trip and talk a little bit about each city that we got to explore.
Inverness was the city I knew least about, other than the fact that Nessie lived near by, but it ended up being the perfect first (and last) stop. The Hostel we stayed at, the Bazpackers Hostel, was centrally located to McDonald's (priorities, am I right?) and within walking distance from restaurants and grocery stores. The river Ness also ran right next to the hostel, making for some pretty sweet views. If you haven't stayed at a hostel before, I would highly recommend giving it a try. While staying there my brother and I met two girls from Holland and overall really enjoyed the atmosphere of the place. It's such a fun experience being able to meet people from all over the world and connect over a mutual love of traveling. Definitely don't sleep on this city, we had so much fun walking by the river, eating tapas across the street, and hitting up the pub down the block.
The Cairngorm Reindeer
In the hostel in Inverness, myself and the two girls from Holland were trying to figure out what to do the next day. I found a brochure for the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, a nature preserve where you could feed the only free ranging herd of reindeer in Scotland. This experience was one of my favorite moments of the trip. We learned about how the reindeers were introduced by a Swedish couple and that the area where they live is the only place in the UK that they could survive in. The history was really quite fascinating, but of course the best part was interacting with the reindeer.
We only interacted with the females of the herd, being told they were better with tourists then the male reindeer, and there were a few calves too that were very adorable and excited to see us. It was a really fun day and I would highly recommend putting this on your list of things to do in Scotland. The drive there and back was pretty easy and only took about an hour. On the way back we stopped at Happy Haggis and enjoyed some Scottish cuisine, I went for the fish and chips and was not disappointed.
On the way to Fort Williams is Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness. If you go during the warmer months you can do a boat trip around the Lake and view the castle from the boat. Definitely make sure to check the times that the last people are allowed in as we came a little too late. It was still cool to see, but it would've been nice to explore the inside. I guess we'll just have to go back again!
Driving from Inverness to Fort Williams was slightly terrifying. The majority of Scotland's roads are narrow and full of potholes and this section of our road trip was no exception. It also featured some fun hairpin turns. So if you're considering driving around Scotland, take into account that their roads could be drastically different than what you're used to. Planning ahead where you're going to get gas is also a must. In the states we're used to gas stations galore, but there can be long stretches where there are none to be found.
We only spent one night in Fort Williams, but what I caught a glimpse of was actually breathtaking. Right on Loch Eli and surrounded by mountains, it's a popular place to find backpackers coming from all over to enjoy Scotland's rugged terrain. We stayed at the Fort William Backpackers Hostel which was comfortable and easy to find. I'm definitely coming back to go backpacking on Ben Nevis, a tremendous and popular mountain right next to Fort Williams.
So there's part one of the trip! Hope you enjoyed reading and stay tuned for part two.