30.8 – 19.9.14

When we visited our first castle „Caerlaverock“ the very nice ticket sales person made us aware that we could save quite a bit of money if we would buy a pass which includes a lot of ruins, castles, palaces and abbeys. While we were calculating the advantages – as we anyway planned to visit as many of the old ruins as possible – the nice lady at the ticket office had another idea: buying a membership, which would then reduce the package price by another 2£. Though the administration procedure took so much time that we could have easily visited another castle during that procedure, we became proud temporary members of the Scottish Historian Association!

In Dumfries, a small picturesque medieval village, we detected a building with a signage saying “Shopping Centre”. Here we got the possibility to buy British prepaid SIM cards for our cell-phones. The friendly O2 salesperson advised us to not put our eggs in one basket, but rather buy SIM cards from two different providers to increase our chance to have good reception. That sounded logical to us so we went to Vodafone to get our second card. Both cards were internet optimised in terms of package. They worked well and fit in our cell-phones. Reception though we only got on our last day in Edinburgh! At the end, our entire action was a bit useless. Scotland seems to be cut off, at least from the internet. However, in most of the hotels we got WIFI, so we could stay connected with the world.

At least once we wanted to stay overnight in a Scottish Castle. In Stonefield Castle, we did celebrate the classic English afternoon tea with sandwiches and scones – fantastic. The park around the castle has one of the biggest collection of rhododendrons. Unfortunately, the park is a bit shabby and not groomed therefore; the plants do not come into their own. However, the hotel bar is a highlight. The barkeeper not only has a very nice whisky collection, he also understands al lot of them. The many fireplaces were not working – what a pity.

In Tobermory on the isle of Mull we decided to go for dinner in THE in pub at the harbour. All tables were full, so we convinced a couple who was sitting at big table just on their own to invite us to share their table with us. As the waiter saw that the couple somewhat did not feel comfortable with that situation she managed to get us table in the bar. Therefore, the only thing Gabi had to do was to make sure that the door was always closed – which worked out well thanks to her natural authority – and we sat there cosy and comfortable. After the very nice meal, we had to pay in cash, which led to an acute cash deficit, which we eliminated immediately at the local cash dispenser. Moreover, wow all of a sudden we were proud owner of Scottish Pounds. I always thought that’s fairy tale, that the Scots print their own money as they do not have a central bank and accept the British Pound. Nevertheless, here we go: they exist the Scottish Pounds.

Glengorm Castle a B&B on the isle of Mull has a very nice way to handle their “bar”. The bar is basically an appealing number of whiskeys in their library. All guests can help themselves free. The fireplace gets prepared every day with fresh wood and paper, so that you can easily set it on fire. Moreover, this is what Gabi did right away. After 15min, you could not see your hand in front of your face anymore. We left the library to a young couple that was sitting somewhere in the smoke as well.

Very interesting was the experience with the ferry from Tobermory to Kilchoan. First, a single truck could drive on the ferryboat. Then the ferry closed the doors and went away! We car driver waiting at the pier were a bit baffled!!! But the ferry only drove a tiny bit into the see, rotated and landed with the opposite site directing to the pier. The truck drove off the ferry and away. Obviously, in Tobermory you – as an untrained truck driver – can use the ferry as a turnover board.

Reaching Isle of Skye we thought it’s time to visit one of the famous whisky distilleries. Tallisker was just around the corner and of top, we like the taste of that single malt. What we then saw there was a bit daunting and was not what we hope to get: busses full of tourists and you need to make reservations at least the day before for a certain time slot. Not really our thing so we decided to drive back in the emptiness of the Scottish Highland.

In the very north of Skye, in Flodigarry, an elder gentleman – obviously freshly fallen in love – was dining with his lady in the same restaurant like us. In the middle of the dinner, he collapsed and his women in love started screaming hysterically. Gabi dropped everything and ran to the unconscious person. In no time, she managed the first aid actions. They put the man on the floor in recovery position so that he could let go the last food bites, which was live saving. We hope that he can enjoy many more happy years with his love.

The Old Man of Storr, a basalt needle, which towers high up in this impressive highly jointed cliff rocks is a MUST visit on the isle of Skye. Like many others, we started our way up until the first little summit and a bit further – and because it felt really easy going towards the next little summit – until we reached the pass at the end. The 2 hours walk along the needle like rock formations is definitely recommendable. Although we started at the bottom thinking about a 10min short walk.

In Gairloch, Wester Ross, our adapter gave up the ghost. Oh no, no power anymore for our lovely devices (mobile phone, laptop, camera charger) – we were horrified! Nevertheless, the owner of our hotel reacted cool: she drove to the next hotel and got one for us. That night we were save and we could charge all devices. In Ullapool, the next bigger village, we found a hardware store where they sell adapter but only for European connector not for 3pole Swiss ones. However, the sales woman had a great idea: we should buy an entire cable for the laptop that way we can plug it in anywhere in Scotland. Indeed that was the solution and she told us where to find a computer shop. We found shop, but not the owner. The owner of the shop next door – slightly miserable already because she had to answer that question we guess every second day – told us that the computer shop guy is sometimes there and sometimes not. What to do now? A very friendly pedestrian saw that we were looking a bit desperate and tried to help us finding the person in the backyard. Nevertheless, he was not there either. As our mobile phones were not working (we only bought a data download service at the time), he even gave us his cell phone to call the shop owner. Moreover, luckily he answered the phone but stopped talking before Gabi could explain more. We were puzzled! Then he turned around the corner on his bike and sold us the right cable.

Highland Games in Pitlochry. That was the first use of Gabi’s new video camera equipment in its full beauty. We arrived at the games quite early so we could chose a perfect photo and video place. All guests were very kind and foregone the camera to avoid getting in the picture. The games itself seem to be folkloristic interpretation of local track and field competitions. We were keen to watch the tree trunk bunging and the tug of war. The latter was a bit boring: according to the commentary, both teams tried to achieve an entry into the Guinness book of records for the longest time not moving! Many pipes and drums teams added a nice layer to the whole party. The sun was burning so hot that we turned red like Scottish hair.

Peter drove us back to Edinburgh safely – always on the wrong side of the street – even clockwise through the roundabouts. Moreover, the Scottish capital demonstrated what the real Scottish weather is like: grey, foggy, rainy – the true thing.