When we have each other, we have everything.
Margo and I thoroughly soaked up the Isle of Skye in Scotland for 10 days! It was full of adventure, some driving mishaps, laughing until we were crying, and good food. If you want the condensed, picture-only summary...watch the YouTube video. If you want more detail, feel free to read the post below.
Traveling to Glasgow: Margo flew in from London and I flew in from Amsterdam. We landed within an hour of each other and then braved our way to the rental car lot. Our trusty steed, fondly named Storr, made it to the hotel in Glasgow unscathed. The drivers in Scotland are seated on the right, therefore forcing the stick to be controlled with your left hand, and they drive on the opposite side of the road! Talk about stretching our brains right after 12+ hours of traveling. We ate dinner at Chaakoo, a fabulous Indian restaurant with great dishes to share. It was off to bed for us at the hotel to prepare for a full 5 days on the Isle of Skye!
Driving in Scotland: Admittedly, we had a few close calls. However, after the first few days, it is amazing how quickly the driving becomes second nature even though it is so different from the states. We verbalized a lot of what we were doing in order to ensure that our brains were functioning as they should. For example, if we needed to make turn, we would always say…”I am going to turn and then I am going to go to the left side of the road.” This helped us catch what could have been small mistakes. There are one or two big roads, but all of the rest of the roads are one lane roads with “passing areas.” These roads were the most fun to drive as you had to think a lot less about the side of the road and there were fewer cars to contend with. We both loved that the stoplights turn yellow and then green to let you know that you should move to first gear. We are glad that we rented a car, and a stick shift at that, as it definitely added to the experience.
Fort William to Mallaig: The drive to Fort William from Glasgow was already blowing us away. Cute little towns and small stone houses surrounded by fields and a lot of sheep! We arrived in plenty of time for a hot chocolate prior to catching the West Coast Railways Train … a.k.a. The Harry Potter train. The train takes us over the famous bridge used in the Harry potter films and stops in Mallaig two hours later. This quaint little town on the water had adorable shops and we enjoyed a wood fired pizza for lunch. The craziest thing to happen on this portion of the trip is that … brace yourselves … we might be on Scottish TV! Channel 4 News in Scotland is doing a special documentary about West Coast Railways with Julie Walters (from Mama Mia and Brooklyn) as the host. We saw her being filmed several times throughout the train trip. One of the coordinators asked Margo and I to hold some Harry Potter props. I had Hedwig on my shoulder and Margo held onto the Elder Wand. They filmed us “chatting and acting normal” and had us sign release forms after the train ride. We are going to see if we can get ahold of the footage. The train was a great way to see the country from a passive perspective.
Portree: We stayed at The Garden Cottage in Portree. This was an awesome Airbnb that was central to almost everything that we did throughout the trip. The little cottage had a nice parking area out front. The home is divided into 4 areas: the kitchen/living room, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, and a bathroom. It was perfect for the two of us! The gas fireplace was a treat in the evenings when we were winding down and warming up from hiking in cooler weather. Having our own bedrooms allowed us some flexibility in the mornings and evenings when our sleeping schedules were a bit off from one another. We ate breakfast in, packed lunches, and ate dinner out every night except for one. One evening we ordered take-out Indian food which hit the spot after a long day. The Garden Cottage was a 10 minute walk from town and a short drive to grocery stores and other amenities. Our favorite restaurant of the trip, No 1, was third on Trip Advisor for the area. The food was so delicious that we went twice. I ordered BBQ chicken fajitas the first time and cracked up when the waitress pronounced them much more like “Vaginas.” Margo quickly picked up on what she was saying and helped me out. The cheesecake with a Bailey’s cream sauce was to die for. We shared it the first night, but quickly realized we needed our own the second time we were there. We met a delightful couple the second night we were there, Ian and Sue from Toronto, Canada. We chatted about everything from travel to jobs to Trump as president. They have been married for over 50 years and have led very interesting lives. Felt like being with old friends!!
Walking in the Isle of Skye: We divided up the Isle of Skye into 3 sections (North, North West, and Central) based on this awesome book that we had, Isle of Skye: 40 Coast and Country Walks. We selected the “walks” / hikes that we wanted to do most and set out to accomplish 3 or 4 each day. This was a great way to set up the trip because there is so much to do on the Isle of Skye. It made it manageable, kept the driving time to a minimum each day, and allowed us to be flexible based on the weather each day. The weather was cloudy and intermittently raining the entire trip. The Scotland fairies were on our side though because it seemed that every time we got out of the car, it stopped raining just long enough for us to do what we wanted, and then it started pouring the second we were back in the car. It was awesome! The last day we enjoyed the one and only day on which we saw the sun!
Northern Skye Walks (Trotternish):
Northwestern Skye Walks (Waternish):
Central Skye Walks:
Eilean Donan Castle and Edinburgh:
Ben, Julie, and Amelia