Iceland & Scotland Days 6 and 7: Searching for Nessie
Not much to report yesterday and I was very tired, so I decided to combine the two posts. We used all manner of transportation yesterday, first disembarking from the ferry, then taking a train through some beautiful countryside to Elgin, then hoping in the car to finally reach Craigellachie. Of the three, the train is certainly my favorite mode of transport as it is quick and efficient without us having to do any navigating or driving. I sure wish the States had a fully-developed national train system like many European countries because it would be so much easier to get from state to state.
A fabulous lunch consisted of a steak sandwich and the most delicious white chocolate cheesecake I have ever had, topped with which chocolate crystals, fresh strawberries and homemade strawberry ice cream. Once we arrived at our new "home" for the next few days (and really it is a home because we've rented out a house - so much nicer than being in a hotel) we walked over to the Craigellachie Bridge which spans the River Spey. Fortunately, we did not have to pay any toll to the troll and could cross over to view the fields and mountains fading off into the distance. Practically in our backyard is a playground - the second coolest I've seen in Scotland - with a zip line and I cannot tell you how many times we all went down that thing. When I get a house, I may have to install a similar one for myself!
I tried blood pudding last night paired with scallops and pancetta and that was a truly wonderful combination. For whatever reason, I went into this trip thinking that it wouldn't be about the food (since I'd just recently been in Paris *sticks nose in air*), but who was I kidding - it's always about the food. My toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce hit my sweet tooth right on the cavity.
This morning I woke up feeling a bit under the weather but decided to take a brisk walk out in the cool fresh air and boy am I glad I did. When approaching the split in the road, I opted to go left for two miles to reach the neighboring town of Aberlour. Along the way I splashed through dozens of mud puddles and passed countless sheep, all the while contemplating the growth of my business and what direction I would like to take it in. Aberlour looked like a fascinating quaint town with quite a few good shops, but as it was eight in the morning when I reached it, nothing was open, so I turned around and walked back to our hotel for breakfast. The pathway itself went in both directions from the hotel leading to the next towns on either side. I really love the idea of having foot paths to neighboring towns allowing pedestrians to walk in peace without having to dodge cars around the city or the side of the highway.
After breakfast we took off for what turned out to be an all day trip to the Loch Ness, taking winding roads through the high country in both directions. As my grandmother said, unfortunately, the only monster we saw was the car sickness monster as one of the girls had a terrible case of vomarama all day long. Though I was riding in the very back of the van, for me the trip was worth it because we got to see some truly breathtaking landscapes. The "Route 66 of Scotland" cut through the highlands and topped out where we could see for miles in any direction, enjoying lakes and fields and rocky mountains all in the same blink of the eye.
The main attraction was, of course, the loch (which actually means lake here) and we chose to view it from the Castle of Urquhart ruins. As I've been reading a book set in 1740's Scotland, predominately in the Highlands, it was fascinating to feel the old stone ruins and image what the castle would have looked like in its prime, filled with nobility and bustling with activity. We had the best view of the loch here, but the only movements we saw in the water were the waves and some kayakers. As we were first approaching the large body of water, we still had blue skies and I commented that the loch didn't really look mysterious like I'd imaged because it was nice and sunny. But once we got up to the castle, the sun had given way to gray clouds and misty rain, providing the perfect Scottish backdrop for a potential Nessie sighting.
Tomorrow we travel south to the Castle Lee where we will actually get to spend the night in the castle. Still a few more days of adventuring left!