This weekend was jam-packed full of fun. It was extremely exhausting and I'm still sore but I got to see tons of beautiful places so it was worth it. The International Society associated with Glasgow University holds trips every weekend. Becca and I usually opt out of these in favor of the trips with Gary and Student Tours Scotland since they aren't as expensive. This trip, however, we just couldn't pass up. Gary doesn't do overnight tours and we really wanted to go to the Isle of Skye so we chalked up the 60 pounds and got tickets to go. The price was pretty steep all up front but considering everything we did it was extremely reasonable. A round trip bus ticket to Skye is about 40 pounds so our trip was a steal.
The next stop was another view point above a loch. This loch, however is really special for having an uncanny resemblance to a map of Scotland. Its called Loch Garry and it is set in some very pretty mountains. This was a short stop and we were back on the bus again. From the strangely shaped loch we were off to the most photographed castle in all of Scotland: Eilean Donan Castle. You've probably seen it either on postcards or calendars and it lives up to its reputation. It was spectacular. Unfortunately the gift shop and restrooms were closed and we couldn't go into the castle but I got some great pictures from just walking around it. Then we were off again to actually cross the bridge into Skye. We safely made it to the island and headed to our hostel in Broadford. Since we were such a big group and Skye is not very heavily populated we were split into two hostels by bus, the other bus was in Portree. We chose our rooming situation, got to the hostel, set up our beds then headed into the town to look around and get some snacks for the bus the next day (and later that night). Everything in the town was pretty much closed so we just got our snacks and headed back. The three of us wandered down to the kitchen to see if our group leader needed help cooking dinner since she was preparing it for 50 people. She obviously did and we did the most we could. Dinner was delicious. After dinner Becca, Megan, and I teamed up with another girl named Marie to play some pictionary. We played for a while then headed back to our room. We were absolutely exhausted and the three of us fell asleep buy 10:30, I know it sounds pathetic. But we had to be up pretty early the next day.
We got up around 7:30, got some breakfast, collected our things, turned in our bedding, and boarded the bus for another long day. Sunday was all about exploring the Isle of Skye and we had 6 stops planned and had to leave the last one no later than 1:45 in order to make it back to Glasgow on time so we were on a tight schedule. The first stop was a couple of bridges, the older one was no longer in use but was beautifully crafted. The mountainous landscape was not bad either. We then headed to Old Man Storr and the Trotternish Peninsula. Old Man Storr is a very famous rock formation in Skye and it looks like its balancing precariously at the top of the mountain. This stop required some hiking up a pretty substantial hill and the ground conditions were less than ideal. It was either ice or mud the whole way up so it made the journey pretty interesting. After making it a good way up the hill we stopped to take pictures of the sea and of the huge rocky mountain. We didn't have time or the right footwear to make it all the way up to Old Man Storr but we got some great views as we were driving through the area. Getting back down the mountain was even more interesting. I did fall once, and it was painful but I recovered with poise and managed to not get too much mud on me. This stop took longer than anticipated because of the ground conditions so the next two stops were a little rushed.
|Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock|
Our last stop was in Portree, the largest town on Skye. This isn't really saying much since the entire town was about 5 streets big. It is also the location of the only secondary school (Portree High School) on the entire island. Unfortunately, since it was a Sunday almost everything was closed but we did enjoy walking around and looking at the shops, wishing a couple of them were open. We grabbed an easy lunch and ate while walking around before getting back on the bus at 1:45 sharp in order to leave on time. We had a 6 hour ride ahead of us and it was essential to be back on time because of the bus' contract. On the drive back to Glasgow we enjoyed listening to the Scottish CD, especially the Loch Lomond song. It became a sort of anthem for the bus and we all sang it together at least three times. We did take a 45 minute break in Fort William on the drive back but that's because the law requires bus drivers to have a break during long journeys. It was a great opportunity to go to the bathroom and stretch after being cramped for so long.
Overall the weekend was great. I wish we could have spent some extra time in a couple of places but we did get to see tons of things so it was a compromise. I would advise going on this trip to anyone else thinking of coming to the university but personally I would stick with Gary and STS for any other weekend day trips just because they're smaller and more personal but the ISOC trips are great for packing in a lot of stuff in a short period of time if that's more your style.