Tag Archives: gaelic

Most Random Street Signs!!!

I can’t leave the Scotland section  without mentioning the street signs…  Aside from the fact that when we went to Skye all the street signs turned to Gaelic, they had a whole slew of other street signs that were quite interesting…

There were the usual ones that we are all familiar with: Beware of deer, or Beware of Elk/Moose or even Bear or Cougar (if you are from Florida:))

But since Scotland has literally gotten rid of any and all potentially dangerous animals in the Country (no bears, no wolves, literally nothing that could eat or be a predator to humans) they had to pad out their street signs a bit to extend beyond the boring ol’ “Beware of Deer” sign…

So they extended to:

“Beware of Sheep” (ok, I get that since there are a ton there)

“Beware of Hairy Coos” (these aren’t as common as sheep, but could still be dangerous if challenged)

“Beware of Squirrels” (???  Really???  Are there that many around that we should be that cautious of them?  It would be terrible to hit one but it wouldn’t be quite as dangerous as hitting a sheep or hairy coo…)

“Beware Families” (I get this one is designed to get people to slow down, fair enough!)

But my personal favorite of all of them:

“Beware Old People!!!!” I just had to find one on the internet to include for you!!  Totally cracked me up every time!!  I love the detail of it too, how the old man has a walking stick and both are hunched over… LOL!!!!  Loved it!!!

Beware Old People
Beware Old People

On to Gatwick & Airport Fun (leaving the UK)

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Oban (Oh-Bin)

Oban!  Pronounced Oh-Bin… What a lovely little place to visit!  Sadly the weather was absolute crap during my stay, but at least I got a little sample:)

I took the bus from Inverness (or In-bir-nis in Gaelic) early and headed to Oban.  I skipped going to Fort William because I had heard there really wasn’t much to do there, but in Oban there is the opportunity to go to several neighboring islands via ferry or boat, etc.  So I was excited to check out the area for sure!  On the way there just outside of town there is the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary!!!  I was quite tempted to jump off the bus right then and there as one of the stops was just in front of the facility, but that would not have been very sound seeing as I had my backpack with me… Plus, I figured I could always go back since I was staying three nights in Oban.

I spotted the hostel I had pre-booked to stay in (Oban Backpackers) as we drove down the main street to the bus station.  I headed easily out to the hostel and was greeted by a very accommodating and friendly German man.  I’m honestly not sure he took a single breath during his 5 minute “welcome introduction” lol!!  But just as the Inverness Student Hostel was, Oban Backpackers was also warm, welcoming and a generally great place to stay!!  They had large areas where people could hang out and chat and offered an area to put down the backpacks while one waited to check in!  Just love that feature in a hostel since many times I had arrived too early to check into my room but didn’t want to be stuck hauling my crap around or sitting at the hostel simply waiting for check-in!!

But I’m rambling again… Since I had arrived a bit earlier than the actual check-in time, I put my crap down in the designated area and headed out with a very detailed map of Oban, which I acquired from the very friendly hostel host!  The map itself was already very detailed (you know, one of those tourist maps provided by the city) but the host marked several areas of interest on mine before I left his presence so that I would know everywhere to go and see and do right off the bat!  Obviously he was used to a gazillion of the same questions from travelers, so in an attempt to stave them all off, he simply answered them all up front, lol!!

So with my map in hand and my bag no longer on my back I headed to the Oban Tower.  Located only about 10 minutes up the hill from the hostel, it provided a great place to take some aerial shots of the town!!  From there I just wandered around the small town just exploring and getting ideas on what to do for the next coming days while there.  The town itself is a little horse shoe shaped town located directly on the water.  It has a shipping dock and lots of varieties of boats bobbing in the harbor all for their various purposes.  There are even castles just a short hike up the way from the main part of town AND even a whiskey distillery in the center of town!!  Yes, Oban does offer quite a bit of activities for those looking to kill a few days in a cute seaside town in Scotland…

Now, even though there were trails to walk, castles to see, a Sea Life Sanctuary to visit, a whiskey distillery to tour and nearby islands to take a ferry to for a few hours… I did absolutely none of those… 😦

I know!!! I know!!  I’m totally bonkers!!!  And I promise I TRIED to go see the castles and the Sea Life Sanctuary and even the distillery, but alas no… I’m totally going to blame it ALL on the weather!!!  Yes, the weather!!  I already mentioned above that the weather was absolute crap while I was there… And yes, it was just cold and windy and blustery basically the entire time I was there!!  Ok, well the first day wasn’t so bad, but since I didn’t bother or care to look up an extended forecast for the area, instead of putting my rear in gear and actually doing some of the hikes and island visits on my first day (or half day, since I used the morning bit to get there!!) I simply spent it walking around and planning my activities for the next days…  So anyway, yea… The first day was quite successful in the sense that I had a solid plan on what I was doing for the next couple days…

But the next day, once I rose and dressed and stepped outside into the blustery cold and wet and WINDY weather, I realized that all my plans were about to go to right out the window!!  I first searched for something to nibble, then headed to the boat dock to see about catching a ferry to the nearby island of Kerrera, where there is a lovely monastery to walk around and enjoy a coffee in… But the docks were closed due to the windy weather.  No boats, no ferry’s, no island… So I wandered to bus station to find out about the Sea Life Sanctuary bus to see if I could catch it and at least spend some time there.  However, the majority of the park would have been outdoors and on the water basically, so if the weather was crap here, 20 minutes up the road wouldn’t be much improved… So I decided against that action… I thought ok, what about walking to the castles??

Finally an option that may work out!  So I headed back through town on the main road, then cut through a little side street to the trail that would lead to the castles and just as I rounded the corner got slammed with the biggest wind gust yet!!  My poncho flapped around me viciously while I got pelted in the face with rain drop after rain drop… This was not good!!  And after only a block of that nonsense I turned back up the next little side street and headed back to the hostel to warm up.

After inquiring about “what to do on nasty weather days” to the hostel host (whiskey tour is what he suggested… or just a pub!) I headed to the whiskey distillery and decided against the tour (I wasn’t really that in the mood for whiskey, plus had no way to carry the glass gift they apparently gave at the end in my backpack) so I did the next best thing… Went to the pub!

Turned out to be a fine rest of the day as far as I was concerned!!  Met an interesting guy from the States who was traveling all of the UK and Ireland on his motorcycle!!  He actually had his personal motorcycle flown over and was driving it all around!!  Needless to say he was being responsible and only had food and one drink at the bar, but it was really cool to meet someone who was doing something that brave!!  Well done on him!!

So that’s how I killed my days in Oban… Ate, drank, drank, ate, curled up for a movie on my Samsung Tablet, and generally found any excuse to stay out of the weather and stay indoors!!!  Some of my roommates had tried to go to the castle as well, and they succeeded!!!  Brave couple!!  However they didn’t really get to see anything at all since the mist was all around and the castles were closed… LOL!!  Poor things!!  They really looked wrecked when they came back!!  But I’m sure they still had a great time being adventuresome!!

On to Glasgow

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Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is absolutely breathtaking!!  Turn after turn it’s just filled with so many beautiful wonders of nature that it’s almost just too much to take!!  I’m so glad that I had the chance to get there!!  The tour itself was so-so, but what it lacked was made up by the beautiful surroundings.  But I’m getting a tad ahead of myself…

I’ve already mentioned that I booked my ticket at the tourist info center in Inverness.  When asking the employee at the desk about this specific tour, a 12 hour tour by WOW Scotland that cost almost 70 pounds (about $118 US), she seemed very hesitant to say anything about it… It was really kind of odd.  I wasn’t sure if it was just her or if she  just didn’t want to say anything negative about the tour.  So because of her hesitation, I hesitated too.  Then she went on to explain that she had never been on this particular tour from WOW Scotland so she couldn’t say too much about it one way or another aside what was advertised on the brochure.  But she had taken others that she enjoyed from WOW Scotland (though again she wasn’t very enthusiastic in her descriptions).  Against all the other tours of the Isle of Skye, it covered much more of the Isle and seemed to take us to more places.  And the tour itself was longer than any of the others…

My largest concern though was that we would simply be in the bus all day being carted from one site to the next, only let out for little breaks and to snap some shots.  I wanted to be able to spend some amount of time at each place.  And though there were numerous stops listed on the itinerary, I figured “heck, we have 12 hours and the Isle isn’t all that big.  I’m sure we will get some good time at each place!”.  So despite the lack of salesmanship by the tourist office employee, I talked myself into buying the tour.  Later I went on TripAdvisor and was further assured by my decision to book the tour because of the 5 star rating the tour had received.  Fast forward to the day of the tour…

All started off well, we were picked up in front of the tourist info center (nice central and easy location!!) in a mini bus that was quite comfortable and suited for our needs.  There were about 20 of us in total.  Though he didn’t show up in a kilt (a comment that a fellow tour-goer made later in the day that she was kind of hoping to see since we were on a Scottish tour) our guide was a local, was friendly and humorous and all.  He was knowledgeable and had stories to tell about each area…

But here is the kicker… Perhaps it was simply that the tour was as long as it was.  Or because of “the event” that happened later in the tour that sort of unfortunately out-shown the rest of the tour (for the better in my book, lol!!).  Or perhaps though funny and witty the guide wasn’t THAT memorable in the way he presented the info.  Or perhaps the pure natural beauty of the Island simply made everything else about the trip null and void in my mind… I simply just don’t know… But what I’m getting at here is that again, while our guide did have lots of history and stories to tell, I can’t recall a single one of them aside from a little disturbing statistic about Loch Ness and that the leopard man lives on the Isle of Skye…

No, I wasn’t drunk… I wasn’t hung over… I was completely present and alert and aware and listening just as I had on every tour prior (and all those after) yet I just can’t recall any of the stories he told.

And honestly I was a bit disappointed by the amount of time that we were allotted at each spot.  The original itinerary only allotted on average 15 minutes at each place, except for our lunch spot- 1/2 hour- then we were supposed to have an hour in one of the little towns.  Mind you, the brochure never mentioned how much time would be spent in each place so it was unknown at the time of booking.  Personally I would have given the little town less time since we weren’t there for a town!!  We were there for the sights!!!  We didn’t even get out of the van to walk around or near Loch Ness!!  We simply drove by it and had to take pictures out of the van window!!  That was kinda disappointing!!  But luckily or unluckily, as fate would have it we ended up having almost 3 hours in one of our locations… More on “the event” in a bit!

I know I’m going back and forth on how the tour actually was… Sorry for that!  But I guess if I had to be pinned down I would say yes, the tour was worth it if only for the sights of the Isle of Skye alone.  And having basically a chauffeur to take us around was quite nice (until “the event”).  Had it not been for the sights and being chauffeured around, well I wouldn’t say I would have been that crazy about it.

Oh, but for anybody planning on doing the trip, one word of advice: eat your lunch IN the van!!!!  Don’t wait for the break!!!  The only reason I say this is because you may otherwise be sharing your lunch with the midges!!  Or rather will also be eating the midges as part of your lunch!  Not to mention, if you eat at the lunch spot you will get less time to walk around!

Midges… for those who don’t know they are itty bitty teeny tiny little gnat like flies that come in swarms and will bite the absolute life out of you!  Before I went to Scotland I was warned about them but had never encountered them until the Isle of Skye.  Though they thankfully never actually bit me, they were so darn annoying!!!  They would swarm all around your head and mouth and body and hands and basically anywhere where skin was exposed just buzzing!!  So needless to say, as I tried to eat my sandwich they swarmed all around it and me and I ended up eating more midges I think than sandwich!  Needless to say about half way through I lost my appetite… So yes, eat your lunch ON The van!!!

The sights included: Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Hairy Coos, Eilean Donan Castle, Strath Bran & Strath Carron, Slighachan, Faerie Glen, Quiraing (sight of “the event”), Kilt Rock, Trotternish Ridge & the Old Man of Storr, and finally Portree.

Yes, as mentioned before quite a bit was covered so perhaps I should have expected just a few minutes at each place and should stop complaining about the lack of time spent at each location…  Not to mention, the majority of tourists really aren’t into walking around much or hiking on tours.  Most are happier being taken around so they can snap their shots and say they’ve been there (not me obviously).  It’s unfair to expect everyone’s needs to be met so perhaps I shouldn’t take it out as a fault of the tour so much…

In any event, enjoy the pictures of each place and a story of “the event” via the below links:)  Oh one last little bit about the Isle of Skye in general: it was the first place where Gaelic became basically the prominent language.  Road signs turned to Gaelic only (some also had the original or “English” names as well)!!  And about 8% of the population of the Isle of Skye still speak Gaelic today!

Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle & Hairy Coos

Eilean Donan Castle, Slighachan & Faerie Glen

Quiraing (site of “the event”)

Kilt Rock, Trotternish Ridge, the Old Man of Storr & Portree

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