August 23, 2011

Golden Lochs

SO, I fell a bit behind this weekend due to the Loch Ness bus adventure, but now here I am with more photos that you'll care to see documenting the whole adventure! So let's dive right in...

First let it be reiterated here and known forever more that I do NOT like bus tours. Well, I take that back -- I love car rides and those're almost the same thing. I enjoy riding in vehicles with wheels for extended periods of time providing there's music (or a good friend with interesting conversation), adequate space, enough oxygen, and few stops. Only the first of that list was true in this case, and while the trip itself was awesome, I wish I didn't have to experience the majority of it crammed in the backmost corner, praying the tour guide would be quiet for a bit.

Okay, that's all the bitching I'll do. Here's the good stuff:

One very important even happened on this trip that I must preface with a bit of background in order to ensure the excitement is delivered fully. See, there's this ice cream bar...

No, nobody understands the ?! thing.

I first heard tell of these little babies from the previous group of Edinburgh travelers -- those who came last year after their stint in Pontlevoy. I didn't really get the big deal; I mean, it's an ice cream bar -- they're all pretty much the same, right? But enough people went crazy about them when the originals hit the states that I decided I'd have to see what all the fuss was about once I got over here.

So, with the help of my classmate Bobbin, I hit up every convenience store we passed, looking in the freezer box for the fated dessert which everyone assured me had been widely available the previous summer. The first time I made the mistake of asking for "Magnums -- you know, the big gold ones," which I'm sure from the look on his face immediately called these to mind.

Woops.

Unfortunately, when I went back to this store my third or fourth time, having been assured they'd restock next week, the man informed me they were no longer available and no further orders would be made.

I lost faith and only continued my search on when passing the occasional ice cream truck, giving a halfhearted glance at the array of other admittedly delicious-looking Magnum bar options, feeling like Charlie Bucket with his meager hope for the last golden ticket.

And then it happened.

After the stuffy bus ride, I was feeling pretty exhausted and just wanted to find a place to eat lunch. Julia, Bobbin, and I finished our food on a patch of grass near our bus stop in -- oh jeez, I don't even know where we were... perhaps Aviemore? -- then decided to stop into Tesco for some rest-of-journey nibbles. As Julia and I were meandering the store, Bobbin suddenly came racing around from three aisles over, stopped dead in her tracks and said "Guys, look what I found!!" And from behind her back she pulled a three-bar box of the one and only Magnum Golds -- the last one in the store.


It sort of felt like finding the holy grail. We paid our three pounds worth and rushed out of the store, a mess of "I can't believe l;ajglkehwa;gehwla!" and "I thought we'd never alwangleahj gjewy!" Back at the bus we unwrapped our prizes and fell into golden heaven. And I've never enjoyed dessert more in my entire life.


Mission accomplished.



After our "Magnum Opus" (ahaha) and another hour on the bus, we finally arrived at Loch Ness. This was the closest I came to the legendary Nessy...

 ...who very rudely tried to end my dreams of travel writing...

Some good gift shop finds.

A few of the more zealous (insane? can I say insane?) members of our group decided a swim was in order.


The look on Joey's face here should tell you how great that water felt...

They were all quite proud of themselves. The rest of us had fun taking pictures.

Our next stop was this cool castle, though we only admired it from afar:


And then we arrived at our sweet Bed and Breakfast! We split into three places -- Victoria and I got stuck with the boys. They came late to breakfast in the morning and got quite the scolding from our McGonagall-esque hostess, Sheila. They're not kidding about these Brits valuing promptness!


On our search for a place to eat, we ran into this:


It was this random public farm place... There was everything from goats to cows to rabbits to red deer. Good thing none of us were too hungry, cause these guys were pretty darn cute (just kidding, Hannah ;) )



I almost couldn't handle this rooster. He was GINORMOUS and had the funniest walk I've ever seen in my life. He would sort of stomp across the yard with his enormous feathered feet, and he was free-roaming, so he'd just kinda creep up on you when you weren't paying attention. 






I'd seen so many on the drive over, you'd think I'd be sick of them, but my family sort of has this thing about sheep -- at least, my parents do. Apparently it was unintentional, but they actually managed to give me a name that translates to "ewe," so the obsession has been passed on. Anyway, when I went to call upon my brethren, instead of being welcomed with hearty Baas and bleats, I met this:


And this was the one who afforded me the most acknowledgement! I named her Brownie, and I actually got to feed her a bit, cause she'd escaped her pen in search of fern. Mostly though, she was having none of me.


Unicorn sheep!?
 Turns out my namesakes are rather aloof little buggers. Sort of keep to themselves and like to eat a lot. Quiet, really, and deceptively snuggly...
Wait a second, that sounds like someone I know...  ;)


The next day it was bright and early back to the bus. We visited several places on our way back to Edinburgh, but the one I liked best was Glencoe.




Do these landscapes look familiar to anyone?

Lemme give you a hint:













Got it yet?









Try this:




Yep! Much of Prisoner of Azkaban was filmed here, as well as a lot of the Hogwarts Express scenes and the bits with the flying car in Secrets. Needless to say I was excited.

It also reminded me a bit of Lord of the Rings:



So of course I lined up everyone to reenact it:


I was completely drained by the time we arrived back in the city, and ready to never board another bus again. All things considered, though, it was worth the less-than-perfect transportation for the more-than-perfect series of adventures.

Especially that Magnum Gold bar.


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