Sunday, September 21, 2008

Loch Ness-A London Side Trip

If you find yourself in London for the second time in so many months, you may have seen all the big items on your London Must See list and want to try something a little farther a field. The Wife and I won trips to London from British Airways-and did most of the London stuff we wanted to do at the first trip. Being your average American Tourists there are two side trips from London that we just had to take-one was Stonehenge and the other was Loch Ness.

So after riding on a very nice British Airways 777 for about nine hours, we stumbled through customs, onto the Gatwick Express and found our way from Victoria Station to a City Link bus for a leisurely eight hour ride to Edinburgh. It was not quite as much fun as it sounds, but neither was it the worst travel experience I have had. It was an interesting way to see a lot of UK countryside and a lot of bright yellow flowers blooming in countless fields. I believe someone told me this plant was rapeseed, though I can't really recall.

We stopped of in Edinburgh for a day or two, but he Goal of this little excursion was to get to Inverness and Loch Ness. We weren't looking for great shots of Urquhart Castle, though it was a really cool spot. And the lake itself was a dark and brooding body of water. Loch Ness looked as if it might well have a monster living in it, which why so many people trek to this empty bit of Scotland.

We were in Inverness during the slow season and I guess we were lucky that there were tours at all. It was cold and wet and our tour of The Battlefields of Culloden was spend shivering in the bus. I'm not as much of a history buff as I could be and had never heard of the Battle of Culloden-seems to have had something do with the Jacobites.

Loch Ness-that's what we wanted see. There were three of us in the small office with the Tour Guide, the Wife and I and a Frenchman. There were three tour options. One was a combo of a Motor Tour and a Boat Tour. One was just the Boat Tour and one just Motor Tour. The Guide told us that the combo tour was the best value, though it did cost a bit more. We said sure. The Frenchman said he just wanted to Boat Tour. The Guide tried to talk him out of it, telling him that he wouldn't really like the Boat Tour. But the Frenchman was adamant that he wanted the Boat Tour and Only The Boat Tour. Our Guide shrugged and sold him a Boat Tour.

We rode around the Scottish Countryside in a van with a few other tourists and saw all kinds of hills and valleys. There were some brown dots in the distance we were told were Highland Cows, though it was impossible to tell for sure. It was a rainy and cold day, but it was a lot of fun. It took about an hour and half to get to the Castle Urquhart and we had a bit of time to wander around and take photos and see all that we wanted to see. Then we heard the boat horn and had to go and board the boat for the ride back to where we started.

On the deck of the boat, which was a pretty large vessel as I recall, was a very unhappy Frenchman with his arms crossed and his jaw locked. As soon as we boarded the boat it turned around and set back off again. The Frenchman didn't even get a chance to get off the boat and take photos of Castle Urquhart. For the hour and a half that we had been site seeing, he had been seeing the dark mossy waters of Loch Ness.

The hour and half return trip on the boat was slow and easy. This is some really beautiful country, but there is a big difference seeing Scotland from a boat and seeing it from a Motor Van. When they ask if you want to do the Combo, say yes.

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