I’ve been to a lot of places since I landed in Scotland. It is definitely a privilege to be able to explore without the responsibilities of jobs or heavy schoolwork. For the past eleven weekends, I’ve been traveling somewhere or attending events in downtown Aberdeen. As fun and thought-provoking as it has been, I’ve been craving some downtime to slow-down my adventures. I haven’t felt rushed per se, but rather worried that I’ll forget something along the way. I’m worried that I will not appreciate my time if I am always going somewhere new.
With all of the current news, this past week has been stressful—I’m not going to lie—and pretty exhausting. I know that next weekend will be my first of minimal traveling and I’m ready to take a breather. Still, I’m not willing to forget my time traveling.
I’ve decided to jot down many of the places I’ve been in a chronological order (well, all of the places since Travels), and write my very first expectation of the trip next to the reality of my trip. Did I really expect that to happen?
You’ll read about these trips in a field-notes style. Enjoy.
Expectation: See Nessie. Maybe go on a kitschy museum about how Nessie is a myth.
Reality: Long bus ride, but worth it. Explored the gorgeous Urquhart Castle. Toured Culloden Battlefield- a museum about the Jacobite rising. Shopped around Brody Countryfare. So much less kitschy than I expected, but it was good, sophisticated.
Cruden Bay and Slain’s Castle
Expectation: Small town, ruined castle.
Reality: Very very small town. Only one bus stop. Only one store. Only one primary school. And only one golf course. Past the recycling point was a tree-lined path to castle. There were very few people on the trail. Castle and sea- the mix of relaxation and a great place to eat lunch. Dracula’s Castle was based on Slain’s Castle ruins, very dangerous, very exhilarating.
Expectation: The place where people go when they visit Scotland. The capital city. The 2nd largest city. The city with lots of history.
Reality: The first thing I did when I got off the train was to climb to Arthur’s Seat for the view. Then, I walked the Royal Mile- which was touristy at the top near the castle and less so near the base. Did not go in the castle, but saw a view of it from all angles. Very good food along the mile. I toured a childhood museum- it felt like home. Walked the Botanical Gardens, many plants were native to the PNW. The city definitely had a lot of history.
Expectation: Big city, a little dark and dingy, but homey.
Reality: It was a big city, a little dark and dingy, but homey- as well as interesting. The architecture was different- very much like a modern city built around old buildings like the Glasgow Cathedral. I was able to find time to tour the Scotland Street School Museum, and geek out for a while.
Isle of Sky
Expectation: Long bus ride. Then ???.
Reality: Long bus ride. Then, hiking, views, and rocks. Too beautiful to describe. The long bus ride was completely worth it.
Expecation: Hiking around, being able to see the beautiful view.
Reality: A mist overtook the whole hike and I could not see more than twenty feet ahead. It rained. Appreciating the small things- the animals, the plants, the rocks.
Expectation: Climbing to the top of Mither’s Tap. Some rain.
Reality: Got off the wrong bus stop- too far away from Bennachie. It started to hail. After an hour of walking on the side of the road, I found the Rowantree forest paths. I walked and admired the trees. So many shapes and sizes. Almost crashed a Scottish wedding. Climbed some trees instead. Flagged down a bus to come back home, my shoes soaked through.