europe · travel

3 Reasons Why Our Day 3 in the Highlands Rocked

1. The Mighty Nessie Summoning Chant

Our guide told us that this chant was 99.9% effective — as long as we go all-out with the bellows and the dance steps required to convince Nessie to surface from Loch Ness. Well, our guide was a local after all, so we figured he was telling the truth. After taking a quick peek at the Urquhart Castle, we made our way down to the banks of the loch, where Kyle taught us the words and the steps. Believe me — we summoned everything bestial within us and poured out our hearts and souls into the chant — much to the delight of the other tour groups who were snapping away with their cams.

“NESSIE!! COME TO ME!!!”, we howled in unison while on our knees  (again, I kid you not) — and only the sound of crickets followed. Darn. I was so sure we would have a sighting. I knew I should have put a little more hip in it! So okay, maybe the chant was more like 0% effective, but it was surely 100% fun!

Spotted at the gift shop near Loch Ness. What are Buddhas doing in a Scottish souvenir shop?!

2. The Scotch Whisky Distillery Tour

Catch a whiff of the air; what Starbucks does for the caffeine-junkies is what the Dalwhinnie Distillery does for the alcohol-enthusiasts (for the nth time, I’m not an alcoholic! I’m just very passionate. =P). It was actually my first time inside any type of distillery. Don’t laugh, but seeing all the hard work, patience and dedication that goes into making scotch made for me a personal experience. This glimpse behind the scenes urged me even more to appreciate this water-of-life. In fact, I think I’d like to show more of my appreciation with another shot, please.

Enjoying complimentary shots at Dalwhinnie’s

3. Our unbelievable MacMoviestar Clan luck

At this point, I’m still in disbelief. Before I left London, everybody was warning me to brace myself for the unforgiving Scottish cold. And just when I had digested the basics of layering clothes, I find myself having to scrap the concept, relax and just join the rest of our tour clan in sunbathing. In Scotland. I’ve never really sunbathed anywhere ever, as I seem to effortlessly tan most of the time, even if I don’t want to. Yet here we were,  just basking in the rays. Someone must have had a gooood talk with the faerie king.

Another uber-lucky thing that I didn’t count on was the deluge of freebies for our tour group. As if we wouldn’t be ecstatic to star in their promotional video, Haggis tour compensated for our talent fees by giving us free Scotch, lunches, shirts and swimming caps, which they usually don’t give away for other groups. Sweet. We put the shirts on for some photo ops at the forest of Hermitage in Dunkeld. Robin, the tour photographer, told me that at some times of the year, they would put on wee lights inside the forest so that people can enjoy evening walks under the canopy, making it seem like an ethereal enchanted forest. Neat. I wonder how I can convince our Tourism Head back home to do the same.

While we were enjoying the view of the falls by Ossian’s Hall, we saw some kids cliff-jumping into the falls. I-N-S-A-N-E.

It was almost heartbreaking to have to end the Skye High tour. Walls between races and personalities came down during those 3 days, and I got to meet a lot of interesting people, a few brave souls making their travelers’ dreams come true. Even after our bus dropped us off in Edinburgh, we met up for after-dinner drinks near the Royal Mile. Unfortunately I had to head off early if I wanted to make it to my ride back to London.

I found it even harder to leave Edinburgh and everything wonderfully Gaelic behind, but then again, I knew after the first of my four days here that I was already head over heels for Scotland the Brave. I definitely will be coming back.

To see the Highlands that I’ve been raving about all along, view the pics here.

Casualty Assessment:

3-Day Skye High Tour by Haggis Tours – USD 189
2 Nights at Morag’s Lodge – GBP 50
Eilean Dolan Castle Admission – GBP 6
Dalwhinnie’s Scotch Whisky Distillery Tour – GBP 6
1 Night at Caledonian Backpackers – GBP 15.30

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