Cabin fever continues. Wanderlust waits for no one. Coping with voluntary self-isolation with more armchair travel……….travel soothes the soul and gives one something to look forward to some day soon…..
Today I am visiting Scotland again in my mind. I am thinking of spring green grass, enduring castles, vibrant yellow daffodils in the spring, warm tea and scones, and visiting dear friends.
Starting in Inverness at the small airport, we rented a car to find the Loch Ness Monster last spring. Or rather, we went to visit the Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands and JOKED about finding the Loch Ness Monster. The weather was cool but pleasant this time of year last year. Daily high temperatures are approximately 49°F, rarely falling below 39°F or exceeding 56°F. Daily low temperatures are usually around 36°F, rarely falling below 25°F or exceeding 43°F. Next to the Loch Ness we found two visitor centers that were small but gave our drive there a purpose.
Accommodations at the Best Western Palace and Spa in Inverness were stylish, clean, updated and charming, and they handed us a good ol’ fashioned key to our room. Our “River View Family Room” was in a mansion built in the 1800’s and was facing the River Ness, in front of Inverness Castle, which was built in 1836. The River View Room was worth the extra cost, as the ceilings were high, and there was a breathtaking picture window, too. The gray tones in the room’s decor and the chandelier gave the room a sense of quiet elegance and tranquility. There are no elevators to the second floor of the building that that we stayed in, which was right beside the main building, however. This hotel was one of the few in Inverness that had a large heated pool, which provided a welcome break from the cool weather outside. “Teen Traveler”, my daughter, swam there for hours catching up with her Scottish friend that we had come to visit. The hotel is just across the bridge from the town center with lots of shops, pubs, and even a major shopping mall (Eastgate).
This is the official website of the Best Western Palace and Spa in Inverness, Scotland:
Inverness Castle was rebuilt at the site of the original castle in Inverness, which was built in 1057 and destroyed. Legend has it that King Malcolm III of Scotland built the first Inverness Castle in 1057 to replace an earlier castle close by, which he destroyed, and in which Macbeth is said to have murdered Duncan I. Such history. Such culture. The present day Inverness castle houses offices, mostly court offices, and has limited public access inside.
A visit to a local kilt making shop in Inverness provided to be an unexpectedly interesting stop. The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre and The Highland House of Frasier, located about a five minute walk from our hotel, showed a small movie about the cultural heritage of the kilt in Scotland. In one section of the Visitor Centre there were many mannequins wearing assorted kilts from years ago, too. What was particularly amazing, though, was to watch the present-day kiltmakers make kilts before our very eyes. These kilts are hand-sewn with ten stitches to the inch and are made from about eight yards of fabric. After seeing the intricate handwork that takes about two days per kilt, it is easy to see why these kilts are so expensive. They produce quality work and will ship all over the world. This place is definitely worth a visit if you have time.
Driving west of Inverness, we traveled by car to Urquhart Castle, which is a ruin of one of the largest castles in Scotland. Sitting along side the Loch Ness, it is about thirteen miles south-west of Inverness and about a mile and a quarter east of the village of Drumnadrochit. Kids seem to love seeing the trebuchet there. The movie, “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (1970), was filmed here. It is also said to have inspired the writers of Disney Pixar when they visited Scotland to get ideas for the movie “Brave”.
On place in Scotland that I dream of visiting some day, but we didn’t have time to visit, is Fingal’s Cave, on the island of Staffa in the inner Hebrides. This sea cave is formed by a volcanic eruption and is made entirely of hexagonally jointed basalt, almost like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Some say the cave was connected to the Giant’s Causeway at one time. It is also said by some that Mendelssohn visited the cave and was inspired to write one of his overtures (“The Hebrides”). Fingal’s Cave was known by the Celts as “The Cave of Melody” because of its natural acoustics. Guests can visit the cave by boat ride from one of the nearby islands (from Fionnphort, Ulva Ferry, Iona, Tobermory, Oban and Kilchoan). There is a walkway that visitors can use to go inside the cave, but boats only travel here and land in calm weather. The footing can be slippery and not for everyone, though.
Two useful websites that describe visiting Fingal’s Cave are the following:
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and is known for its lush green landscapes dotted with castles, kilts, bagpipes, and whiskey. This is definitely a beautiful and charming place to visit if you can.
“…………See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light and
See the bird with a leaf in her mouth….
After the flood all the colors came out
It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
-“Beautiful Day” by Bono
Go out and have a “beautiful day” for yourself. You can still get into the car to drive to watch a breathtaking sunset over a field, lake, or somewhere special while still maintaining “social distance or self-isolation.” Maybe you can even fly a kite with a spirit of whimsy near your home if you have the need to do something that you haven’t done in a while. While every day may not be beautiful, there is beauty in every day.
Life is good; enjoy the day. Carpe diem, friends………….