Sunday, April 17, 2016

Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands

We had pre-booked a day trip from Edinburgh to visit Loch Ness and the Highlands.  My husband did NOT want to visit Scotland without looking for Nessie :- D    I recommend pre-booking day trips when you KNOW you will be in a destination for a few days, rather than risking trips being sold out.

We met our group at a tour office very close to the Edinburgh Train Station at 7:30 on  Monday morning.  The tours were VERY well organized - we were greeted and told our driver's name, and then walked to our 16-seat vans.  Our driver was Sandy - I told him that I would remember his name, because it's my daughter's name too - and he responded "Sandy is a Lad's name."  We set off thru Edinburgh before getting into the countryside.

I must say I truly admired our driver / guide, Sandy.  He drove us for 12 hours, while narrating the scenery and associated history.  It was fascinating and very impressive.  By the way, he works for Rabbies which is a major Scottish tour company, and based on our experience I highly recommend this company

Breathtaking!  Loch Lubnaig at about 8:15 AM.   Our guide, Sandy, said he hoped we would get there while the mist was about

The one-man show at the coffee shop at Loch Lubnaig.  I discovered Oat Cakes -delicious!

Rich and me on the bank of Loch Lubnaig

Sonar on Loch Ness - looking for Nessie

What I learned - When in Scotland, it's not Scotch.  It's just whiskey.  And when you order you are asked "Smooth, sweet or Smoky?"

This was a photo stop on the drive to Loch Ness.  Love that home at the base of the hill. 

Loch Ness in the background; before we boarded our boat, the bride went up! 
Had to; in Galesburg, Illinois, the Rib Shack is a great Rib Restaurant

Elyse always has great spirit!

Boat full of Serious Nessie hunters

We stopped at this very moving monument on the way to Loch Ness
The Commando Monument honors Commandos from WWII to the present day wars

All in all it was a wonderful day trip out of Edinburgh to see a bit of the Highlands and learn a bit of Scottish history

We got back to our hotel fairly late, around 9 PM.  We had promised room service to the girls, but decided on a date night for ourselves.  We first went to the Footlights Pub across from the hotel, which had a promising menu...The barkeep was clearly overwhelmed, and said he would give us menus but we had to order from and pay at the bar.  no problem...but when I went to order he said I'm terribly sorry but our chef went off duty 15 minutes ago.   So we went to the other bar associated with our hotel (by now it was 9:45) and they said they could squeeze us in...unenthusiastically.  So we went to a third restaurant, a steakhouse just down the street from our hotel (we had the great Italian restaurant as a backup - prior post!)  When I asked the waiter in the steakhouse if their kitchen was open, he looked confused, then said "we have a one'o'clock license."  He then asked if we would like to sit under the painting:

 Anyway, the food was GREAT!  Thoughtfully prepared and reasonably priced.  A very nice capper to our whirlwind visit to Edinburgh - I would love to return!

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