Monday, May 30, 2011

The Highlands

We arrived back from our journey to the Scottish Highlands yesterday afternoon. The trip was amazing- touring all around the Isle of Skye for three days. And even though the bus was, at times, unbearably cramped, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The weather was off and on rain and sun the entire time. Not such a bad thing until I look back at my pictures and notice rain drops on my lens.  Our tour guide, Neil, did an amazing job of narrating the trip and telling us the legends for each place we visited. I wish we had that kind of dense history in the US.
Our tour led us to places like:
 - Inverness & Loch Ness (no Nessie I’m sorry to report)

 - The Atlantic Ocean (many views of it as we were traveling the coast, and where our hostel was located)

 - Sligachan River (legends say that if you submerge your head in the river for 7 continuous seconds,  or 3 dunks, you will be eternally beautiful. I opted for the full 7 seconds)

 - The beautifully small town of Portree

 - Old Man of Storr (Quite the hike, but by far the best hike and view I’ve had in a long time. Definitely a must see. And the legend that goes along with it is pretty funny too.. LINK)

 - Kilt Rock (Another must see. Same formations as Giants Causeway)

 - Playing in the wind! I don’t imagine I’ll ever be too old for this. I have never in my life experienced such high winds as I have on this trip.

 - Fairy Glen. A place that’s said to be inhabited by fairies!

 - Hairy Coo. This, ladies and gentleman, is Hamish. The oldest living Hairy Coo (18 years).

- Old castles (this is just one of the many that we saw).

  -  Fantastic views!!!

Highlands = Success!!! 
On to Ireland on Wednesday!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The trip to Glasgow was great, and other than the off and on sprinkling of rain, there were really no complaints.
We got to see so many great places. Glasgow University was especially beautiful. I can’t imagine going to classes in such a stunning and historical building. 

The Glasgow Cathedral was just as, if not more, impressive. 
While the ugly scaffolding on the outside didn’t have me thrilled, the interior was quite the opposite. (I suppose that’s what happens when you go to a town that’s so old; something always needs maintenance.) It still amazes me that stained glass windows can look so drab from the outside and so brilliant from the inside. The grounds around the Cathedral were also amazing. There was a nearby cemetery that offered incredible views of the Cathedral. The cemetery itself was layer upon layer of ancient headstones, most that were fallen over, withering away, or being taken over by nature. Hands down the coolest cemetery I’ve seen yet. 

 There was also a small cheese & bread shop that a few of us stopped at as well.

I also got to see The Glasgow School of Art (the outside anyway), designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His influence resonates through many of the Glasgow buildings and it’s made me truly appreciate the Mackintosh style. 
I had mentioned the Dalkeith Palace in a previous post, the place I am staying, and said I would get some pictures up. Here they are! Right now there are two groups of Stout students here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blood Sausage and Haggis

Today was our first whole day in Edinburgh. A few of us headed out to get a traditional Scottish brunch, I ended up having one of the best meals of my life (although I’ve thought that about a few meals here) consisting of beans, an egg, potato bread, some fried meat and blood sausage. Blood sausage is way more disgusting looking and sounding than it tastes. I actually really, really liked it.

The Queens residence in Scotland

We headed into Edinburgh and saw the outside of the Edinburgh Castle (should be seeing the inside later). Then we headed up to Arthur’s Seat. The walk was intense, but so well worth it. Switchbacks aren’t my list of favorites but for this view I’d do them again in a heartbeat. The wind was extreme and a bit scary, and at times knocking me off my feet (not so great when you are so high up in the air). Again, it was well worth it. When we got to the bottom of the mountain we it was dinner time so we headed to the Sheep Heid Inn, apparently the UK’s oldest pub. There I had Haggis. I have yet to have a bad meal here, I’d love to take it all back with me. 

On the way up to Arthur's Seat

Top of Arthur's Seat

Way up to Arthur's Seat

At the top of Arthur's Seat

Path up to Arthur's Seat (if you look closely you can see people walking in the valley)

Sheep Heid Inn (oldest pub in the UK apparantly)

The best patch of grass I have ever seen or touched in my life.

That was pretty much our day. I can’t get over how fast the days go by, and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t get dark here until 11 or so. More soon!
 OHH! Here are some night photos from our last day in London!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

London, England. Such Bullshit.

As far as the title of this post goes: apparently in Australia that's what the cool kids are saying now.  Heard it from some Australians themselves. Kind of how people in the US started saying, "That's so sick man!!!" (yeah, I still don't even get that one), in Aussie it's, "We had such a bullshit time!!". Just a side note.


I can’t believe that my London visit has come to an end. After only 2.5 days I had already fallen in love with it. We were able to see so many amazing places, people, and architecture. To have such an opportunity is something I can’t be thankful enough for.
I have taken so many pictures and while I know I will eventually spend weeks editing every single one of them, for now I’m just focusing on making them cropped/deleted/adjusted.
The first day we got to London was fun, but exhausting. The 9-hour flight left us all pretty pooped, and myself nauseous. Regardless, we began exploring. First, to Hyde Park Corner and then around the gardens near by. A few of us later did some night photography.

London taxis are so great looking 

Being a creep sometimes works out famously.. 

The second day we kept extremely busy. We went on a free tour and hit Hyde Park corner, Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, Pall Mall (street), Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben. Unfortunately the London Eye was too pricey for us so we skipped that. Westminster Abbey was by far my favorite thing to see in London. We paid to get in but got a headset tour. I don’t even know how long we spent in there but as far as I’m concerned it wasn’t long enough. 2 weeks wouldn’t have been enough. Not being able to take pictures was really hard, so I suppose I’ll just have to go back if I really want to see it again! A few of the girls and I ended the night with a pub-crawl! 

Outside of Buckingham Palace

Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

Westminster Abbey (everyone should go here)

Day three was a bit more laid back. St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London, the original blocks of London, were the first places we ended up. We hit two of the art museums: The Tate Modern and the V&A. Both were really impressive, but for my interests Tate Modern was my favorite. It was great to see some of Diane Arbus’ (forgive my spelling) work after learning about her this last semester. Her photography is even more impressive and interesting in person. The V&A is so extremely huge; I felt that maybe 2 or 3 days would be needed to see the whole thing. After that we kept on walking around, saw the ruins of Winchester Palace and then finally Tower Bridge. London Bridge isn’t even worth mentioning, but Tower Bridge on the other hand was so impressive. Obviously seeing pictures of it gives one some kind of idea of how it looks but how it feels when you actually see it is a different story, I was very surprised by it. The night ended with fish & chips and some wonderful night photography of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and the London Eye (pics to come soon). 

Tower Bridge

I’m bummed to be saying “goodbye” to London, but couldn’t be happier to say “hello” to Scotland!