Probably the closest to heaven you can find on Earth.
09.05.2011 - 14.05.2011 15 °C
Scotland - the entire word means beauty and whisky for me. I have only been to Scotland once before, a very funny surprise trip to Glasgow when my best friend Nina turned 25. That time we went to Auchentoshan distillery and learned to drink whisky. Since then we upgraded our taste and found new favourites, smoky ones mostly. I do remember that when I saw the views outside Glasgow I was stunned and told myself that I need to come back. I am posting a pic from when we went to Auchentoshan distillery back in 2006!
The purpose of the trip
In January I applied for a summerjob at Invergarry Hotel in the Scottish Highlands, and I got it. The time totally flied and I managed to finish off my studies and had one week off before my summerjob start. My lovely boyfriend never turned down my idea when I told him that we could go for one week in Scotland and off we went! May 9th I moved out from Writtle House in London, took my luggage (with some great help from my boyfriend of course) and we caught the train to Edinburgh on the afternoon.
We went by train from London to Edinburgh (£65 for us both) and it took 4 hours. Very comfortable and nice trains. Then we took another train from Edinburgh to Inverness that stopped everywhere and was very slow. Very slow but very beautiful (£20 two persons). To rent a car for two days cost us around £70 so not too bad at all. The buses are quite cheap and the roads they are incredibly beautiful, so the trip will be joyful wether you decide to go by train, bus or car. Fly as little as you can, since you miss so much.
We arrived late to our guesthouse in the east end of Edinburgh. Although the room was clean and the bathroom was really nice and the price was OK, the location is degrading it a bit. Edinburgh House Hotel There was a bus nr 11 nearby that went to the city centre of Edinburgh for only £3.40 for a day travel card. Very handy.
This is a must see when you visit Edinburgh. The view is amazing and the different exhibitions is very nice. A great few hours. At the castle there is a "One o'clock gun" that fires everyday at 1PM.
The one o'clock gun
Me and an ordinary gun
The fee to get into the castle is £14 of well spent money. It's nice to support beautiful buildings like Edinburgh Castle! Do it!
Drink and food in Edinburgh
My best friend Nina told me that the haggis at World's End Pub in Edinburgh was really good, so I decided to check it out. It was every bit as good as she told me. Totally recommend it! The World's End is located at the High Street, very easy to find.
We also paid Whiski Bar a visit, that had one of the largest whisky list I've seen and also live music, Scottish folk music! Very fun evening! And the pub is very cosy! Recommend a visit to that pub aswell.
From Edinburgh we caught a train to Inverness where we went to pick up our rental car for the coming days. A red Nissan Micra. It was the first time for Jürgen to drive on the wrong side of the road but after some hours I could relax a bit more and enjoy the beautiful ride.
First of all we headed for Invergarry Hotel, which is my new home for the coming four months to leave some luggage. To get there from Inverness it's a 1 hour drive via entire Loch Ness. Incredibly beautiful, but we didn't find Nessie! Not even a glimpse!
We met some of my new colleagues and they were totally friendly. My room was really big and nice aswell, very pleased. We had lunch at the hotel and it was delicious! I really recommend Invergarry Hotel.
On our way back north we stopped by Urquhart Castle which is so beautiful looking by Loch Ness, but unfortunately we were too late and the castle was closed. I really think I need to head back there to take some photos.
On our way up to Brora in north eastern Highlands we passed this bridge over the river. Very beautiful.
I called the hotel we had booked in Brora, Sutherland Inn and they told us that they had overbooked and that we should pay £65 for the room and then we would get a room at the 4 star hotel Royal Marine instead. Sutherland Inn looked very nice and cosy, but a hotel should never overbook. Now they sorted it out for us very nice, but I am still dissapointed of Sutherland Inn.
The view from our room at Royal Marine Hotel in Brora:
and a picture from the lobby by the fire place:
I do recommend Royal Marine to anyone with money. Royal Marine Hotel website
Brora is a very beautiful place and there are a local whisky distillery called Clynelish in the village.
On the road up north from Brora there is a really beautiful village called Helmsdale, with a stunning view by the mountains and the sea. Incredibly beautiful as you can see from the pictures below.
On the way south from Brora we were passing Dunrobin castle. We didn't have time to enter, but we did took some nice pictures during our visits:
Another town we visited after Brora was Muir of Ord that is close to Inverness, with it's own distillery Glen of Ord. At this place we found a really friendly hotel by the road called Ord Arms Hotel. The staff, a husband and wife, was very friendly to talk to. £70 for a double room for one night. Not so cosy, but very friendly and close to Glen Ord distillery.
After our roundtrip in the highlands we went back to Inverness. The town is much smaller than I expected but very cosy with the River Ness running through it. There also is a castle in Inverness that looked nice but we didn't have a closer look at it.
We stayed at Cedar House Villa in Inverness, the location was excellent and the owners very friendly. Cheap price aswell and comfortable room.
The owner of the Bed & Breakfast told us to pay Hootananny Pub a visit. That was a very nice advice! Upstairs there were a rock band playing and downstairs a Scottish folk music band. Really great and all Inverness was on there feet. Really fun pub!
The whisky distilleries
I love Scotland, partly because it's wonderful nature, it's amazing culture with kilts and bagpipes but also because of their whisky culture that is very fascinating. To visit Whisky distilleries is a must when you visit Scotland. They are located everywhere and the different part of the country produces different types of whisky.
We visited Clynelish Distillery in Brora, North Eastern Highlands. The tour was very nice, not too many tourists at the time we went there and just a tour and one try of the 14 yo whisky cost only £5 including a voucher for £3 when buying their whisky. They also offered a tour with tasting of two more whiskies from their distilleries for only £10. I totally enjoyed the tour and the whisky was fantastic! The old Brora distillery closed down in 1983 and left place to Clynelish. During the tour our guide Kate showed us how the old Brora whisky were tapped into the casks. Very interesting!
At Clynelish Jürgen and myself became "Friends of the Malt" and as a member you get a journal which you should bring to the distillery in the collection and the distillery will stamp it for you and you get a free tour at every distillery and also a nice pin. This is a very clever way of marketing in my opinion because now both of us feel like we have to travel around Scotland to visit all those distilleries and get our stamps.
Glenmorangie distillery is located between Brora and Inverness, in a town called Tain. It's a famous and well known distillery which produces a large range of different whiskies. At Glenmorangie we didn't go for a tour, only whisky tasting for me. I tried the Signet and Sonnalta. The Sonnalta was really, really good, but the Signet, which looks very fancy in its bottle was not impressing so much on me.
Glen ord distillery
5 whiskies before lunch was enough for me and we headed to Muir of Ord to be close to another friend of the Malt, Glen Ord distillery the day after.
The free tour we got was very fun and interesting but unfortunately I did not enjoy the whisky. I even tried with water (I usually never drink with water) but no. Singleton is not my cup of tea! But at least we got the stamp in our Friend of the malt passports.
The beauty and the kilt
No I am not talking about myself, I am talking about the beautiful landscapes of Scotland and the fabulous kilt culture. Both Jürgen and myself bought kilts in Edinburgh and was wearing them for one day in the highlands for taking pictures. Here is a collection.
And let's end with a funny one of Jürgen in a kilt!