Friday, June 14, 2013

You’ll not see the monster at Loch Ness today…

Inverness Scotland  June 14, 2013

"You'll not see the monster at Loch Ness today". That was what we were told by our cab driver Jim as he drove us out to Loch Ness for our two hour cruise of the Loch and subsequent tour of the Urquhart Castle ruins. I asked Jim why we weren't going to see the monster (or Nessie, as the locals refer to her). His response...

"Because the monster woke up in my bed this morning." 

Adam and I laughed our asses off at that one even though Jim has probably delivered that line dozens of times over the years. His timing was perfect I must admit, and then he did go on to tell us his wife was truly a wonderful person. That was the start of a great day here in Northern Scotland, and it only got better. We went to bed last night at around 8PM. We were up a few times but basically slept until 8AM. Wow, were we tired. Last night we had pasta/pizza (pretty good), then a McFlurry (no ice cream shops near us in Inverness), and conked out quickly thereafter.

This morning we had breakfast and then booked the Loch Ness cruise. The cruise left from the dock of the Clansmen Hotel (note that thankfully the Clansmen is spelled with a "C", not a "K"). Shockingly, there was a Nessie gift shop nearby. That was surprising! We boarded the boat and sailed south on Loch Ness in sunny, mild weather. What an incredibly beautiful area. Wild, semi-mountainous, green, and the loch is like a gash in the mountains. We cruised for about 30 minutes down to the ruins of Urquhart Castle. This is a fort that was strategically located on the west side of Loch Ness and was built over 700 years ago. It was cool to walk through the ruins and see the way the castle must have worked when it was being lived in.

Here is the wikepedia link on Urquhart Castle:

Then we grabbed a cab and went to see Cawdor Castle on the other side of Inverness. On the way, we passed the Culloden battlefield where an important war was fought in the 1700's. The battlefield didn't look like much to see despite it's significance historically. Anyway, Cawdor Castle was really interesting with amazing grounds and gardens (mazes, perfectly manicured hedges, classic English lords and ladies stuff). Unlike Urquhart Castle, this castle is in fine shape and Angelika Cawdor, the Dowager Countess Cawdor still resides in the castle seven months of the year when it is not open to the public. What a fun thing to see. It also had a nine hole golf course on its grounds. This castle was mentioned in Shakespeare's Macbeth as well (even though it was not built until after the Macbeth character would have lived). We saw pictures of the Dowager Countess in the castle – what a beautiful woman. Just stunning. Then we read stories about how crazily dysfunctional the modern Cawdor family is (to this day).

Here is the wikepedia link on Cawdor Castle:

We also had great cab rides with colourful talkative drivers. The Scots love to chat and there is always music playing no matter where you go. That reminded Adam of a funny line from the show Arrested Development. As narrated by Ron Howard, the line goes something like this:

"That's the thing about Scottish music. You can't tell if it is good music played poorly, or poor music played well". 

No disrespect intended (because we love the music we are hearing), but that is a pretty funny line nonetheless. We're going to shower now and walk into town for dinner. We'll go to bed early tonight because we start riding tomorrow, and I think, given all the mountains we can see from our hotel, we are going to need all the rest we can get.

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