*Just a quick update about my neverending cold. It was a lung infection. The GP (general practitioner (doctor))) gave me antibiotics. I feel a lot better. But not 100%. This is due to the fact that I could NOT MISS YESTERDAY’S ADVENTURE.
The international society here at University of Glasgow is AMAZING. For every single weekend in February and March they plan day trips or full weekend trips and if you buy the tickets each week they take you to the most beautiful places in Scotland plus it’s impossible to not also meet amazing people from all over the world.
This week’s trip was a triple feature: Loch Lomond, Oban, and Isle of Seil. For only £20 this was the day that I got to have:
I woke up bright and early and met at the gates of University of Glasgow at 8:15am where there were 5 giant coaches waiting for us. I chose coach 3 (THE BEST COACH) and we were on our way. Our first stop, only half an hour away from Glasgow was the amazing lake – Loch Lomond. This is the largest lake in the UK in terms of surface area (Loch Ness is bigger in volume). And it is absolutely beautiful. We spent about a half hour walking along the shore and I also got a mocha in the the little town of Luss. Then it was back in the coaches for another drive. But for the first half hour of the next drive we went on a winding road right by the lake. It was absolutely beautiful – it reminded me of the drive around Lake Ozette in Washington but Lomond is much bigger so it was spectacular to see. We also listened to the traditional Scottish song “Loch Lomond”. This is a song that I’ll definitely know really well by the end of my time in Scotland. In fact, you might even recognize it, it has a familiar tune.
Here’s the song:
Now just listen and imagine driving around the lake while you listen:
We also listened to more Scottish music as we drove to Oban and I looked out the coach window. The scenery was absolutely incredible. Every couple of minutes I saw something different – a mountain, a forest, a coursing river, a serene lake, a beautiful cottage. I could have been content to just sit in the coach and watch the scenery roll by but we were about to see spectacular things on our feet as well.
We got off the coach in the little town of Oban, which is Scottish Gaelic for “The Little Bay”. The first thing that I did was a 10 minute trek up the hill to the top of the town where there is a Colosseum like structure called McCaig’s Tower.
Not only is the place really fun and tall,
but it offered a BEAUTIFUL view of the town of Oban and the islands nearby.
I spent a decent amount of time just staring out over town and at the water. The views were spectacular I couldn’t believe it.
I also spent some time with friends just posing in the holes of the Coloseum-like tower:
The next thing we did was make the 15-20 minute trek to the ruins of of Dunollie Castle. Honestly, at the castle itself there wasn’t much to see. But the walk was on the water and it was beautiful and refreshing. Also, everywhere I went on this trip there were new people to meet and befriend.
After the trek up to the tower, then the walk to and from the castle, we were all pretty hungry. Luckily, Oban is the seafood capital of Scotland! So, we stopped in a fish and chips bar and inhaled our delicious food. Right as we came inside it started hailing really hard – we had great timing, others weren’t so lucky!
Soon after we ate I had probably the funniest bathroom experience of my life. I went to a public bathroom where a very emphatic Asian lady kept yelling “20P! 20P! 20P!” because it costed 20p to use the bathroom. Then, on the way out, I got to help myself to a chocolate coin – to thank me for peeing there? to apologize for taking my 2op? Either way, I found the whole situation quite hilarious!
We returned to the bus and drove another 10 minutes to the Clachan Bridge, or the Atlantic Bridge, or the Bridge over the Atlantic. Legend says crossing the bridge by foot brings good luck so I made sure to walk all the way across and back. I didn’t get a very good shot of the bridge itself but I searched through the international society’s photos to find this one.
And I made sure to get a flatmate picture with my amazing flatmate (I love her)
WE’RE SO CUTE.
The final part of the trip was my favorite part. We drove another maybe 15 minutes to the Isle of Seil which is an amazing spot right by the Atlantic Ocean. The opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean from the United States! It’s so cool!!
Anyways, we had the choice to go down to the water or climb a giant hill for a good view. We were warned to not go on the hike if we had bad shoes. I was prepared so I decided to climb the hill and it was quite a steep walk up – and a bit muddy because of weather reasons, but I’m SO GLAD I went to the top of this hill for the amazing amazing amazing view we had from the top.
I stayed on the top of that hill for as long as I could just soaking up the beauty of this place. If you can’t tell from the photos, I was so happy to be there, for climbing the hill, for conquering my cough, for seeing a part of the world I’ve never seen. Then it started to rain….and hail….and that hill that we had just scaled became a muddy, muddy mess. This was definitely my fondest memory and the funniest thing that has happened since coming here to Scotland. I came prepared. Before I left home I bought some boots that I will forever be thankful to own. They’re pretty much army combat boots and they have killer traction plus with all this rain my feet have never once gotten wet, and I’ve jumped through many a puddle. I owned that muddy hill. I walked down the hill like a boss. But….that was not the case with most people. People were slipping, sliding, and getting completely muddy trying to climb down this hill. I tried not to laugh in the pain of others but honestly, it was completely hilarious. Our beautiful view came with a cost. Everyone was in the same boat so it wasn’t as if one person fell and was embarrassed. Everyone was falling and laughing and getting back up and wishing for better shoes. It was so so funny.
When we got to the bottom the sun broke through the clouds and I could’ve died at how beautiful it was. Of course, my camera was not high enough quality to capture this moment in ANY OF IT’S GLORY so you’ll just have to look at this crappy photo and imagine the real live beauty of it.
Finally we got back on the coach and drove 2 hours back to Glasgow.
What a day.
We got back at around 8pm and I walked back to my flat to warm up. That day, the 25th of January, is actually a National holiday in Scotland – Burn’s Day. Many people celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s National poet by eating haggis, drinking scotch whiskey, reciting poetry, and doing some celidh dancing. Unfortunately, I was so tired upon returning to my flat that I didn’t get to celebrate – plus it was already nearing 9pm by the time I would’ve been ready. So instead I walked down the block to a flat nearby celebrating Australia day, a national holiday in Australia usually celebrated on the 26th (but Australia’s ahead, ya see?). This was a nice way to end my day because I could mix and mingle and revel in the fact that I’m surrounded by so many people from all around the world who all celebrate different holidays and I get to hang out with all of them for a semester and it’s just so cool. One person at the party offered me a swig of his Scotch Whiskey so I got to have my own mini Burn’s celebration along with celebrating Australia Day. I made a pact to myself that I would find haggis sometime this weekend so I can at least try to get the whole experience even if it’s fragmented and backwards.
Today was one of those days where I just couldn’t fit all the things that I wanted to do into one day. And it was awesome. I look forward to many more days packed with this kind of thrill and fun and amazing company. Next weekend the International Society is going to St. Andrews for a day. I hope to join them for this trip and all their other trips across Scotland and Northern England! It’s an opportunity I feel so lucky and grateful to have.