The next day Caitlin and I got lucky and got the last 2 seats on a tour up to Loch Ness. We stopped off at Loch Lomond on the way, and went pass Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Scotland), Glencoe (site of the famous MacDonald massacre), and a few other places. We got dropped off at Urquhart Castle and left to explore the ruins for about an hour, then took a cruise across Loch Ness in search of the famed beast. I’m sorry to report there were no Nessie sightings that day. There was plenty of bagpipe music and lovely views to compensate. We made a large circle of Scotland by bus, but the whole ordeal was nearly 13 hours, so we were a bit wrecked when we finally made it back to Sarah’s. That dear girl had cooked us dinner with lots of spinach, which was simply delicious, along with a few Brew Dogs since they’re made in Scotland. (Europe tends to give you fewer vegetables when your order a meal, so the spinach was doubly appreciated after all our travels.) Sarah and I nipped off for a bit of whiskey drinking while Caitlin was in the shower, and just had a lovely time catching up one-on-one. Then we came back and turned on the news to watch as the election votes started coming in. We did pretty well, seeing as we were still awake by around half one, but gave up and went to bed before anything significant was really known.
The next day we awoke to the news that Obama was President again for 4 more years, and Sarah had managed to get a day of to spend with us. She did her undergrad at Edinburgh University, so the 3 of us headed over to Edinburgh and Sarah gave us a personal tour of the town. It’s one cool city. Because the town had built up rather than out back in the day, you end up with streets on top of streets (I’ve no idea how you’d show that on a map), and all sorts of neat architecture demarcating different levels. The castle sits atop Castle Rock overlooking all of the surrounding area, and the sea is at the other end of the city. We grabbed a coffee in a shop looking out over the city, wandered around the outside of the castle, walked past the shops and looked in at the Queen’s Gallery, and decided it was time for lunch. There’s a fantastic shop called Oink, where they spit-roast one pig a day, make pork sandwiches with seasoned stuffing and applesauce and crackling if you’d like, and when the pig is gone they close the shop. They only do one thing, but they sure do it well. We popped into a more vegetarian-friendly restaurant so Caitlin could eat something, too, saw a bit of Edinburgh University, and did a bit of shopping. Sarah recommended a tour of the vaults, but decided it was scary enough the first time she did so she wouldn’t be joining me and Caitlin. So while Sarah meandered and reminisced, Caitlin and I went on a tour of vaults built into a lengthy, lengthy bridge. The vaults had been intended to be storage space for shopkeepers atop the bridge, but leaked when it rained (bit of a problem in Scotland), so they shopkeepers quickly removed their wares from them and the city’s homeless quickly moved in. As you can imagine, the vaults weren’t nice places to live, and there were many deaths there, so they are now renowned for their ghosts and paranormal activity. A cloaked tour guide showed us around and shared some of the horrific tales of the vaults. I found it all quite interesting, though I think Caitlin was more of a mind with Sarah on this one. We met back up with Sarah and went for a drink, then got the train back to Glasgow. We grabbed a late dinner and said our goodbyes (since Sarah would be leaving for work before we were like to be up).
Caitlin and I got packed the next morning, than ran to Piece, the sandwich shop were Eva works, to get lunch for the train ride. Piece is a great shop, and I got a baguette with Polish beer sausage, dilled beet root, horseradish mayonnaise, and lettuce that was again delicious. But Eva wouldn’t even let us pay for it. We owe her a huge thanks. It was lovely of Sarah to have us stay with her and give up her own bed, to cook for us, to be our tour guide, and to let us wash all our clothes (thanks again, Sarah!). But Eva didn’t even know us before this weekend, and still let us invade her space, take over the wash for 3 days, use her hairdryer in her room, hang out and entertain us, and then bought us lunch on top of it all. What a pair. So a big thanks to Eva as well, and if either of you end up in my neck of the woods I will gladly return the favor. Cheers, ladies!