Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 3 - Goodbye Inverness, Hello Edinburgh! (Alt title: that time we got lost at the top of a mountain in Scotland)


Monday, May 30th

We said goodbye to Inverness and traveled south. We stopped at the Tomatin scotch distillery for a tour and tasting.

*pic of Dusty at the distillery:


I don't care for scotch, but Dusty has a taste for it, so this was one of those things that we did for him. But I have to say that the tour was fascinating. It was interesting to see how it's made, and the process is quite complicated.
*Photos of the scotch tour:


You can see the foamy top on the liquid. This is the yeast getting to work. It smelled very strongly of yeast. Some people in the tour didn't like that, but since I love many products of yeast (bread! pastry!) it didn't bother me a bit. Jake didn't care for it, though. He said it smelled like Cedar Rapids. Hahaha!


This large copper structure is called a pot still. Heat is applied to the pot that contains the whiskey wash solution, which results in vapor forming. The vapor contains more alcohol than the wash, and when they are condensed, the resulting liquid has a nice high alcohol content. Which I guess is what you want in scotch. What I found interesting is that each distillery has a different shape to their pot stills because the shape of the still somehow affects the flavor of the scotch.


I love these colorful barrels:


Jake is standing next to his birth year:


Dusty smelling the scotch during tasting. By the way, our tour guide's name was Scott. Which I thought was funny, since we're in Scotland. :)


After the tour, we had arranged to meet some colleagues of mine for lunch at a place called House of Bruar. My friend Dave, who lives here in Scotland, described it as being "right off the main road."

Here's a photo of the place:

Our GPS had us turn off of the A9 (main road) and up some twisty, turny roads. I was a bit worried, but I figured maybe it was sending us on the shortest path instead of the one with the fastest roads, as I've had GPS do that to me before.  Or, I thought maybe Dave's version of 'right off the road' was different than ours.

But when it had us going up the side of a steep mountain, I knew something was amiss. We drove almost to the top of a mountain and the GPS said, "Arrived."

Um. This is what we saw:



There was no shopping center and restaurant here. Only completely wild, untouched land. (Well, except for the roads.) We drove around a bend and there was a ski resort, but nothing else. Of course the cell reception up there was nonexistent, so we had some trouble connecting with my friends.

We knew to head back to the A9, and so we drove that way, all the while the GPS was telling us to "Turn around! Make a U-Turn!" It wanted to send us right back up that mountain the whole time. Nice. Never trust your GPS.

It was alright, though, because we saw the most beautiful sights along the way:



These are the shaggy highland cows you see in movies and on print materials advertising Scotland:



We finally made it to our lunch spot and had a quick visit with my friends who were nice enough to wait for us. I didn't take any photos here except this one because we were visiting, but here's a shot from the gift shop. You can buy haggis (barf!) in all sorts of shapes and bundles.


After our very late lunch, we drove on to Edinburgh. Speaking of the drive, I have gotten far more comfortable driving on the left. It almost feels normal to me now. Here's a shot of me that Jake took as I was driving. See? My knuckles aren't even white!


Here are some more photos from our drive to Edinburgh. I can't tell you enough how stunning this country is:



We made it to the city, and found the change from rural highlands to Edinburgh quite striking. This is a massive bridge being constructed:


We made it to our B&B without much trouble and were greeted by our chatty and attentive host.
*Pic of our B&B

After we got settled, we set out for a nice walk around the area. We haven't even made it into the city center where all of the old Edinburgh historical stuff is, and still what we've seen is gorgeous:

This church is just a house or two away from our B&B:


This is an old school for the deaf that was too expensive to maintain, so they moved the school to the outskirts of town. It has sat dormant for years, while developers secure the funds to turn it into luxury housing. Our host told us this morning that they're not allowed to build on the grounds, only inside of the structure and that the flats they create will be more than £1,000,000.


Some more nearby places:





We finally stopped for dinner at an italian restaurant where the food was tasty but the service was slow. Oh well, we had nowhere to be.
*Pic of Jake eating his seafood pasta:

After dinner, we came back to the hotel and relaxed before bed. It was 11 pm by the time we made it back, which was far later than this girl usually stays up.

Even though we had some detours and got lost yesterday, it was gorgeous and I'm kind of glad we were able to drive up the side of that mountain. It was a view and perspective we wouldn't have seen otherwise!


Kirsten said...

We have a farm near us that raises Highland Cattle. We like to ride our bikes up to visit them. DH adopts his very best Scottish brogue so that they will understand that we do them no harm...or maybe he's just really weird.

jensfaboo said...

I was talking about your trip yesterday and my uncle was begging me to beg you to bring back a bottle of 18 yo Glenlivet scotch. If you are able to, let me know, but if you have a full list of requests and Dusty needs his stash, I completely understand. Just doing my niecely duties by mentioning it! :) Have fun. I am fascinated by your trip!