Pardon for the delay on this, but I initially tried to write this by the bank of Loch Ness, posted to my blog...and the connection dropped so I lost the whole thing. Here goes round two!
This is basically the live-tweeting of my journey so far.
The French countryside is a mosaic from above. None of it perfectly lined or planned like Virginia, but perfectly imperfect. The curves and blends of colors astound, the little white dots of wind harnesses; all blend together in something that looks like it was created accidentally on purpose.
I see a group of guards or police fully armed in the Paris airport, holding sticks and massive guns. Terrifying? A bit. But I heard them speak in French and they were cracking jokes and laughing. Funny that, how you can be armed and prepared for the very worst acts of humanity and within that, enjoy a fully human moment of joking with friends.
Train into Paris from airport, I hear stereotypical French music, accordions. Look up to see random dude hopped on playing. Guess he wants money? Jokes on him. Je n'ai rien!
Slept all the way to Lille,3 hours. I tried not to smile just now as an ambulance went by with its signature horn. I thought it might be bad luck for those inside.
Oh, the dude sitting beside me speaks English. Cool! Aw, he's had his own travel mishaps. Poor guy...
"You are...tres jolie, you're face, etc." Uuuuh....okay Mr. 40-year-old. Is the little arm stroking a continental European thing? Or...should I be super creeped out right now? Wait, is this human trafficking? He's mentioning his flat in London—nope!
London. Woah. Passed an actual flower stand and I think I glimpsed Big Ben! Crossed the Thames by night, saw the ferris wheel all lit up. Maybe next time I can actually stop and explore?
And I escaped the possible trafficker. Too bad, he was a decent conversationalist before things got SUPER weird.
Pitlochry - enchanted forest, darling place, find it again?
Inverness - first full day, adorable blond bagpipe player caught my eye and I grinned and he stopped playing a second, then kept on. Aaaah Scotland!
I've never seen gulls so massive, nor so loud!
Really nice girl in Red Pepper made a huge sandwich with crisps and salad for 3 pounds, chatted me up, said she was jealous of my jumper and where I live and also said she went traveling alone last year. I'm not alone! ❤️
It's weird how popular American music is all over Europe so far; it dominates! So very weird.
The locals on the bus all stare at their phones, ignoring the million dollar views outside their windows. How could such sights become commonplace?!?
On the bus to Invermoriston, a couple in front was kissing so loud and frequently, I swear the giant "SINGLE" tattooed on my forehead grew a size. #foreveralone But if I find someone, please don't let us be so embarrassingly couply on public buses, swapping loud messy kisses. Or do. Whatever. #22yearsandcounting
Also, public transportation is the best thing ever. I mean, balancing schedules sucks, but it makes everything so nice and breezy! Easy breezy...cover girl. Oh God I need sleep.
Passed my hostel on the way to Invermoriston. Neglected to realize the Great Glen Way path back to my hostel was a 4 hours walk, not 1 like I'd thought unless I wanted to squeeze myself onto maybe a foot between the side of the road and the giant buses and cars zooming by. Thankfully, just at the right moment I happened upon a hotel and saw this taxi dude outside. Ran outside and he dropped me just down the road for a fiver. Huzzah! See mom? Not dead yet!
This hostel is SO cool. Very hipster, fun. Laid back! I could run a hostel like this. Also, most of these hikers and backpackers are freaking legit. Like...damn. I'm such a poser With my tiny Amazon backpack and Old Navy jeans.
Wildflowers dot the grass everywhere even though this is like my version of winter. Dandelions especially. Toast, tea, and writing by the Loch this morning. How grand!
Christmas trees all by the road! Aaaah I love this so much.
Just saw a fox by the road, I think! 😍
The closer we got to the coast by Skye, the bigger the hills grew until huge green mountains loomed all around the bus. I couldn't stop staring for even a moment.
Getting off the ferry on Isle of Raasay was the most perfectly perfect PERFECT moment of realizing just where I was. Between the sweeping views, massive mountains, the wind and...I may have shouted a bit once I was alone. My heart's in the highlands and my body's near Skye. Is this real life?
Aaaaand of course I'm staying in the most beautiful old house, 1700s, complete with old library and corridor after corridor. I'm pretty sure I was stuck in the servants' quarters, but I so didn't mind. Ended up staying in the library until around 1-2am. Also, I befriended this lovely German woman and may go visit later!
Hiked today...and God, that deserves its own post. I reencountered God in such a huge way and I'm so in love with life. Also, I freaking CLIMBED. A cliff, barehanded! What?!
The little ones wear red wellies here, no matter their nationality. And yes, it is adorable.
I chatted up an old Irish lady who I first saw from the top of the ferry; she struck me as serene and strong in her red raincoat with her little hat and handbag, like she'd stepped out of the 60s. Her name is Henrietta though she goes by Rita since the other is far too long to scribble out and say. She married a Scotsman who died two years ago, grew up an orphan during WW2 born in Glasgow and sent to Ireland to stay with a family there. She has no children, few family members, and her friends keep dying. She came from a funeral but was very happy to keep company with me for a few hours. I found her quite, quite pleasant. She was so lonely. So painfully lonely.
So far, I've met and spoken with
Mike - African born, French brought up, Londoner on Ouibus. Charming, funny, said I was "Tres Jolie". I suspected human trafficking given my disgusting post-travel self and acne. Still nice for a bit!
Bruce - South African, manages Lochside hostel. Very cool and hipster, flirty, cool. Did I say cool?
Peter - kind old man from London on the bus to Skye, journalist, told me about the island and spoke about life, writing, jobs, living conditions, etc. Very nice!
Simone - German on Raasay. Chemistry teacher, daughter 19 who travels and illustrates/writes, son 16. Her husband left her last year so she's backpacking Scotland for a month to find her own Scotsman! We shared the couch in the library and drinks and food. I'll go visit her!
Finn - cute hipster guy works in Raasay house cafe, flirted a lot and made me a cup of fancy cocoa but didn't charge me much!
Polish man running the trolley on the train from Kyle to Inverness - came here last year on vaca, works here and climbs/hikes on weekends now. Very cute with storm eyes.
Girl in Red Pepper, Inverness. Chatted me up and liked my jumper! She traveled to Spain alone
Red trim on houses/cottages, blue doors, and stone are popular here for homes
I absolutely believe the fact Hagrid casually found massive Christmas trees for hog warts now. The highlands are littered with them, and they're all quite beautiful!
Delayed on the train because they were dealing with an "excessively drunk passenger." 😂😂😂
Eating Indian tonight because I took a shower and totally forgot to eat today except a bag of crisps and half a crap sandwich from Costas. Oi vey.
Poor guy with no game in Pitlochry! Haha he's trolling the dance floor, so very sad. Just standing there hitting on anything with boobs. Goodness. 😂
I ended up coming back after dancing only to play pool with a German guy, Lukas, and a Spaniard. Both were funny and sweet and we played pool until a lovely Aussie girl, Tara, came in and told us about a meteor shower. Next second, we were all up on the fire escape watching shooting stars until 4am. Pure magic.
I was fully prepared to settle in and write the next day when Elena, a girl from New York, chatted me up and within about five minutes...it was time for white water rafting. I thought I might have gone crazy, but the only mad one was our guide, Big Iain, who was HUGE. And probably actually insane, given the way he navigated the river and dove in after his paddle. Also, there was no changing area so I had to strip down to my undies and bra and just go for it under the open sky. Talk about building confidence.
This town is just darling, and I've been adopted by a group of Scots! Yeeeees! They're the coolest, working with Germans and Spaniards on some service project/youth camp thing down here. It's been the best so far. Also, apparently pool is a big thing here.
I tried to climb a mountain yesterday and got lost in a field, but it wasn't so bad. I had my notebook, my pen, and a flower crown I knit together. Let the magic times flow.
The mountains are breathing. I'm hiking Ben Vracky and I know it's just clouds, but...God.
Also, I really should've brought a protein bar or thought ahead. It took about 6 hours to hike to and from Ben Vracky but God what a rush!
Scotland has my heart even now, guys. Please let me live here.