- That would be what Karen said after the Nessie Exhibit today. But first....
We started this morning off a little later than I wanted to, but it was still dark out when I got up. That makes it much easier to sleep in, or just lay around and chill out, check email, etc. By the time we finally got up, ate breakfast and got over to the reception building it was about 30 minutes later than I wanted, but the building was locked up. We went and got Karen some coffee and killed about 45 minutes.
Walked back to the hostel, but it was still locked. We finally found a doorbell and dropped the key off. On the road again! Along the way, just by coincidence, I saw a castle out of the corner of my eye. It was the famous Castle Stalker, a really neat keep on a small island. You may have seen it in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was not open due to season and tidal access issue, but we whipped around and took several good photos of it.
Our second stop of the day was Glenfinnan Viaduct, which some of you may remember from the Harry Potter films. It's the railroad platform that the Hogwart's Express uses several times and it the arched platform that Harry and Ron fly the Ford Anglia around when trying to find the train. I was a little disappointed with it, but it was still cool. It was wet out, so the structure was really dark, unlike in the films. The base of it is private property, and there was a bunch of junks (old cars and stuff) stacked up near it, making it hard to get a good picture. Still, overall, a really awesome area.
We then headed toward Loch Ness! The village at the southwestern end of Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is supposed to be a really good place to shop, especially for Scottish wool products, tartans, and kilts. I have this strange desire to buy a kilt, but while the price is quite affordable here (about £50, versus the £400 I've seen online), I have absolutely no idea where I will ever where one. I think that one would be nice for hiking, but I think I'd prefer a Utili-Kilt if I'm going to spend that much money on clothing. So, we drove through Ft. Augustus, seeing our first signs for Loch Ness attractions, inns that the word "Inn" was shaped to look like Nessie. We drove along the Loch for the first 15 miles or so, Karen had her eyes peeled the entire time. She didn't see much, not even a penguin, but quite a diligent eye open while we rolled into Castle Urquhart. The castle was built in the 13th century, and I honestly don't know more than that, as we decided to pass on visiting it. We took some pictures, but didn't feel like walking through another ruined castle in the rain, so we went just a few more miles to the village of Drumnadrochit to visit the Loch Ness exhibits, gift shops, and the like.
Our first shop was a small gift shop to take the obligatory shots with their Nessie sculpture. We picked up some souvenirs, including a pin with the crossed flags of Scotland (St. Andrew's Cross and Royal Standard of Scotland) and a Tartan scarf made with the Tartan known as the Pride of Scotland. I dig it a lot!
After wrapping up at the gift shop, we headed to the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre (www.3dlochness.com/loch-ness-2000.htm). We took some even better photos of their Nessie statue, and Karen snapped several of their small submarine that was placed right outside of the exhibit.
We stepped inside the exhibit and were prepared to be shown something impressive. Unfortunately, this did not happen. It was a 6 room multimedia display that had us asking more questions than when we came in. The weird thing about it was that guy that ran the place, wrote a book about the mystery, and also heads the most current research team looking for more proof of Nessie (and was actually working behind the curtain at the reception desk) seems to actually want to find Nessie, but all of the presentation was mostly evidence as to why something of that size would not be able to live in the Loch and explained most of the sightings as something other than a monster. Oh well, sort of a bummer.
We left the exhibit and made our way to Inverness. Inverness turned out to be a lot larger than I expected. The road layout in Inverness was also VERY confusing to me (I never felt this way anywhere else in Britain). We finally found the hostel and then finally found parking nearby and made out way in. After checking in, dropping our bags and relaxing in the lounge, I struck up a conversation with a German guy that was also staying in the hostel. Seemed like a nice guy. We made our way down the block to a tapas restaurant called La Tortilla Asesina (www.latortillaasesina.co.uk). SOOOOO GOOOOOD! I've never eaten in a Spanish restaurant before, and have never had Tapas. Little food is awesome! We really enjoyed the meal, it was extremely tasty. We had chickpea salad, spinach croquettes, stuffed peppers (AWESOME!), Moorish couscous, tiny roasted peppers, and sauteed mushrooms and Karen had ham and cheese croquettes as well. I think it may have been my favorite meal in Britain! We headed back to the hostel and chilled out some more in the lounge. Karen went up to the room to read after a while, and I stayed up until about 11:00 (not late, but we had to be up early and it was a long day) talking with a group of people from all over the world (Australia, Finland, Germany, Brazil, France, and Scandinavia). It was a really great experience that I hope to repeat one day!
Tomorrow we will be headed to Stirling to see the National Wallace Monument and celebrating Hogmanay at Stirling Castle. And who knows, maybe I'll buy a kilt tomorrow?
More pics from today: http://s290.photobucket.com/albums/ll256/sandalscout/GB%202010-2011/Dec%2030-Oban-Loch%20Ness-Inverness/?start=all