Friday, December 9, 2011

Isle of Skye (and Snow)

Earlier this week, the German and I traveled on a tour to the Isle of Skye  with Rabbie's Tour company, and it was one of the best winter holiday's I have ever taken. We were not sure what to expect when we left town on Monday, because the forecast was calling for snow, but the winter wonderland of Skye provided some of the most spectacular landscape views I have ever seen.  

We left Edinburgh for our 6 hour dive stopping in some quaint villages along the way. Our first stop was a wee village called Callander. There was a lovely lake and we started getting our fist glimpse of the Highlands covered in snow. 

We continued on further into highlands and were amazed by the blue skies and white terrain. 

Then we made it to Glencoe in the middle of the Highlands of Scotland where we stopped for a view of the Three Sisters Mountain Range. 

The German was excited for his first snow of the season!

Yeah for snow!

 The ride to the Isle of Skye is a good 6 hour drive, so as the sun was setting we got some great views of Eilean Donan castle, the same castle in the film Made of Honor.  

When we got to the Isle of Skye it was pitch black, so we weren't able to get a view of anything until the morning. Our Bed and Breakfast was located right on the water and the view of the sunrise is below. We were very happy to have a clear morning! 

The weather fluctuated between -1 to 3 degrees (30-33F) so we had to bundle up! It was frigid outside. 

One of the first stops on our tour was the The Old Man of Storr. Our guide explained to us that 99% of people traveling to Skye do not get the chance to see the island under snow because it is so rare that they get winter weather. We felt so lucky to get to see this winter scenery on the island! 

 After Storr, we made our way to one of the cliffs on the Island. As you can see it was an amazing view! 

Beach down below.

 The island is rugged and you are able to walk most places, but keep caution around the cliffs!

 Normally the tour has 15 people on it, but since our group was only 4 our guide was able to take us off the beaten path, which we were really happy about. We hiked out to our next stop to view this amazing waterfall! You can see bits of green on the cliffs, which our guide explained to us was the typical terrain of the Isle of Skye.

We then made our way down to a beach that was said to have Dinosaur fossils footprints on it. 

I couldn't find any footprints, but the views of the black sand with the white mountains in the background were amazing!

 The German also enjoyed the beach, as it was his first time to a beach in his winter coat!

 According to our guide, this is a geologists dream. 

 I loved the contrasts of the green moss, black sand, and snow. 

Searching for the Dinosaur footprints.... but unsuccessful. 

We then made our way back around the island stopping every so often so we could capture the amazing views.  

Did I mention there are thousands of sheep on the isle? They were hard to spot in the snow, but since the farmers spray their heard with different colors it helped in spotting them. 

 What I found to be really amazing was that we could drive from snow a few feet deep to green landscapes within 15 minutes. This view was from one of the most eastern sides of the Trotternish peninsula and as you can see; no snow! 

We found this monument at the point of the isle. 

Best quote on the monument: "The World Will End But Love and Music Endureth"

 There were also remains from a castle that we explored. 

The German enjoyed climbing on the ruins. 

We were staying in a lovely town called Portree. One of my favorite parts of the village was the rainbow harbour. Since it was the off season a lot of the restaurants were closed, but I did enjoy fish n chips and some fresh mussels! 

The German and more amazing views of the Isle of Skye

In the winter months, the sun starts to set around 3:30pm, so we decided to spend the afternoon touring the Talisker Distillery.  It was a good option for an afternoon activity since we lost daylight shortly after lunch.   

On our final day we left the Isle of Skye and headed towards Loch Ness. On the way we found a heard of Highland Cows! They are my favorite animals in Scotland. 

 Don't you just love their long shaggy hair?!

 Then we were able to see Eilean Donan in the daylight. It was really beautiful with the Scottish Haar.

We made it to Loch Ness, but our luck with the weather had run out. It was freezing rain, and we didn't see any monsters. Honestly, Loch Ness doesn't ever come close to comparing to the views we had seen the previous two days. I would recommend Loch Lommond or a trip to the Highlands over a trip to Loch Ness any day!  

The village of Loch Ness

A pretty loch and dam on our way home

We loved our faithful tour bus! 

The Isle of Skye was not what I was expecting, mostly because I hear so many great things about the green landscape. But after seeing it in the snow, I have a greater appreciation for The Isle and the Highlands of Scotland. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I can't wait to go back exploring in the summer months! 

Until next time, I will see you on the internet. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

The Christmas season is in full swing here in Edinburgh, and the city really knows how to celebrate the holidays. The German arrived to town Thursday night, and we have spent every day down at the German Christmas markets feasting on some of Germany's finest traditional foods.  It's been getting colder here, and today we were pleasantly surprised to wake up and see the first snow of the winter season. Even though it was just a dusting, it made the view from my flat even more amazing!

We made our way down to the Christmas markets to fuel up for our big day. We were both looking forward to traditional German sausages! 

They have so many different kinds of sweet temptations including freshly baked applestrudle with cherries and vanilla sauce. 

We also had one of our favourite German dishes called kaesespaetzle. It's kind of like the German's version of mac n' cheese and it's so delish!

Downtown Edinburgh has many rides, games, and an ice rink for people to enjoy during December. I decided that we were going ice skating, and even though the German had never skated in his life he was ready to give it a try! 

His first few laps were a bit shaky, but after a while he got the hang of it! 

I had to document it with a video - so for a good laugh, click on the picture below to start the clip. 

The rink was packed, but it was really lovely to see all the families, couples, and people of the city out enjoying the day together. 

 And neither of us fell....success! 

After our hour on the ice, we headed back to the markets for some more amazing food. I really wish they were here year round! 
Edinburgh is so festive at the holidays making it so easy to get into the Christmas spirit! Tomorrow we are heading north to the Isle of Skye for a few nights. We are hoping for more snow and some amazing views of the Scottish countryside! 

Until next time, I'll see you on the internet.