I can already say that Scotland has been one of my favorite places I’ve traveled so far in my life. I know I’m going to look back on all my adventures here and remember in particular this past week. It was just four days of utter bliss. And shortbread.
Our group of about 50 IES students departed on Thursday and we flew from London way up north to Inverness, Scotland. It’s funny, but that was the first time I’d ever actually walked out on the tarmac to board a plane! Our first destination was Cairngorm Mountain Reindeer Center, where we got to play with reindeer! No kidding. We hiked up a beautiful path to where a group of the herd was waiting with a herder. The reindeer have free roam of several thousand acres, but there’s a team of herders that feed and take care of them. They were the sweetest animals, with the softest noses and incredibly thick fur and huge hooves that allow them to survive in arctic temperatures and snowfall. They were so friendly and hilarious to feed. I want one as a pet!
We stayed the night in Aviemore, the closest little town that primarily attracts avid winter sports people, and the next day went on to Loch Ness, where we got to take a boat across the loch to Urquhart Castle. No sightings of Nessie the Loch Ness monster, I’m afraid! But it was stunning, and we got really lucky with rare sunny, warm weather that day, and in fact for the whole trip. Urquhart Castle was another one of those places that just served as a giant playground for a bunch of college students to go exploring all the rooms and climbing the ruins and running all over the grounds. Literally the softest spongy, moor-ish grass, Scotland has, by the way.
Then it was on to Glen Coe, which was just the sort of stunning views and glens that you’d expect of the Scottish Highlands. It was where bits of Skyfall were filmed! Thoroughly impressed. We went on a long hike through the valley, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. Though I’m enjoying living in such a bustling city like London, I’m really an outdoorsy girl at heart, and the open space had me itching to hike and climb and camp in the mountains. More than anywhere else, it’s someplace I wished I could stay so much longer. I’d love to go back there with my family someday to do a bunch of hiking and camping.
Then it was on to Oban, my favorite town we visited. It’s just the best little place on a bay, where we stayed in an amazing hostel, walked the beach late at night, and climbed to McCaig’s Tower on the hill the next day. Could have stayed there longer too! But it was on to our final destination, Edinburgh. Back to the city, but such an interesting one. Our hostel left something to be desired, but the city is wild and alive with street performers and things to do. The next day we saw Edinburgh Castle before we had to depart for our five-hour train ride back to London! What a whirlwind weekend.
I was so glad I got to see so much of Scotland, but now I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a panic over the little time and the very many things I need to do and see in the dwindling weeks left in London. Make time stop, please!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ariana is a junior at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. On campus, she is busy with bellydance and yoga, and as an executive member of the student health club. She has ridden elephants in Thailand and gone whitewater rafting in New Zealand, but her time studying abroad in London will be her first experience of Europe, which she hopes to make the very most of. Writing is how she makes sense of the world, and she hopes to share this blog with you while she explores jolly old England!</span></p>