What an unusually early morning today. Unfortunately the hostel opens breakfast at 8:00, but then we had to be on a bus at 8:25. Getting in line, getting food, and getting on the bus was particularly frustrating initially, but we all made it there and back in one piece… maybe even with more than we had before.
We started the tour going out of Edinburgh and visiting the Wallace monument. I decided not to spend the money to climb the 200+ stairs to the top, but I can assure anyone it was beautiful. The cafe they had nearby also had giant cups of hot chocolate that my fellow travelers were elated about.
Within eyesight you could see the beautiful Stirling Castle. Our guide, Andy, somehow was able to condense a vast amount of important information about various battles and Scottish history in the couple hours on the way there. The main takeaway that I got from it is that, like I already knew, William Wallace is a hero who suffered a horrible death as he was tried for murder (reasonable, even though it was revenge murder) and treason (yeah, I don’t think that’s how it works). Stirling Castle happens to be the castle that in history would determine based on who had control of it who had control of the city, and apparently in the time of 30 years, switched hands of power 13 times.
We stopped in an adorable little town that had delicious meat pies. They also had the most hilarious sheep farm which allowed people to shop and see the sheep. I quite enjoyed it. We got there at the perfect time to watch this little border collie herd 4 ducks. Literally one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.
We also took a boat ride on Loch Katrine. Oh my goodness this lake was huge. I was also surprisingly cold up in the highlands so I stayed pretty still and tucked my hands in my pockets most of the time. I worked on some poetry on the boat… I guess I understand Sir Walter Scott’s logic after all. The best way to describe what it was like is if you go look at any wooded mountains in the midwest, chop a bunch of trees down, let grass grow there, put a huge lake in the center… kinda sorta. It’s much more beautiful than that description.
When returning we were able to stop at Dunebar castle, which was where Monty Python’s Holy Grail was filmed. My mom and I are both fans of these films so I was excited when Andrew pulled out his coconuts and let us gallop up to the castle. He also had an audio file from the “fart battle” scene.
“I fart in your general direction” kills me every. single. time.
Several other girls and I walked along the body of water around the castle. One of us almost fell in the water while trying to climb on rocks. I won’t tell you who it was… okay it was me. But to be fair some of those rocks were way more wobbly when I put my weight on them. Andy was super cool about us getting a fun picture on the way back. He was super good to us, and we all had a great time. I would totally come with him on this tour again.
The great thing about this company is that these tours are free. Well, free upfront. Their company philosophy is that you should pay what you get out of it at the end. Andy and other tour guides literally live on tips. So if you ever book with them, pay very close attention to as much as you can. You will feel like you got a million bucks worth. Apparently the average ticket for a tour is around 65 pounds so when you are done, a little more or a little less will probably be what is recommended.
I for sure will be back in Scotland within the next few years. I absolutely love Edinburgh in particular, so as you can imagine, I was very relieved when our tour finally arrived home at 6:35.