Adventure in Scotland

All of my most exciting experiences to share with my family and friends :)

Only 20 Days Left November 25, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 5:55 pm

Time is running low and I have been trying to pack in many activities before leaving to go back home.  Last Thursday and Friday was Caitlin and Ami’s dance platform.  They did wonderful and it brought back so many memories of me prancing around in a tutu so long ago.  Saturday, Ami was in a roller skating show.  They have a team and do synchronized skating and perform solos as well.  Ami and her Aunt Penny performed a beautiful duet, Ami was even lifted in the air just like in ice skating.

The week consisted of homework, homework, homework.  I have two essays to finish up and an exam to take before I leave in three weeks.  Thursday night was a Thanksgiving feast that my friends put on so I wouldn’t miss home too much.  We had chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and I took stuffing and pumpkin pie.  It was all good, but I missed my mom’s cooking so much!  I was able to Skype everyone who was celebrating Thanksgiving at my house and it was very nice to see them all.  Friday, I took the bus to Fort Augustus, about 50 minutes from Fort William.  It is a touristy place near Loch Ness, but there was no sign of Nessie, the monster.  Saturday, I was walking to the bus station and saw reindeer running to see the many kids ready to meet them and Santa.  I then went to Inverness to do some shopping on Black Friday weekend.  I didn’t see any big sales like those back home but still enjoyed my time.

I have planned to go to Liverpool this weekend and cannot wait!  The train ride will be long, about ten hours in total, my plan is to get both of my essays done so all I have to do when I get back is edit them and study for my exam.  It will be my last trip outside of Fort William and by the time I get back I will have to begin the task of packing.  The time has gone by so fast, I can’t believe it is nearly December and time to go back to Byron, USA.

 

Edinburgh, the Capitol City November 10, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 8:22 pm

It has taken far too long but I made it to Edinburgh, the Capitol city of Scotland. I had more family here, Sheryl and her friend Dianne so that required more travel. The train ride to Edinburgh is a total of five and a half hours, way too long to sit and do homework so I learned how to play more card games. We arrived late to out room, planned an attack on the city for the morning, and went to bed. The first stop in the morning was Edinburgh Castle and it was very pretty. Its location makes all the difference, it is on the top of a tall hill that can be seen from all the old architecture and new shops that are below. I found a lot of similarities to the Tower of London just on a smaller scale. The crown jewels and a cathedral were within the walls and the trench outside. I have seen many castles and it still surprises me how people so long ago were able to make such good structures that are still standing. We did the hop-on hop-off bus tour and were able to see all that the city had to offer.

The shopping there was just perfect, not too overwhelming but still a wide variety of stores. I was on a hunt for a watch and quickly found that I cannot get the high-end ones that are made in London and cost 10,000 pounds. The sales people were very good as well, there was one woman who got us all really good. Her products were miracle products and I was right there to see everything she wanted to share with us. There is no worries of going hungry in Edinburgh, there are plenty of places to eat and they all looked perfectly decorated. My favorites are the pubs on the corner of a less traveled street that serves all the traditional meals in a unique way.

Next week will mark a one month count down to the other side of the pond and I am so happy I made the decision to come to Scotland. I have many weekends that are booked up with traveling to see friends and a couple of homework assignments to finish up. Before I know it, I will be at home sitting in my living room looking at all the Christmas decorations around my house. Missing you all at home, but having so much fun still!

 

Time Flies November 4, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 11:08 pm

The amount of time that has gone by is unbelievable!! I was happy to celebrate Halloween with everyone the weekend before the actual day, I dressed up as a tourist.  I was all decked out with Fort William shirt, hat, tattoo, map, and fanny pack.  There were people who didn’t believe that I was American, they thought I put on a fake accent for the night.  I went out with my host mom and her friends, it was a blast and we danced all night!  My host sister’s birthday falls on the Halloween day so the house was decorated in spooky skeletons and hot pink balloons.  They all went out trick or treating but it is much different.  They call it guising and when they go into a house they either tell a joke or sing a song in order to get the treats.  Each is put together with peanuts (called monkey nuts here), fruit, and candy. Much different from the handfuls of candy that we get at home.  The costumes were amazing, there were many people who went all out with their face paint and it looked amazing!

Next that week was performance workshops for an activity of choice. I picked rock climbing and it was at the local climbing wall. The groups were of six people to each instructor so there was a lot of individual attention.  I can’t believe all the technique that goes into climbing, the people who climb deserve a lot more credit than what they get.  We were at the climbing wall from 10 until 3, two days in a row.  I thought that my arms were going to fall off at the end, I had worked them so hard.  Friday night was a going away party for a teacher, many students played their guitars and sang at the pub. It was much cooler seeing that rather than hearing the same songs play over and over again.

The snow should be here anytime and I don’t know how I feel about that.  The tops of the mountains all have snow and it is a whole different beautiful than the green that I was getting used to.  Temperature is dropping as well, it is near freezing during the day and gets lower in the night.  Tonight I saw salt trucks out so I am guessing that there will be a freeze overnight.  After the time change it gets dark very early.  The sun begins to set at about 4:30 and it is pitch dark by 5:15.  Everyone tells me that by the time I leave it will be dark by 3:00.  I have less than a month and a half and plan on making the most of it!

 

Showing Mom and Dad My “Hometown” October 24, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 4:58 pm

The last part of Mom and Dad’s visit was in my town of Fort William.  I was so excited for them to finally see where I live, go to school, and who I have been living with.  Upon arrival, after another long train ride, we brought our bags up to my place and soon after were right back out the door.  We ate dinner and spent a while chatting in the pub with a couple of drinks.  Mom had the beer on special, after tasting it Dad and I knew it was on special so that they could get rid of it and Mom fell into the trap. haha. The next morning we went to Loch Ness in look for Nessie the monster, we didn’t have any luck finding her.  We went on a cruise around the area and saw the sea view of Urquhart Castle.  Soon after, we were back on the bus on our way to Inverness.  There we got to eat my favorite fish and chips again, yummy!  We walked over to St Andrews Cathedral and it was beautiful! I don’t understand how everything was made in such detail so long ago.  Next was a walk around the city taking in how beautiful everything was.

We spent the entire next day out in the local area of Fort William.  First on the plan was looking through the local cemetery, some of the gravestones were from the early 1800’s.  Next, we went to the West Highland Museum, it was much more informative and interesting than what I thought it would be. We decided to go up the gondola to the top of Ben Nevis next.  The view on the way up was amazing and gave us the ability to see for miles but soon we were high in the clouds, not able to see anything.  We all warmed up with some chili, which was served on a plate, and back to the bottom we went.  The next, and last stop of the day was the Ben Nevis Distillery.  Once again, I learned a ton and this time I found out that in their barn Braveheart was filmed.  Once back to the hotel we ordered pizza, once we opened it we saw hot dogs on the top! It is a different sausage than what we were expecting and it did not taste as good.

The last day mom and dad were here we had a hang out day.  We didn’t do too much, walked up and down high street in some shops and stopped for lunch.  We tried haggis!! Mom was the first and it was so funny when she was trying to keep a straight face and act like it tasted fine. I was next and sneaky Dad had the camera ready to get all the faces that I would make. Shockingly, Dad even tried it, after adding enough salt for an entire meal for six. Needless to say, he did not like it either.  That lunch had to be the most entertaining meal that I have ever been a part of.  Then it was time to say bye to my parents. I am so happy that they were able to come see me and we got to go see so much! I love them more than they will ever understand <3

 

Mum and Dad Here Part 1 October 21, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 8:36 pm

I had so much fun with mom and dad this past week! We did so much, I am splitting it into two different posts, check soon for the second!

The journey to see mom and dad was long, but well worth it!  Last Saturday I finally got to the hotel and soon after that we were on the subway into London! We went to Buckingham Palace and I was hoping that Prince Harry would be somewhere near and ask me to be his princess….it didn’t happen :(  Next we got on the Big Bus and were seeing everything possible in London.  There was so much to see, I couldn’t believe how old and beautiful all the buildings were.  We did a tour inside the Tower of London and it was awesome, definitely a place to go in London.  Most of the structure are the originals, built-in 1208.  The tour guide was a Queen’s Guard who lives at the Tower with his family and they get locked in at 10 each night.  Inside was an amazing church, torture methods used in the past, and my favorite, the Crown Jewels.  I saw a diamond the size of an EGG!  Also, we did a night tour, the lights at House of Parliament and Tower Bridge were stunning, one of my favorite parts of the week.  No, take that back, it was when dad got hit in the face with one of the 7,000 pigeons that swarmed people all the time!

Next we went to Glasgow, a four-hour train ride.  We were waiting in London station for out platform number to be announced and when it was we were in the middle of a herd to get to our train. It was insane how many people were rushing to get there at one time.  We went to Transportation Museum, it had information on buggies, to subways, to planes from hundreds of years ago until now, interesting to see how things have changed so much.  Next, Mom and I went shopping, we left dad at the restaurant so we could have more freedom and his blood pressure could lower a little.  No surprise, he did not give us much time to go into the shops at all!  If going to Scotland, Glasgow is a city that can be skipped, not too unique or beautiful like the rest of the country.  Our next stop was Fort William!

 

I Love My Family October 10, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 8:16 pm

The week has been amazing with Uncle Kyle, Aunt Deanna, Elaina, and Kyra! I have been balancing school and being with them all week, something I knew would be tricky.  Monday was supposed to be my first assessment, a group presentation. We ran out of time and my group was unable to go and I was so happy that we would have an extra couple of days to prepare for it.  After school we did some fine dining at a seafood restaurant.  We had mussels for the started and I had the Grumard fish over a tomato cumfil for dinner, everything was amazing. The next day I had class again in the afternoon but we all met up for dinner. It was a pub called the Groge and Gruel, I finally had some chicken wings that I had been craving and missing so much. The spice was perfect and exactly what I wanted.

Today was a relaxed day trying to do a few more things before they left. They all made the hike up the hill to see where I live and I think the girls were pretty happy with where their hotel was located. We then took the bus the Ben Nevis Distillery; Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK and right here in Fort William.  The tour was interesting in learning what all it takes to make the whiskey, one fact being that it is required to mature for at least three years before hitting the shelf. At the end Uncle Kyle, Aunt Deanna, and I all “cheersed” with out complimentary Ben Nevis Whiskey. It was not my favorite, the man added water for me but I still gave the majority of it to Uncle Kyle. We went shopping some more, then ate at the Ben Nevis House, I had Steak Ale Pie and I think it is my favorite meal that I have had this far. I enjoyed my family being here so much. It is amazing to have people who will travel so far to spend a week with me!

 

The Family Visits Begin! October 7, 2012

Filed under: Scotland — McCahl in Scotland @ 8:00 pm

Waking up Thursday I had mixed emotions about getting in a kayak and paddling around because I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as we got to our site it was time to get my wetsuit, probably the most uncomfortable outfit I have ever worn, and was ready to get out. As I was watching the instructor get into the kayak I was so nervous that I would tip it right away making me cold and wet all day. Somehow I made it in without too much rocking. The instructors began to explain how to paddle, turn, and what to do if anyone was to capsize. Luckily, I am comfortable in water and wasn’t too scared about being upside down and having to release my spray deck in order to be able to swim to the top.

We paddled up and down the local lochs, having to fight a small current on the way back to camp. Upon return, my arms were about to fall off and felt as if my back was going to snap anytime. The kayaking was much fun and I am ready to do it again! I would not be surprised if the first time I capsize my outlook on paddle sports may change, it is bound to happen sometime while I am here.  After a chilly day outside all day, it was a group decision that a girls night was needed. My one friend made dinner for myself and one other. It was delicious and just when I thought I couldn’t have anymore she got dessert out. It is very possible that it is now my favorite dessert ever!

Yesterday I met up with my Uncle Kyle, Aunt Deanna, and cousins Elaina and Kyra.  We went on a tour cruise around the loch and even got to see a couple of sea otters.  There were also salmon and mussel farms along the route that we took.  I then showed them High Street and we went into a pub for a little snack and to plan what to do for the rest of the day.  We found Neptune’s Staircase about two miles away and made the decision to walk there.  The majority of the walk was along the water or in beautiful green land but we were on a street for a bit with the cars flying by us really fast.  Neptune’s Staircase is a bunch of gates that stop the water from running down into the loch from the canal.  We had dinner on that side of town at Moorings, I had my first cheeseburger and it was delicious.  The really tasty stuff was dessert though; the five of us split chocolate brownie with ice cream, sticky toffee pudding, and Irish Cream pudding.  The tired legs and cool of the night made the choice to take the bus back, we were outside the bus stop for almost 30 minutes before it pulled up.

Today was also fun with the family.  Our bus to Inverness was at 8:15 AM, although the drive is a beautiful one I am pretty sure that everyone had fallen asleep at least once.  We stopped at Urquhart Castle on the way and walked around inside.  The castle sits on the coast of Loch Ness and has a beautiful view in the background.  It was time to catch our bus into town so we raced up the hill to see the bus driving away!! It wasn’t the original plan, but we all got a bite to eat and back up with plenty of time to spare for the next bus.

Once in town we decided to take a taxi out to Culloden Battlefield.  I learned a lot about the war and saw a play of what a war would have looked like that long ago.  The museum contained many artifacts from the time period such as guns and bullets; things have changed a lot since then.  The taxi came back to get us and we had some “linner” before returning to Fort William.  The Exchange is where we ate, a pub with many decisions.  I had the fish and chips, the fish was about a foot long and three inches wide.  There was an option of having the large portion of fish, I can’t imagine what that looked like.  I am enjoying being with my family and being able to see all the sites with them.  More days to come with them!

 

 
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