My Scottish adventure started when on New Year’s one of my best friends – Alejandra – called me and instead of saying “Happy New Year” to me , she greeted me with a “What about spending your birthday in Scotland?”.
Obviously, as I am a very good friend, I couldn’t say no :-).
So, our trip started June 9th when we meet at London Heathrow airport. Our first step: Glasgow – the largest city in Scotland.
I have to admit that for me, Glasgow was just a place to sleep and from where to start our tour over the Inner Hebrides Islands. What a surprise! The city is blooming, full of amazingly friendly people… what a way to start. Tons of new projects for the Commonwealth Games 2014 are in place, and the city is proud to show its best.
From Glasgow, we initiate our trip to Iona. First, we took the West Highland Line train to Oban - a small town (with a population of about 8.000 people) that serves as the entry point to the West Islands. If you have a chance, please do it! The scenery is absolutely fantastic.
On my birthday (yay!) I woke up in Oban, to an awful storm. Not the way I had envisioned the day … especially when you have to get a ferry… luckily when we got to the Ferry Terminal, we were notified that the sun was shining bright and high in Iona.. a girl cannot ask for more as birthday gift!
The way to Iona involves a ferry trip to Craignure (on Mull Island), a bus trip from Craignure to Fionnphort and another ferry to Iona. Every step of the way is worth the time.
Iona… what to say about it? As a Kevin’s fan, I knew Iona was a special place. I couldn’t imagine Kevin naming his daughter after it if the place was anything other than spectacular. But even before learning about Kevin’s own impressions on the island it was high on my list of places to go, after I read that Iona is considered a “Thin Place”.
In the Celtic tradition such places that give us an opening into the magnificence and wonder of the Presence are called “Thin Places.” A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.
I can’t testify if that is true, but certainly you feel that heaven must feel and look like it.
Then, back to reality and our trip continued to Inverness and the Highlands.
I am writing right here right now, Inverness requires much more time that we allotted for it. Inverness and the Highlands deserve a full time trip… so adding it to my list. I will be back, and soon, for sure. (note: most people – even locals – looked at me as if I lost my mind when I voiced that I would love to see the city during Winter time, but yes, I imagine the place being astonishingly beautiful with some snow J ).
We rented a car in there (ok, driving on the other side of the road is in itself an adventure) and enjoyed the sights of Loch Ness, Alves, Culloden, Elgin and Lossiemouth. Most of the areas and sites we visited were unplanned; just letting the road take us. At Lossiemouth, we were treated to a full hour of RAF exercises, so we even have our own air show!
Reluctantly, we have to say goodbye to the Scottish Highlands and grab the train to Edinburgh. But that piece of the trip will be reported in a future note.