Sunday, September 13, 2015

Magical moments!

Going into this trip, I had certain expectations...and those things were just wonderful.  But I think it is the things that I DIDN'T expect...those things that we just stumbled upon...that were some of the best, magical moments of the trip!  One magical moment was the fantastic "proper session" of live Irish music at The Whisky Palace in the Templebar area of Dublin, that I already wrote about.  Another magical moment happened yesterday when we took a small tour into the Western Highlands.  I wanted to see more of Scotland than just Edinburgh, so I had booked 2 one-day small bus to St Andrews and the fishing villages of Fife, and the other one to the Western Highlands.  

We have had warm/hot sunny weather  for the past 3 weeks...yesterday it was grey, chilly, drizzly/rainy.  Just what I thought Autumn in Scotland should be!  I was thrilled!  We met our driver, Mackenzie ("Mac") and our 10 other day travelers and off we took in our super comfy little Mercedes tour bus.  As the weather was pretty drizzly, Mac decided to change the days itinerary a bit...he decided against the walking through the Ruins of Kilchurn Castle.  Instead he took us to one of his favorite little churches.  It was a private church, and is in need of some repair, but it's setting was beautiful.

As we were looking around, I suddenly had my magical moment...I heard bagpipes!  I looked around and found our tour guide, Mac, sitting in a chair in the church, playing  a beautiful wailing tune on the pipes!  The setting, the was pure magic!   THIS is what I came to Scotland for!

We continued for an amazing afternoon, driving through the amazingly beautiful Highlands, grey misty drizzle all around us, while Mac regailed us with tales of Clan rivalry.  He had tales about both the MacKinnon and McIntosh clans, among others...the underlying theme that Mac had for us was "never trust a Cambell!!"  He was the most antimated story teller with great expressive hand motions, and all sorts of different voices!  He was so passionate in sharing his knowledge of his people's history.  In between tales, we listened to fabulous traditional Scottish tunes, and bagpipe instrumentals.  We visited the Doune Castle which has been used in filming both Outlander (hey was Castle Leoch!!) and Monte Pythons Holy Grail!  

The tiny town of Luss was like something out of a story book...the flowers were amazing!

But I think it was the scenery that spoke to me the most...

On our way back we paused for a photo at the Firth of Forth ( it just makes me smile to say that!). We learned that Firth means the opening of a river.
This photo shows three very very happy travelers at the end of a magical day!
We are calling this group "Gary the Allyn and his women from Clan Len-athy"!

The day before, we had taken another small group tour offered by the same company, heading to St Andrews.  The coastal scenery was lovely, the fishing villages were quaint, and St Andrews was pretty cool.  Our driver/guide was very good, but nowhere near as good as Mac.

The fishing village of Fife, this is a little crab shack where we stopped for a bite to eat...crab or lobster sandwiches!

Sharing a fresh crab sandwich !

Can you see the lobster carvings above the door?

At St Andrews!  No golf for us...but it was fun to see!

The thrill of this day was when we were driving home from St Andrews, listening to the fascinating story of the life of Mary Queen of Scots when we passed a field some woods...through an opening I saw a HUGE Scottish Red Stag with a magnigicient rack of antlers.  He was with 5 or 6 other red deer...but this one stood out...he was so majestic and his rack was amazing! It was fleeting look...I saw him and quickly turned to Lenore to ask if she had seen it...and then we were passed them.  ANOTHER magical moment!

Scotland is a beautiful beautiful country, and there is so much history here.  I think in the U.S. we tend to learn the British version of Scottish history.  It was so nice to hear the Scottish version from these proud people. I urge you all to come here and hopefully find your own magical moments!

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