Waking up in Ballachulish to journey onward, we took our wake up call a bit early to get one or two more pictures and walk around a bit more. Breakfast again was in the lovely dining room, and more Haggis for all to enjoy! We loaded up the coach once again to start our day.
First stop, Glenfinnan Monument and Viaduct. This is in honor of Bonnie Prince Charlie's return to Scotland to try (unsuccessfully, but that story's in a few days...) and reclaim the crown for the Stuarts.
One of my favorite pictures from the whole trip was taken here....
Just gorgeous with a great view of Loch Shiel. Also, the viaduct was built between 1897 and 1901, and featured in the Harry Potter films.
Off now to the Isle of Skye! We took a ferry from Mallaig, Eddie expertly driving the coach right onto the monstrous thing.
The sea was not choppy at all, and it was a very nice, albeit chilly out on the deck, trip.
Inside, I bought and wrote a postcard to a friend and had another nice talk with Edgar and Margaret. She told me about having to visit Cape Breton, Nova Scotia one day, as it is said to be at times more Scottish than Scotland! It has been put on my bucket list for sure. I recently looked up flights there and not only are they pretty cheap, but it's only about a 3 hour flight! I think that may be the next big vacation I plan, as I have already done some recon work on looking up b&b's, as there are plenty!
One on Skye, the main visit of the day was the Clan Donald Center. It totals over 20,000 acres of land so we of course did not have time to see everything, but we did have a great visit through the gardens, the Museum of the Isles, and some ruins. We stopped here for Lunch as well and I had my second Irn Bru of the trip! Delicious!
Back on the coach, this time taking a bridge that connects Skye with Kyle of Lochalsh, back to the mainland.
This, again, had an amazing array of visual treats! Come to think of it, despite being on the coach quite a bit on the longer driving days, there was always something beautiful to see, and this part of the trip was absolutely no exception. I have never seen anything more beautiful than the Highlands, and I had much to occupy my eyes and camera as we made out way to Inverness.
Eilean Donan Castle stop also happened today.
I challenge you to find a spot here that will give you a bad view of the Castle. In our lengthy visit here, I could find none. The day turned much nicer and the sun came out for us, an it was picturesque perfection. I think this had made the short list of a possible destination location for my wedding. Unbelievable!
Then after seeing a yellow sign I had been wondering about, we were educated about the Scottish National Party sinage, which has very interesting symbolism that looks like a thistle, the Flower of Scotland of course. Then, at a comfort stop, we had a "variety of options" as Ian very humorously stated.
Option 1, use the restroom facilities, get a spot of tea, and generally have about 40 minutes to relax and stretch your legs.
2, Head on across the parking lot to a fenced in field where we had a group of 'Hielan Coos' for our viewing pleasure.
3, Follow Ian on a short little walk down the road to an ancient bridge and falls for a nice photo stop, as you can see below!
The Coos were adorable! The nicest farmer came over and fed them sweet leaves (and by fed I mean coaxed them over to us with this lovely treat so we could get some nice pictures!).
The big one, who was introduced to us as Hamish, tried to eat the others' treat, but the farmer was not having that and shooed him away with some Gaelic words of shoo-ing. The trip to the falls was a bit treacherous due to the misty nature of the day, but it was very worth it and very pretty!
Hooray, another Castle!
Urquhart Castle was very pretty along the shores of Loch Ness, although quite hard to see. We did not have time to go to the actual visitor centre, but there was this parking area close by we were able to stop at and see a little bit more of the castle, get a picture, things like that. Onward!
Finally to Inverness, my favorite city of the trip. It was a lively one for sure, yet it felt small enough that it was familiar. It is hard for me to describe, but I felt a real affection for this place. It was just beautiful.
Our hotel, the Columba, was right along the River Ness, right across the bridge from the center of town. Perfect location, beautiful views, it was just lovely! We walked around a little bit before dinner, and this is about the time when disaster reared it's ugly head.
To make a long story short, so began my two and a half days of being very sick, combined with having panic attacks about how sick I was, where I was going to find a doctor and or hospital, etc. Not a lot of fun, and it was made even more sad because I fell in love with Inverness and then my time meant to be enjoying it was disrupted. While we can't be certain, I believe I was very, very dehydrated, making me dizzy and thinking I was going to pass out. This made me very nervous and panicky, this causing a series of panic attacks. I was certain I was going to faint at dinner so I excused myself and went back to the room. All sorts of terrible thoughts were swirling though my head, making it worse. I called my dad and he made me feel better, acting as my rational brain for the moment (No, I was not going to die. Breath, relax, drink some water. Repeat.) Mom came back up to check on me, and I broke down a little bit, but had fresh Highland air to help lull me into some restful slumber and try again tomorrow...