We attempted to get a good night's sleep, learning our lesson from the last trip, and knowing that we had to meet everyone at the bus in front of the University Gates at 7:30 am. I love starting trips really early in the morning. I find it rejuvenating to start before the sun; being able to see the sun rise and watch the light fill the world as I head on the road is a sure sign of a fulfilling trip. After about an hour and a half of sitting on the bus, taking cat naps, and snacking on banana bread I had made the night before we arrived in Inverary. We started our trip here for a coffee and to snap a few photos in front of the famed Inverary Castle that was featured in the Christmas special of Downton Abby, and the location where Robbie Coltrane had his wedding (this was a very Harry Potter themed trip). It was only a pit stop, but lattes were needed all around, as we quickly realized that sleeping on the bus would only result in missing all of the amazing Scottish landscapes that revealed itself once we left the city.
I decided to split this trip into a three part post, not simply because I took way too many photos, but also because I felt that splitting the trip up in this way naturally worked as this adventure was experienced in stages, and each stage was as amazing and eye opening as the next. This first part features our brief stop in Inverary and some initial photos of the Rannoch Moor glens.
Nearly every place I have visited in Scotland so far has been beautiful. And it seems that every place I visit ends up being more captivating than the previous. After we all scrambled back onto the tour bus to head towards Glencoe, it was clear that we were wide awake and fully realizing that this was only the beginning of our trip. As we started to head north the view through our windows gradually transformed into a never ending ebb and flow of snow capped mountains, or "ben's" as they say here, that gave way to steep glens (valleys), often with a loch nestled neatly in the middle. The excitement was physically increasing on the bus as we stuck our faces up against the cold windows, eye's glued to the ever changing scene, not wanting to miss anything; and just attempting to capture the beauty of the highlands that revealed itself before us. Lori, my flatmate, good friend, and lovely tour guide, played traditional Scottish songs for us as we rolled along the road in our huge bus filled with antsy students. It was almost unbelievable sitting on the bus and seeing what I could only describe as a landscape from Lord of the Rings continued out my window, while friends old and new surrounded me, and the sound of traditional Scottish music filled the air.