This week I took a quick break from my museum trips to experience some of Scotland’s natural wonders – the highlands and Loch Ness!
My day started out with a pleasant walk to my tour bus, unfortunately, nowhere on my ticket did it mention the company’s name so it was a bit of a struggle actually finding which bus to take – but once I did it was smooth sailing. I was one of the last people to get on the bus (no window seat for me) and took one of the few empty seats next to a stranger. I spent the first 45 minutes asleep, but eventually got around to socializing with my seat neighbor and found out he was from France – I’m very lucky to be able to meet people here from all over the world. Soon we made our first stop with some highland cows and a quick much needed coffee break (**pro-tip bring extra cash on trips like this!! That way, when you make the impulsive decision to stay out until 2AM the night before, you still have a way to buy your coffee after your card is declined!).
Back on the bus, the driver began narrating and telling some stories about the people of the Highlands who were primarily familial Clans. As we approached a town called Glencoe, he told a particularly moving and well-known story – the Massacre of Glencoe, about two clans, the Campbells and MacDonalds. After a battle between the two clans, the weather was too bad for the losing clan, the Campbells, to return home. The MacDonalds were courteous and let the soldier into their homes and looked after them until the weather was better. However, the Campbells massacred 38 MacDonalds, women and children included, in what is recognized as one of the most solemn days in Scottish history. Hearing this story as we drove the looming mountains and eerily breathtaking highland landscape was an experience like no other.
In my post on the Scottish National Gallery I mention a painting called The Monarch of the Glen, which directly relates to the story I heard on the bus. A stag representing the strength and perseverance of the Scottish people in the face of adversity. The MacDonalds who were murdered at Glencoe are still honored to this day. Every February 13th, MacDonalds from all over the world come to Glencoe to show their respects to their ancestors.
After this somber, yet moving, story we headed to Loch Ness, which was beautiful, but if I’m being honest not as fantastic as the highlands (I was disappointed not to see the monster). After a short boat cruise, it was time to head back to Edinburgh for a much needed good night’s sleep.
Stay tuned for my next cultural excursion. I’m leaning towards the National Gallery of Modern Art, but who knows what the future has in store.