Thursday, April 02, 2015

Hunt the Hare

So, a bunch of things happened. In the end, we're safe in Dublin, though it got a little close and emotional at the end. But let's start in the morning.

We woke up at around 8 and started getting ready for breakfast. Historically, when we've been staying somewhere that includes breakfast (which for the most part means toast and coffee and surly co-inhabitants of the inn), getting down to breakfast is not even sort of a priority. Here, we were in a legit B&B with a lovely innkeeper who we'd already sort of angered by showing up past check in (which is totally reasonable; she was very, very forgiving, and we were lucky in that aspect as the other option would have been to just not let us stay). She was cooking breakfast and she'd mentioned 8:30, so damn it, we were going to be downstairs at 8:30.

So, things that are different about this from our usual lodging experience: Home cooked meal in an adorable little dining room filled with home-made jams and marmalades.

Things that are the same: surly co-tenants.

Everyone just sort of kept to themselves, which is absolutely fine by me. I have never been one for talking to strangers while eating eggs, and I'm cool with having that be what happened.

We mentioned our plans to the innkeeper: head up to Dunvegan Castle (the ancestral home of the MacLeods, meaning mostly that if I were going to make a Highlander joke, I should have done it here), then head down to Glasgow to make our flight at 8:45pm. We'd have to miss going to a series of waterfalls called the Fairy Pools, but the map we had actually showed where the castle was and ignored the pools, so that's what we planned on.

The innkeeper disagreed, and I think I should note that her sentiment seemed in line with most of the other Scottish Tourism folks we talked to.

Unless we were MacLeods, she suggested, the castle's a castle. Do the Fairy Pools instead.

I like that people who are directly involved with Scottish Tourism and recommending things for wayward tourists are just very done with castles. I hope, at one point, that I'll be able to return the favor; I'll get someone walking up to me and asking me my opinion for where to go, and offering up a suggestion of what the Travel Book suggested and I'll get to say "You know what? Navy Pier's fine and all, but do something else."

We took her suggestion (and a map she made, which had all of the points of interest we wanted to see on it) and headed south to the Fairy Pools.

Another dinner-table-width road, but to be honest I'm getting kind of used to those, and this one was only four miles. And I think we were unprepared. We pulled into the parking lot and headed down a dirt path.

Well, mud path. It's been raining for days.

And again, I'm not a good enough writer (or photographer) to really explain the scenery.  It's waterfalls and mountains and streams and a few little rock-bridges and you should go there.

It was absolutely gorgeous. Our shoes did not agree. We underestimated the amount of hiking required, and so my sneakers are in dire-but-stable condition at the moment. Marina's boots were pretty well coated (though more easily cleanable). So, we decided, let's stop at the nearest place where there's probably a restroom to clean up before we start our trip south.

And because we're in a magical wonderland filled with merriment, the closest place that we knew fit that description and was open to the public was the Talisker Distillery, the only whisky distillery on the island.

Side note: when we were delayed by the hail and the snow, there were a few things we were each a little sad about not getting to get to do or see. Marina was a little sad because if we flipped over into a ditch, we probably wouldn't get to buy some local-dyed yarn. Alice was sad because she'd been looking forward to the Fairy Pools (though until this morning we didn't have much of an idea of how to get to them). And I was sad because I'd gone to Scotland and was going to be leaving without going to a distillery.

But we'd bought yarn in Portree. We'd managed time for the Fairy Pools by cutting out the just-another-castle. And now we were going to Talisker! Everybody wins.

The next tour wasn't for a few hours, but we were able to walk around a bit, and there's a bit of an exhibition on how they do things in the visitor's center, so that was nice. And then, Alice and Marina convinced me to buy a bottle of Talisker to take home as a gift, but that we should really get going. So we did, we made plans to open it once Alice returned to Chicago in a few months, and were on our way.

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