We started the day standing on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond, just a short drive outside Glasgow. But soon the 16-passenger bus was winding its way up into the Scottish Highlands, and the scenery started to look like what we saw on the TV series “Outlander,” which we binge-watched before leaving our Willowbrook apartment. We saw Fort William and had lunch in the town of Fort Augustus. The show’s characters are seen in both places. George, our guide, played the show’s theme music on the sound system in the bus. Then he played the Highland folk song it’s based upon. Same music, different lyrics. We saw no standing stones, but there was a lone bagpiper wearing traditional tartan. It was not the Fraser tartan, though. No Jaimie. No Clare.
No worries, because the highlight of the day was an hour-long sail on Loch Ness. No monster, either. But great views of Urquhart Castle along the banks, and interesting commentary from a very knowledgeable guide with Jacobite Tours.
Taking a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, we did even more sightseeing. We went to Evensong at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which is part of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The choir was very good, and we enjoyed the service in the cathedral, built in the 1800s. But the real treat was arriving by chance at St. Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile about noon on a Saturday. This is the home of the Church of Scotland, and it’s even older. In addition to several Sunday services, there is a brief service at noon every weekday. At the end of that service, the cathedral choir sings for the tourists. With the men in kilts and women in traditional dresses with tartan shawls, this was absolutely the finest a cappella group I have ever heard. Rich tones, perfect pitch. I thought I was listening to the angels. But I imagine the angels stop by every so often to marvel at this group.
We could’ve spent most of the day in the National Museum of Scotland. Part of it was more like Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, but we were more interested in Scottish history, and it did not disappoint. The view was stunning from the museum’s roof. We could see the whole city, including Edinburgh Castle. That’s it, high on the hill behind us.
Now we’re in London, trying out an Airb&b apartment for a little over a week. This is the first place we’ll be able to live like a local. There’s no chance we would actually live here in England, but it’s good practice for Spain.
Better photos next time! I promise.