This morning I lugged my heavy bag all the way downtown to the National Library of Scotland, where we were to meet with some archivists. The bag was so heavy that I was wondering how much of a burden it was going to be over the weekend, and was thinking maybe I should have packed lighter.
In the library we were able to look at some very old books that we were not allowed to touch. In this library you basically let the librarians know what book you are looking for and they go get it for you, rather than walking around looking through shelves.
In the library we saw some very old books, among which were some horn books, which were very old and made out of, you guessed it, horn. We also saw some early printings of books by some famous Scottish authors. One of which was the first copy of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” off the presses, which was autographed by J. K. Rowling. With the majority of the group being Harry Potter fanatics, we were all in awe over looking at this particular book.
After leaving the library, I set off on my solo journey to the Isle of Skye for our free weekend. Because I was now leaving a day early, this would give me more time on the isle than leaving Friday morning. I headed over to Waverly Station and boarded the train.
Because the Isle of Skye is a great distance from Edinburgh, I was going to have to switch trains in Inverness, where I would have an hour before boarding the train to Kyle of Lochalsh. The whole trip was going to be about seven hours. The trip to Inverness was fun, and the train was pretty empty so I got to have a few seats for myself and my stuff, and a table to use my laptop and catch up on my journals. It was tough to do though, because going back into the Highlands again it was hard to not keep looking out the window rather than looking at a computer screen. I love the Scottish Highlands, and being back in the Highlands again gave me a sense of well-being. I could really tell I was getting very high up into the Highlands when I could feel my ears starting to pop, and the scenery just kept getting more amazing as the train went along.
After stopping in Inverness, I roamed around a bit to check out the city. I only had an hour so I didn’t venture far off from the train station, but checked out some of the areas around it. Right outside the station was a statue of a unicorn on top of a pillar. This gave me the first sense that I was in a magical place, and that the journey was about to get even more magical. And boy was I right.
After boarding the train to Kyle of Lochalsh, once again the train was very empty so I got to take a whole section to myself. However, I completely ditched the idea to even try to work on stuff on my laptop because the scenery kept getting more and more amazing even still, the closer I was getting to Skye. I also saw some more Highland cows, and finally got a picture of them, though the picture didn’t turn out very well.
The feeling washing over me the closer I got to Skye went from well-being to utter enchantment. It comes to a point when you can not believe your eyes when being surrounded by this much beauty all around. The mountains continued to get more and more lush and vivid, and the clouds fluffier, creating a mist around the mountain peaks with sun rays beaming down from the heavens through the breaks in the clouds. I had never in my life seen such a beautiful landscape in person, and I think everybody should make a point to make this train ride at some point in their lives.
There was an older couple on the train sitting across from me that told me that when we got to the Isle of Skye, the scenery was going to be even more amazing. They said they make it a point to come to Skye once a year, and that after I visit I will be longing to return. They were meeting up with their son who had been there a few weeks, and he told them a few days earlier he saw a full rainbow that was solidly colored, and made a perfect arch across the island. They also said when visiting the Isle of Skye, one can experience all four seasons in one day.
It was raining pretty hard when I got to Kyle of Lochalsh, where my train ride ended. From there I was to take a bus onto the Isle of Skye the next day. The older couple was correct, as I could tell I was now in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I was surrounded by misty mountains and deep blue water, and clouds that looked like giant cotton balls. Even though it was raining, I stood out in the rain looking over the scenery without an umbrella and let the droplets hit my face. I was already in a state of pure bliss, and I wasn’t even on the isle yet.
Across the way I could see the Skye Bridge, over which I would be crossing to the isle the next day. I began to feel more and more like I was getting closer to magical lands, and this bridge was my “rabbit hole” to my adventures in wonderland. I checked into the Kyle Hotel where the receptionist was very helpful, and told me she could book me into one of their other hotels on the isle for the next two nights. When I asked her for a map of the town she laughed, and told me basically there was only about a block to it.
I then walked back outside where the sun was setting. And oh boy, if things weren’t amazing enough, the sunset casting an orange and purple hue on this already gorgeous landscape was enough to make you think it isn’t possible for somewhere on earth to be more beautiful than this. I hung out at a pub and watched some football (or soccer as we call it), and then went to my hotel room and drifted to sleep with a smile on my face. To say I was very excited for the following day would be a vast understatement.