Off The Beaten Path: Exploring Scotland’s Far North

After a wonderful evening I awoke the next morning feeling rested and rejuvenated. Unfortunately, my brother and I had ended up in different rooms within the hostel – which left me disconnected from his watch and any idea of what time it was. You see, I’d forgotten to pack a watch or alarm clock for the trip. This left me in a perpetual state of temporal bewilderment. It was made that much more confusing by our northerly latitude and the nearly endless summer days.

A large black slug

With no clue as to the precise hour, I quickly glanced around the room. Two of the women had apparently gotten up. Two more were still contentedly dozing. I decided to take advantage of a head start. I carefully danced my way down the side of the bunk bed, doing my utmost to be quiet while trying not to slip and fall off the wobbly wooden structure. Once down it was off for a warm shower and spot of breakfast.


Before long the others began to appear and we slowly started loading into the van. There was a changing of the guard – which ultimately made for an interesting dynamic. Six of the people that had ridden to Loch Ness with us the day before were actually on a two-day tour and were splitting off with another guide/bus which had arrived that evening. Six people from an extended tour who’d already been on the road for several days exploring the Lewis and Harris isles replaced them. We soon found out, however, that of the six newcomers, four were to be a royal pain. Of the four they came in two pairs of two. An Israeli mother and daughter and a tall Englishman and his Chinese girlfriend. The Israeli’s were clueless, high maintenance and completely different than most of the down to earth traveling Israeli’s I’ve met. Armpit hair aside, it was like having two whiney kids that we all had to babysit. The Englishman and his girlfriend were similar in a very different sort of way. I really have no clue how to convey him accurately – especially without being offensive – let me just say that he embodied a negative British stereotype to a T. Almost out of a Monty Python skit – from a powerful need for tea, to constantly complaining, to being offended most of the time. All the while alternating between fighting with his girlfriend and referring to her as, “my love” in a way that reminded me of that guy who won’t stop talking about himself in 3rd person. Enough of that – on to the real adventure!

Rogie Falls Scotland

From Loch Ness we shot north up along Loch Ness towards Inverness on the eastern coast. There we filled our final two spots with a French mother and daughter who were an absolutely delightful addition to the group. Inverness is a beautiful city with classic winding Scottish lanes, beautiful old churches, a palatial castle overlooking the city and a winding river that slowly winds through town.

A Highland Flower

From Inverness we headed north toward our first actual stop – Rogie Falls. Our guide, Martin, suggested we take a quick stop to glance at the waterfalls but also mentioned that it was as much a bathroom break as a stop to view the falls. “Just wait” he warned us, “We’re off to see something far, far more incredible.” The 10 minute walk down to the waterfall overlook was pleasant, winding down a mossy path flanked by ferns, moss covered trees and beautiful blooming flowers. It was along that path that we came across a massive black slug. Yes, the very same black slug that seemingly randomly was included above! I’m not usually a fan of little slimers, bugs and the like – but this slug was really impressive. A beautiful black it reminded me more of the gorgeous sea slugs you see while diving than a land-based relative. Not to mention at 3+ inches long it was huge!

The walk back to the van was delightful. The rain had stopped allowing me to fully enjoy the clean, earthy scent of the forest as my legs pumped and I scaled the small winding path back to the bus. All the while pausing to pick fresh blackberries from the bushes beside the path. Talk about paradise.

Corrieshalloch Gorge north of Ullapool

Fingers stained by blackberry juice we set off towards our next stop. After winding along Loch Glascarnoch and the smaller, albeit just as beautiful Loch Dorman, we found our way to Corrieshalloch Gorge just north of Ullapool on the north western coast. The parking area for the gorge was unassuming. Like most overlooks it stood on the side of a somewhat steep incline that led down into a stand of trees. All in all though, it looked more like a large drainage area than the site of an incredible, majestic gorge. Little did I know that hidden within the trees at the end of a 5 minute walk down switchbacks lined by foxglove, blooming heather and other gorgeous flowers, was a crack, diving into the heart of the earth itself.

Looking into Corrieshallock Gorge

Due to it’s nature photos don’t properly convey just how stunning the gorge was to behold. It reminded me in many ways of scenes out of great fantasy stories. Amazing gorges covered in moss, seeping water from natural springs – only tens of feet across that plummet down hundreds of feet to flowing water below. Only this had all of that, and a giant waterfall as well. In the photo I’ve included above you can see the lush vegetation on the vertical stone walls.

View from the Viewing Platform

There is an incredible suspension bridge over the gorge. Made out of metal, cables and wood planks, it handles 6 people at a time and sways as you cross. Despite being able to handle two people shoulder to shoulder, it’s an intense experience that reminded me of the old bridge that overlooks the waterfall into a similar albeit wider gorge overlooking Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. In addition to being able to see through the metal railings on either side, the wooden planks that make up the floor have decent sized cracks between them allowing a view of the void bellow your feet. Though that’s nothing compared to the metal viewing platform located further down the valley – which is pictured above. Talk about a 360 degree view!

View of the Gorge

The view back towards the bridge and the falls from the overlook was magical. The gorge and falls was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip. Of the many incredible places I’ve seen in my travels, there was something about Corriesalloch that captivated me. For video footage of the gulch – make sure to view the video at the very end of my introduction to the Scottish highlands video. Viewable here.

View of Ullapool

Lungs burning, legs feeling like lead weights, I quickly realized that Nate and I were the only two from the trip left down by the falls. Captivated by the magic of the place we’d fallen behind and set to running up the switchbacks back to the parking lot. Out of breath we crawled onto the bus for a 2 minute ride down the road to an overlook which offered a view of the valley the gorge opened up into and Ullapool. Photo above.


Located at the mouth of a large fjord, Ullapool was a delightful town with a harbor that in many ways reminded me of Maine and the north east coast of the U.S. – with fishing boats, crab boats, lobster boats, beautiful squat, white-washed houses and an incredible vista of mountains, ocean and coast the town has a surreal feel to it. More a scene out of a movie than an earthly place. In Ullapool we paused and grabbed a quick bite to eat, before piling back in and striking northward towards our ferry and the Orkneys.

Ardvreck Castle

From Ullapool it was time to cut across the northern coast. An incredible, sparsely populated landscape of misty mountains, crumbling cliffs and rolling green regions covered in sheep and peat. Before long we arrived at Ardvreck Castle – an old ruin located on a small peninsula surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Ardvreck Castle

Despite a light mist, we paused and I took several moments to relax and let the whole experience sink in, while the waves rippling to shore gently serenaded me.


View otw to Unapool

View from the road during a quick stop on the way to Unapool.

Unapool View

From Ardvreck Castle it was back on the road again. Winding through fog, clouds and amazing scenery, until we reached Unapool. A beautiful little harbor with an incredible view. With blooming flowers behind us and a delightful open harbor to our right full of crabbing and fishing boats the view back up the Fjord was amazing.

Fijord with Rain

The view became even more impressive as a series of clouds rolled in at the far end of the Fijord.

Bloombing Flower in July in Scotland

The contrast in Scotland is one of the things I love the most about the region. The shot of the yellow flower above was taken at the same location as the previous three images. I just turned around, walked over to the small garden full of blooming flowers and snapped it. One thing you don’t hear about regularly is the incredible blooming gardens that dot the front yards of just about every northern Scottish house. Each bloom a vibrant color and each color a delightful cross section of the rainbow.

Though it’s contrary to my typical format – I’m afraid I’ll be cutting this post short and splitting the day into a two part piece. You see – despite the stories and photos I’ve shared above I’ve only covered half the day. Stay tuned for photos and stories from the 2nd half of the day. Believe it or not, this post only covers the morning’s sights, sounds, flavors and adventures.

So Began A Highland Adventure

The following morning we dragged ourselves out of bed at what seemed like the crack of dawn.  We had about a mile’s walk to get to the Wild in Scotland office – which was located about halfway up the Royal Mile – before the 8:30AM start of the tour.

I’d had the pleasure of doing Wild in Scotland’s 3 day Isle of Skye trip during my 2007 trip, which started in Scotland. At the time, I had been incredibly impressed by the company. Utilizing 16 person mini-buses and hostels for evening accommodation the company is designed to cater to backpackers and experienced travelers who want the history and convenience of a quick guided tour – but are eager to maintain the backpacker feeling.

Most tour companies use large 60 person coaches, ferry you from tourist trap to tourist trap and are geared towards luxury travelers and retirees. Wild in Scotland on the other hand focuses on delivering a down and dirty experience that blends the basic structure and framework of an organized tour, with a flexible schedule allowing the driver to personalize the experience with their own detours and discoveries.  All the while, the size and approach also allows you to stop at any point you want for photos or to explore.  Even if it’s not on the itinerary.

Case in point. The itinerary for our 5 day, 4 night voyage into the northern reaches of Scotland was scheduled to move counter clockwise across the island.  Instead, our driver elected to do it in reverse and to toss in some new places he’d discovered along the way.

The other thing I really like about Wild in Scotland is that they charge two fees.  How’s that a plus? The first – 150 British Pounds or $225 covered the tour itself and went to the company. The second 120 British Pounds or $180 went into the kitty.  The kitty cash covered our hostel each of the 4 nights, entrance into several attractions, a few drinks, our ferry crossings and the purchase of food each of the 4 nights.  The pot luck food purchase works great as a way to bring people together, and ensures that you eat well during the trip.  Combine the kitty cost with the limited number of tourist traps the company strands you at – and you get a more enjoyable and far less expensive experience than the standard super coach tour.

Having made better time than expected, we arrived at the office around 7:40.  The rain was coming down in a light mist which was pleasant and hardly noticeable.  We settled in and waited for the office to open.  By 8AM they opened the office up where we paid our kitty money, set down our bags, and stepped next door to the Subway which had just opened for breakfast. We also bought a half sub to take with us on the road.

By 8:30 we had all arrived and piled onto the 16 person bus. Our driver and guide introduced himself with a bright smile and thick Scottish accent and then we were off.  Weaving tales and explaining Edinburgh’s history we wound through the city’s streets and found our way out into the countryside.  There we were greeted by gorgeous rolling green hills, dam roadways, pastures full of sheep and large patches of blooming foxglove – a beautiful pink-purplish flower you’ll see in many of my photos.

Our drive took us towards Sterling. We drove past Sterling Castle and wound up past the city of Sterling to the Wallace Monument.  A large medieval looking structure that has been built on top of a nearby hill.  We parked and began the first stroll of the trip.  Up a rather steamy hillside, winding through ferns, trees and wild foxglove I paused briefly to pick several ripe raspberries. Once at the top we gathered around, dodging the Scottish thistles, with the monument to our backs and an incredible view of the valley surrounding Stirling laid out before us.

There Martin explained the true story of Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Debunking the mythology and creative re-write of history in Braveheart.  He explained Wallace’s role and that the monument itself should actually have been dedicated to Robert the Bruce – a character who was almost vilified in Braveheart.  He also explained that there had been a statue of Wallace located in the car park by the visitors center, which had since been destroyed.

Wallace Monument Stirling Scotland

It turns out, it was the famous statue of William Wallace with “freedom” engraved in it.  I say famous, because a photo of the statue has been circulating the web for a year or two showing the statue of Wallace – a freedom fighter – encased in a large steel cage.  As I chuckled, Martin explained that the locals hated the statue (which looked a lot like Mel Gibson) with a passion and had taken a sledgehammer to it. Undeterred the government had re-commissioned the statue/repaired it, and then encased it in a large steel cage.  Thus the famous photo.  Equally persistent and in true Scottish fashion the locals apparently traded their sledgehammer in for a shotgun and blew the face off the statue – which is no longer on display.

Monty Python Castle

After the Wallace monument we wound through stunning countryside, before pausing at a small castle ruin. The castle itself was not particularly incredible, but was an exciting stop for those of us who love Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Don’t recognize it? It’s the same very same castle ruin used in this clip:

Imagining French taunters and flying cattle, Nate and I wound around the castle and enjoyed the natural beauty of the area. Now well manicured the castle sits on a hill, in the midst of a small clearing surrounded by trees next to a beautiful moss adorned stream.

Kilmahog Wild In Scotland Bus and Crew

Chuckling, it was back onto the bus and onward to Kilmahog where we snagged a quick bite of lunch. How’s that for a name? From Kilmahog we hopped back in the bus for a quick 3 minute drive down the road to see Hamish the world famous hairy coo. What’s a hairy coo? Why it’s a hairy cow. Having trouble picturing a hairy cow? Well, believe it or not they exist. Not only do they exist – but they’re relatively common in Northern Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland. Most are Red but some are black. As it turns out one of the Queens (I believe a red-headed one) decided that the cows should match their herders and worked to selectively breed them, so that they are almost exclusively ginger colored.

Hamish the Highland Coo

After feeding Hamish sliced turnips, apples and carrots it was back onto the bus and down winding 2 lane roads with low hanging trees, stone fences, and thick underbrush.

A Scottish Loch

As we rounded a bend, in a light Scottish drizzle, the road began to wind along the shores of our first sizable Scottish Loch. With still water gently lapping a small sandy beach and small stands of foxglove dotting the shoreline we made a brief unscheduled stop to snap a few photos and watch the clouds lazily roll over the mountains.

A Bridge in Balquhidder

From there it was onward to Balquhidder. No, that’s not a spelling error – though I’m not sure how you’d even go about pronouncing it. I’ll leave it to the Scots!

Rob Roy Waterfall

We parked at a community center, before walking up a small lane that looked more like someone’s driveway than an actual path. The driveway eventually diverted over a moss covered old stone bridge. Our path split off and wound – sandwiched – between two properties. With an old stacked stone fence on our right, we were delighted to find the small path hedged by ripe raspberry bushes on our left. With red fingers, we skipped along up a slight incline, before curving right and encountering a wet wooden bridge over a small stream, which ran by the gorgeous waterfall shown above.

Rob Roy Grave

From there it was up a small muddy footpath, which dumped us out behind the old stone church we’d come to see. Well, to be more specific, we’d come to see a specific gravestone – one among many, all worn by years of harsh weather and rains. There, with a beautiful view of the countryside was Rob Roy’s grave. For those unfamiliar with the movie, or story attached to him. He was a clansman who many believe was the basis upon which the Robin Hood myth was born. Buried in another clan’s cemetery as a passive aggressive act, the famous bandit and swordsman’s grave is the only one facing the opposite direction. Apparently, tradition was to bury the dead facing one direction – to ensure they were able to enjoy the sun’s first rays every morning. Poor Rob Roy however, has been deprived of that otherworldly pleasure.

Moss Covered Stone Wall

After a brief story recounting the circumstances of Rob Roy’s death (blood poisoning from a self inflicted wound received as an act of charity during a sword fight with a young man) we set to scaling the hill at the foot of the old Church. Legs pumping, breathing heavily and with a grateful grunt, we walked through a light misting, stripping down to our t-shirts as we went. Grateful for the cool weather, we paused briefly by the moss covered stone wall pictured above, before climbing the last (and steepest) part of the hill to the lookout. I’ve included the picture of the wall to help convey what I’m talking about when I say a moss covered, stacked stone wall. Something that green and that covered in moss is without a doubt a foreign concept to those of us who spend most of our days sweltering in the dry Arizona heat.

Scottish Countryside by Alex Berger

The path was lined by ferns, blooming heather, Scottish thistles and gorgeous foxgloves in blossom. By the time we reached the top of the hill we could smell and see smoke rising. Someone had started a small traveler’s fire at the summit. Huddled around the fire warming their hands they relaxed as a gentle rain fell. We walked past, said friendly hellos and then took in the vista that stretched out before us. With a gorgeous loch fading away into the highland mists to our right and the gently rolling farmland sandwiched between majestic mountains winding away to our left, it was truly an incredible view.

Scottish Clouds by Alex Berger

You’ll see me mention rain quite often as I write. Most places, it would be a pain. When in Scotland – it’s part of the experience. In fact, without the clouds the place loses some of it’s magic. There’s something incredible about the way the clouds drag slowly across the countryside, lazily pausing on mountaintop after mountain top. It pulls you in, hugs you and shares a story.

Glencoe by Alex Berger

From Rob Roy’s grave it was off towards Glencoe. Easily one of my favorite spots in Scotland. The sheer scope and majesty of the valley is breathtaking.

Glencoe Boots by Alex Berger

Once at Glencoe we paused and walked down to a small grass hill in the middle of the valley. With sheer cliffs skyrocketing towards the heavens in every direction our guide began an introduction to the highlands and recounted the tragic story of the Glencoe Massacre. A pivotal point in highland history which occurred in 1692. As he recounted the sad story, with a light rain falling and gentle gusts of wind tossing our hair the story wound to an end – he paused – and then began another.

This was the story of Highland Scotch. As he introduced what has become a famous part of Scottish culture, he reached into his small backpack and produced a bottle of single malt Scotch. With a quick cheers it began it’s away around the circle as we each took turns taking a swig, while Martin explained the various differences between Whiskys, Whiskeys and proper Scotch.

Glencoe Valley from Below by Alex Berger

From there it was down into the lowlands once again as we wound west, where we paused at a Tesco and sent in a small group to pick and gather the goods we’d need to cook that evening’s dinner.

Castle and flowers in Scotland

With food stuffed into every spare nook and cranny in the bus we took advantage of the long summer days in Scotland and paused at the ruins of an old castle. The castle was beautiful, but made far more impressive by the huge stands of violet flowers that surrounded it.

Loch Ness

From there we paused at the canals used to connect Loch Ness to the other great lochs/ocean. The small town was gorgeous and every bit what you’d expect. After taking in the great docks used to manage the different water levels between lochs we hopped back into the van and made our way towards our hostel.

Loch Ness Hostel

Located just off Loch Ness – the small backpackers hostel was perfect. We settled in and set to cooking a large bowl of pasta with meat sauce, potatoes, stuffed mushrooms and garlic bread before heading over to the local pub where I tried a delightful 18 year old Highland Park Scotch. Each sip had a different flavor, each whiff a different aroma.

Amazed by all we’d seen, it was finally time for bed. With a contented smile on my face and an exhausted sigh I crawled into my top bunk and began to snore contentedly.

Leeds Update – Edinburgh and the City of Leeds

Hello all! I’m currently winding up and preparing for my second evening in Leeds. Here’s a quick update.

Day 5 Cont. – Luckily the weather was a bit more welcoming for the third and final leg of our trip. We left our hostel at about 9:30 and began the trip back towards Edinburgh, however, while it was the final leg it was far from the last part of the trip. The night before upon our return, cold, drenched, and energized from a magical day we cooked a communal stir-fry and then headed down to the two local pubs in the little town we were staying in where we met a few of the locals, celebrated one of the guys on the trip’s birthday, and relaxed.

From our hostel we wound our way to Loch Ness, where we stopped briefly – long enough to see it and for Scott and Ariel to jump into it’s icy waters. Given the temperature outside, how cold the water was, and the fact that i wasn’t very impressed with Loch Ness I contented myself instead with eating fresh blackberries I’d found growing next to the lake. I was really impressed again with wild in Scotland, because unlike other tours we didn’t waste time or money with the castle, a boat ride, etc. – rather we just went down a rural dirt road to the loch…jumped in…saw it…moved on. It was perfect.

From there we wound through the highlands – the farms, towns, etc. were all gorgeous. As we drove the rain come and went but was never super heavy. The wind also had died down considerably from the day before. While the entirety of the drive was beautiful, the only other major stop during day 3 was at an incredible glen. The glen had served as some baron/duke/lord or whomever’s private garden where he’d planted trees from all over the world. The whole thing was built along a beautiful stream about the size of the river that flows through oak creak canyon. There was a beautiful stone bridge built right before one of the more major water falls, as well as a stone watching room built above and across from the main falls which offered and incredible view. In addition to ferns, moss covered rocks and green grass everywhere some of the smaller bushes had started to turn a rich yellow/gold. When we reached the overlook/waterfall we stumbled upon another total surprise. There were salmon running! We stood up at the overlook for a good 15 minutes watching as the salmon made a mad leap toward the waterfall and worked their way up it. It was incredible. One tried I’d say every 30 seconds or so and they ranged in size from a good foot and a half to about a foot long.

From there we headed back to town and passed by the Forth? Fourth? Rail bridge. An incredible creation made out of steel that apparently may have been the motivation for the Eiffel tower. Looking at it, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination that it was.

We got back into Edinburgh about 6:30 that evening. I said my goodbyes and made my way back to the hostel where I checked in for 2 nights and then set out again. After scrounging up some food I spent most of the night around the hostel relaxing and recovering. Met some interesting people, posted my last update and called it an evening.

Day 6 – I started the day by walking down hill and around the eastern face of the castle (previously I’d always gone up and over the royal mile). My path took my in a lazy loop around the front and eventually dumped me into the princess st. gardens. While beautiful, the garden’s were fairly sparse. The most interesting part however, was a floral clock. The clock operates and is created completely out of flowers (arms, digits, everything) the only exception is an underlying mechanical framework.

From the Gardens I headed over to the train station where I made an important discovery – tickets the day before are 1/3 the price. I booked my ticket for Leeds for the following day and then continued my exploration. I wandered up and down princess street and all of the streets beyond eventually making my way to the Botanical Garden, which while beautiful was fairly plain. The real interesting part would have been the greenhouses – a large indoor area full of exotic plants and flowers – BUT they charged and I didn’t want to mess with it. So, contented I began my long trip by foot back toward the castel. Eventually I stumbled upon a large Tesco (think Frys/Safeway) and picked up some food for dinner before continuing back to the castle/hostel.

After cooking, relaxing in the common area and socializing, and reading a bit. I bumped into Jonathan – a Canadian I’d gone out with the first night and we caught up a bit. I’d heard about a local salsa club – and despite it being Monday – a holiday for them I decided to check it out. I strapped on my shoes once again and made the trip back off the mile to a little basement bar a bit past princess street. When I arrived the place was mostly empty – as the night unfolded it turned out that because of the holiday the crowd was weird. Mostly late shows and more interested in drinking and dancing club style than dancing Latin. I did meet a friendly bar tender who after a neat conversation offered a few travel tricks she had picked up during her adventures. After a few hours I got tired of the scene and headed back to the hostel. There I bumped into Jonathan, a friend/co-worker of his, and an American girl over for a night. After talking a bit the 4 of us struck out for some late night food – it was about 1:30AM so we made a quick job of it at the local fried goods joint and then went back to relax a bit longer before turning in. People say McDonalds is bad, but the British fried goods places are 10 times worse. Everything is battered and fried. From mars bars to hot dogs. You name it. While I can’t say that it’s delicious…there are definitely times when it hits the spot.

Day 7 – Leeds. I woke up around 10:00 packed everything up and headed to the train station. After a little confusion I found the right train, found my place and was off. The countryside was beautiful, green rolling hills, ocean, sheep and the occasional city. The ride itself was about 2 and a half hours long. Not bad at all! Upon arriving in Leeds I hit up the tourist information center looking for a map and a place to stay. Much to my surprise and frustration it turns out that Leeds doesn’t have a hostel. The next best thing was a row of reasonably priced B & B’s located up by Leeds University, which luckily is just outside the old city and turned out to be where my friend I came to visit is attending. Unable to contact her until I got web access, I was able to find a B&B that wasn’t too outrageously priced and then set off into the city proper to find food, an internet cafe, and explore a little. The food and exploration was easy, an internet cafe took a bit longer. Apparently – as is the case with hostels-Internet cafe’s aren’t overly popular in Leeds. Eventually I did find one and was able to get Meagan on the phone. We coordinated and I headed toward her dorm…after a fashion. Getting lost, backtracking, asking for directions and wandering. About 20 minutes later, I actually ended up bumping into her on the street having made better time than she expected-she was still on her way back. We headed back to her dorm where we caught up, relaxed, and I met a bunch of her flat mates. We all took a break to tidy up, then went out to explore the local pub. Then we headed to the student union which had several other pubs and a welcome/first week dance. We found a nice area to the side and the 4 of us discussed, debated, and mused. Around 12:30 things closed down and I called it a night.

Day 8 (Today) – Woke up early, left the B&B and headed over to the dorms. Dropped my stuff off at Meagan’s room (I’ll be crashing on her floor tonight) and caught up for a bit before heading into the city. The city itself has a great feeling. It’s fresh, booming, vibrant, and modern. It’s a neat mix between modern architecture and old Victorian. The people are also a lot different. It’s a very attractive populace here – in many ways it reminds me of Scottsdale. I headed straight away to the rail station where I picked my next destination – York! Why? Who knows – it’s a major historical local town, has a castle (I think), and everyone says it is a great destination. I’m currently planning on doing York, then London, then leaving England. I may go to Wales though briefly depending on how things pan out. After booking my ticket I made my way across the old quarter to the old corn market and city market.

The Corn Market was a neat circular building, but fairly boring as it was under renovation. The city market however was fantastic. In an old Victorian building the market was full of booths that sold everything…there were butchers to fish mongers to shoe merchants to locksmiths. After wandering around a bit, and eating a great Gyro I left the market and walked to the Royal Armory. The RA was fantastic, full of arms and armor it has well laid out exhibits, an incredible mix of arms and armor and included a fun show. The show was a 30 minute event, that was a lot like the jousting events at the Renaissance Festival. Only instead of armor and fake lances there were dressed in padded garb that looked the part of a renaissance hunt or court. They performed various tricks to show skill with the sword, spear, javelin and lance. The event was fun and also even a bit informative.

From the Armory I wandered back across the city and made my way back to the dorms where I am now. What tonight has in store? Only time will tell!

Miss you all! BTW – I’ve put a VERY limited number of photos on Facebook – currently I can only upload them 2 at a time due to what I think is a university network bandwidth limit. Doh!