Here Nessie, Nessie…

Please forgive me for my brief hiatus! It’s been a very stressful month for me. On top of midterms and spring break, I have been suffering from homesickness. Realizing that I have a lot to talk about and not enough space to fit it all in one post, I will be writing about my trips to Bilbao and London in another post. But, this post is dedicated to Loch Ness and most of all, my dear friend Nessie. You know, the humongous Jurassic-like monster that obviously resides in the biggest loch (lake) in Scotland. Yeah, that one.

A few weeks ago, I saw that my friend Sofia (check out her study abroad blog at http://mythicallyinsane.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/searching-for-nessie.html) was headed to Loch Ness for a day trip that weekend and I messaged her not wanting to miss out on the search for Nessie. After class that Friday, I packed my bag for what would no doubt be a weekend full of friends, fun, and most of all… myths. Our journey was to start at 8 am Saturday, so both Sofia and I thought it best that I rode into Edinburgh on Friday and stayed with her at her uni that night. This was great because it gave me the opportunity to do a ghost tour in the Edinburgh underground, eat at The Last Drop (site of the last hanging in the Grassmarket) and meet some of Sofia’s school friends from the University of Edinburgh.

Our City of the Dead tour guide!
Our City of the Dead tour guide!
The creative and creepy Last Drop logo.
The clever but creepy design of the Last Drop Logo

A Few Fun Facts About Loch Ness

If you took the world’s population and multiplied it by 10, that would be the number of people that can be submerged by the water contained in Loch Ness.
The first recorded sighting of Nessie was in 565 by Saint Columbia who supposedly rescued a man being attacked by the monster.
The most famous photo of Nessie was taken in 1934 by London physician, Robert Kenneth Wilson. It features her head and neck breaking the surface of the loch.
There have been more than 1,000 recorded sightings of Nessie.
Margaret Thatcher considered making the Loch Ness Monster a protected species in the 1980s.
Around 1 million people visit Loch Ness each year and create about 25 million pounds (over $36 million) in the economy.

Behold, Loch Ness.
Behold, Loch Ness.

Our trip was conducted on a large tour bus complete with wide windows that were perfect for taking in the glorious views of the Scottish Highlands. Originally we thought this tour would come with a tour guide. Later we found out that was not the case, so all of my history comes from what I found on the internet. Given the very cheap price of the “tour”, It’s no surprise that there was no one there to inform us on each of the areas that we passed. Regardless, the beauty of the highlands was absolutely magnificent. There was also still snow on most of the mountains (small in size compared to mountains in the US) from the winter storm that came through the previous week. I’m not going to lie, I let out a few audible gasps as we passed various breathtaking views of mountains and lochs on our way through the highlands.

The first stop on our trip took us to the habitat of Hamish the Highland Cow who was famous for being a friendly and photo ready bull that tourists could interact with. Sadly, Hamish died last November… but we were still able to grab a quick breakfast and peruse on of the many gift shops set up along this trip. Next the bus took us to Glencoe for a quick photo opportunity. Glencoe is actually famous being the site of the Glencoe Massacre that inspired the events of the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. It was also used for filming in one of the Harry Potter movies.

Group photo at Glencoe!
Group photo at Glencoe!

Here’s the thing about Loch Ness…

You hear so much about it. It is arguably the most famous location in Scotland. Because of hundreds of years dedicated to the myth of the Loch Ness Monster, I was expected something a little more exciting than what could essentially be called a tourist trap. When we arrived, we were given about 30 minutes to explore the Urquhart Castle that rested on the loch before taking the boat cruise across the lake. The castle, or what was left of it, was very quaint and quite fun to explore. It offered marvelous views of the loch and we had a good time. The boat however, was not worth the 18 pounds we reluctantly paid for it. Besides having the opportunity to capture some good pictures of the loch, the boat was nothing more than a way to suck money out of unsuspecting tourists. It came complete with a bar and a sonar machine that was meant to track movements under the boat in case Nessie was close. The worst part of the whole thing is that the boat conveniently drops you off a small Nessie laden gift shop.

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle
Exploring
Exploring

Overall, Loch Ness was good, but not great. If it wasn’t for the good company of Sofia and her friends… I might not have even called the experience good. The loch itself while beautiful, is vastly underwhelming especially after hearing so many legends about it. Even with this critical review, I am very happy I went. What kind of traveler would I be if I didn’t go see Loch Ness while living in Scotland for 5 months??? Anyway, I know everyone has just one more question for me. No, unfortunately I did not see Nessie. Maybe next time? Oh, who am I kidding? I probably won’t do Loch Ness again unless someone else pays for it. In my opinion, there are prettier and better things to see in this beautiful country! Cheers!

The view from the back of the boat
The view from the back of the boat

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