Our next stop was Inverness, which is Gaelic-ish. Ibenhir (?) or some form of “inver” means river, and “Ness” or “Niss” is the name of that river. So, now let’s put two and two together, Inverness means river Ness because it is located on the Ness river which connects to Loch Ness (not far down the road). The further north we went by train, the more the language changed. First, the train stations just showed the name of the town, then the town name in English with Gaelic under, and finally furthest north, the Gaelic name was sometimes first or maybe the only name listed. I also think that trying to pronounce Gaelic is an experience no one should go without. Try this town name: Drumnadrochit. Not bad, you did pretty good, but that’s actually the English translation (gottcha). The Gaelic name for this town is “Druim na Droichaid,” and I hope you have as hard of a time pronouncing that as I did. Drumnadrochit was the town nearest Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle ruins. To see Loch Ness you can pay a hefty sum to take a cruise and tour castle ruins, or you take the Robyn-Brett-Madison tour. Being cheap college students (and having myself learned thrifty ways from my family members), we did not actually visit the castle or take a cruise on the loch. Rather, we took the bus to the castle, stood in the parking lot, and peered over the wire fence at it. It was marvelous. After sitting on Brett’s shoulder’s in order to snap some pictures sans fencing, we decided we’d had our fill (no Nessie), and started the walk back to town.
One of my favorite parts of my trip was this little country highway. There were lochs in the distance, farmers’ fields, and hills. It was all green, but frosted over. And there were sheep, a lot of sheep. There are more sheep than people in Scotland (no lie). Robyn, doing only what would be considered natural, tried to communicate with the sheep (and a few very fat birds). Brett I think was a little embarrassed by how bad we were at bleating and baaing, but I think we got our point across to the sheep.
Inverness is also home to some fantastic Scottish pubs. We were lucky to happen upon one our first night called Finlay’s, and it seemed to be a local hang out. This is why I enjoy pubs in Scotland: they seem to be for all ages (of course excluding those below 18), they are casual, and they play live folk music. Old men and old women danced along to the banjo/guitar/accordion band (we couldn’t understand the man singing, but it was great); three generations socialized together. The other pub we went to the following night, Hootananny’s, was super busy. By the time we left there was not room to stand up and walk. Again, it was an all ages affair (we talked a very nice old Scottish man), and this time there were bagpipes (!!). It was a bagpipe rock type band—very enjoyable and good for people watching.
That about wraps up Inverness unless you have questions, etc., and don't worry, for all you die-hard Highlander fans I will get back to the movie reference in my next post! As far as pictures go, I am having a little difficulty with that so I am looking for a solution.
Also, I know it’s been a while since my last post. This is because while I am fairly settled into my Oxford surroundings, tutorials started and I realized that I was not academically settled in to a routine. So this first bit of work has come upon me (and everyone else here) very fast and in insanely large quantities. I am going to try to finish with Scotland in a few more posts and get on to life here in Oxford, but bear with me and my large reading list!