Edinburgh, Oban, Iverness

Until more recently the London forecast was almost exclusively cold, wet and windy and so when it came to booking travel warm and sunny seemed to fall at the top of my list of criteria. scotland just happens to be colder, wetter and windier and so as my trip to Edinburgh, Oban and Iverness approached I began regretting my decision to attend all together. The trip had been organized by my Study Abroad Program (IES) and so while I was happy to eliminate the stress of planning out an itinerary myself, I was also concerned they would jam pack our schedule with activities I'd be completely uninterested by. I was dropping so much money to attend and I was afraid I wouldn't be getting its worth. Leading up to the trip our staff leaders kept warning us about the weather conditions and recommended we buy all sorts of warm outdoorsy apparel. I just wasn't so keen on adding long johns and fleece to my wardrobe.

Of course as soon as I arrived I quickly realized that it wouldn't be the sort of experience I'd end up regretting. I was immediately struck by Scotland's rich culture, it exuded such a distinct sense of place. I think because I've been living in London and genuinely think of it as one of the greatest cities my expectations when traveling to smaller ones are a bit low. However, the thing that I keep forgetting is that all of these European cities are so different from each other. It doesn't compare to London, because you simply can't compare them.

Edinburgh was our first stop. We wandered the streets of Old Town, explored a castle, devoured hot chocolate floats (Mary's Milk Bar) and hiked up to Nelson's monument for some serious views of the city. From there we traveled by bus through the Highlands and over to Oban. We arrived after dark and left painfully early, but managed to squeeze in a trip to the local Karaoke bar. We of course crushed our group rendition of "Come on Eileen" while the Scots took on their own version of a classic, "Donald Where's Your Trousers" (naturally). We spent a majority of the next day driving through the Highlands before ending up at Cairngorm Reindeer Center. We hiked up the mountain to where Santa's little sleigh drivers were waiting. (Yes, Rudolph was there!!!!) It was one of the coolest experiences I've had, feeding these reindeer on top of this breathtaking, snow covered mountain in the Highlands. I almost got head butted by one in the selfie taking process, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right? Iverness was our last stop before heading home to London. We boated across Loch Ness, checked out another castle *IES loves castles* and 100% saw Nessie.

There were so many cool moments from the trip to add to my collection of memories I've acquired these past four months. Scotland proved to be a place that left more than just a stamp in my passport.


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