for fellow travellers

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Letterfinlay Lodge and hotel

The journey by car from Inverness to Fort Williams via Eilean Donan castle was picturesque. We were three cars going one after the other. As we passed through the lovely countryside
From Fort Williams
we wished we were staying at one of the lovely hotels in the shadow of the mountains, besides a loch. We could not almost believe that the lodge where we were staying, the Letterfinlay lodge and hotel could be at such an amazing location. It is on the A82 about 7 miles from Spean Bridge and 17 miles from Fort William.
Everybody told me that they wished that we were staying at Letterfinlay lodge for more than one day. We revised our plans for the next day but all of us had prebooked connections and accommodations from Glasgow the next day, when we would be dividing into three groups and going to London, Hull, and Windermere.

After checking in the hotel, we drove to Fort William for dinner. We had traditional scottish food Haggis, neeps(turnip), tatties (potatoes).We shopped from tesco and also got Indian food packed for people back at the lodge.
We were fortunate to see the Lochaber school band performing that day at the market square.

From the lounge at the lodge we could see the sheep up on the hills. The lounge had recliners where one could relax.

The other side looked over Loch Lochy. It was an amazing view

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jacobite cruise - The Lochness experience

We went to Fort Williams from Inverness. Left our hotel, Express by Holiday Inn after having breakfast. We decided to take a Jacobite cruise on the Lochness. It was enroute so we decided to do it on our way to Fort Williams. The route was beautiful. We stopped to take photographs on one of the layby (space next to the highway where you can stop the car)

Except for a wrong turn due to some confusion because of the GPS, we reached Clansman Harbour situated opposite the Clansman Hotel. It cost 34 pounds for a family of five for the cruise. The cruise was a great experience.

There is a stop at the Uruqhart castle where you can get down and the ticket costs 10 pounds per person, and take the next cruise back. We did not get down at the castle, instead we came inside the boat from the deck it was warmer inside and enjoyed a cup of warm coffee. As most of the passengers had disembarked at Uruqhart castle we had more space to ourselves, on the way back, in the boat.

Uruqhart castle
After the Jacobite cruise. I thought we might as well may see the Eilean Donan Castle. It was about an hour and a half away. We set our GPS to Eilean Donan castle. The route was beautiful but the castle was a let down especially as we had come a long way to see it. It seemed very small and not at all grand.
Most of our group did not go inside the castle. There was a family ticket of 13.5 pounds and five of us went in. The inside of the castle was interesting and well preseved. The kitchen was especially good.

Eilean Donan Castle

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Inverness - area around the river Ness

Our Guide in kilt told us the literal meaning of the word Inverness, the highland capital. It is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. We reached Inverness by car and the route was beautiful.

The best part of going to Europe in summer is that one has a very long day at one's disposal. The sun rises very early in the morning and sets around 10pm. It looks like its evening time from 4 pm right through to 10pm an endless evening especially for us Indians for whom the length of the day hardly varies with seasons and very often we do not need to see the watch to find out the time, we just look outdoors and can pretty much guess what time of the day it would be. In Europe, in summer your times sense goes awry and many a times you have to draw the curtains to go to sleep at what seems like 4pm time here. In the birthplace of Golf you can tee off at 12 midnight there is still enough light and usher in the sun at 3am by the time you finish your game.
The delay caused in the car rental meant that we reached our destination quite late in the day. The day or rather the evening we reached there we took our cars along the river Ness. We walked along the river, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the crystal clear water. As it was a weekend the parking along the river was free.
The banks of the river Ness beyond the Inverness Castle were known as Ladies walk and the Ness Walk. It was a very picturesque area. On going futher away towards the Eden Court theatre it became lovelier with a number of small islands accesible by small pedestrian bridges, this area we actually explored the next day. The air was chilly.

There were numerous rabbits (and there burrows), living wild on this slope.

We walked upto the Primark store. The market was closed at that time. We saw an Indian Restaurant here. It was called the Shapla ( meaning Lotus?) Indian Restaurant. We had dinner there. It was not excellent stuff but good enough.
Next day we took our cars into the city and parked in the multilevel car park which charged 20pence per car for two hours. The catch was that you could only increase the time of parking after 2 hours. So at the end of 2 hours Shaleen and Anupam had to rush back to increase the time. We walked down to the town centre from the car park but missed the 11 am Happy tour. The Primark store was just 2 shops away so we all went on a shopping spree. The clothes were even cheaper than what we get in India. A shirt with tie for 1 pound. Children's jeans for 3 pounds. Unfortunately we did not buy much due to lack of time and space in our suitcases.
We then went on a walking tour of Inverness - Happy Tour.

Walking tours are fun. A good way to get a feel of the city and also a chance to interact with a local . We did not walk for a long distance but we came to know a lot about the folklore, the history of the city. He told us about the Mac Donald clan. The guide was friendly and humorous.
We headed back to our hotel Express by Holiday Inn which was outside the city towards the Culloden Battlefield. Our group being so large we had not been able to procure accomodation at a B&B as had been our plan initially. The hotel proved comfortable, as Tesco was nearby. For the first time in a hotel we saw that a Microwave was provided for the use of the guests in the common area, where the breakfast was served daily, and there was crockery and cutlery with it. Guests could get food from outside, heat it and carry the food to their rooms from this area if they wish.
Next we went to the Culloden Battlefield. Where the Jacobites had fought with the british army. The battle lasted for about 2hours and there is a tour there now which lasts for almost the same duration.

The tour has GPS facilitated audio tour. On reaching a particular spot the audio guide automatically tells a story related to that location. Here we realized how the golf buggy which we had taken on rent  in Versailles used to give us automatic commentary on reaching a particular place.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Scotland one of the most beautiful places on earth

We are back from a great vacation. We had planned to see Scotland in the latter part of the vacation. It was a novelty for us, Shaleen and me, rest of the cities we had already been to before, (except for Brugee). So that part we planned to visit in the end.
To keep the anticipation going till the end. I think when you plan a vacation, the sequence in which you plan your holiday locales is very important, if you are covering more than one place. If you see the best in the first go, the rest pales in its comparison. During our USA trip the trip ended in a grand finale, the best, the Niagara falls.
I found Scotland quite overwhelming. As I had mentioned in my previous post we took car rentals in Scotland. We were three cars going one after the other. Shaleen had purchased a GPS from London with maps of the European union. His colleague Amrita helped us with the selection of GPS which she had already purchased on the net at
The car rentals gave us more freedom as we were not bound by any particular schedule, except that we had our hotel and apartment bookings done from before. We got the best deal from Alamo and it got better with Etihad Airways Partnership.
We reached Edinburgh from Amsterdam by flight. It took us quite some time to get a taxi for 8 persons as we had a lot of luggage. On reaching Grove street Apartments, we met the rest of our family. They had arrived the same day by train from London. Grove street Apartments proved to be a great stay. It is a daily serviced apartment!! After Citadines stay everywhere else --London, Paris, and Brussels. Grove street Apartments exceeded expectations.
We were so hungry on reaching Edinburgh. The one and a half hour flight had been without any service and the costliest leg of our journey at 80 Euros per person. We feasted on fried Bhindi and Theplas from India and by that time Suhani and Nalin had convinced us to go to the Ghost walking tour. In retrospect I think that was one of the most enjoyable and happening excursions of the trip.
We met our guide outside the Starbucks cafe on the Royal mile. 10 pounds adults and 8 pounds child was the cost and we got a free torch and a drink at the local pub each. He was a good story-teller. We came to know that suicide is legal in Scotland. He told us about the witch burnings, and about Mary Queen of Scots .

The pub where we got a free drink each

He told us that a Scots believe that after death their souls come back to Scotland and therefore at the graveyard there were many memorials of scotsmen who had lost their lives in other countries, made by their kinsmen so that their souls would have a resting place in Scotland when it came back.

We walked a few kilometres and saw few of the greatest views of the city.


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