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10(01)

Thu, 31 Dec 2015
day 05 in braveheart land (0 comments)
it was a cloudy morning, when today we checked out from the hotel. but before we had used the wifi to search for an accommodation that firstly is roughly in our direction we want to go, secondly is open, and thirdly still has vacancies. turns out this seems to be quite a problem on the last day of the year. as a last resort we found a rather expensive three star hotel in ullapool. but now it was time for sights, like loch ness[01-04,82,85-86] for example. by far the most famous loch in scotland, and also a pretty long one.
we started at the north end[02-04], took the road that leads around the lake on the south side. for the first few kilometres we drove along the shoreline, then the road got farther and farther away from the lake. soon, it was not to be seen anymore.
approximately half way down to the south end of loch ness we took a turn to get to the falls of foyer[08-23], which included a short walk through the woods to get there. a few other tourists also made it to the falls, but all in all there were not many people.
then we drove on southwards, took some stops at random places we liked, like the one along river foyers[24-49], or one along the "general wade's military road". yep, that really is the name of the road.
next stop was at the suidhe viewpoint[55-81]. a little hike across country. because of the lack of trees it was very very stormy there. amazing how the plants can adjust to this harsh climate and conditions.
here we were totally alone, no one else was hiking here. also there were no animals to spot or hear. while walking was okay, nina got very cold when we reached a little hill. so after taking a few photos and getting very cold fingers, we decided to go back to the car.
then there was more driving to the south end of loch ness, where the street got close to the lake again. after a little pro forma scouting for the cryptid loch ness monster "nessie", which unfortunately and surprisingly did not surface, we drove on again.
we took a little break to grab a bite and have a coffee in fort augustus[87-94]. after that we continued our journey on the west shore of loch ness.
three quarters of the way up to the north end of the lake is the urquhart castle[95-96]. we just arrived when the last visitors left, and the castle entrance was already about being closed. oh no, too bad. we could have used our explorer's pass for that. there is a big fence with high trees and bushes that makes it pretty impossible to get a clear look on the castle from the parking lot. thanks to nina's tripod we were able to get a good angle and a clear view to the lit castle. with loch ness in the background, this really must have been an impressive subject for some photographs.
since it was already dark again, we kept on driving to get to ullapool, a town on the west coast. after a little more than two hours drive we arrived in a small, sleepy fisher village. we really were wondering what new year's eve here will look like, and mentally compared it to the massive crowds that might already have gathered all over edinburgh. but there was still time until hogmanay, so at first we tried to get dinner in ullapool. turns out there are not many places to choose from, so we took the pub along the shoreline. we entered the pub at 20:45, kitchen closes at 21:00 o'clock, so we quickly ordered fish and chips. hopefully the cook wasn't too pissed because of us. the staff at the bar was super relaxed and friendly, i think they all were already in party mood. we learned that all the locals go to "the arch inn", and that's also about the only pub that will be opened tonight. since there was still time, we went back to our hotel, and joined other guests at the bar. there we met a mixture of really nice people, from retiree, to a lorry driver, and a whisky connoisseur, namely the bar tender. so nina and i used the chance to get professional advice and consultation, as we really did not like whisky up to now. turned out once you get the right whisky, it actually is something we both could enjoy. neil, the bartender, seemed to be in his element and happy all over to help us out of our ignorance of good whisky labels. and so, with all the whisky talk and drinking, we almost missed new year's eve. we had to hurry to "the arch inn", because they would "bring the bell in". and while they don't have fireworks or sparkling wine or lucky charm thingies going on in ullapool, they have a bar owner who plays the bag pipes for his guests. now that was awesome - happy new year. the inn was well crowded, and all people we met and talked to - among them the staff from the pub we have been to before - were very friendly. there was some alcohol involved too. then... memory gets a bit hazy, any sense of time becomes a blur, but at some time or other the inn closed. so we finished our beer outside, where we met another very friendly guy, who seemed to take interest in us two tourists. turns out he was a sound technician who regularly goes on tour with all kind of bands. interesting guy we had a lot of fun with. nina even got a bottle of whisky from him, because he said he has plenty of booze in his car. soon after the inn owner asked all remaining guests to leave the premises so he could close the gates. so we returned to our accommodation, the "royal hotel ullapool" to find the same gang still hanging out in the bar, just as we left them. well, we joined them again for another few lovingly selected whiskys and early early in the morning we finally made it to our beds. puh, i wonder in what condition i will find myself tomorrow in the morning. happy hogmanay. track for day 05.

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