Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 1: The Royal Mile in Edinburgh

One of Mary's friends made the following suggestions for Edinburgh that I thought very intriguing:

The witchery secret garden, late night in the downstairs bar of the Royal Oak, Stac Polly Scottish restaurant. The Kitchin restaurant..... Dynamic earth, national gallery, modern art gallery .... All in Edinburgh.

So, we went to Stac Polly....not the main one but the small one close to the Royal Mile.  It was scrumptious!  I had the chicken with haggis.....Mary had the lamb....We tried a Spanish Red wine that was labelled old vines....We gave it a 3.0....but it was a great night.

 Finished the night off with a flight of whiskeys at Whiski on Royal Mile (photo of Bar just below taken the next morning).....bartender lots of fun.....we did flight #10 ....all of these whiskeys were from Islay.  Jack and I had always thought that we would someday come back and do a golf and whiskey tour going to places such as Islay where the golf is not "big name" courses and the whiskey is made right there.  Our favorite of the four that we tasted was Laphroaig 10 year old as we both thought it the smoothest and very easy to drink. The Ardbeg 10 year old tasted a bit like manure to me.  This company has been bought by Glenmorangie.  Second favorite was Lagavulin 16 year old which had a bit stronger taste than the Laphroaig.  And the Kilchoman tasted too much like just plain alcohol to us....we didn't finish it.

This morning we walked from the hotel to breakfast.  It is a lovely morning that had a FINE finish:  Our luggage just arrived so we will have a shower and clean underwear to start off our first day with the group.  We are meeting at 1 for a photo shoot along the Royal Mile and up to the Castle.

So here at the end of the day are some of my photos from the walk down the Royal Mile from Castle to Holyrood with our group:

  Below is William Wallace collecting money for Leukemia!  He was great!

We dropped into one of the many Closes along the way to just see what was back there:

It seemed that people lived in the "alley way", but the area was quite ancient.  Notice that the door is quite small by our standards.  This is out tour leader, Mike.

Part way down the Royal Mile.

Bottom of the Royal Mile with Holyrood Castle just beyond

Below:  Break for lunch after trip down Royal Mile and before the hike up Arthur's Seat.

I did not get photos on Arthur's Seat.  I'll try to add a few of Mary's photos here.

After dinner at our hotel, Mike, Neil, Mary and I went for an excursion to take photos in the fog that had come up as we ate.  I had no luck with my new camera, but my iPhone took enough photos to make me happy with the excursion:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 8

Day 8 — Skye/Edinburgh
After breakfast, start our journey back to Edinburgh, stopping along the way for lunch and a short hike to photograph the beautiful Falls of the Bruar in Cairngorms National Park. Arrive in Edinburgh in the late afternoon and transfer to the city center or to the airport for your flight home. (B,L)

I am not going to try tonight to list where we stopped.  This was the day that we drove from Skye to Edinburgh.  Mike and Carol had to leave early the next day on a plane, so we needed to be back at a decent hour.  I LOVE my photos from this day.

The one below is taken with my iPhone with pano selection:

I want to add a quick note that the above castle photo was taken in Stirling.  We also ate dinner in Stirling before heading back to Edinburg.  But the area that we traveled through between Glen Coe and Stirling was McGregor "country".....It was quite lovely, but we didn't make stops.  That was not a problem for me since I had done a McGregor tour many years ago and have lots of photos from that trip.  Perhaps I'll add some of them to this blog one of these days.

At the end of the evening, Mary and Neil and I went out looking for a bar in which to taste whiskey.  We couldn't get in the one that Mary and I went to the first night.  So we walked down the street.  I took a photo of the place the next day:

Day 7

Day 7 — Cuillin Hills
Along Skye’s southern edge, the Cuillin mountains, often called the Black Cuillin, rise abruptly in rocky crests formed from dark volcanic gabbro. We’ll take the less-traveled route into the Cuillins, approaching from the south by boat via narrow Loch Coruisk, which offers a dramatic perspective for photographers. Circumnavigate the loch, taking in magnificent views of the peaks that tower over its shores. Then enjoy an incredible photo hike among these fabled slopes. (B,L,D)

We will be leaving from hotel in the morning....across the bridge...To invergary....then Spean Bridge....Cairngorms National Park...Pitlochery....Perth....cross the Firth of Forth at Dumfermiline 

We go across the bridge....Fort William....make a right... Ballachuilsh on Loch Linnie....A82 through Ben Nevis and Glen Coe...Callander ....Stirling Castle....Dunferminling....Edenburgh....

Day 6

Day 6 — Northern Skye
The spectacular landscapes of northern Skye rise in soft, grassy slopes that drop off in sheer cliffs, and rock formations that spike and curl. The setting is perfect for a lesson in landscape photography. Set off on foot into this magical place, rich with legend and intrigue. (B,L,D)

This was a very special day.

Our day began with a group decision to revisit Eilean Donan again before crossing the bridge to Skye to photograph this wonderful castle again in better light.  My photography lesson for the day was actually not about taking the photo.  It was about the editing of the photo later.  Here is one of the photos that I took this morning and also a second photo that it the same photo with a bit of editing.  Mary says that Neil always begins by taking the shadows all the way down and the highlights all the way up and then working from there. I edited this photo in iPhoto.

After the Eilean Donan shoot we headed across the bridge to the Isle of Skye.  Of course, being a photography group, we had to photograph it before we could cross:

Isle of Skye was absolutely amazing!

Here is the light house that we shot in the afternoon and a photo of Mary as she photographed the lighthouse.

The end of the travels for the day found us the Skye Museum of Island Life.  It is a group of seven thatched cottages that depict typical crofter's homes in earlier times.

Note in the below how they manage to hold the thatch of the roof down with what looks like chicken wire and heavy stones.

One of the most interesting  (to me) pieces of information in the small museum on the grounds was the fact that so many of the highlanders who had lived on Skye immigrated to North Carolina because of the clearances.  I can not remember the number, but it was thousands of highlanders in the time period.  Flora McDonald's family actually moved there before the Revolutionary War.  Her husband was captured during the Revolution and they moved back to Skye after the Revolution.

The group sat in the car to patiently wait for me while I trekked up the hill to see the grave of Flora McDonald:

Another very interesting item in the cemetery is shown below:

We ended with dinner in our hotel and a photo shoot in front of the hotel at sunset.  The subject was called a folly, but that was an inaccurate term for the stone structure.  This small tower had been used during the clearances as a symbol of who was "boss" and was also used to watch to make sure that no one from the small crofting community "cheated" and fished the waters below.  The restaurant had an excellent explanation that I will try to add later.

Here are my photos from the sunset time after dinner and a photo of our hotel: