Monday, August 1, 2011

Scotland and Home--Barry

Today we started our trip home as we left the Isle of Lewis at the far point of our Scotland itinerary and returned by ferry to the Isle of Skye.  Tomorrow we will return to the mainland before heading to the Edinburgh airport on Wednesday for our flight to Newark.

Near the end of the road on the Isle of Lewis.  The British phone boxes don't get a lot of use these days, but I still love seeing them in the countryside.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Scotland is the place we visited on our first trip to Europe in 1986.   We stayed two nights back then on the Isle of Skye near its main town of Portree.   Twenty five years later Skye still has the stunning scenery, of course, but it has changed in other respects.  In 1986 I recall driving a lot more on winding "single track roads", with occasional passing spots, because of the low traffic.   This time many more roads are wide, two-lane highways.  There is also a bridge to this island now.

Seen on our boat excursion today on Lewis

Last Friday was a great day to take a ferry, and we had two ferry trips then--the first from Tobermory on Mull to the Ardnamurchan peninsula (above) and the second from Mallaig to Skye
A before dinner walk near our B&B on Skye--if you go, we highly recommend the Glenview on the Trotternish peninsula north of Portree

I always wanted to visit Harris and Lewis, one of the Outer Hebridean islands that oddly shares two names.  (The hillier southern part is Harris while Lewis has more flat moorland in addition to a dramatic rocky coastline---with some beautiful sandy bits.)  Compared to Skye and the other  inner Hebridean islands we returned to, Mull and Iona, Lewis has a more barren, dare I say bleaker feel to it.  (Some windy and rainy weather on Sunday contributed to it.)  I'm glad we visited, but we both preferred the more varied charms of Mull and Skye and hope to make a return visit to these two places someday.

Driving a single track road on Mull (I'm stopped at a passing spot)

On our drive back to the ferry in Tarbert on Harris, we reminisced about various aspects of the journey we have been so fortunate to undertake together over the past three months.   There is little we would have done differently, and it has proceeded--with two days left--very much according to plan with  few hitches.  In all the places we have visited--admittedly some more than others--we have felt at home.   This may have been because we had visited before, or because of general familiarity of landscape or language, but more often this feeling came from encountering so many nice people along the way.  

The view outside our door at Gallan Head, northwest Lewis
Skye has some dramatic vistas, such as the barren Cuillen mountains that reach 3000 feet

In one sense a round the world journey is indeed a big trip.   By the time we land in Newark, we will have had fourteen flight segments totaling 60 hours in the air.  But, in spite of this, having the privilege of traveling round the globe makes you reflect on how similar people are everywhere, making the world seem a smaller place indeed.

Sunset tonight on Skye, near our B&B (Nice photo, Mar!)

An Interesting Place to Showcase Celtic Symbols


Standing Stones meet the Trinity Knot on ... a bottle of beer
It tastes kind of like Guinness, according to Barry