Annamae Beeler Sax - “Chasing the Highlands”
Annamae Sax is a double major in Creative Writing with a focus in Poetry and Gender and Women's studies (specialising in Queer and Trans Studies) who is traveling from Tucson, Arizona to Maynooth, Ireland. When she's not in class or stuck in a book, she loves to act, hike, and explore the world with her friends.
Having learned so much about the ancient Celtic tradition in my old Irish classes here on campus, I couldn't wait to get a chance to explore Scotland and see how much of it had remained there, as well. Thankfully, my chance finally came, and my friend Nathalie and I left for a four day weekend, spanning across Glasgow, Inverness, and Edinburgh.
Leaving to catch our airport hopper at three am wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was worth it, because we wanted as much time in Scotland as possible. We arrived in Glasgow just in time to have an early afternoon tea at one of their most famous tea houses. We had endless pots of Scottish breakfast tea with our food, and I ended the meal with a piece of pecan cheesecake that was to die for. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Glasgow, and then caught our late afternoon bus to the city of Inverness.
My heart practically dropped when I stepped foot in Inverness. It was easily the most beautiful town I’ve ever been to. Our hostel was directly across the street from the Inverness castle, and was practically on the bank of the river. Walking down the street was like walking in a fairytale; the buildings were humongous, old and elaborately detailed, the air was cold and fresh as it whipped off the water, and we had the perfect view of it from our bedroom window. Exhausted from our full day of traveling, we got dinner at the tavern attached to our hostel, and I had some of the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had. We got an early night in preparation of the day ahead of us.
The next day dawned bright and early, and we got up to get breakfast at a local chocolate cafe. After walking around some more, we caught our bus to Drumnadrochit, a village on the western shore of Loch Ness, the lake in the Scottish Highlands that’s home to the Loch Ness Monster. The little town was lovely, and we had lunch at one of their cafes before exploring the local stores and sweet shops. At two, we caught our boat tour that took us across the lake, with the guide explaining the vast history of the water and the famous sea monster. We fed some eager ducks who joined us on the boat, took lots of pictures, and kept an eye out for Nessie, who sadly didn’t make an appearance. Once we were done, we caught the bus back to Inverness where we had a traditional Scottish dinner of haggis. (Mine was vegetarian, and it was delicious. Nat’s was real, and she was unsure.)
We spent the next four hours on a wonderful train ride through the highlands, soaking in the scenery, before arriving in Edinburgh, where we would spend our last two days. We made our way through the bustling city at night to our hostel, which was also directly across from the Edinburgh castle.
The next morning we had breakfast at the Elephant House, the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books, which happen to be my entire childhood. After that, we went to the Greyfriar Cemetery, which you could see from the window of the cafe. This was where JK picked many of the names she put into her books, and we paid our respects to Tom Riddle’s grave. Walking back to the hostel, we stopped at a couple vintage stores where I bought a kilted skirt for myself, and a kilt for my nephew. We took a much needed break before touring the castle and having dinner at a Mexican restaurant (also much needed for our West Coast souls).
On our last day, we went to the Camera Obscura museum, where we played with lights and lasers and felt like little kids again for a couple of hours. We had brunch, and then a tour of the cathedral before tea. We enjoyed as much of the city as we could before having a final cuppa at our hostel and catching our taxi to the airport.
Walking through our gate at the Edinburgh airport, the sign above me said “Haste ye back” and I couldn’t help but promise myself that I would. I adore Scotland, as much as I’ve grown to love Ireland, and I was only there for a weekend. Something about that beautiful country struck a chord in me, and I’m already dreaming about when I’ll get to go back.