Glencoe: my intro to the highlands 

I made it to glencoe.

It’s incredibly gorgeous here.

I continually find it amazing that there are so many versions of gorgeous in the world. There’s New England waterfall gorgeous, Colorado mountain summit gorgeous, Africa safari gorgeous, Kilimanjaro flora gorgeous, Hawaii black sand beach gorgeous, California coast gorgeous…and an infinite other kinds of gorgeous. How lucky are we for all the gorgeous?

I wasn’t sure at first, though, that Scotland’s scenery could live up to what I’d imagined in my mind, what people told me to expect.

Especially because the change in landscape was gradual. A friend had mentioned that the opening to the highlands was kind of like a grand unveiling — you turn a corner and there they are: the highlands! But instead, for me, the beauty slowly unveiled itself.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal as the scenes around me turned from sheep and hills and the occasional shop to…well…the highlands.

“There wasn’t really a moment when the mountains began. It was more like the land unfurled, slowly revealing it’s sharpness and steepness in rock, it’s softness in its grasses. Rocks litter everything, looking like they were dropped randomly from the sky, like they don’t belong. Everything is green. Perfect and bumpy moguls. And the thing is, there’s no longer people or civilization. For miles and miles and miles, the landscape is all you see, untouched, undeveloped. The lack of people and houses and villages, of stores and gas stations, it’s like if people once occupied this area, they gave it up long ago, like it was too sacred to take for themselves, like they are protecting it.

And the green, the emerald in the golden sun that shines from every hill side, every mountain side. And the mountains! I’ve never seen anything like it. There are almost no trees at the bottom and so they give themselves up to inspection. You can see every crevice, every undulation, even the smallest ones. Green fuzzy grass turns to jagged rocks and the whole thing just shoots straight up into the air, defying you with its sharp, steep angles.”

On the bus here, I could hardly contain myself, close my drooling mouth, form thoughts of any kind except “whaaaa?” It’s just beyond majestic, beyond pretty. I plan to read up on how Scotland’s highlands came to be. (I’ll let you know.)

But eventually, I had to disembark from this magic bus.  I was pointed down the road to walk by a friendly man on the bus and off I went to walk the 1.5 miles to the hostel with my enormous pack.

Which was fine — I like exercise — but which also strained my back a little bit because of the boneheaded way I’d attached one bag to another.

After a friendly conversation with a fellow traveler, and lots of sweat, and more lots of sweat, and a pretty horse…

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…I arrived at my hostel at last!

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Except, of course, it was totally not my hostel. Ha! My hostel was just a little more down the road.

So once I finally found my actual hostel…

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…I bought a beer from the front desk and got on my way walking to dinner (because this is Scotland and that’s totally allowed?).

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Dinner was the the chalaig inn, which in addition to having bonkers views…

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…had delicious vegetarian (not vegan) food.  After a long day of hardly eating “real” food, it was great to have an awesome meal.

And then, because I’m sick, I walked home as the setting sun painted the mountain rocks pink, and went to sleep. Hard.

More later!

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