The sad news: I am back in Edinburgh and the tour is over.
The good news: I am still in Scotland.
I can’t say I’ll miss being on the bus, though it was an educational experience. Between everyone’s random jokes (most of which aren’t fit to print), punishments, and bus karaoke, time on the road did pass fairly quickly.
Daily entertainment on the bus came in the form of public humiliation (always a good time, and only one person suffers). On the first day of the trip, Carole had us all write down a punishment. Every time someone was late returning to the bus, they had to draw a punishment, which included the following:
– Run around the bus, waving the Scottish flags, screaming ‘Haggis is not porridge!’
– Perform the macarena
– Write a rude word on your forehead
– End every sentence by saying, “Without my pants.”
You get the idea.
Yesterday we played ‘X Factor.’ Each country had to sing their national anthem, and Carole and Colin acted as judges. The teams were as follows:
Australia – the majority of the bus
Canada – roughly four people
Germany – one person
New Zealand – about five people
Slovakia – one person
United States – two people
Scotland – two people
I am ashamed to admit that Keith and I dropped the ball when it came to the Star Spangled Banner. We came in dead last with a score of 2.3, due to the fact that neither of us could remember the words past the fifth line. Humiliation. Sorry, America. Germany and Slovakia both gave a stellar performance, but in the end it was Scotland who ran away with the prize. This could be because of Carole and Colin’s breathtaking rendition of ‘Flower of Scotland.’ It could also be because they were the judges. You decide.
The bus was the place to be both yesterday and today, thanks to the dramatic weather in the Highlands. Oban is right on the Atlantic Ocean, and was so windy, I thought we were going to lose the smallest person on the tour. Luckily, the only casualties were a water bottle and a few hats.
We met in the pub nearest to the hostel, which turned out to be a good night, as well as the cause of a few queasy stomachs the next day. We met some colourful locals, namely William,
who claimed to be a distant cousin of William Wallace. He definitely looked like he stepped out of a different time. I also got a few lessons on Scottish accents from my new Scottish pub friends. They were most impressed with my pronunciation of ‘Loch,’ thanks to Carole’s advice – really stress the ‘och’ part. Use the back of your throat and make it phlegmy. Nice.
I had a good sleep with the soothing sounds of the raging sea outside and the wind battering the windows. The weather today was much like it had been the previous days – wind, rain, hail, sunshine. The full spectrum, as usual. We dutifully trudged off the bus at every photo stop, from Glencoe to Stirling. And, as usual, the scenery was stunning, and worth getting a little bit wet for.
At Stirling, Carole cleared up a few misconceptions for us regarding the movie Braveheart. Here are the ones I can remember:
1. Mel Gibson is short. William Wallace was very tall. And also Scottish, which Mel is blatantly not.
2. Mel’s William wore kilts, which the real William would not have done, because he was a lowlander, and the highlanders were the ones who wore kilts.
3. It was not Robert the Bruce who betrayed William, it was the Earl of Monteith (I think). R the B is actually a Scottish legend, and the Scots don’t appreciate Mel & Co. tarnishing his memory.
4. Will didn’t hook up with the beautiful French princess, because she was four years old.
One thing that was closer to the truth was the movie’s final scene, depicting the murder of William Wallace. Apparently, it was even worse in real life, culminating with a Lorena Bobbit-style removal of his goods. Scots were bloody. Were being the operative word here. Saying that, I’m still a Braveheart fan. That ‘Freedom’ speech gets me every time.
The highlight of everyone’s day was meeting Hamish, a genuine Scottish legend. He’s got flowing red locks, a solid body, fantastic personality, and the sex appeal of a Hollywood movie star. If he put his face in the faerie stream, the world would probably stop because his beauty would be too much to handle.
Hamish is a fifteen-year-old ‘hairy coo’, or, in non-Scottish English, a cow. He knew the drill – as soon as we turned up and huddled around him, he ducked his head down to be scratched and started sniffing around for food. He was a big hit with the women.
We capped off the day with a trip to Doune Castle, featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Scotland is absolutely rife with castles, which means it is absolutely rife with photo ops – we took the official ‘clan’ photo here, and then got back on the bus for Edinburgh.
Now I’m back in the SmartCity hostel, still not sure where the week went. London seems like such a distant memory, one that is going to become reality again tomorrow. I’ve still got photos to add and videos to post, so I can live vicariously through those for a while.
We didn’t see 75 white horses, but the DSL was ever-present. If you come to Scotland, be prepared. The Deep Scottish Love is everywhere.