Sunday, 16 February 2014


This weekend's Scottish adventures with Isoc brought me to places old and new. I visited Luss by Loch Lomond, saw Loch Tulla, Glencoe and Fort William, places I have been before but now got to see again under different circumstances, namely snow. And I visited a brand new place, Glenfinnan.

First a stop in Luss, my third time during my time with Isoc. I am by now quite familiar with the toilets and coffee shop. I recommend the coffee, by the way, it is really good. Have another picture of Loch Lomond, because snow and ducks:

It was so good to see snow again, since I didn't get much of it this Christmas at home. It hailed the other day in Glasgow, the ground was covered in white for perhaps five minutes before it melted away.
(It looked like this)
Driving through the snow covered Highlands was way better. I sat beside a nice guy from Brazil, and he told me he had never seen this much snow before. This is such a weird aspect about meeting people from all over the world. He could not comprehend how -20 Celsius would feel, and I can not comprehend how 50 Celsius feels. But that is sometimes my winter and his summer.

We stopped next at a viewpoint overlooking Loch Tulla. I've stopped here once before, on the Isle of Skye trip. This time it was more beautiful because of the white capped hills and the weather was almost sunny.

We drove onwards to Glencoe and the three sisters, three mountains. This is the place where some scenes from James Bond Skyfall was filmed, along with scenes from Hagrid's hut in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The weather in Scotland changes as quickly and often as in Norway. In the 30 minutes I spent in Glencoe it was grey at first, then there was a little bit of rain before the clouds retreated and revealed some blue sky.

We next stopped for a while in Fort William so people could eat lunch. Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands. It is popular among hillwalking tourists because it is close to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. When we got there the sun was actually poking out from behind the skies for more than 5 consecutive minutes. It was quite pleasant.

I walked to Fort William, the fort the town is named after, and took some pictures of the beautiful landscape framing the town.

Then I walked into the town centre, had a look at the churches and things found around them.
I like how Tesco says hello. It is obvious they care about food when they say it this way.
I also had time for a quick tea and scones at a cafe before moving on to our main destination: Glenfinnan.

Glenfinnan is a small village in the Scottish Highlands. Even though it is a tiny place where about 100 people live it is home to many tourist attractions. First and foremost for me is the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This is a railway bridge you will recognize from the Harry Potter films. If you don't, well what are you doing reading this, go watch some Harry Potter.
Before coming here I had never heard the word 'viaduct' before. I know of the aqueducts the Romans among others built. An aqueduct is a bridge that leads water, and it is made up of arches. The word comes from latin aqua (water) and ducere (to lead), and thus viaducts make sense. It comes from latin via (road) and ducere (to lead). The arches leads a road instead of water.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct has 21 arches and it was built 1897/98. It is made entirely out of concrete. I stood up on a viewpoint providing a great view of both the Viaduct and Loch Shiel.
Maybe you recognize Loch Shiel? Add a castle in the distance and you have the Black Lake/Great Lake from the Harry Potter films. The monument in front of the Loch is another tourist attraction: The Glenfinnan Monument. It was erected in 1815 to commemorate where Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") raised his standard at the start of the Jacobite Rising in 1745.

From the viewpoint I could also see the St. Mary and St. Finnan church.

After climbing down from the viewpoint I went to see the bridge up close in person.
Next I set my course for the railway museum. On the way I passed the church.

The railway station is home to the Glenfinnan Station Museum. It is also the station where a lot of Harry Potter scenes were filmed, so you could find Harry Potter style suitcases to take pictures with.

I visited the gift shop to buy some postcards. I would have liked to see the museum too, but at that point I didn't have much time before the coaches left. The woman working the till said hi, then asked
"Er du norsk?" (Are you Norwegian?)
I was so bewildered I stood there like a fish on dry land for several seconds before saying "ja" (yes).
She recognized my Marius jumper, a very common Norwegian sweater pattern. I ended up talking to her for about ten minutes before I had to leave. She had lived in Scotland for 20 years. We talked about the weather, as Norwegians often do, snow, travels and school. I don't meet many Norwegians in Scotland, in fact to this date I haven't even talked to another Norwegian at the university. But then I travel to a tiny place in the Scottish Highlands and the only local I meet turns out to be Norwegian. Incredibly random, funny and nice.

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