Misty Skye Adventures

Misty, grey, and wet weather greeted me on Monday. Very authentically Scottish and Skye I told myself. I woke bright and early to catch the 52 bus down to Broadford at 7:10am. I was in Broadford around 7:50 and asked to be dropped off by Waterloo in order to do part of the Rubdha Ariba walk while waiting for my bus. I found the walk on walkhighlands.co.uk website. The walk is supposed to be excellent for birding. 

And it definitely proved to be. I saw a bunch of new bird species and the walk was very peaceful. The scenery was beautiful. It was raining, but only lightly and I was warm with my layers. It’s nice to be alone walking for a while. Just me and the birds. I also saw 4 seals! I think if I had more time to actually complete it, it would have been even better. Maybe someday I can return. 

Tip: Ask the bus driver to drop you off at a specific point on the road (including just citing a trail or sight you want to see). Then for your return journey you can wait on the road on the opposite side and just flag the bus down. This saves a LOT of time walking from a main bus stop to the trailhead and back again. (I didn’t know about the second half of this so I asked quite a bit of time walking back into town for the bus after my hike). 

Once back in town I caught the 52 Stagecoach bus down to Elgol. Going on single track roads on a bus the was a little scary. At one point the bus had to stop and back up partway down the road to let a car pass. Most of the ride it was incredibly misty and the Windows were fogged up so I couldn’t actually see the scenery. While waiting for the bus, two locals actually cautioned me to call and check the tours were still running the weather was bad enough. Though I appreciated the advice, I felt committed to the tour and the weather didn’t seem that bad. 

When I got to Elgol it was raining fairly hard. But the tours were still going. Though I was told I would definitely not be able to climb Sgurr na Stri because the river was over its banks and impassable. I later found out that I was one of 3 people all day to attempt a tour. The tour guides were impressed that I had walked in the mornings and said I must be quite “keen”. 

The two other people on the tour were a nice mother and son pair from Denmark. They were very nice and ended up giving me a ride back to Broadford later.

The boat ride was excellent. Great local guides that provided a nice description of the islands we couldn’t quite see. They commented that they hadn’t been out in the water and not been able to see land before. So it was truly a miserable day. We all huddled up front with them. They served delicious hot chocolate and a variety of biscuits and candy. 

We did see seals which I always like. We also say the “bad step” which is this huge horrid slab of rock you have to cross if you decide to do a hike across the coast. In order to cross it successfully you have to use this crack that goes through it. 

On account of all the rain, the waterfalls were awesome and everyone. We docked at the steps and went up. I could not hike Sgurr na Stri (a nearby mountain) because the river was over-flowing it’s banks and also because the weather was so bad. So we all just hiked up to Loch Corisek which was indeed beautiful. I want to come back sometime when it isn’t pouring and I can hike around more. 


After not too long and taking some photos we got back on the boat. More hot chocolate and biscuits. By this point despite my rain jacket and poncho I was getting a little wet as the water ran in through my collar, sleeves and a little through the seams. Then it was back to shore, Broadford and Portree. 

I got dried off and went to a cafe for the afternoon. At night the weather cleared up so I took a bunch of pictures around town and then went out for a drink with 2 girls from my dorm, Tania and Laura. They were awesome and we had a really good time chatting. 

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Journey to Skye

To get to Isle of Skye via public transport I took a City Link bus from Edinburgh to Iverness to Portree. Top for other traveler’s: buy the Explorer Pass to save a bunch of money on this and other trips. You get 3 days of unlimited travel out of 5. And it’s worth it for the long rides. 

On the bus I met a fellow Saint Louis native and Truman alumni! Cat Mann is her name and she just graduated. She spent her last semester in Austria. She was traveling with an Australian named Rachel and we spent the 4 hour ride just chatting and swapping travel stories. It was great. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. 

Meanwhile the bus ride was very pretty. They got off at Iverness though and I continued to Portree. The second half of the bus ride was even more beautiful. Gorgeous mountains. Beautiful lochs. Fast flowing rivers and streams. Cloudy and rainy. A thousand shades of green. Moody and dramatic. 

In Sligachin

Overall Scotland reminds me vaguely of New Zealand but colder with more rain. 

In stayed at Portree Independent Hostel which was awesome. Very clean. Great facilities. Incredibly friendly and nice people. Both the older guy and girl were EXTREMELY helpful in planning my travels. I highly recommend it. Hot showers, warm rooms, and more. 

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Bass Rock and More

I’ll give updates on my time at the conference later. 🙂

Birds and nature today! Hooray! Today I went on the Seabird excursion sponsored by the conference. About 36 conference people attended include Mike Appleby who was our leader of sorts as a native Scottsman. Mostly Amy, our new friend Bryan, and I hung out.

Scopes are fun for bird watching’

We got there and got to go in a SeaBird Discovery Center which was quite cool. We had a little slide show on the birds and creatures we might see on the tour. As ethologists our group asked excellent questions after the normal presentation. 

Bass Rock is incredible

Today I saw Bass Island which hosts the largest colony of Northern Gannets: 150,000 individuals! Currently with about 50,000 chicks! Clearly it is an extremely important place for the gannet. The gannet is a beautiful white bird with a yellow-ish head and a wing span on 2 meters. It is very graceful when it flies and fished by diving underwater when. It mates for life and lays 1 egg each season. 

You can see the juvenile camp below here as well as gamnets all over!

The whole rock isn’t that large. So all the birds are right next to each other as packed as possible. Down low near the water where there aren’t good nesting sites there are “juvenile camps” for the young gannets. 

I also saw another island with a large puffy colony. There are about 95,000 puffins that nest on that island. Puffins are cool little birds that, while not graceful above water (their wings beat 200 tim e a minute), in the water they can fly. They are good hunters, catching 16-63 sand eels (tiny fish at omce).

We also saw shags, cormorants,herring gulls, common gulls, and a grey seal

Awesome ruins are everywhere in Scotland

More great views

It was awesome and really great weather for Scotland. After the trip we had enough time to hike to the top of a hill in town. On the hike we saw wild Exmor ponies! Pretty great! After hiking I opted for a getting some ice cream and looking at the tide pools. 

Finally we headed back to Edinburgh and said goodbye to Bryan and our conference friends. I took a little nap, went out to eat once more at Heller’s Kitchen which was delicious. And then packed and got ready to leave!

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Day 5: Sitges

Sunday was an exciting day. First I slept in until 7:30! Woo! Maggie, Noémie, and Kerri left in a taxi at about 6am so I was on my own for a little breakfast before transferring from my Airbnb to my hostel for the night. Packing and taking the metro to my hostel took longer than I thought. 

I stayed at Hostel Fabrizzio. It was awesome. It’s a bit of a walk from Passeig de Garcia but not bad. There are 2 locked doors before getting in. They were great when I checked in. They gave me a brief tour. There’s free breakfast with yogurt and milk and juice all day! I stayed in a 4 person room which had fans! There was a small locker to keep your valuables overnight. They also had a really gorgeous rooftop terrace, a kitchen, 2 computers and printers and more. 

I had plans to meet a friend from the conference at a cafe at 10 and then catch the train to Sitges. My other advisor Brianna had recommended Sitges as a wonderful beach town for a day trip. 

Unfortunately with travel I could not manage to contact my friend, was 45 min late to meeting, couldn’t find her, then had issues finding the train, and then my card didn’t work. And the guy wanted my ID with my credit card. So I went back to the hostel checked in via wifi to find my friend is sick. I grabbed 2 different cards (and ID!) and headed back. 

Getting on the train was a little confusing but not bad. To get to Sitges you take the R2 from platform 1 in the direction of de villanova. I double checked with someone before boarding. But I felt extra comforted when more beach-ready people got on. It did seem like a lot of people got off a Vilanovs/St. Vicent but luckily the platforms were well marked and thanks to offline google maps I could tell where I was supposed to go. 

Garraf also looked super gorgeous to get off at. I was tempted to go since it to we closer to the park too. But in the much e I went to Sitges. Overall the train trip took about 45 min or so.

I walked through the town towards the sea. The town is super cute. It definitely has a much more beach-y vibe than Barcelona. Later in the day I got some delicious gelato at one of the stores. Dulce de leche toffee flavor was just awesome. 

The beaches on a Sunday on July were still very very crowded. It was a little much for me. And since I had my bag I knew that I wouldn’t actually be able to do much since I couldn’t leave it on the beach. So instead I just started walking further from the town center. I had read that beaches get better further away and certainly less crowded. On Sunday’s in July the less crowded doesn’t really seem to make too much of a difference for the first 1.5 miles. They only really got less crowded when the beach changed to being pebble and not being protected from the waves. But I did get the chance to get in the water close by. 

Then I say people hiking even further out of town with beach things. I knew then that there must be other options. So I found a couple secluded coves. Most excitingly I saw the first gay beach in the world. It was awesome!

I went down and met a girl named Anna. She’s from Moscow and actually teaches English so we were able to communicate very well. We hung out on the beach a while. Here I felt comfortable leaving my bag while swimming. The water and scenery were absolutely lovely and it just felt very comfortable. 

It turned out Anna was going to Barcelona later in the day so we walked part of the way back to Sitgs together. 

It was a good day. Riding back on the train, I went almost falling asleep. Which would be bad to miss the train station. I went back to the hostel to shower off the ocean and sweat from me.

I met back up with Anna after that at La Placa d’Espanya. Very cool Placa. There were so many people! We saw the art museum, a beautiful fountain, and Olympic park in the dark (it was the only one open). It was nice to just walk around and chat. Finally we headed home and I crashed to sleep. Another day conquered. 

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