I arrived in Edinburgh at 1am and promptly got lost. The street signs live on the sides of the buildings and are not lit up at night. Live and learn. I finally checked into my hostel and crashed around 2am.
I got 3 hours of sleep then woke up bright and early for a day tour of the Highlands. I went with a company that offers a free trip based on tips at the end of the trip. The company is called the Hairy Coo, and we drove around in an obnoxiously orange little bus (designed, of course, to look like a hairy coo).
I met this girl on the tour who was also traveling alone around Europe. She had just come from Ireland and was on her way to Italy. We had some fun chit chatting between stops and taking pictures for each other at various places. We even had lunch, had a cup of coffee, and took a romantic walk around a loch together. It was romantic because the tour guide described it as such, not so much because there was romance between this girl and I.
We visited places like Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument, Loch Achrey (where we saw and fed some hairy coos), and the adorable little town of Aberfoyle. It was here that I sampled haggis from a local butcher and then had coffee in the attic above a candy store. This attic was decked out like a thrift store. While you were drinking your tea, you could also shop for used baby clothes or a new duvet. Fantastic!
It was also in this small town that I realized that one of the gentlemen on my flight from Reykjavik is a famous musician! At least, the lady who owned the stop had framed pictures with him and a tour poster decorating the walls.
We had to do a little bit of hiking to get up to Wallace Monument, but it was worth it. We also had an encounter with spiritual guru Siri Siri Ravi Sankar. Not to be confused with the well-known sitar player. There were 200 or so people following him around the last loch we stopped at, and then he drove off in a Porche. Because Porches are the most spiritual car, obviously.
The tour guide was awesome. He was really funny, but many of his jokes went over the heads of the fellow tourists, as many of them were not paying attention as diligently as I was. He also was kind enough to share a little bit of his story with us along the way, and Aberfoyle is his where he grew up!
He also shared so much information about the history of Scotland, the relationship with England, and even the geology of the country.
The highlands were beautiful, and the tour was so fun! We returned to Edinburgh around 6pm, at which point I promptly went back to bed.