Thursday, September 8, 2016

Skye, Scotland

When planning this trip, Mike was ecstatic to go on tours of the distilleries.  He was pretty devastated when the Oban distillery was all booked the first day we were there.  Luckily, they had openings for our last morning in Oban, so we quickly put our name down for that tour.  Since this was our first distillery tour, we didn't really know the process for making scotch, but we were surprised at how similar it was to beer a certain point.  Our tour guide was a young guy who had been only working at Oban for less than a year, but was super knowledgeable. We were impressed.  Unfortunately, you can't take pictures in any of the distilleries, so I have nothing to document our time, but it was a great morning.  Nothing like a little scotch to wake you up!

After our scotch tour, we headed to Skye (more specifically Edinbane) where we stayed at an AirBnB/guesthouse.  It was really cute and I recommend Mary Spiders Guesthouse to anyone thinking of travelling in the area.  Most people in Skye end up camping, but Mike has a strict "no camping" rule (when asked, his response is normally along the lines of "I have to sleep on a submarine way too much.  I want to maximize the number of nights in an actual bed." I guess I can't blame him.) so we stayed at this guesthouse and it was super cute.  The only small issue is that it's kind of in the middle of nowhere.  All of Skye is pretty underdeveloped, leaving it to be pure beauty.  This meant that, for dinner, we could either cook at the guest house, which other people seemed to do, or go to the one restaurant nearby. We opted for the latter and luckily it was good. 

The next day, we woke up pretty early because we had a full day ahead of us.  Mike had booked us a tour of the Talisker distillery at 2:00, but we also wanted to go to these fairy pools that were on the way beforehand. I had seen pictures of the fairy pools and they looked beautiful, so I knew I wanted to go. What we didn't realize was that the actual pools were about an hour hike off the road. By the time we parked and walked about 20 minutes, it was time to turn around and head to our next stop.  If I was doing this again, I would have planned to spend the entire morning at the fairy pools.  Apparently, if you hike further along, you can get to ones deep enough to go swimming.  It was way too cold for me to even consider swimming, but I guess some people do it. 

We had a booking for a 2:00pm tour at Talisker, so we arrived at the distillery and walked around a little bit before the tour.  The tour was pretty good, very similar to the Oban tour.   It's kind of like beer brewing, once you've seen it brewed once, you've seen it done. The tour guide was able to tell us how they vary their ingredients to make it unique, but other than that, it was pretty much the same.  The best part was definitely the scotch at the end, though.
A chart of all of the different Scotch distilleries

After we left Talisker, we made our way to Niest Point, which just provided us with even more picturesque scenery.  There is a lighthouse that you can hike to, but we didn't realize you had to hike to the edge of the point to see it. 

Our last stop of the day was Dunvegan Castle.  It's situated on the water and has gardens surrounding it that make it ideal for a leisurely stroll. The castle isn't actually that large, but the grounds surrounding it are.  We walked in the castle for a bit before exploring the gardens.

We ended the night in Portree for dinner, whcih was the biggest nearby town.  By big, I mean two main streets.  It had a decent number of restaurants to choose from, so we were happy.  Overall, the day was great, but I would say we crammed way too much in.  If I were to do it again, I would have spent all morning at the fairy pools and then the afternoon at Neist Point and saved the castle and the distillery tour for another day.  Oh well.  You live and you learn.  We had a ton of fun and got to see some beautiful scenery.  A good day in my book!