Scotland and the Hebrides Call Me Back
I have traveled to many places more than once because I feel they call me back. However, it took just one visit to this particular destination for me to long to return for future visits. In August 2014, I decided to make a repeat visit to Great Britain, including London and Edinburgh. I also decided to include some new destinations, including the Scottish Highlands and the Outer and Inner Hebrides. The Orkney and Shetland Islands were included as well. I had never visited the Highlands or Hebrides before, and this was my chance to include something new in a previously visited country.
I thought the best way to do this was a cruise. Finding cruises that travel around the Scottish Highlands was a challenge. After a few Google searches, I found a British cruise line called Fred Olsen. I had never heard of them before, but all I cared about is that they had cruises to the Hebrides, along with Orkney and Shetland. This cruise was a good way to see many of my dream destinations in one trip.
I had a direct flight from Philadelphia to London. I was happy to see London again. Because this was my first solo overseas trip, I was glad to be in a familiar country, especially one with no language barrier. I spent the night in London, then took a train to Edinburgh the next morning. I enjoyed the train ride, viewing the English countryside. When the train approached Edinburgh, some familiar scenes came into view. I got a good view of the Firth of Forth as we went over the bridge. That was a good sight to see again.
The cruise started the next day from Rosyth, which is the port city outside of Edinburgh. I spent the night in a hotel in Rosyth. I met some other people who were also going on the cruise.
The next day, the most exciting part of the cruise came – boarding the ship. Our first destination was the Orkney Islands. The ship sailed overnight so we reached Kirkwall the next morning.
My highlight of the day in Orkney was horseback riding. I rode a Scottish Highland pony on a trail ride with two other riders. The best view of the Orkney Islands was on horseback. The scenery was fabulous! I knew this was a place I would love to return to in the future.
The cruise continued to other islands, including the Isle of Mull, Skye, Harris and Lewis. I had never seen these islands before. On one of the islands, I saw a small cottage way out in the middle of nowhere with a view of the lake and mountains. That is my dream home!
The breathtaking scenery and the low population make the Hebrides an attractive place for me. My idea of a view is seeing miles and miles of natural scenes – not man-made structures. The sun shining on the lake, creating a sparkling view, is memorizing. I could watch it for a long time.
The Hebrides are also a good place for those who want to avoid scorching summer heat and harsh winters. The rainfall can be rather high but it creates lush green grass that flows in the wind.
After the Hebrides Islands, we set sail to Belfast. I have visited Belfast before, and it was a city I enjoyed visiting. When arriving in Belfast, I took a tour of the city, and to some familiar places. We were in Belfast just for the day, so after my tour of the city, I went back to the ship in time for dinner.
The final destination was the Shetland Islands. That was another place on my dream list. I was glad to have my chance to visit. The Shetland Islands was something to look forward to. I had never been to any place that far north. I thought going as far north as I could go would add to the excitement. The Shetland Islands are farther north than Russia, and close to Norway.
When we arrived in Lerwick, I took a bus ride to a town about 20 miles to the north. I could not get over the scenery. I loved it, and I knew this would be a place I would visit again.
Because I was in the Shetland Islands, I thought I would see some Shetland ponies. I saw a farm with some ponies running around, but none in the wild.
The sad part came when it was time to set sail back to Rosyth, which was the end of the cruise. For every one of my vacations, the end is always the heartbreaking part. I know the Hebrides will always be there so I could make a return visit, which is what I vow to do in the near future.