Day 11 - Invergordon, Scotland
Tuesday, July 28, 2015: Here we are in the port of Invergordon.
|For breakfast, we had our homemade smoked salmon sandwiches from the day before.
|This day, we had the first of two shore excursions booked through the ship.
|We passed a piper on shore welcoming us to Invergordon.
|Maersk! Look closely -- this is the first time we've seen a Maersk drilling rig. This one is the Maersk Resilient.
|Speaking of drilling rigs, there's another one.
|The grey blob in the lower center of this photo is a stone with writing on it, according to our tour guide. We'll take her word for it.
|Maersk again! We were on a roll today.
|We passed the Balmoral Distillery.
|Check out the fancy gate with the fancy gold writing on it.
|Alness is renowned for its floral displays and has won multiple Britain and Scotland in Bloom awards, as shown here.
|Here's the River Alveron.
|This is the Cromarty Firth, whatever that means.
|In the Royal Burgh of Dingwall, we learned that you can tell the number of rooms in a Victorian home by the number of chimneys -- one for each fireplace.
|We saw Tescos everywhere. Apparently, this is the place to get your groceries in the UK.
|Here's a cute hotel ...
|... and a cute house.
|Highland Cow. The difference between regular cows and Highland cows are their long horns and long wavy coats.
|Another adorable house.
|We reached Drumnadrochit, home of Nessie Land, an hour and 15 minutes after leaving Invergordon.
|A few minutes later, we got our first view of Loch Ness ...
|... and Urquhart Castle.
|Let's go there.
|We were supposed to work our way through the gift shop and view a short film, then go to the castle afterward, but Tom got the brilliant idea to beat the crowds and head straight to the castle instead. But first, we got a quick photo of a book about Debbie's college's tartan (Macalester).
|There's the castle. Let's go!
|There were only two people in front of us, not counting the ship's photographer who was filming the trebuchet shown here.
|We spotted a pheasant strolling across the lawn.
|Here's the main entrance to the grounds.
|With the castle pretty much deserted, we decided to go to the highest point to get some good photos. We got a wonderful photo of Orchy, the castle, and Loch Ness before anyone else showed up.
|Tom looked for the Loch Ness Monster but found nothing.
|Here's a doocot. Try not to giggle at the name. It means a place used to house pigeons or doves.
|We headed over to the Grant Tower ...
|... and up we went. It was a spiral staircase similar to the one at Blarney Castle, except even more narrow.
|Here's Loch Ness. Did you know that you can explore it using Google Street View? Do it. It's very fun.
|Here's a castle window.
|Here's a castle view. People were starting to show up.
|Here's the view looking back to the visitor's center on the hill.
|Oooh, artsy photo looking through a window to the loch.
|The sign on this wall was titled "Locally Sourced Produce."
|Here's a nice little overlook.
|This was a jail cell and there was an actual body in there. Creepy.
|We saw some pretty clover on our walk back up to the visitor's center.
|We had a snack at the cafe: Ginger Beer, Victorian Lemonade, and haggis-flavored potato crisps. The crisps were good, the drinks not so much.
|By the time we were supposed to meet at the bus, it was a madhouse. The gift shop was overly packed, the line to the toilets was impossibly long, and the bus parking lot was completely full. We obviously hit the jackpot by being there before everyone else -- and the rain -- showed up.
|We passed Nessie Land again and this time, we got a shot of Nessie herself. Classy.
|We passed the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition which is ...
|... just down the road from another statue of Nessie.
|There's another Highland cow.
|We had an Inverness city tour next. Of course, there are golf courses in Scotland.
|There's the Greig Street footbridge.
|There's a building.
|There's the rain.
|There's Inverness Castle.
|There's McDonald's. Everything was soggy and wet and we were very pleased that we weren't out in that rain at all.
|Here's the Cromarty Bridge that we were about to drive over.
|We saw a single seal relaxing on a rock on the other side of the bus.
|Invergordon is known for having many colorful murals around town, so we drove past several of them on our return to the ship. Here's a sporting mural, ...
|... and here's one simulating a second floor on this building.
|The rain was gone when we returned to the ship, so instead of going back on board, we walked down the road a bit ...
|... to a restaurant facing the water ...
|... called Tuckers Grill.
|While we waited for our lunch to be served, we marvelled at all of the condiment options available to us: English Mustard, Dijon Mustard, Mint Sauce, Salad Cream, Mayonnaise, HP Sauce, and Tomato Ketchup.
|Lunch for Debbie was fish and chips ...
|... and Tom had a chicken pie.
|After lunch, we wandered through town looking for more murals. Here's one.
|There were beautiful gardens to admire as well.
|It's a tiny town and this is the main drag.
|We want this slate tray with silver antler handles so badly.
|Here's another mural, ...
|... and another ...
|... and another.
|Nickel & Dime? Isn't it all pence here?
|Shortly after heading back to the ship, we found a convenience store selling 10-packs of Diet Coke, so we bought a pack and some crackers to bring back to our cabin. So decadent! Diet Coke every day for the rest of the cruise!
|Near the ship, the seabirds were busy yelling at each other ...
|... and cracking open mussels.
|We had gotten a Scottish 10£ note as change, which is usable in Scotland but not so much in England, so we kept an eye on our cash and made sure to use up all Scottish notes before we left our last Scottish port.
|After dinner, we had another lovely sail out down the Cromarty Firth ...
|... past all of the oil rigs ...
... and back out into open water again.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy