Skye: An Other-Worldly Isle

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After the car debacle, my dad had the unhappy task of taking the bus back to Inverness Friday morning to try to procure another rental car to transport us back to Edinburgh to catch our flights Sunday morning. A bit drained, my mom decided to spend the day relaxing at our adorable Airbnb, leaving Gui, my sister and me to craft a plan for the afternoon. Gui discovered at roughly 11:30am that the only bus of the day that would take us onto the Isle of Skye would come through Dornie in 20 minutes, so we layered up, filled our water bottles and dashed to the stop. The bus showed up about 10 minutes behind schedule — it’s amazing how much lateness freaks me out after my year and a half in Switzerland — and we climbed aboard, but not before embarrassing ourselves by asking for roundtrip tickets and then realizing we didn’t have enough cash to cover the cost. Whoops.

The bus ride was spectacular. From our elevated perch we had amazing views of the wild surrounding landscape, with the vantage point akin to being on a sightseeing bus. After we crossed the bridge onto Skye, we drove through a stretch of mountains with what must have been hundreds tiny waterfalls running through the deep green, mossy surface. An hour and a half later, we found ourselves on the sidewalk of Portree — Skye’s capital — just a 10-minute drive from one of the hikes that had been on our original itinerary for the day: Old Man of Storr.

Unfortunately for us, the shuttle to the mountain had just taken its last journey for the day so we hired a taxi and arranged for the driver to return about two hours later to bring us back to Portree. The hike was a bit steep, but totally doable — though we were disappointed to find the rock formation completely enveloped in fog when we reached the top. The three of us hung out near the Old Man for a bit, hoping the clouds would clear up, but instead we got the opposite: A downpour, which, combined with the gale-force winds that were literally knocking us over, soaked us through to our underwear. The strength of the wind and rain was so powerful that it was almost cartoon comical, leaving us giggling all the way down the mountain.

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After some window-shopping in Portree, we boarded the final bus of the day back to Dornie, where we met my parents at one of the two restaurants in town: The Clachan. My dad was already nursing a well-earned beer and we had an awesome evening hanging out there, enjoying the local pub vibe and wrapping up with some dessert and whiskey.

The next morning we took our lovely new Skoda sedan across Skye bridge to Tallisker, the only whiskey distillery on the isle, for a tour we had rescheduled from the day before. The experience was very interesting — I had no idea whiskey production was so complicated — with our tour guide speaking notably slowly to be understood by those of us not accustomed to a thick Scottish accent. At the end of the tour, we had the opportunity to taste Tallisker’s smoky “Storm” whiskey: Holy mackerel, does that stuff burn! Afterward, my dad maneuvered the car down a one-lane road to reach Skye’s fairy pools where we spent the afternoon hiking amongst some pretty epic scenery.

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With a several-hour drive ahead of us, we piled back into the Skoda and retraced our path through Skye, eventually reaching Dornie and even passing the damn dam. We stopped in Fort William for dinner and found it absolutely slammed; we had to walk into several restaurants before securing a table for five. Our last glimpse of Scotland’s jaw-dropping scenery came as we drove through Glencoe valley, artfully-illuminated by the setting sun (see below). At 11pm, we arrived exhausted at the airport hotel and exchanged sad goodbyes in anticipation of the 5am shuttle Gui and I would need to take the next morning to catch our flight back to Geneva.

Thanks for following along!

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