Spontaneous Swims with Nessie

Virginia Black University of Edinburgh, Scotland


October 25, 2017

Before I left for Edinburgh, I heard over and over again that I shouldn’t spend all of my weekends traveling because I would miss out on the opportunity to make a home out of the city I decided to spend 4 months of my life in! After 4 weekends in a row of visiting different countries throughout Europe, I decided it was about time to spend to get to know Scotland. Through Arcadia, I was given the opportunity to travel to Isle of Skye with Heartland Travel Day Tours. Much like my decision to come to roll the dice and come to Edinburgh without close friends, I decided to sign up for the tour on my own. The biggest take away from my few experiences with tour buses is that the only way to do a tour is to sit directly behind the bus driver and to leave your headphones at home. Making friends with the tour guide is definitely one of my favorite parts of any trip. Our tour guide for the weekend, Nory, actually reminded me a lot of my dad. Nory had the greatest taste in music, he got such a kick out of telling hilarious stories about his wife and kids (we even talked to them on speaker phone), and he had no problem telling us to get our heads out of our phones so that we could admire the beautiful scenery around us.

While we hit all of the major tourist attractions at the top of all of TripAdvisor and BuzzFeed articles, Nory told us that it broke his heart that people would come from all over the world to see places the Fairy Pools and then immediately turn their rental car around to head home without seeing what lead to the ranking of Scotland as the most beautiful country in the world. While everyone else napped in the back of the bus I chatted with Nory about everything from how he proposed to his wife to some of the craziest things people have done on his tours. On our way back from a long day of exploring the burnt orange landscapes dotted with milky white waterfalls and purple heather, he told a story about a crazy couple from Boston who insisted that they swim in the freezing waters of Loch Ness. The second I heard “Boston” and “swimming” I just knew there was no way I could get off the bus back in Edinburgh without having followed in my fellow Bostonians footsteps!

Even though I’ve definitely learned to love the thrill of spontaneous adventure, I had obviously researched Isle of Skye before booking the trip so that I would at least be slightly prepared for what was in store. However, I had absolutely no idea that I would be helping prepare haggis neeps and tatties, jumping into the 41°F, monster-infested waters of Loch Ness, or that I would see one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen from the parking lot of a gas station on the ocean. I was proud of myself for taking a risk and signing up for something alone, but it really wasn’t that challenging to be driven around to what an entertaining and passionate local with the same taste in music considered to be the most beautiful destinations in the most beautiful country in the world!