Thursday, June 05, 2014

Scotland 2014 Day 8: The Magnificent Isle of Skye

Scotland 2014 Day 8: The Magnificent Isle of Skye

We got up early to the best breakfast of the trip.

And so begins the best breakfast of the trip
Glorious tea
Um. Yep. Corn Fritters and Smoked Salmon
Matt's insanely glorious cheese and meat plate
Matt had an epic cheese plate, with venison salami, "butter" cheese (so creamy it was almost butter), one of 4 types of cheeses from all around Scotland. Even 1/2 a passionfruit, and some excellent fresh squeezed juice and berries... somehow, all the way out here in Spean Bridge! This B&B (Distant Hills B&B in Spean Bridge) was by FAR the best breakfast of the trip. This place really was incredible. I had corn fritters with smoked salmon and feta, and... let me prepare you for this... the PORRIDGE!!!! Matt had tried the Scottish Porridge somewhere else but it was nothing like this. This was so smooth, with cream and crackled tasty oats to spread on top, mixed with demerara sugar. This amazingness was really out of control.

We left for Malaig well-fed and ready for more adventure. We arrived soon after at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a train-bridge made famous by the Harry Potter films (and the line which that steam train that we saw law night runs along). This was cool, we took a short hike up to a view and took a bunch of photos.

Ach aye
Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films
The viaduct that the Harry Potter steam train goes along
That was wicked. We continued the drive up to Malaig where we caught the short ferry across to Skye. But first, a quick purchase of some fresh-out-of-the-water smoked salmon for the journey.

But first, some more smoked salmon for the ferry
We arrived on Skye a very short while later, and drove up from Armadale towards the west coast of Skye. After a short bit... the HUGE mountains arrived, striking against a very grey and stormy-looking sky, huge, towering giants. It was really something. It's no wonder they call this place "Skye" -- the sky itself was just incredible: swirly, pensive, looming. It ROCKED. We stopped to take a LOT of photos. :) After a brief stop at Talisker Distillery to book a tour for later in the afternoon, we headed to a hike that Heev had planned out in advance called the Fairy Pools.

Try saying that 5 times fast
Here come the mountains
Skye is epic
Fairy Pools was an excellent 2hr hike (we ended a little early to make sure we had time to get back to Talisker), and was a great, easy trek up towards some of the taller mountains in The Cuillins area. We took a break in the middle to crush that entire pack of smoked salmon, as you might expect. The water here was crisp, bright, and ultra-clear. The land was bumpy and jagged, just like Iceland, and the combination of scenery and heavy layered fog was seriously cinematic. Many parts of the hike reminded me of the movie "Noah" (which was filmed in Iceland), and also a portion of the movie "Prometheus" was filmed both in Iceland and also on the other side of the Isle of Skye where we are going tomorrow. This landscape was very Icelandic, but also unique in itself. It did feel a tad New Zealand-y too. Really, really incredible landscapes.

Super clear water
Matt being crazy
More crazy Matt
Mercy me!
And... basically a shot from the movie "Noah"
In hiking mode
Wicked streams
Making friends
Mountain selfie
Good times
Uggghh Skye is AWESOME
Seriously awesome
What a hike!
Serious hikers
Another mountain selfie
Highland Cow!!
When you don't have hands, this is the easiest way to scratch your own back
After a great hike and enjoying the glorious nature, we headed back to Talisker Distillery for the final tour of the day. It was fun, though since it is owned by a larger conglomerate, there was a lot more "Health and Safety stuff", eg. we didn't get to go into the barrel area, and we got to smell the barley but not eat it, etc. :) Still super fun. The stills were interesting, and they had something they called the "worm tub" coil, to condense the new make spirit. It was cool to see their HUGE mash tun, and they were very thorough on the details which helped us add to all the things we'd learned at previous distillery tours.

We tried a few tastes, the Talisker 10 was pretty good, and I haven't had it in a while. It was quite a "bright" or "shiny" flavour I thought, like apples and marmalade. It was pretty solid, but tasting the Talisker Distiller's Edition, it was clear to me immediately that I preferred that one - it was richer, finished in Oloroso Sherry Casks, and much more of a deeper, stewed fruit flavour like the Glenmorangie La Santa which I really like. We also tried the Talisker Friends of Fine Malt special edition, it was good but I found it more similar to the 10. I got an awesome Talisker Blue polo shirt and also a 3-pack of taster-sized bottles: a Talisker 10, a Talisker Distiller's Edition and a Talisker 57 Degrees North, which is their cask-strength bottling.

That was a fun tour, and onwards we went from there to check into the B&B. It was an awesome view, and was just outside of Portree. We dropped our stuff there for a bit and relaxed for a few before heading back out in search of dinner. In Portree, we wandered a few of the remaining open shops, and I found a pastel image of the Old Man of Storr mountains, done in a sortof Pixar art-deco poster style! Very awesome, and I got a copy of it to take home and frame. I was super ravenous after our hike (and our pretty much skipping of lunch), so we found me some classic chips in newsprint at a place called "The Chippy!" Oh, so Britishy. I was really keen to have some chips in newspaper since it's been so long since I've had that. Reminds me of the glorious days of my early teenage years in England, constantly getting chips at the shop to warm up from a cold, rainy day outside. The chips were always so fresh and so warm, covered in salt and vinegar, and ALWAYS wrapped in newspaper. :) So awesome.
"Big Skye"
Now we're talking - legit chips in newspaper!
Man, this is pure enjoyment
Harbour in Portree
We wandered a bit more and found a dinner spot where a nice (and very busy!) lady sat us down at a table and served us some great local food. I ordered a Cullen Skank Skink, the hilariously named typical Scottish fish soup. It was reaaaallly good. I also got a fish pate with melba toast, and for dessert another Canrachan -- the one was the best one yet, with thicker oats and more of a whisky-soaked flavour (as one would hope) and mixed with raspberries which was so good. The radio was playing some funny bagpipe music, and after a moment I thought... "Hey, I know this song..." It was a band called "Red Hot Chili Pipers" and it was a cover of a Coldplay song!!!! Hilarious.

Cullen Skink!
Hey man, nice mussels
Dinner time
Salmon spread
Best canrachan of the trip!
After a very excellent dinner, we headed back to the B&B via a Co-op which was thankfully open late. I got some more yoghurt, for a change!! Also, since it's getting closer to the end of the trip, I made sure to pick up some of these fancy new PG Tips flavours, like PG Tips Zesty Lemon Green Tea and PG Tips Peppermint Green Tea. Looks good.

And after another long and incredible day of touring, we headed back to the B&B and went to sleep early.

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