One of the most exciting events of our trip happened when we got to Skye. After over two months of sharing bathrooms with other people, we finally got our very own bathroom inside of the cottage that we rented. This was huge because that meant that there was never pee on the seat, we did not have to wait for a shower stall to open up, we did not have to mop up the shower after we were finished, and most importantly, we did not have to walk a quarter of a mile in the dark and cold to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The cottage that we rented on the Isle of Skye was absolutely perfect. It was just a one room cottage, but it was so spacious compared to the campervan and the hostel dorms that we had been staying in. And it was on the Isle of Skye which just so happens to be the most amazing place on the face of the earth.
I can’t really do justice to the Isle of Skye with my descriptions of it. I’ll leave that to Alexander Smith in just a little while. But I can tell you how I feel when I’m there. As I approach the bridge to Skye I get incredibly anxious and fidgety. Once over the bridge, my whole body which was tense with excitement gets completely relaxed. I breathe deep. I have no cares in the world. I tear up at the beauty of it all. The first time I went to Skye the tour guide said before we got there, “Either you “get” Skye or you don’t.” I hate it when people say shit like that. What does that even mean? But it this case it was true. As soon as I arrived the first time I knew that I “got” Skye. I feel quite as Alexander Smith, the author of A Summer in Skye does: “In Skye I am free of my century; the present wheels away into silence and remoteness…I walk into antiquity and see everything in the light of Ossian, as in the light of a mournful sunset. With a Norse murmur the blue Lochs come running in…The precipices of the Storr lower grandly over the sea…and ever and anon the jags of the hills are obscured by swirls of fiercely blown rain.” Exactly what I would have said if he hadn’t said it first.
There are lots of places that have the same kind of rugged beauty as Skye, but Skye is, for lack of a better word, a truly enchanted place. In Skye all of the legends that you hear about fairies and giants and all manner of miraculous supernatural goings-on could be true. It is like being transported to a land like Oz or Neverland. It just doesn’t feel like it’s of this world. Smith again: “And more than all, the island is pervaded by a subtle spiritual atmosphere. It is as strange to the mind as it is to the eye. Old songs and traditions are the spiritual analogues of old castles and burying places—and old songs and traditions there are in abundance…there is a ghostly something in the air of the imagination. There are prophesying voices amongst the hills of an evening…I hear the stream and the voice of a kelpie in it. I breathe again the air of old storybooks…”
Not even pictures of Skye can do it justice, but of course I dutifully took them. We covered almost the entire island in the four days that we were there, braving rain showers that left us sopping wet, hiking up sides of mountains, and sometimes just driving around the one-lane curving roads to marvel at the next view. The first full day we were there we traversed the fairy glen, hiked up to the needle-like rock outcroppings of the Quirang, took in the spectacular sight of Kilt Rock, and climbed up the steep mountain to visit “The Old Man of Storr.” We visited the largest town in Skye which is Portree. Its downtown is just three streets, but on a sunny day which we were lucky enough to come by, the view of the harbor is breathtaking. If you ever get to Portree, you absolutely must, and I won’t accept any excuses, go have lunch or dinner at Cafe Arriba. It is a small, very cute little bistro that has a lovely view of the harbor. The service is always good and the food is always excellent. I’ve been there five times and every single time I have left more than satisfied. Cafe Arriba is a nice break from your typical Scottish fare.
The weather was actually fairly good for that part of the world. We got some sunshine every day, but it changed rapidly into pouring rain, so there was one day when we pretty much just drove around the island. This was fine with me; there is no better place to just go for a drive.
During the course of this particular drive it was again alleged that perhaps my parents haven’t been truthful about the year of my birth. On a previous evening in the campervan when an England Dan song started playing on my Ipod, Adam had commented, “You were born ten years too late, weren’t you?” On this day while cruising along the “scenic” road to Broadford (a ridiculous name since every road on Skye is scenic) Adam came right out with the suspicion he had been harboring. When “More Than a Feeling” came on and I sat there visibly bopping my head to the guitar riff before the chorus, he asked, “Do you like this song?”
“I love it,” I answered truthfully.
It’s one of those songs that makes me want to drive fast.
“Are you really like 37?” he ventured.
I think I can be reasonably sure that I’m not, but I suppose it is a possibility. It would explain the excessive amount of Air Supply and Kenny Loggins on my Ipod.
On that drive we also saw this phenomenal heilan’ coo (highland cow). When we first came upon him he was standing there trying to scratch his side by biting it, so was going to wait until he was done tending to business. He was taking forever, so I said, “Excuse me, would you mind if I took a picture of you?”
He stopped biting himself and posed for this picture. When I got back into the car he continued his quest to stop the itching. I tell you, animals love to have their pictures taken!
Our time in Skye couldn’t have been better. We hiked. We read. We watched movies. We relaxed. And we got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night in our very own bathroom located just a few meters away.