I have romantic images in my head thinking of Inverness as we drive from Portree. I’ve seen photos of the city and loch. Statuesque buildings reflected on the surface of the River Ness; Loch Ness surrounded by the brilliant green of the trees reflecting the brilliant blue of the sky and then there is the myth of the monster. I’m excited to be staying in Inverness for a few days.
We pulled up to a small gingerbread looking hotel complete with a rustic facade of rough white plaster and wide wooden trim surrounded the windows and doors painted black. The hotel also has a restaurant and bar.
We check in and are taken to a room above the bar. It was only 3 in the afternoon and the bar was already hopping. The floor of the room was vibrating to the base of a popular rap song. This would be the perfect place if you are under thirty….not so much if you are over 60.
We ask for a quiet room in the back. All other rooms are occupied. The clerk tells us the bar is quite lively and will settle down after 10 p.m. Experience tells that is wishful thinking. We ask to cancel our reservation so we can find another hotel. We are told they needed a 48 hour cancellation to refund our deposit….so we would forfeit 2 of our days. We are tired and decide to walk to city centre and find a restaurant for dinner to think. We go to the Thistle & Fig and with a bottle of Rose and plates of grilled fish in our bellies; we agreed to go to Plan B. We will book a hotel in Pitlochry, about an hour south of Inverness. Terry was in Scotland in his mid-twenties and remembers it is a quaint, quiet village.
We hear the music from our hotel as we turn the last corner before we see the bright lights from the parking lot. We open the front door and climb the stairs to our room. It’s Friday night and the bar is now in full swing. The floor and walls to our room are heaving to the beat. We open the computer and find the Claymore about an hour south of Inverness.
We are still awake when the music stops at 2. We are still awake when the last patron yells his goodbye at 3. I think I dozed off around 4. The alarm beeps at 7:30. Neither one of us is in a good mood. We don’t say much to each other; just try to stay awake over breakfast. It’s too early to get on the road. We decide to walk along the River Ness which divides the city. It is so peaceful, birds are chirping and the wind rustles the leaves….honest, the wind was rustling. The music of nature is healing our ragged nerves and erasing the pounding beat of the base from our ears. The dappled sunlight on the path is another bonus.
Neighbors, who are walking dogs of all sizes and breeds, greet us with good morning. We walk a little further and feel a little better. I see an elderly gentlemen walking with a cane and ask him if he would pose for a portrait. He introduces himself as Andrea agrees and sits down on a nearby bench. I start getting the camera settings aligned and in a soft, yet commanding voice he says, “You know my dear, I’ve dabbled in photography myself and it will be much better if you get your shot from a lower angle.” I lowered the camera and looked at him. He begins to laugh and takes a pose. I crouched down and raise my camera to find him making a face at me. He strikes a more somber pose and I begin to rock with laughter myself and almost land on my bum.
Arm in arm, we walk back to the hotel from the river. If I had booked a hotel along the river our impression of the city would have been so different. Live and Learn.
We leave for our hour drive to Pitlochry. We arrive at the Claymore, a beautiful, two-story stone mansion complete with glass conservatory and gravel drive. Graham, the inn keeper, has a bonnie accent and big personality. He takes us to our room on the second floor overlooking his riotous flower gardens, lush green lawn and the pine trees beyond. This is perfect and is all ours for the next two days.
We settled in and walked to town for dinner. After a proper good night’s sleep, we had a Scottish breakfast and took to the highway for a short tour of the area. We drive through Loch Tummel, Kenmore and Aberfeldy. Bruar Falls was our favorite.
Back to the Claymore and into town to the Fern Restaurant and to bed. We take to the road to St. Andrews in the morning. We weren’t keeping track of sporting events and found the Open is being played at Carnoustie at the end of the week. Hope the boys brought their putters and sand wedges….the courses are dry and rough!