I'm back! Last time we spoke for Travel Thursday, I talked about three things I love about Scotland. Here I am to tell you about three new things I loved learning about on this trip!
I didn't know there were puffins in Scotland! We took a day trip out to the uninhabited island of Staffa, mostly so that my dad could see Fingal's Cave, and while there, I was delighted to see that you could hang out among the puffins.
Side note: did you know a group of puffins is called a circus?! HOW ADORABLE.
I don't even like birds - if you've seen me walking down the street, you've probably witnessed me cringing every time a pigeon takes off - but puffins are gentle, curious creatures. They don't dive-bomb your face, and the braver ones will waddle closer to humans, observing us the way we observe them. Plus they're so flippin' cute!
Stone Circles and Neolithic Villages
I started reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander on this trip (look out for my review of book one next Friday!), so I wasn't really surprised to learn that there are stone circles outside of the big one at Stonehenge. But seeing a stone circle is a completely different experience to simply reading about them.
While in Orkney, we had the chance to visit the Ring of Brodgar, the third largest circle in the British Isles. Theses stones are massive and form a perfect circle (with a diameter of just over 100 metres), and it's only a short distance away from the Standing Stones of Stenness. It's mind-boggling to try and figure out why - and how - these circles were erected.
Similarly, the site of Skara Brae just outside Stromness is a Neolithic village that is older than the Great Pyramids!! I can barely wrap my head around that kind of time frame, but it's true: experts have dated the crude little houses as being from sometime around 3180 BC (versus the pyramids, which were around 2580 BC).
I'll admit I was a wee disappointed not to have spotted Nessie (and, truth be told, very relieved because I'm not sure how I would have reacted), but there's no denying that Loch Ness is a beautiful place. Surrounded by a lush green landscape with a glimpse of Urquhart Castle, I wouldn't blame a monster for trying to make a home in these blue waters. Whether you believe in Nessie or not, it's also worth checking out the Loch Ness Center and Exhibition, which offers detailed - and scientific - explanations of who/what the monster could be.