Awakening to Scotland By Brian...


March 17, 2002|By Special to the Sun


Awakening to Scotland

By Brian Andrews


One morning last November, I found myself at a bus stop off the western coast of Scotland groggily attempting to piece together how exactly I had gotten there.

I had risen with the speed and grace of a sack of bricks at some godforsaken hour when the moon was still riding high in the sky. Stumbling into the bathroom of my bed-and-breakfast, I turned on the shower, which was unbelievably cold. I gave a pathetic scream and lunged into the opposite wall. After scratching my bruised head like an ape considering a nuclear reactor, I realized I had to pull a cord hidden in a dark corner to turn on the hot water.

I was staying at Mo Dhachaidh, a lovely family-owned B&B in the picturesque town of Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. It was my last stop on a one-week whirlwind tour through the Scottish Highlands before I re-turned to the university in Leicester, England. The proprietress / mother was a kind woman who had agreed to have breakfast ready for me at 6 a.m.

But as I stood in the dark dining room at 6:10 a.m., something told me she had overslept. I fumbled for the light switch while almost knocking over every lamp in the room. A place had been set for me, so I ate the only food out: dry cereal with heaping spoonfuls of sugar, which still contained more nutrition than most college students get in a week.

After the meal, I left a thank-you note and quietly saw myself out.

A brisk walk found me at the bus stop, and after my obligatory panic session when public transportation is late, the bus came and shuttled me over the white arch of the Skye Bridge connecting Skye to the mainland and dropped me at the train station at Kyle of Lochalsh.

I sat, the train's sole passenger, rubbing my numb hands together watching Kyle slowly disappear, leaving in its place brambles and streams bathed in an entrancing predawn blue haze.

We were soon rolling across a primeval landscape with snow-capped mountains guarding snaking rivers and sprawling plains on which I watched a herd of antelope prance through the mist.

When we came to a mountain lake, I gaped at the way the Earth was so perfectly mirroring heaven. It was one of those fleeting moments that reminded me to open my eyes. I smiled and settled into my seat. The world had never looked so beautiful.

Brian Andrews lives in Cockeysville.


Caribbean storm

By Allison Friedrich, Dayton

Although this looks like a picture of a volcano erupting, it's really a rain cloud over the island of Saba in the Caribbean. My husband and I took our first cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and I took this photo on our last day at sea.


Have you taken advantage of any great travel bargains lately?


Marcus J. Mitzell, York, Pa.

"Last May, I took advantage of Icelandair's Midweek Madness program, which offers three days and two nights in Iceland for less than $400. It was a wonderful opportunity. I took the famous Golden Circle bus tour of the interior during a cloudless and warm 62-degree afternoon. One of the highlights was a stop at Gullfoss (Golden Falls), one of Iceland's several magnificent waterfalls."


Ruth Syme, Glen Burnie

"Recently we returned from a five-night visit to Bangkok, Thailand. The price, $690, was too good to pass up. This included airfare, a beautiful hotel with daily buffet breakfast and one day of touring. We did pay extra to fly to Chingmai to see and ride elephants. What a bargain for such wonderful memories."


Thelma Repp, Bel Air

"The latest travel bargain we are taking advantage of is a 'Waterways of Holland and Belgium' trip. Using the same travel service the second time, we automatically received a 5 percent discount. Slow travel after Sept. 11 gave us another discount of $800. The deciding factor was free round-trip airfare. As a result, we are adding a three-night extension trip to Paris."

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