From Scotland to Sicily!

August 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm (Travel)

Isle of Skye

After Orkney I travelled to the beautiful Isle of Skye, where I stayed in the town of Kyleakin.  (This included a four hour stopover in Inverness where I abused free wi fi by taking forever to finish my cider. Hehehe  Oh and a drive through where Lis lived in Scotland which was just as small as she describes it!)  I did a day tour of the Isle, and while the actual tour was highly disappointing… the scenery was spectacular.  I can only imagine how stunning it looks on a clear day because of course it rained for me.

Next stop was the small fishing town of Oban.  The town was lovely and the highlight of my stay was a day trip to the Isle of Mull and Iona Abbey.  I did this with a lovely Aussie couple and it was great to have such a small tour group.

Day trip to the beautiful Isle of Mull

We took the scenic road through the Isle of Mull and had a brilliant guided tour of the Abbey.  We also went to a ceilidh night, which although quite staged and touristy did give me the chance to see and hear some traditional Scottish instruments and some highland dancing.

After Oban I headed over to the other side of the country for my last week.  This was via the city of Stirling where I visited Stirling Castle and Argyles Lodges.  They used to say that ‘The person who holds Stirling Castle, holds all of Scotland’ and after visiting the place I can definitely see why.  The views from the castle were simply amazing and I can only imagine how wonderful they must be on a clear day.  The occupants would seriously have been able to see for miles.  Unfortunately for me, it rained all day and I had lovely wet feet (true Aussie chick in her thongs 😉

So I ended up staying a week with Lars, a hockey friend from Darmstadt and made day trips to various places from there.  First up was Glasgow.  I actually really liked the city.  Great shopping (I refrained as best I could), cute alleyways and a beautiful cathedral.  I was lucky enough to get a free personal tour there, which was highly interesting.  Afterwards I had a look at the oldest house in Glasgow and wandered absolutely mind blown through the necropolis.

Next Edinburgh which I visited three times during my stay.  Edinburgh castle was definitely a highlight and I enjoyed watching the one o’clock gun going off.  I also visited Holyrood Palace which is the official residence of the Queen when she makes her annual visit to Edinburgh during the summer.  I found this particularly interesting as you actually get to walk through the rooms that the queen uses when she is there.  The National Museum of Scotland was another highlight.  There I saw the amazing chessmen of Lewis (found 1831 and possibly the most famous scottish archeological find) and also Dolly, the first cloned sheep.  I was also luckily enough to have another catch up with Suzie and drank an obligatory cider at the Globe pub for my friend Ashley.

St Andrews Cathedral

We also went and visited the Highland Games in St Andrews.  This was like a glorified athletics competition.  Events included running and riding bikes around the grass track, hammer throwing and of course tug of war.  On a whim I decided to enter the visitors race and ran a respectable second place behind a semi professional runner.  Even got 5 quid for my efforts.  🙂  While in St Andrews we also visited the stunning ruins of the cathedral and castle.

So after a brilliant four weeks (and a trip to the hairdressers) I said goodbye to Great Britain and flew to Sicily, an island in Italy.  I was itching to get into the warm weather, enjoy the sunshine and spend time at the beach.  I was definitely not disappointed!

Finally some beach and sun!

In Sicily I stayed with my host family from Marburg in a lovely holiday house in the town of Sampieri.  The house had beautiful views of the ocean and it was only a five minute car trip to the beach.  We spent lots of time and of course I ate a lot of gelati.

Chiesa San Giorgio in front of the 250 steps

We didn’t just spend time at the beach though.  One afternoon we visited Modica where Henirich and I climbed up the 250 steps to the Chiesa San Giorgio, which was built in the 18th century.  We also looked at the Cattedrale di San Pedro (also 18th century) and found it quite amusing that both had weddings going on.

Our trip to Agrigento was definitely a highlight for me, as I saw ruins of Greek temples for the first time.  The Valley of the Temples is one of the three best preserved greek temple sites in the world and I must say, simply breath taking.  We wandered though the ruins in extreme heat and against a pure blue sky background and before we knew it two hours had just wizzed by.

Our trip to Siracusa also resulted in greek ruins.  There we saw a greek theatre cut out of one single block of stone by slaves.  Amazing and extremely well preserved.

Bear at the Greek theatre

We also saw a roman theatre and and amazing carved out prisoner cell.  The town of Siracusa was quite stunning in its own right.  The town lies right on the water and we are talking beautiful blue, turquoise, stunning water.  Not Bass straight.  We took a boat ride around the town and also visited some spectacular sea caves.  Followed up by a spontaneous shoe purchase and of course… gelati!

Far too quickly our time in Sicily was over and I found myself on my way back to Germany, or technically… on my way home.  And coming back to Darmstadt did feel like coming ‘home’ in a way.  I guess, when it all comes down to it, Darmstadt is home for the moment.


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