We originally had Scotland as part of the road trip, but subsequently removed it. Since the cruise was stopping in the Shetland Islands, Orkney and Inverness, we figured it'd be a sufficient first course in discovering the country. In reality, it was an amuse bouche. We'll have to come back for an extended period of time to enjoy a full course of what this incredible country has to offer.
Our first stop: Shetland Islands. We had planned a cruise around the island but it was cancelled due to bad weather. In a way, I'm glad it did. Walking around Lerwick was restorative. The town was beautifully simple and both calm and calming. Our only miss: we didn't get to see those little ponies Shetland is known for. I must get a picture of Graham (6'6") riding one.
Second stop: Orkney, where La Bella Cappella Italiana (Italian Chapel) stands out. It was built by Italian POWs during WWII. The prisoners, wanting a place to worship, were granted permission to transform a Nissen hut into a chapel. They recycled random materials like corned beef tins into light holders and a car exhaust to create a baptismal font. Every part of the interior fresco has so much intention behind it; it took the tour guide to point out each meaning.
Third stop: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness. Neither of us had a good picture of Urquhart Castle, but here's part of the wall overlooking the lake and its famous resident.
Technically, Inverness was a stop on this tour, but the bus driver sped right through it! Definitely looked like it was worth a trip back to explore.
And final stop: Edinburgh. I don't think I've fallen this quickly in love with a city as I did with Edinburgh. It's a feast for the eyes (nerd alert: see what I did there? We've come full circle.) We could've walked forever, passing through the juxtaposition of ancient and modern, nature and man-made.
Scotland, we'll be back.