Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Week Full of Beautiful Experiences

Dinner at O'Neills in Merchant Square in Glasgow. Steak pie, peas, and potatoes.

I had yet another super busy week, but I managed to pack in fun times and make wonderful memories too. On Sunday, after 9 weeks of living together, my flatmates and I *finally* cooked and ate a meal together. Our schedules are all so different, and we are all so busy, that it took some organizing to get this to happen. Miranda made a pasta dish, Aurora made salad and stuffed rolls, I made rice pudding for dessert, and Lia got to sit back and enjoy everything because her birthday was that weekend and we wanted to treat her. 

I enjoyed another yoga session with my fantastic Art of Living Society group on Monday. This was also the day that Oscar Pistorius, the olympic and paralympic double amputee was on campus to earn his honorary doctorate degree from Strathclyde. Here is a link to the story:
I wanted to sneak around and try to catch a glimpse of him, but I had school work that had to get done. I could see the graduates exiting the building the ceremony was held in from my window, but it was a little too far for me to tell if any of them was Oscar. Just knowing that he was here is special enough for me.

I had the first of my four group presentations this week, and it went rather well. It was a rebuttal for a debate. I was happy to put it behind me, even if I didn't do much of the actual rebutting. It helps that my group members were awesome and we worked really well together. 

On Wednesday, after another busy day of classes and meetings, I went to a welcome social for the volunteer group that I belong to. They have so many projects that I'd like to help with, but I'm so busy at this point, I can't squeeze anything else into my schedule. 

Thursday night was the second game night that I held. We played Pictionary and incorporated Charades into it as well, and we had a blast! It is such a beautiful thing to play an English drawing/word game with people from Turkey, Canada, Ireland, France, Japan, China, and Germany. 

Friday night, after a hard day's work writing an analysis for my human resource development class, I went to O'Neills in Merchant Square (about a 5-10 minute walk from my hall) with my friend Fiona from Ireland. We had a great time; it was so nice to get away from school work and have a nice night out. After dinner, we walked to the city centre to look at all of the Christmas light displays. I will have to take pictures before I leave! Aside from George Square, I think the lights are all really well done. We also walked through the Christmas market by St. Enoch and enjoyed looking at the offerings of all the different vendors. "Ciao Bella" said the non-Italian boy trying to sell us pastries. 

Saturday was yet another Student Tours Scotland Trip, this time to Oban and Argyll, and what a special treat- Fiona, my flatmate Miranda who was on the Stirling trip, my friend Yakup from Turkey, and my friend Anzhelika from Ukraine were all headed to Oban along with me!  On the way there, I saw the most brilliant rainbow I had ever seen. It doesn't translate in the picture, but it was just so incredibly bright, powerful almost. But then the rain started pouring down. Guess you can't have the beautiful rainbows without the not-so-nice rain.

Our first stop was at Inverary. We only had a short time here, so it wasn't hard what to decide to do - we had to find the castle!

This archway is just perfect.

First we had to stop and take pictures of this fairy-tale bridge on the loch. Had we been just a few minutes later, our pictures would have had much cloudier skies.

A picture of perfection, the right balance of nature's and man's sculptures.

So, naturally, I had to take lots of pictures of it. :)

And here I am, with the bridge and the water. :)

We ventured off to find the castle. Along the way, we saw the strangest moss growing on these trees. It was so thick it reminded us of snow. 

Furry trees.

Who needs to see a castle when there are bright green, thick-moss covered trees to take pictures of?

As close as we were going to get to Inverary Castle, as it was closed for the winter.

I think it's a very pretty castle. I would have like to have seen the inside of it. Eh, the next time I'm in Scotland, I suppose.

Bah bah black sheep, have you any wool? We had to make a mad dash back to the bus, which inspired me to tell Gary that he should call stops like this "Flash and Dash" stops because all you have time to do is run to the castle, take a picture, then run back to the bus. I could see how some people might use a different meaning for that though...

Off we go to Oban! I so badly want to say "OH-ban" but it is more like "OH-bin." OH-well. 

As soon as we got off the bus, we were assaulted by hail stones. What a greeting! You can see the grayness of the precipitation coming down in the sky.

We were hoping it would pass soon. We had tours to go on, sights to see, hills to climb!

Tour guide Gary was in his bad weather preparedness outfit.

Even in bad weather, the views were still nice.

Blue skies up ahead!

It sure does look better, but at one point, all of a sudden, I felt needles stabbing one side of my had started to hail again.

It was a cold, cold day. Gary told one of his exciting tales here and I got to be the wife whose children were being kidnapped by a monster every year. And he made sure to remind me that this took place before epidurals.I grimaced for effect.

This is Dog Rock where it is told in a tale that someone's dog was chained to the rock, and it ran around and around and the chain dug into the rock, and that is why it goes in at the bottom (hard to see from picture). I apologize for the lack of accuracy and information on this one. My memory has failed me. Plus it was cold and I was thinking a lot about how cold I was.

Off we go to the castle! (It just looks totally cold, right?)

Dunollie Castle

The view across the way.

We were killing time, deliberately wanting to be at the back of the group that was walking up the steep, muddy hill. I have my anxiety issues with heights, so it's better to be in the back (lesson learned from Arthur's Seat), and someone else was worried about falling in the mud. No one wants to be the sasij of the day! (That means idiot and Gary will make fun, in good fun, but without remorse).

Thar she is!

The sign reads, "Uneven castle steps. No handrail. Poor visibility." They aren't kidding.

I'm glad we safely made it up the steep, winding, muddy, rocky path up to the castle.

Here I am, standing before old, old ruins.

Enter the castle... if you dare!

Ruins on the grounds.

Upstairs in the castle. I quite like this picture.

Tour guide and tour group, hanging out upstairs in the castle.

My favorite picture of the day. Looking out onto the serene bay through the jagged castle window.

After the castle, we cautiously made our way back down the muddy, windy, rocky hill, and then down a bit more to the wee beach. I did not attempt to go down further than this because it was muddy and rocky, and I was not interested in falling.

Interesting rock formations on the beach.

We are now making our way back from the castle to a lunch break in town. Fish 'n' Chips, please!

Fiona and I were served a massive piece of cod, which we split (I guess it wasn't called "the big'un" for nothing - I think we could have shared it three ways) and I had a hot chocolate to go, because it was just a cold, cold day. I am hiding from the wind in a bus stop in this picture.

Hooray! The sun is out and the skies are blue!

Now it is time that we make our way up to McCaig's Tower on Battery Hill.

But not before I take picture of the really unhappy fish on the wall.

A view of the town.

I took a picture of this cottage for inspiration. I want one someday.

Construction on McCaig's Tower began in 1897 and the design was based off of the Roman Coliseum. It is now just used as a public garden.

On the inside, looking out.

A view of Oban from McCaig's Tower.

Another view of Oban from above.

Me, in the garden. I liked it here. What a fun time we had! I felt like we were able to do so much on this trip. It was really enjoyable and there was so much to see.

I made a delicious meal this week - white rice with sauteed plantains, sweet potatoes, raisins, cumin and cinnamon with a carrot on the side. Improvising is fun! This was super delicious, and nice and light.

This was another wonderful week here in Scotland. Next week brings more fun with a trip to St. Andrews. I hope you enjoyed this entry, and don't forget, please leave comments! I love to read them!

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