Monday, December 3, 2012

The Beautiful Isle of Bute

I had a super busy, tiring week this week with group meetings, classes, tutorials, schoolwork, an international exchange fair, and a 4 am class registration for UNCG. I was really, really looking forward to the weekend.

Saturday was another Student Tours Scotland trip, this time to the Isle of Bute. I was delighted that a group of my game night friends were also on the trip. We rode the bus for a while, maybe 45 minutes, then waited patiently for the next ferry to the island to arrive. We appreciated our driver's strategic parking that got us on the ferry first.

We walked up to the top deck where we admired the view, then walked around to the front for pictures and holy cow, was it windy! "Cheese!" Click. "Let's get back downstairs!!!"

We got a little breakfast snack and coffees and enjoyed the rest of the ride from the comfort of the indoors.

Kilchattan Bay

 Our first stop at Kilchattan Bay ended up becoming my favorite place that I've visited on a Student Tours Scotland trip.The views were absolutely gorgeous and the landscape was incredible. I took so many pictures here. Every few steps there was another rock formation that was more interesting than the last.

We couldn't have had a more beautiful day. I feel very fortunate that on so many of my day trips there was sunshine and blue skies.

I imagined myself spending the whole day here, perched on a rock, reading a book, the smell of salt water in the air, reminding me of home (NJ).

Each rock was so different. It was so much fun to explore this area.

As we went along, the landscape just kept becoming more and more interesting.

The contrast of colors was so brilliant. I appreciate nature's palette.

Nature's graffiti. 

I never anticipated such great beauty here in Scotland. I actually didn't know what to expect. I suppose I mostly envisioned green rolling hills, but I didn't expect this. I was pleasantly surprised.

The water's hiding place.

Ugh, I know, I know. What kind of a pose is this? My hands needed to be behind me so I was leaning back. Instead, I am hunched forward. Practice makes perfect. I'm going to another coastal town soon and I will try to make up for this disgraceful pose then. ;) I had fun getting the shot, anyway.

Nature's mixed medium collage.

See the water splashing up in the center at the far end?

I just can't get over all of the different colors, shapes and textures I found here.

More water splashing! This might be my favorite picture of the whole bunch!

Perfectly sculpted stones.

The dreaded words, "Guys, let's head back to the bus." I didn't want to leave the bay. I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay at the bay today and play. I wanted to stay with the sea and be free and full of glee. It was so inspirational! ;)

 It was at this point in the trip that I noticed my foot felt wet. "It can't be," I thought. I have these expensive, awesome Sperry Topsider boots on. And I had just been telling my friends moments earlier how much I love my boots, they are so comfortable and keep my feet so dry. No more. I looked down and saw this dreadful split in the heel of my boot. Ugh. Great. I looked at the other boot, and it had a split running along the side of the leg. Ughghghghgh. $83 for what? A month and a half of use???

There wasn't much I could do at the time, so I smiled and shrugged it off, and tried to forget about my foot being wet. I contacted both Zappos, who I ordered the boots from, and Sperry, and Zappos was willing to replace the boots for free, but not ship internationally. Sperry was not willing to reimburse any international shipping fees. Zappos refunded my money and I ended up using crazy glue to seal up the splits. Not ideal, but it works for now. I will never buy a Sperry product again. I read on the reviews that other people's boots had split after short use as well, so it is definitely a design flaw, which is something Sperry should accept responsibility for, but they refused.

Ok, ok. The next stop was Rothesay Castle. I think that it was a good follow-up to the bay.

Rothesay Castle came complete with a moat! The surrounding village was so picturesque.

The castle was mostly ruins. There was a dungeon that we climbed down into that was used to hold prisoners before their fate was determined. I enjoyed exploring this castle.

What a view!

Looking down onto the castle grounds.

Some ongoing renovations for preservation.

Castles are required to have steep, scary steps. Rothesay was no exception.

The church.


I don't think anyone appreciates the beauty of plants growing out of stone walls, with their stems and leaves trailing down, more than I do. It cuts the harsh coldness of the stone with an organic aesthetic.

The sunshine was coming in so strongly through these windows. The boxes at the top were said to hold pigeons to keep the room warm.

After the castle, it was time for a walk around town and a stop for ice cream at The Pokey Hat! Gary, our wonderful guide, very enthusiastically told us about the Irn-Bru flavor of ice cream that they sell here. I opted for toffee flavored ice cream, as I don't have a taste for Irn-Bru. For those of you who don't know what Irn-Bru is, it is a soda that tastes like bubble gum that the Scottish seem to enjoy. No thank you.

The Serpentine Hill! I had fun walking back and forth, zig-zagging up this seemingly never-ending hill. The view just kept getting better and better.

View from the top!

Yours truly, at the top of the hill.

We took another walk up to Canada Hill and saw lots of sheep.

This one did not appreciate the paparazzi. 

Views from Canada Hill.

Another view from Canada Hill. It was pretty overcast at this point. We walked down the hill, then through a very pretty, mossy forest where a curious dog walked along with our group for a bit. Gary also told us a tale along the way. His stories are always so theatrical and well-told.

Alas, another Student Tours Scotland trip came to an end, but not before I won the random dead butterfly prize in Bus Bingo! I love Bus Bingo because it makes the time go by fast on the way home, and it is just so much fun to play, and I really love to hear our beloved Scottish tour guide, Gary, shout numbers in his endearing Scottish accent. We try not to laugh when he says "sex" for "six" or "eluvun" for "eleven"though I think that secretly he thinks it's funny too, and if we didn't laugh, he might think something was wrong.

Pastel skies during the sunset.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip to the Isle of Bute. I had an incredible time there and felt so inspired by nature's art.

Don't forget - I love to read your comments! Please leave one before you go.

Up next: Guy Fawkes Night, and Stirling!


  1. Great piece Jessica! :) The Isle of Bute seems like a great spot to visit! I'll make sure to get there next semester! ;)


  2. Thanks, Fiona! You definitely have to make Bute one of your STS trips.