I didn’t have the stomach for the second B in B&B this morning so I just ate some granola seasoned with a bit of maalox and pepto bismol and folded my hands over a prayer that I wasn’t going deal with salmonella, E.coli, trichinosis, and possibly the plague. I had antibiotics locked and loaded in case I needed additional defenses, but fortunately, by the time I reached the Loch Ness Exhibition Center, I was feeling better.
The Loch Ness Exhibition Center is about the mysteries of the Loch Ness Monster. After wading through the kitsch of stuffed Nessie dolls, T-shirts, etc., The exhibit is put together in a rather professional manner. Taken collectively, it would be equivalent to a National Geographic documentary about the search for the Loch Ness Monster and the scientific research of the lake. Basically, from what I gathered at the exhibit, the whole thing started back in the 1930s when a local woman mistook a rather large sturgeon swimming along the shoreline as an “alligator like creature with long tusks/fangs.” This grew into a myth with the locals. Combine this with the rare occasion when a deer will swim across the lake and the extended neck and head is mistaken for a serpent, or dinosaur heck/head, and off we go. Pretty soon you have a theme park nearby.
Just down the road from the Loch Ness Exhibition Center is the often visited/photographed Urquhart Castle which sits on a small outcropping along Loch Ness. Fortification of this site started as far back as the 6th century. Urquhart Castle figures significantly in the history of the MacDonald Clan because the they were always raiding it, stealing everything in and around it, then heading back to the protective mountains in the remote northwest. This is one of the reasons the King of England eventually outlawed the MacDonalds and led, in part, to the massacre of clan members in Glencoe. I toured the castle and from various advantage points looked for the Loch Ness Monster, but with no success.
On the road along the western shores of Loch Ness towards Inverness, I came across a botanical garden situated along a network of hiking trails overlooking the Loch. It was a beautiful sunny day and I thought it would be a perfect stop. I toured the gardens and hiked for about an hour along a trail that had wonderful views of Loch Ness. Still no monster.
In Inverness, “the Capital of the Highlands,” I checked into the McDougall Clansman Inn, on Church Street. It was located perfectly for strolling around town and walking along the river. It was nice to be in a metropolitan area after spending so much time “out in the bush” over recent days. This hotel was recommended to me by a guy at the Visitor Center near Urquhart Castle because just one block away was a pub that offered live folk music every night. Strangely, this Scottish Pub (The Hootenanny) has a Thai menu and the food was very good. While I was dining, I noticed a number of people coming in with instrument cases, sitting down and dining. A sign on the wall announced the music started at 9:30pm. I finished eating around 8pm, so I just walked back to the Inn spent some time downloading/ editing photos.
A little after 9:30pm, I walked back to the pub. I opened the door and walked into a concerto for stringed instruments. The diners who earlier had walked in carrying their cases were now sitting/standing around a large table in the middle of the pub and vigorously playing violins, bases, accordions, and guitars. The night started out with about 5 musicians, but other musicians came in the pub with their instruments and just joined in when they were ready. At one point I counted 15 musicians playing at the same time – All stringed instruments except for the 2 accordions. They played beautiful classical music as well as floor-stomping reels that seemed to go on for half-an-hour. The violinists would exhaust themselves before the reel would end. It was quite an amazing experience!