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GeorgeCharlie

Review of Cruise to Scotland, Ireland, Northern Europe - May 2019

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Just now, GeorgeCharlie said:

 

🙂Credit for most of the pictures goes to my wife - Lynne.

 

 

Thank you, Lynne!

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3 hours ago, GeorgeCharlie said:

 

 

Esplanade1.jpg.30e5775a4dc7fde8ed2e5af3e7586185.jpg

 

You can see George Heriot's School (aka Hogwarts) in the distance at the right middle of this photo.

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2 hours ago, GeorgeCharlie said:

 

🙂Credit for most of the pictures goes to my wife - Lynne.

 

 

Cheers then for your wife Lynne. She definitely deserves them.

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On Monday morning (May 20th) we arrived in port at Invergordon.

 

Invergordon is a small friendly village - which is mainly seen as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands and offers a large number of shore excursions for cruise ships.

 

Invergordon itself has a famous mural trail with 11 large colour wall paintings representing life in the Highlands past and present.

 

Although, our view from the ship had a more industrial look.

 

1230200050_PortTanks.jpg.98bc536c9475557b7bd05c6640df3129.jpg

 

This clip shows a better view of the dock area.

 

 

 

 

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We'd pre-booked a tour with WOW Scotland Tours, a well-regarded local tour company. Number 1 tour operator in Inverness as rated by TripAdvisor and 5 star rated by Visit Scotland.

 

Gordon and Kay Pearson were born in Northern Scotland and founded WOW Scotland in 2010. Since then they have evolved into a company offering both the top tourist sights and, by using smaller vehicles, they ability to get-off-the-beaten-track and show the real Scottish Highlands. They claim, that other then at the major tourist stops, the chances of seeing other people from our ship on this route are slim to none. And I certainly agree, as none of the big tour busses would have able to traverse many of the winding country lanes we travelled on.

 

Their two 30-seat mini-coaches feature Wi-Fi and you certainly will not have any problems finding your bus, as they are very brightly painted - to say the least!!  

 

1817923053_WoW1.jpg.f4e5c275ff0a562c385313b7be45bdf6.jpg

 

You can tell which bus you are on by way of the stylized "O" in the WOW. Ours depicted highland cattle and the other one showing a bus on a bridge.

 

1125165523_WoW2.jpg.9226f3ec8bc01d429fe5490ca076d399.jpg

 

And they are quite proud of the paint scheme, as noted by Gordon in this clip.

 

 

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We had Gordon as our guide and he came in typical Scottish attire.

 

 Gordon1.thumb.jpg.80b79b0559feadee4771076f8422bbab.jpg

 

He was a fantastic informative and entertaining guide, continually regaling us of his tales of Scotland while he was driving.

 

 

This one highlights the difficulties the large tour busses would getting out to see the Highlands like we did.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, GeorgeCharlie said:

We'd pre-booked a tour with WOW Scotland Tours, a well-regarded local tour company. Number 1 tour operator in Inverness as rated by TripAdvisor and 5 star rated by Visit Scotland.

 

Gordon and Kay Pearson were born in Northern Scotland and founded WOW Scotland in 2010. Since then they have evolved into a company offering both the top tourist sights and, by using smaller vehicles, they ability to get-off-the-beaten-track and show the real Scottish Highlands. They claim, that other then at the major tourist stops, the chances of seeing other people from our ship on this route are slim to none. And I certainly agree, as none of the big tour busses would have able to traverse many of the winding country lanes we travelled on.

 

Their two 30-seat mini-coaches feature Wi-Fi and you certainly will not have any problems finding your bus, as they are very brightly painted - to say the least!!  

 

1817923053_WoW1.jpg.f4e5c275ff0a562c385313b7be45bdf6.jpg

 

You can tell which bus you are on by way of the stylized "O" in the WOW. Ours depicted highland cattle and the other one showing a bus on a bridge.

 

1125165523_WoW2.jpg.9226f3ec8bc01d429fe5490ca076d399.jpg

 

And they are quite proud of the paint scheme, as noted by Gordon in this clip.

 

 

 

 

It seems like the video clip in this post did not post the same way others did and will not always run properly. So I'll re-post the clip and hopefully it will work correctly.

 

 

 

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Our first stop was in the village of Beauly.

 

At its centre lies the Beauly Priory, which was one of three priories built in Scotland back in 1230 for the monk's of the Valliscaulian order. Today, extensive ruins of the Priory church remain.

 

Priory1.jpg.4ac73eeff4170ccbc7dbf6142334e315.jpg

 

Priory3.jpg.f3a2b366ae4f1d88d283749820405297.jpg

 

Priory6.jpg.37c95d7b7de04737c9697e85500ff2b5.jpg

 

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Priory4.thumb.jpg.49e0576f032e7799b4017c7efc29b13a.jpg

 

Headstone1.thumb.jpg.c55f16a2f57ef52fc3d6aa70b4aae8f9.jpg

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Standing in the market square by the Priory, is the 15th Century Beauly Mercat Cross - one of the oldest surviving standing market crosses in Scotland.

 

Didn't get a picture of it, so I pulled this one from the internet. 

 

As you can see, it's definitely not as elaborate as the one in Edinburgh.

 

1036063842_MercatCross.jpg.e83e601dd819573b17a363d7683ef388.jpg

 

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He mentioned, for Outlander fans, the Beauly Priory was where Claire meets Maisri.

 

Gordon suggested picking up lunch here and recommended getting something 'to go" from the local bakery, as there would not be an actual meal stop on the tour. Which most people did, but we were also able to grab quick snacks at a couple other stops if we wanted to.

 

Bakery.jpg.676b346654aa357061bdc345c1b31a95.jpg

 

 

 

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After Beauly we continued our drive to Inverness. we left the main roads and did a very scenic drive through the Highland hills.

 

Here are some clips to give you a brief sampling of what we saw.

 

 

 

 

We passed by many fields of pasturing Highland Cattle

 

1527140864_HighlandCattle1.jpg.79ff575c85d1d3a9ed9fcf769a2eb512.jpg

 

And even one deer farm. Not the best of picture as it was taken through the bus window, while we were moving.

 

518118138_Deerfarm.jpg.ca72659a56ec454dd5d7eb24486baa58.jpg

 

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10 hours ago, GeorgeCharlie said:

On Monday morning (May 20th) we arrived in port at Invergordon.

 

Another interesting note:  “Inver” means “Mouth of”, hence Mouth of Gordon in modern lingo.

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9 hours ago, Sopwith said:

Another interesting note:  “Inver” means “Mouth of”, hence Mouth of Gordon in modern lingo.

 

So in that case, Inverness translates to "Mouth of the River Ness", as it's on the River Ness.

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Thank you so much taking your time to post this very interesting and informative review. It is so helpful for those of us planning a future cruise with this itinerary. 

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8 minutes ago, pschweig said:

Thank you so much taking your time to post this very interesting and informative review. It is so helpful for those of us planning a future cruise with this itinerary. 

 

Thank you - at the speed this review is being done - I may still be at it by the time you depart on your future cruise.😉

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Outstanding pictures and a wonderful commentary.  Great fun to read. I love Scotland and can't wait to get back.

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Our stop in Inverness was about an hour. Gordon parked the bus by St. Andrew's Cathedral and told us he would be providing a half hour walking tour of the downtown area (including the castle). He said anybody who didn't want to join the tour could tour on their own, but to be back to the bus in an hour. Besides the cathedral, there were a number of souvenir places, along with other stores and eating places in the immediate area.

 

View of Inverness Castle from where we parked.

1641885813_Inverness1b.jpg.f7ef391068413c60f220893baac3a697.jpg

 

On our walk Gordon gave a running talk on history of the Inverness area. We walked along the banks of River Ness, across a bridge into the main downtown area.

 

View of the river bank area we walked along.

Waterfront.jpg.a1b9fd95bef56cb5f377cbe982ae1ce3.jpg

 

A closer view of some of the restored buildings.

Housing.jpg.6bdbf5bd7e875b47c27b610970ed97fc.jpg

 

 

 

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We stopped at this multi-level McDonald's to allow people to use the facilities and/or, grab a quick bite to eat. 

McDs.jpg.29acf1dfde28932f63c4f9eacf824fb1.jpg

 

Then we headed up the hill to the castle, where Gordon continued his historical presentation. Although, his comments regarding Flora MacDonald helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the Battle of Culloden were somewhat more hysterical, then historical!!

 

Statue of Highland heroine Flora MacDonald.

2132934579_FloraMacdonald.thumb.jpg.447f90fb537926cbd8320b5ebe4d8970.jpg

 

We didn't go into the castle, but spent some time enjoying the views.

 

View of St. Andrew's Cathedral from the castle.

Church2.jpg.c28d66f3abdf45aead372d520a09bc1d.jpg

 

Then we strolled back to the bus. Some pictures from on our way back.

 

The Glenalbyn pub. Don't know if it is related to the Glen Albyn distillery, which operated in Inverness from 1846 to 1983.

1664354208_GlenalbynPub.jpg.70df015ddacf7f0b9e8cc13cc07335ec.jpg

 

It seems like most areas of the world have their own version of "Dollar Store".

Poundland.jpg.d013e7ba17be207eb073b7d18162b45f.jpg

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After a visit into the cathedral, we departed Inverness on our way to try and get a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster.

 

 Church1.thumb.jpg.107ea243e39735a57e4c2797579d6653.jpg

 

Unfortunately, we didn't get very far down the road, when one of our passengers in a panic - asked Gordon to go back, as she couldn't find her purse and thought she had left it on a bench by the cathedral. So, we returned back to the cathedral, but while she was running around in the courtyard by the cathedral - one of the other passengers noticed it sitting on the floor under her seat. All's well that's ends well.

 

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