What a HOOT!

Our day in the northern highlands of Scotland was a success from start to finish!

We had booked a full day tour with Gordon of G&S Tours, and our agenda was ambitious. Gordon’s tour didn’t disappoint…we had paid slightly more to be in a vehicle with 8 Captain’s Chairs and wifi, and since we spent a lot of time in the van I thought it was money well spent. £6.25/person is a small price to pay for comfort and a window seat!🙂

Our first stop was at “Millionaire’s View” for a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy the stunning scenery.

We followed that with a visit to the Falls of Shin, where we had the opportunity to see the salmon swimming upstream to spawn. They were sparse and EXTREMELY difficult to photograph, but Chip managed to catch one towards the end of this video.

From the falls, it was on to Dunrobin Castle for the main event — a falconry display. As we drove through the hills, we noticed it was becoming extremely hazy. We learned it was smoke from a heather fire caused by the drought. Fortunately the wind shifted and it was gone by the time we left Dunrobin, but it was pretty unpleasant for about an hour.

During the owl part of the demonstration, I captured one of my favorite travel pictures of all time. Is it technically great? Not even close, but I think you’ll agree it’s a great shot!

All I have to say is it’s a good thing the owl was well trained. He sure looked like he had lunch (me!😳) on his mind, and all I could do was hit the shutter and pray I didn’t embarrass myself in public.😂 Jim was using my phone and tried to video me taking pictures of the owl, but unfortunately he double clutched. The bird was close enough that his wing clipped Jim’s shoulder.

It was a fantastic demonstration, and we had some time to explore at Dunrobin after the show.

By this time we had worked up an appetite, so it’s a good thing lunch was next. We went to the Royal Dornoch Golf Hotel for Sunday dinner. They had a good but limited menu, and we chose the traditional Roast Beef Sunday meal, complete with Yorkshire Pudding. Yum! It was a nice, relaxing break in the middle of the day.

We weren’t done yet! No visit to Scotland is complete without a visit to a distillery, so we were off to Glenmorangie. We passed through the beautiful village of Dornoch on our way to the distillery.

The facilities and process were impressive, but I admit to letting my attention wander since I’m not a fan of Scotch.

On our way back to port, we made one final stop in the quaint seaside village of Ballintore to see the “Mermaid of the North” statue.

Back at the pier we said our “see you soons” to Gordon since he was our guide for Edinburgh the next day, and quickly went back to the ship since our day was far from over.

We met in Vines about 6:30, and at 7:00 we made our way to Sabattini’s for the Tuscan Wine Pairing Dinner. It was delicious, but many courses and a LOT of food and wine.

It was all I could do to stay awake long enough to get ready for bed.

We were excited about the next day — a trip to St. Andrews to see what many consider to be the birthplace of golf. ⛳️

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