My last few days in Edinburgh were pretty uneventful. The city is small and you can pretty much do all of the touristy stuff in about 2-3 days.
On Tuesday, Lara and I signed up for a one-day tour to the Highlands and Loch Ness. For your reference, NEVER use Scotline Tours. Most of the time was spent on the bus, and other than Loch Ness, everything else on our itinerary were only drive by's. Our monotonous bus driver/tour guide rambled on and on and would point out famous landmarks occasionally. "There's the famous Sterling Castle, but you can't really see it because it's hidden behind a wall of trees. Blah. Blah. Blah." He had quite a thick accent so I couldn't understand a lot of what he said anyways. The couple of stops we made were all at visitor centers which brought back bad memories of the Chinese tour I was on earlier during my trip. Lunch was at some small town called Spean Bridge where the only restaurant option was a fish and chip place that also served Chinese chicken and Tikka Masala. You can imagine what the food tasted like. Loch Ness would've been exciting if anything had been done with the place. Other than the legend of the monster, it really is just a lake. There's also Urqhart Castle which is not really that significant of a castle when you realize that there are lots of other ruined castles all over Scotland. What salvaged the day was the Nessie beer we drank on the boat ride on Loch Ness and eating at Saigon Saigon for the 4th time during my time in Scotland.
The last couple of days were spent hanging out, doing some job hunting for when school starts, and a bit of shopping. I loved being able to visit Lara but Scotland itself is quite a depressing place. The old buildings quickly lose their novelty and you soon realize it's a city lacking in life and energy. The weather was always rainy/cloudy while I was there as well which really set in the glumness of the place. The Highlands are essentially uninhabited as well as the land in Scotland is owned by only a handful of families. These families forced most of the inhabitants to leave during the Clearance since raising cattle and sheep was thought to be more profitable. Even though we drove around for almost 8 hours, it was 8 hours of driving through almost wilderness.
My suggestion for if you ever visit Scotland (unless you're spending time with an awesome friend like Lara), is to spend no more than 3 days in the country. Edinburgh and North Berwick are the only 2 places that are really worth seeing as well as Sterling Castle, though I never got a chance to go inside since this was one of the drive by's. Also, eat at Saigon Saigon, a very delicious Chinese restaurant near the central train station. You're not missing out much by staying away from the local cuisine of fish and chips, haggis, and deep fried candy bars. Lastly, come during festival season which is during the month of August. Edinburgh is supposed to be more poppin during that time.
Well, I made it to Madrid in one piece. Though the taxi ride was a bit pricey, my hostel well made up for it. Only 10 euros a night, I got my own room, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry machine! That's amazeballs! For more expensive, I could probably only get a shared room at some janky hostel.
Unfortunately due to poor planning, I will be leaving Madrid soon for Barcelona. I'm not going to complain, however, since I get to spend an extra couple days in Barcelona. :D