September 18th, 1999 – by: euphemy
near Ballater, somewhere in the highlands
An early morning for us as luggage and breakfast were at 0730 and it was my turn for the front seat today. Yea! We departed Aberdeen and followed the River Dee to BALLATER. For an hour we were here and I bought my sister a replica of Glamis Castle for her china cabinet. The bus ride took us past brown and green colored mountains and also past Prince Charles's hunting lodge. We were supposed to visit BALMORAL CASTLE, home to the Royal Family during hunting season, but since the QUEEN was in residence at this time (after July31st) we saw the church they attend instead, CRATHIE CHURCH. This was across the road from the Balmoral residence. It was a nice feeling to know I was standing in a place right where the Queen sometimes does!
Conveniently, after this we toured the GLENLIVIT WHISKEY DISTILLERY! Midway through the tour, I almost felt as if I already had some, thanks to the strong smell.
Prince Charles hunting lodge
A guide (an easy-on-the-eyes 18 year old) took us through to show us how the whiskey is made, converting the barley, water and yeast into liquor and we did get a free shot afterward. In the afternoon, we stopped for a couple photo opportunities around the Cairngorm Mountains and at the Freedom Inn. Then we settled into AVIEMORE
where we were staying the night at the Mercury Hotel. Our optional excursion for the evening was visiting a sheep farm in LEAULT owned by a handsome man named Neil. He's also the Scottish and World Sheep Dog Trial Champion. He showed us how the black dogs herd the sheep and then he and Michael, our guide sheared a sheep. Watching them I had visions of myself happily living here in the mountains with a handsome Scotsman someday! What a daydreamer I am! lol Michael asked us to give it a try but I was afraid I would nick an artery on the sheep so we politely declined.
Scenery from the bus on our way to Ballater
Nikki, the newlywed from our group took the shears and gave it a try while Neil assisted and held the squirming animal.
We went back to the hotel, had dinner, freshened up and went out on the town walking in Aviemore
. I cannot remember the names of the pubs/bars we went to but the 1st one sat back from the road and had a mixture of people young and old but it wasn't very crowded. A couple of guys started talking to us and asked us to join them to another pub. This one had mostly older people in it and there was a group of German tourists at a table. One of the guys we were with, M, (I won't say names so to protect the innocent, or guilty, depending on how you look at it) started singing a Scottish folk song and then took a chair and turned it upside down and pretended it was the bagpipes! It was hilarious! He was also making Armpit noises and clinking spoons together.
He then proceeded to announce that Suzi and I were from America to the German tourists. They wanted us to sing an "American" song which Suzi politely refused. I, feeling pretty good after even more cider decided I would sing by myself with little coaxing. He had me stand on a chair (I'm guessing because I'm short and so everyone could watch me embarrass myself) and I ended up singing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" while M played "the SPOONS"! They seemed to enjoy it as when I was finished some of the Germans came up to me and shook my hand and said they liked it. That was one memory that will always be in my mind. After our "shenanigans" here we were walking again and M & G were teaching us and singing Scottish Folk Songs with the main one being "LOCH LOMMOND".
This is where the Queen attends services when residing at Balmoral Castle.
Then the guys said " Let's go to the DISCO" and I'm like "Yea!" thinking disco like Blondie, KC, Bee Gees, etc. This place had an elevated dance floor area in the middle and played Techno music not the disco I'm used to, but still good. M wanted us to dance so we did and a couple times took me and keep spinning me like a top in the middle of the floor! What a mix; cider and spinning! I then had to take a break and chatted with G's friend, B. We had a blast and sadly it had to come to an end and we said our goodbyes to BMG and went back to the hotel. I did get my 1st Scottish kiss even though it was a peck on the cheek. I tried not to wake Leanne as we were sharing a room and I got in pretty late.