Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: mountains

Sunset over Loch Lomond, from the summit of Conic Hill

Time seems to pause as the silent waters of Loch Lomond wave good night to the golden globe that left us behind. Conic Hill is the only hill that I’ve walked every year since coming to Scotland, and the views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills and mountains continue to amaze me with every climb. The hills may be alive, but at this moment, even they seem to be getting ready to rest. I am going to miss this place when I’m gone.

The hills are alive…on the misty Isle of Skye! (continued)

I couldn’t resist posting another entry about Skye after the first one. This time I shall let the photos speak for themselves. There were so many unforgettable moments and so many precious photos that it was difficult choosing just a set of them to share, but the selected few will give you an idea of the highlights from my first trip (13 people in total) to Skye, the Misty Isle.

I want to thank again Stuart from Misty Isle Tours for making the Skye minibus day trip possible for our large group by tailoring our itinerary based on our preferences and limitations – and the day turned out to be super lovely! And of course, my companions were beyond fantastic! Honourable mentions go to Amy the selfie queen, Henry the undefeated chef, Zed the self-proclaimed Pirate King, and my rival paparazzi, XM. Thanks for the memories, guys!

The hills are alive…on the misty Isle of Skye!

The Isle of Skye is perhaps the most widely recognized destination in the Scottish highlands and a hotspot for tourism, and it’s easy to see why. Before I had even stepped foot on Scottish soil, my friend has already recommended it as the number one place that I have to visit in Scotland because it was just so beautiful. His claim was supported by multiple other friends, and I finally had a chance to make a trip up north to the Misty Isle (Skye means “mist” in Norse) in July this year – with 12 other people!

We hired a minibus from Misty Isle Tours and were very fortunate to have the adorable Stuart as our driver and guide for the day. I think Skye probably deserves way more than one simple post, but for this first introductory post I’ll show you some of the stunning landscape that we were able to see around the island, courtesy of Stuart. Maybe it would convince you that Skye is indeed the place that dreams are made of.

Skye is a photographer’s heaven and there is no shortage of good photo opportunities. The Fairy Pools are one of the most visited attractions of Skye, and while I’ll be completely honest and say I was a little underwhelmed by the actual pools themselves, the Black Cuillins that served as the backdrop were simply magnificent and awe-inspiring!

Speaking of fairy, you can’t miss the Fairy Glen, reachable via a nice scenic hike close to the guesthouse where we stayed in Uig (which was excellent, by the way). This is the kind of place where you’d expect elves to magically appear and fairies to dance in the lush green – a place worthy of its name!

The Sligachan Bridge is something you’d expect to see on a postcard. This shot was captured hastily as we passed by the bridge on the bus from Glasgow to Uig, but I was glad that Stuart took us back to Sligachan during our day tour of Skye to take a closer look at the bridge!

Another view of the Sligachan Bridge, this time from the other side with the Red Cuillin hills in the back. The perfect symmetry of Glamaig adds to the aesthetic feeling of the picture!

And here we come to the “bald” hills on the way to Elgol, a perfect backdrop against the clear, dark blue waters. After searching on Google Maps and checking the corresponding time that the photo was taken, I have reasons to believe that the hills seen here are known as Beinn na Caillich, the “red hills” of the Cuillin mountain ranges.

Elgol is the departure point of the ferry to Loch Coruisk. I’d heard of Elgol from a random stranger I met during a hike and was keen to visit, especially since it is where Stuart grew up! What a tranquil little village!

With a bus we had a lot of flexibility in terms of where we could go, and Stuart also brought us to Quiraing, a location with stunning landscape and rock formations. The BFG was also filmed here, apparently!

Passing by a lone house by the shore, surrounded by nothing but grassy fields, calm waters, roaming sheep, and sheer serenity. I wouldn’t mind moving here when I retire…

Of course, Skye had to show us why it was named the “Misty Isle”. We were lucky that most of the day was rain-free but there were short intervals where rain hit us hard, and you wondered if it would ever stop. Still Skye looked gorgeous in the rain and mist and before you know it, the sky opened up again and we forgot that rain was ever with us!

Back at Uig, the group stayed in glamping pods on top of a hill, where we were able to get a nice view of the main village across the bay. These pods were so cosy and comfortable that I wouldn’t hesitate going back here the next time I visit Skye! Oh, and this photo was taken at around 11:30pm in early July. I think the sky was still slightly blue well past midnight – definitely the ideal timing for our stay!

Finally, I present you with a greeting (or a goodbye) from the Skye Dragon…breathing fire! OK, just clouds, but aren’t they amazing! You could probably tell that my first Skye experience was absolutely mesmerizing and memorable, and I hope it won’t be the last!

The hills are alive…on the Isle of Mull! (Part 1)

Because of of the abundant series of events that happened on the Isle of Mull, I wrote a 3000+ word recount of the experience, which you can read here. However, most people will probably find it TL;DR, and so if you just want the summary and the photos, read on! A complete series of photos of this trip can also be found on Facebook 😉


Summer is short in Scotland, and there are only a small handful of rainless weekends during the summer months suitable for travelling. Knowing this, I had to take advantage of every sunny weekend, because very soon, we’ll be back to 5 degrees and the sun will be setting at 4 pm. After Perth, I decided to continue my discovery of Scotland by visiting some of the islands in the west, starting with…the Isle of Mull!

My main motivation of going to Mull was to go to the original Tobermory and Calgary. Tobermory is a town 300 km north of Toronto, and Calgary, as you probably know, is one of the largest cities in Canada, located in the province of Alberta. It so happened that the names of both of these places were derived from places that exist…on the Isle of Mull in Scotland! Feeling like an adventure, I was ready to roam around Mull (or well, at least half of Mull), all by myself.

Getting to Mull

Being a ferry ride away from Oban, which is 3 hours away from Glasgow by train, Mull made a perfect weekend trip. As the train headed toward Oban, which began to appear soon after it reached the outskirts of Glasgow, I began to be amazed at the number of mountains (and sheep, elaborated in the next post) in the country. How intriguing you are, Scotland.

As transport on Mull would be problematic without a car and with very limited public transit available, I decided on a method of transportation that is quite new to me – cycling! And it wasn’t normal cycling either – I rented an electric bike on the island, knowing that I would have conquer some tedious hill. Not being the fittest person out there, I definitely needed the extra power boost provided by the battery and in retrospect, I couldn’t have done it without the electric bike! My route is illustrated below (map obtained here):

I began at Tobermory, going down to Dervaig, Calgary, then south and east to Salen and finally back up to Tobermory. Evidently, this was only the top part of the island. I wasn’t even going to get close to Ben More, one of only two island Munros (a Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3000 ft, the other island Munro being on Skye) slightly to the south of the loop. The route consisted of several toiling climbs, but also segments of fantastic freewheeling after the climbs, for a grand total of 42 miles – that is 68 kilometres! Was I ready for this? Did I really know what I was getting myself into?

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The “in-yo-face” kind of Hallstatt

I had never heard of Hallstatt, a town in (sort of) central Austria, until my friend, knowing that I was going to Vienna, told me, “You HAVE to go to Hallstatt”. And that was all it took to convince me, if that was any convincing at all. Yes, it would take me 3.5 hours to get there from Vienna (and of course 3.5 hours for the return trip), but I had the time. Plus, 3.5 hours in a train sounded SUPERB especially if I was promised window-side scenes like the ones I saw around Interlaken. For this, even a 7:30am departure could fill me with anticipation.

The only way to get to Hallstatt without a car is by ferry, which takes you from the Hallstatt train station across the lake to the village itself. On this day, there were approximately 10 passengers aboard the small ferry that brought us across Lake Hallstatt in 10 minutes. I guess not many visitors come during the winter, even a mild one. The reason why the title of this post says “in-yo-face” is obvious – Hallstatt looks like a place that emerged right out of the mountains. It was as if someone thought that mountains and lakes were too monotonous and just decided to carve a town in the midst of it all. The mountains were so close, so…”in-yo-face” and that was the best expression I could think of to describe them. Really though, you wouldn’t expect the massive mountains to be hiding such a pretty gem. Well-played, Hallstatt.

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