Having successfully located Nessie, we enjoyed the remainder of the day and evening in Inverness. We gathered with locals at the Castle Tavern (located, unsurprisingly, next to Inverness castle) to watch a very exciting World Cup match with England vs. Colombia, which resulted in an English victory via penalty shootout.
We wondered: Do Scots root for the English team, as loyal members of the United Kingdom? Or is it a rivalry based on a history of war between the two countries? The answer we found, by asking tour guides and pub patrons, was both. As we were educated by John Alasdair Macdonald, our Hebrideaen Explorer tour guide, Scotland’s history began well before its famed wars with southern neighbors and Hadrian’s wall. While today there is most definitely a Scottish identity, the history of the people inhabiting Scotland is not as clear cut. In addition, many modern Scots, such as John, have spent time studying or living in England. So, our very unscientific poll revealed that while many Scots eagerly rooted for England’s opponent, just as many cheered their UK brethren. We just enjoyed watching them.
Dinner was at the Black Isle Brewery, which we had walked past several times during our time in Inverness and always seemed lively & busy. As the name implies, this is a craft brew house, but with an organic twist. We were a little bit beered out by this point so we chose the organic wine, which was delicious. Black Isle is also famous for its pizza, but Oldest is non-dairy so we chose a vegan pizza with pesto – I will admit to being doubtful, but it was delicious. Highly recommended, and one of our better meals in Scotland, especially if you are growing tired of traditional pub fare.
After enjoying some traditional music at Inverness’ most famous pub, Hootananny’s, we took one last stroll along the lovely River Ness. By this point in our trip, I had successfully “closed my rings” (Apple-speak for getting enough exercise) for 7 consecutive days, and I wasn’t about to stop now. By now it was fairly late: in fact, it was midnight. And yet, off to the southwest, was a bright glow. Indeed, this far north, and less than two weeks past the summer solstice, Inverness’ sky never really darkened, and it was as bright as day by 3:00 am. If you travel to Inverness during this time of year, bring an eye mask if you like your mornings dark!
Thus ended our visit to Scotland. The country’s wild beauty, combined with its residents’ fierce patriotism, heartiness, and charm, won us over completely. We may not have become whiskey connoiseurs, but we will undoubtedly return.