Virtual Vacay International – Scotland

by Saranda Rasmusson

Am I the only one whose eyes constantly hurt from staring at my computer screen all day? From Zoom calls and Microsoft Teams, doing homework online, watching TV, and periodically looking at my phone throughout the day, I feel like I always have a screen in front of my face. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to do some visualization and get away from the screens for a while.

For this virtual vacation spot, I thought we’d go somewhere with breathtaking scenery and a laid-back vibe. I’ve really been dreaming of this destination lately, so I’m super excited to go with you to…Scotland! The picturesque Isle of Skye, beautiful city of Inverness, and endless regal castles sound like the perfect place for a laid-back vacation. Let’s take a few minutes out of the day for ourselves to relax and reboot.

Your plane lands in Inverness, and as you step out of the airport and take your first look around, you do a double take. You wander down the beautiful brick-paved High Street in Inverness City Centre, and it’s clear you’re not in America anymore. Every building in sight looks like a castle straight out of a story book. Each is made of old brick and stone that climbs up and almost touches the deep blue sky with every ornate peak. There’s a fresh and slightly sweet smell drifting through the air, and as you look into one of the shops lining the street, you realize why. You open the heavy antique door, and you’re welcomed by an array of colorful flowers in every shape and size. After wandering around for a bit, and become friends with the shop owner, you walk out with a sprig of iconic Scottish heather.

You continue to pop in and out of equally beautiful and fascinating shops, and by the time you get to the end of the street, you’ve acquired plump, fresh raspberries, an antique book with an authentic leather binding, and a belly full of bangers and mash from a restaurant. You walk on a trail, taking in the scenery along the River Ness, and stop dead in your tracks as you see Inverness Castle sitting atop a sandstone cliff. It feels like you’ve just set foot onto a movie set and you expect a man in a kilt to come riding toward you on a horse. The stately castle is surrounded by lush greenery, and almost looks like it’s floating.

You stand in awe for a few more moments, looking at the light brick walls with the tall arched windows of the castle towering over you, before moving on to your next destination. You board a train headed to Skye and are lulled into complete bliss after just a few minutes of watching the breathtaking Scottish Highlands pass by through the large window. After a while, you see something rising out of the horizon in the distance and realize it’s the Glenfinnan Viaduct! You can’t believe your eyes! A classic landmark from film and literature, and you’re actually going to cross it! At this point, you’re like a kid in a candy store, leaning out of your seat with your nose pressed up against the window as you near the bridge. It’s truly impressive, rising up 100 feet from the valley below, curving 416 yards with 21 semicircular arches carved out of the massive concrete structure. You’re getting close…wow!

Once you’re actually traveling on the bridge, you can see a perfect view of the surrounding landscape, and you’re simply awestruck as you look out on the lush fields and hills sloping around you. You peek down and see the calm running water of the River Finnan below you. You can see every angle of the amazing landscape around you from your prime seat, and you wish you had a photographic memory.

After taking the rest of the train ride to just soak in the once-in-a-lifetime views you just witnessed, you step off the train on the Isle of Skye and begin your hike. After a short trek, you come to your final destination for your trip, glad you saved the best for last: the fairy pools! At the base of the Cuillin Mountains are rock pools filled with the clearest water you’ve ever seen. Multiple waterfalls cascade down from the protruding rocks creating a wall of bright, blue-green water. You’ve never seen anything so beautiful, it just takes your breath away.

Wasn’t Scotland beautiful?! I can’t wait to go in person, but this virtual vacation satisfied my traveling bug for now, and I hope it did for you, too. I wonder where I’ll go virtually next…