The weather in England and Scotland was incredible for the week I traveled in the region…seriously sunny. Now, it was also cold, and that made for an un-happy Shannon, but very little rain to be seen.
It was lulling me into complacency.
Taking public transportation in rainy countries sucks. Now, I am not going to be a complainer because at this point I have whine-lessly endured/enjoyed bumpy tuk-tuks, speeding auto-rickshaws, rickety Indian trains, interminably long Greyhound Australia rides, and crickety cab journeys…but rain sucks when you’re backpacking, it’s just a fact.
The dark gray sky opened up into a steady and hard down downpour the morning that I was slated to leave Stirling, Scotland and move to the Isle of Skye. All of this would be well and fine except for two reasons: 1) My pack’s rain cover mysteriously disappeared when my bag arrived on the conveyer belt in Mumbai’s airport and I have never purchased another, and 2) my own jacket is a cheap knock-off North Face that I bought in Nepal for a whopping US $11 right before my Poon Hill trek.
Interestingly enough, Dave over at GoBackpacking learned the same lesson that I learned – you’re getting what you paid for when you buy knockoff in Nepal. My raincoat has worked perfectly well up until this point for the light misting rains I encountered in Slovenia and Czech Republic…not so well when the solid, pelting raindrops are penetrating the faux-Gortex shell and seeping into each layer of clothing. On my next trip I will likely be toting a real North Face…lesson learned.
So, I trotted and galloped my way the short walk from my hostel (Willy Wallace backpackers – not a particularly clean or nice smelling hostel but had WiFi) to the bus station and arrived soaked to the bone and shivering.
Blech. Now it was an all-day bus-ride, roughly seven hours, to the largest city on the Isle of Skye, Portree and I had to peel off my wet layers and air-dry for hours.
I will also take this opportunity to expound on just why I stayed in Portree out of all of the gorgeous little towns on the Isle of Skye – Scotland, in August, is tourist-tastic. Seriously and insanely touristy. I had planned to mosey my way up through Scotland booking hostels as I went and luxuriating in towns that struck my fancy.
In actuality, once I arrived in London at Hannah’s house I was rudely slapped in the face with the harsh reality that I was going to even be lucky to find a bed some nights.
All of the Scotland hostels in some of the patent backpacker cities (Oban, Fort William, etc) were fully booked on the weekends. Like totally booked up, no options left on the weekends. That’s actually why I ended up in Stirling for three days, it was the only hostel I could find over the weekend on such short notice.
The same mostly held true for the Isle of Skye, all of the hostels were booked up. I ran into a bit of luck at the Portree Independent – I phoned and they had some cancellations during the week.
I’m so thankful that I was able to stay on Skye for several days – if you move too fast in Scotland you miss the chance to catch the cities in good weather. It was also steadily raining on Skye when I arrived but cleared up for parts of the days so I was able to bus around the Isle and get in some good hiking – which I will tell you all about this week!