A few weeks of my stay in London with trips confined to office, bank, Hounslow high street and back to our serviced apartment, I said "Enough of suppressing the Travelaholism in me". So, Around 5 days before Christmas, we just packed one little sky bag n walked out of our apartment with Scotttish determination on our faces to go backpacking to The heart of Scotland.
Haa! Finally there we were- not in Scotland, in Waterloo station of London. Instead of touring a Museum filled City, Hubby n me had chosen a quiet little hamlet named Fort William- way above Glasgow in the map. After a lot of "asking around", we finally bought bus tickets that left in the evening and reached Glasgow at 2 am. I am mentioning the time becoz, in London and most of England everything starting from malls to cafes to restaurants shuts down at 7 pm sharp owing to the harsh winter; only the central tourist areas are open and alive all night. The adventurous us climbed into the bus with "Raat ke 2 baje jo hoga so Dekha jaayega" attitude. I must say to my fellow travel freaks, that bus rides in U.K. are a feast to our tourist senses.
So the bus goes up n up through smooth highways in the dark of the night, stops at 12 am in Manchester at a food court that served piping hot soup, succulent steak, dainty sandwiches n creamy spongy cakes with Hot Chocolate. Back in the bus, 3 hrs later it's stops for good at the Glasgow bus station. As other passengers went their respective ways, we were left standing outside the bus station in 2 degree Celsius temperature with not a single soul around. The next 2 hrs in the dead of the night were spent strolling up n down in the bus depot n rubbing our hands to keep warm. As the temperatures dipped to 1 degree n below, we took our suitcases n walked down to Buchanan train station in search of some warmth n hot food (I was actually starting to feel like that destitute Match Girl from fairy tales). As we entered the hustley bustley train station with its passengers, cafes, corner shops n station masters; I felt like I have entered into a Victorian era street. Dimly lit with a Victorian Clock, warm, with old fashioned bakeries and cafes despite all the modern LED digital display boards and announcements and conventionally dressed ppl- it was like the Parisian train station from the film "Hugo". Well! We settled down at a French Cafe n hungrily devoured the entire experience of their sinful velvety hot chocolate warming our bodies as it streamed down our cold throats, and their fresh out of the oven hot buttery flaky crossiants complementing the after taste of that hot chocolate. After this Sumptous and satiating snack, we got up and walked back to our bus station which was open by now. Two tickets to the legendary town of Fort William n we were on board for a 7 am bus.
This ride was a little on the rickety and snakey side as the bus climbed up into the high mountains; n as the brown n green landscape changed into pristine white snow clad dense forests with raindeers and big Moose lazily grazing and staring at our bus. This was probably the best bus ride in my life. We passed small villages and houses with their thatched roofs clad and buried in snow; their Christmas decorations standing out, adding a festive colour and complementing the plain white of the snow as fresh flakes of snow lazily fell on them.
At around 10 in the morning, two tired souls finally got off the Fort William bus station. Now again, we were clueless about what to do and how to reach our Bed n Breakfast hotel, when an Asian walked up to us and asked us if we needed a cab ride. Our cabbie was Yusuf - rechristened Joseph, quite a friendly Bangladeshi and a voracious talker. As we passed the lush grazing fields lined with sturdy wooden fences; we saw fat fluffy sheep huddled in the centre of these fields, while furry cuddly cows with thick long fur fringes on their faces and horns chewed cud giving us a bored look through those luscious fringes and eyelashes. Yusuf dropped us at our bed and breakfast which was out side the city right in front of the Ben Nevis Mountain and in the middle of a dense forest. Winters are too harsh in this part of the country, so no tourists were there except for skii enthusiasts. Our room was a cozy attic room in a little cottage amidst the woods; while one slant window opened to a view of the giant snowy Ben Nevis mountains, the other opened into a dark n dense forest infested with pine martins n red foxes skulking and flitting around the tall fir, pine n spruce trees. The most delightful part of this place was its extensive library filled with books on ancient Scottish history predating most of the other tribes such as the Britons.