Overseas to Skye

by Howard Fienberg

the MacDougall, March 8, 1995: Issue 18

On February 17, 47 internationals left Dundee by bus, their faithful driver George once more at the wheel. The Dundee University International Club was undertaking it's second mass bus trip, this time to the Isle of Skye. Those who had been on the first trip were rapidly overcome by feelings of deja vu, as the bus began to smoke. Not five miles out of Dundee, it had broken down.

I was one of them. Not ones to despair, a group of us picked up a game of soccer (football) and whiled away the two hours it took the bus company to determine that our bus was shot, and to bring us another. Of course, this bus had less seats, making the conditions a bit cramped. Nonetheless, we set off again.

After pulling into the youth hostel at Kyleakin, everyone hopped over to the local pub to relax for the night. Such friendliness as we'd not seen for quite some time. Above the mutterings of ``Damn foreigners'', a moderately coherent gentleman was kindly explaining to me, with a wagging finger, that I was in Scotland, and not to forget it.

Saturday saw us split into two groups. The first, forming of about two thirds, went on a pleasant hill walk for several hours, while the rest of us wandered a few small towns and sites, mostly by bus. We all met up at an inn in the later afternoon; the walkers, not having the comfort and shelter of a bus, were soaked through to the bone, and frigid from walking through deep bogs and braving gale force winds and rain. (Note: Robin's compass was broken!) They all warmed about the fire before we moved on to the next hostel. George again utilized his uncanny driving skills and manuvered us through gates, and around curves to Donfloodigarry.

Everyone jostled for space to cook their dinner as we took over the hostel. Having heard that we were coming, the local pub had arranged to have a ceilidh band play that night, and we settled in there for the evening. People danced several times, making as best a use of the space as possible. The band was exhilerating, playing everything from background to the guest bagpiper, to renditions of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

A short but much needed sleep was broken, and we suddenly realized that we were in the middle of the Garden of Eden. The hostel was on the coast, overlooking several islands, and snowy mountains lay to our rear. A quick chat with a few highland cows dispelled any lingering regrets about everyone's soggy outfits.

A good portion of Sunday was spent on the bus, travelling the north of the isle, and stopping at varous sites. We made a stop in Portee for lunch, just long enough for George to win his meal in a heated game of pool. While the bus group had seen Dunvegan castle the day before, we returned anyways, and were pleasantly surprised that the rain stopped, and the sun came out. The brilliant gardens, and unsassuming manner charmed us thoroughly.

The bus ran into problems again near Fort William, but was quickly taken care of, and we skidded through the snow back to Dundee just past midnight. As we all hold back a collective cough and sneeze, we fondly remember Skye...

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