Who doesn't love men in kilts? or bagpipes and music? Craigmonie Hotel,
My bio boasts that I like to think of life as adventure and I haven’t passed up too many opportunities that have come my way, but some of the craziest adventures happened when I least expected. One of these was in the lovely, and fascinating city of Inverness Scotland.
My sister and I arrived in Inverness and were lucky to have prebooked a room at the Craigmonie Hotel, because as it turned out, we arrived there at the end of the National Mod and the city was hopping, the hotels all booked. A mod is a festival of Scottish Gaelic song, arts and culture, and Inverness was overflowing with men in kilts, bagpipes, bands, dancers and the lilt of Gaelic being spoken everywhere. Everything that is romantic about the Scots in one place and we were there to enjoy it.
After a day of exploring the sights and sounds, we dressed up to go to “high tea” in a cozy little place near St. Andrews Cathedral. As we were leaving, we noticed that across the hall from the tea room, there was a small bar where a man playing the accordion. We moseyed on in and sat down to enjoy the music, but before we were even halfway through our first mug of beer, he stopped to whet his own whistle. So, my sister headed over to ask if he was done playing for the night and returned to our table with the man right behind her inviting us to join the party celebrating the finale of that year’s mod.
Now we were overdressed considering everyone else was wearing Jeans so we said we’d be back and hustled up the hill to our hotel to change. As we left, we mentioned to the desk clerk that we were headed to a party and he told us to have a good time.
And we did.
Until four o’clock in the morning.
We didn’t pay for a single drink but we consumed way more than we should have. We were encouraged to join in Scottish dances we had no idea how to perform, but somehow it didn’t matter that night. We heard some really great music and partied very hearty. What a fantastic night we had with a most welcoming and talented bunch of Scots. And it was all quite by chance. (See what I mean about not passing up opportunities that came my way?) But the adventure was only beginning.
As I said, we had imbibed rather more than either of us was used to, so the walk back to our hotel was more of a wander. The most exciting part of which was the trip across the River Ness on the walking bridge that swayed in the wind. Or was it us that swayed. In any case, it was an achievement to reach the other side still standing.
To our total dismay, when we reached our hotel, it was locked up tight. Having stayed in a number of bed and breakfasts and guesthouses, we thought perhaps our room key would open the door. That was not the case. So, while my sister continued to knock on the door, hoping that someone in management would hear and come to let us in, I hunted for another door that our key might work in. None was to be found, but just as I came around the last corner, I noticed a window placed low in the stone building with a neat round hole cut in it. God only knows why, probably had something to do with my inebriated state, but I reached in and discovered the window was not locked and opened easily. It was dark as sin inside so I had no idea where it opened into, but without any other options, my sister and I checked to make sure no one was around and wriggled inside. Thankfully, before we fell into who knew what, our feet touched down on the stainless steel counter of a commercial dishwasher.
So, now we were inside, and we were in the kitchen but where to next? We could see absolutely nothing. Hand over hand, we made our way along the walls until we finally found a door. We only knew it was the dining room by a faint shaft of light glinting off the crystal chandeliers. But at least there was enough light now guide us onward. Emerging into a carpeted hallway, we booked it up the wide curving staircase to the rooms above, praying not to get caught, and arrived at our room and flung ourselves inside. I stood with my back to the door, my heart pounding and my head spinning not quite believing what we'd just gotten away with.
Looking back on it in a more sober frame of mind, I still don’t know what else we could have done at four o’clock in the morning. It was pretty chilly in Inverness in early November, and besides, we’d paid for our room and we’d even told the clerk we were going out partying. Why hadn’t he told us the place would get locked up at some point? It wouldn’t have been so amusing if our mother had received a trans-Atlantic call to inform her that her daughters (who were old enough to know better) were in a Scottish lockup, being held for breaking and entering, but it sure was an adventure while it was happening.
Uquart Castle ruins on Loch Ness