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Saturday, June 14, 2014

On to Inverness!

This was our fourth trip to the UK. On previous vacations, we'd rented a cottage a week for two weeks in the countryside. For the Scottish Highlands, Karen concluded we'd be better off renting flats in cities and towns, using them as "travel central." First stop, Inverness, a city of  72,000 on the River Ness, which would also give us access to the eastern highlands.

Boarding easyjet at Gatwick for Inverness
After arriving at London Heathrow Airport on a very comfortable British Airways flight, we caught a tram to Gatwick Airport and overnighted at the airport Hampton by Hilton - then took the another tram to the proper terminal, having been misrouted by a tram ticket clerk who confused the Hampton by Hilton (North Terminal) with the Hilton hotel (South Terminal). The next morning we flew on easyjet to Inverness and picked up our rental car, an underpowered Vauxhall Corsa 1.4, and lit out for Inverness. This was a familiarization ride. It had been about a decade since I'd driven a left-hand stick shift, on the
left-hand side of the road.

Vauxhall Corsa 1.4. Underpowered, jouncy, but nimble 

Thanks to brilliant directions from our flat owner, we arrived without incident at our second-story flat, one street - and many stairsteps - above downtown Inverness. An easy city in which to walk or drive, Inverness is primarily built in tones of gray and brown slate, stone, and cobbles. The architecture is a mix of old, older, and mid-century horror, with some beautiful touches.

The Castle - Law court and jail

Doorway on left to our flat

Some of the many rabbits that live on Castle grounds

Flora MacDonald memorial on Castle grounds

Inverness seen from The Castle

Slate and cobble mosaic in downtown Inverness

Oldest church in Inverness - Old High St. Stephens

Architectural detailing

More architectural detailing

The River Ness bisects the city, with the old town on one side and the university district on the other. Walking and driving bridges cross the river at convenient intervals. People stroll, jog, and bike along the river, and laze on its banks.

Herring gulls are inveterate litterers, pulling trash from topped-up bins and strewing it across sidewalks and plazas that are clean except for unusually numerous dots of chewing gum.

Used beer kegs at Ness-side pub
There are shops for every need, including two large grocers (one inside Marks & Spencer), kilt makers, souvenir and woolen shops; and restaurants for every taste, including traditional pubs, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, and chippys.

Souvenir shop, Victorian Mall

Fish monger inside the Victorian Mall

Flower shop, Victorian Mall

Inlaid sidewalk detail

We found it a comfortable city and a great gateway to the east and north.

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