I Had A Great Time Not Visiting Loch Ness
I went all the way to Scotland and didn’t visit Loch Ness (the home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster) and I’m glad I didn’t.
It wasn’t on purpose. In fact, if I’d been thinking just a little quicker, we might have headed for the Western portion of the Scottish highlands rather than taking the road East.
Tim, would we be able to visit Loch Ness today?
We would have if we’d taken a different road about 45 minutes ago. As it is, we are headed in the opposite direction and getting farther away. Not really going to work out today, I’m afraid.
I was a guest of my friend, Tim Heywood. We were in his car winding our way on a skinny two lane mountain road going just a bit faster than felt comfortable while driving on the wrong side of the road.
I’ve written before about my visit to Scotland. It was a beautiful day. We saw many historical sites and towns and visited many locations connected with Tim’s clan. We even stopped in to meet his uncle, the clan chief. But, a trip to look for the mythical Loch Ness Monster wasn’t on the agenda.
It’s possible that the passage of time has dimmed my memories of that day. Perhaps my friend subtilely steered me away from Loch Ness and toward more genuine and lasting locations. In the ensuing years, I’ve often thought about that decision and I’ve decided that whatever else I did on my three-day Scottish holiday, I’m grateful I didn’t waste a day of it succumbing to the hype of false experiences.
Loch Ness might as well be Ireland’s Blarney Stone, or “The World’s Largest Ball of Twine” off of some American highway. To me, it’s a destination simply because people say it’s a destination. Kind of like a person who is famous simply for being famous. There are no unique or historical castles or other attractions associated with Loch Ness. You’re there for the same reason everyone else is there: it was in the guide book of “Things to do in Scotland.”
Oh, you’d go to try to see the famous Nessie sea creature? Sure, and the thousands of people who were there yesterday taking pictures and the thousands of people who will be there tomorrow taking pictures missed out because the shy creature will have decided to show itself on the one day you chose to visit.
I’d have better odds playing the lottery and I don’t play the lottery. I’ve read some travel sites about Scotland since my trip all those years ago. Most of them say to avoid Loch Ness. After all, it’s a lake, like the hundreds of other lakes in the North of Scotland. It’s crowded and the area caters strictly to the crowds of tourists.
I spent three days in India a few years ago, in New Delhi. We had a spare day and our host suggested a trip to “The Taj” as she called it. You and I know it as the Taj Mahal. It’s located in Agra, about 3 hours south of our hotel in Agra. We went. The crowds were horrible. Our host suggested we hire a tour guide, but warned us about that he would try to upsell us. Our hired tour guide suggested we get a picture taken but warned us that the photographer would try to upsell us. We literally had to push our way through the beggers swarming the outside of the Taj Mahal compound to get inside.
It was absolutely worth it. And had the drive been twice as long, it would have still been worth it to take the time. I’ve seen beautiful buildings in my time, but nothing compares to the exquisite beauty of that building. And hiring the tour guide was a fantastic bargain at $2. He shared the tragic history of the doomed lovers that resulted in the creation of this memorial. He shared tales of intrigue and betrayal as the Raj who built the Taj attempted to build a second “Black Taj” and was imprisoned by his son.
So, what’s the difference between my visit to Scotland where I skipped the most famous landmark and my visit to India where I went out of my way to see it’s most famous building? If you were to strip away the marketing, remove the throngs of people, and imagine simply happening upon these two sites, in Scotland you would see a lake. An unremarkable lake, to the extent that anything in that unique country is unremarkable. In India, you would realize you are in a very special place. Even not knowing the history, no one could look at the building and not recognize its beauty and know that it was historically significant.
I don’t know if I will ever get back to Scotland. My friends, the Heywoods have offered us a standing invitation, but life gets complicated and trips to Europe are infrequent events. If I do, I would like to revisit some of the historical and family sites that my friend Tim shared with me. But,I would imagine I will never set foot on the shores of Loch Ness. I wouldn’t want to waste my time.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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