[a night in Portree]
By the time the bus arrived in Armadale, the sky had finally cleared and Scotland had transformed into a magical land of rainbows. The tea and scones at MacDonald Clan Museum had me feeling restored (is this what it feels like to be British?) and I was able to smile and snap photos as the island began to darken.
Public transportation on the isle is cheap and easy, and the ride from Armadale to Portree is an hour’s trip along the coast and then into the countryside. Even without a car, it is easy to sight see along the isle using the bus systems.
By the time we arrived in Portree, it was full dark. We didn’t know where we were going when we embarked on the ride, but as the bus pulled into the town proper, Zach spotted a sign for the Portree Independent Hostel*.
This place hadn’t shown up on the internet searches we had frantically tried using the ferry terminal’s WiFi. Everywhere had seemed booked and we were thinking of trying to walk out of town a bit to find a place to camp discreetly, but the hostel was so close to the bus stop, it seemed worth a shot.
The host of the hostel was a very friendly and animated Scotsman. He informed us that we hadn’t found him via the usual sources (hostelworld, airbnb, etc.) because he wasn’t willing to pay those sites for advertisement when his hostel should sell itself. He claimed that, despite his unwillingness to embrace the internet, he had been full for the past three months.
Luckily for us, however, there were still a few bunks open on that particular night. We were quickly convinced to stay and once we unburdened ourselves, we began chatting with our host, Dave.
I’ve been told that Scots have a tendency to exaggerate (that might be why we were still able to get bunks despite his consistently full house). But as we chatted with him, it seemed as if our host had hiked all of Scotland. He even claimed to have hiked the West Highland Way in 4 days.
He showed us the facilities and it was at this point that I began to think that Scotland must have some of the best hostels in the world. It was colorful and clean (like most places we had stayed so far), and the kitchen was enormous with an oven, four stove tops, two microwaves, pots and pan galore, and any utensil you could possibly need. Dave told us there was a co-op around the corner just a five minute walk away.
Portree is a beautiful town, even at night. The bright pinks, greens and blues of the hostel walls seemed to bleed into the immaculate streets. After so much time passing through tiny villages, it was astounding to see a full range and variety of restaurants, shops, and services. The eastern side of town is dominated by harbours on Loch Portree and the limited lights allow for the town to retain a stunning view of the stars over the water.
The co-op was pretty amazing too. We went a little crazy in our exhausted and hungered state. We walked away with three extra days worth of food, a bottle of wine, and all for under 18 pounds.
Back at the hostel, we struggled through our pizzas (only 1.06 pounds! Why wouldn’t you buy three?) and wine before shuffling off to our gender-specific dorms.
The next light at 6:30 AM would begin our full day of exploring the rest of Skye.
*I highly recommend the Portree Independent Hostel to anyone traveling in Skye. The guy who runs it is very fun and laid back and knows loads about Scotland and Skye. The kitchen is fabulous, the place is clean, the bunks aren’t the best, but it’s a good value at 20 pounds per night. And you can’t beat the location. Right next to the bus stop, right by the amazingly inexpensive co-op, the pubs are right there, and a short walk to see the Loch. It’s beautiful.