Posted by Heather on September 1st, 2009 to
While I travelled with my parents in Scotland, they were eager to stay in some hostels for the first time, I think in an attempt to see what all the fuss was about and to see what kind of life I've been living for the past seven months. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about bringing them in. But with brand new HI membership cards in their wallets, they joined me in two of Scotland's bests.
We pulled into the driveway of the Loch Lomond SYHA in the pouring rain. We wound round bends and finally popped out of the drenched forest into a clearing with a castle in the middle of it. Welcome to hostelling, ma and pa.
It was a nice introduction for them. And since they didn't want to dive in too deep to start, we got a private room. The building itself is the seller here though. It's not actually a castle, it's just a country home that looks like one, complete with a grand fireplace, arched ceilings, a huge staircase, towers, stained-glass windows, a ballroom and a conservatory. It's 300 m from Loch Lomond, which you can spot from the well-maintained grounds. It's the only place I've been where I've seen more people taking photos inside than outside.
We wrapped up our Scotland visit with a stay at the SYHA in Stirling
, between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The facade of an old church greets you, while more modern digs have been set up inside. Here we had a four-bed dorm room to ourselves. I was first in, and called back to my parents, "I hope you like bunk beds!"
I've been living in them all year but bringing your never-hostelled-before parents into that world is a bit like bringing home an first-grade art projected you've spent weeks on. You want them to love it, but what if they hate it?
"Ooooh! it's like having your own compartment on a train!" my mom squealed. Awww, I remember that sense of nostalgia. It passed at some point back in January.
The hostel is part way up the hill to Stirling Castle, one of the best preserved we visited in Scotland. The palace is currently being restored, due to open in 2011. You're also a quick drive from the Wallace Monument. A seemingly endless spiral staircase leads you through the tower's rooms, which document the national hero's life and battles as well as recognizing other local heroes, like poet Robbie Burns, the honouree of this year's Homecoming
I don't know if my parents will embark on a round the world backpacking trip any time soon, but I do think they've come to understand a little bit more about just what the hell I think I'm doing.
SYHA has over 60 other hostels across the country, including city hostels in Edinburgh and Glasgow to island hostels on the islands of Skye, Sheltand, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, to walk-in only hostels in the highlands and lowlands. Find out more at www.syha.org.uk