United Kingdom (+Skye, Gibraltar; updated)


In the UK I've visited the Isle of Skye, Gibraltar and London.

Isle of Skye has fantastic mountain landscapes that are a delight to explore. I did a few hikes - the world-famous Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and the Fairy Pools, which were some of the best hikes I've ever done. Together with some other fantastic places such as An Corran beach and Fairy Glen, all of these made Skye look like a land of legends taken right out of a movie or a fairy tale. Very cool! Driving on the narrow roads around the island was also a very nice experience.

Portree is a cute and relaxed little town with colourful houses and some excellent dining opportunities. We stayed at Roses B&B which was another outstanding experience. Scotch whiskey is obviously very good on the island and there is a wide range of types and brands available. We did a tour of the Talisker Distillery located on Skye which was informative and very interesting.

The tiny village of Uig (population 200) was another scenic stop. And since you can't go to Scotland without visiting castles, we visited Dunvegan on Skye and Eilan Donan on the mainland. Both were very nice. Sadly, the Loch Ness monster wasn't available for photos on our trip!

The outpost of Gibraltar is very interesting. Located on a huge rock, there's great scenery, and British culture with Spanish and Arab influences. The obvious first destination is the Upper Rock Reserve, located on the top of the rock: nice views of the city below, the Barbary Apes - Europe's only free-roaming primates, the Siege and WWII Tunnels dug into the rock, lots of huge cannons and cool military installations, St. Michael's Cave and the Moorish Castle.

Basically there's no other place in Europe to check out all sorts of cool stuff while meeting little monkeys lying around everywhere and being silly. Don't forget to check out a plane landing on the strip crossing the main road into Gibraltar: cars wait at traffic lights for planes to pass.

There's lots of cool stuff in the city below as well: Main Street and Casemates Square, Ocean Village, Europa Point - Gibraltar's most Southern point with nice views of Africa, and the Alameda Botanical Gardens are just a few. Driving around the rock is also cool, with a quick stop at the beach in Catalan Bay.

A cool fact of note is that a cave in Gibraltar is supposedly the last outpost of the Neanderthals before their unfortunate extinction, according to local researcher Clive Finlayson. Neanderthals have supposedly lived in Gorham's cave until as recently as 24,000 years ago, which I find fascinating; the cave cannot be visited. Sadly, the Gibraltar Museum doesn't cover this topic very well.

London is one of Europe's major cities and has nice parks, buildings and plenty of shopping opportunities such as Oxford Street. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, famous for Greenwich Mean Time and the location of the prime meridian is an interesting attraction. You might also want to check out The Shard, the tallest building in the EU at 310 metres, and take a walk on Portobello Road for its nice cafes and shops.

In London I also played a "hyper-reality" game offered by a company called The Void which is a combination of real location and props, untethered VR, technology and practical effects; a fantastic experience and lots of fun! This particular game had a Star Wars theme and was a very immersive experience.

Read a detailed account of my trip to Gibraltar here (a part of my series on Europe's Microstates; I know Gibraltar is not a microstate, but it's mentioned in the guide as a bonus entry)

Additional info:
- country entry on Wikipedia
- country profile on Wikivoyage
- Gibraltar profile on Wikivoyage
- Skye profile on Wikivoyage

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