Inverness is bloody lucky there’s the legend of the Loch Ness monster to draw tourists here, because that’s really the only thing it’s got going for it.
It’s a grim place, as I soon discovered on my first night when I was hopelessly walking around in the rain trying to find a place to eat.
The first prospectus pub I found had a woman yelling at her man outside – most likely over the fact he was blind drunk at 7pm on a Saturday.
A few minutes later I stumbled across a mother and son having a similar scale domestic outside another pub, over whether or not she was a good grandma. Given the fact she too was blind drunk at 7pm – I think the answer is no.
And, because things happen in threes, a couple of minutes later I witnessed a group of local lads drag one of their friends onto the road, downtrowl him and start yelling – ‘look at it, it’s like a toothpick on an apple.’ Poor lad.
As for my hostel, the only thing it had going for it was that it was right next to the bus station. Apart from that, my lasting memory will be that the toilet on my floor (which they claimed to inspect every two hours) had crusty blood droplets dotting the walls.
As for why I decided to come to Inverness, I’ll admit that it was for a spot of shameless Nessie hunting, which in fact dates back to 565AD and a Irish monk called St Columba.
But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how quaint the little town of Drumnadrochit (which straddles the lake) was, given all the hype.
I happily spent several hours eating scones, sipping tea, writing tacky Loch Ness themed postcards and watching this young lad play the bagpipes.
He was actually pretty good, especially compared to some of the monstrosities I witnessed on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Back to Loch Ness… the lake itself is a hauntingly beautiful stretch of almost black water and I was fortunate enough to visit on a day when it was not raining (it always rains in Scotland).
Unsurprisingly, I can’t say I spotted Nessie during my hour-long boat cruise, but I was in my happy place when a group of ducks turned up for their afternoon tea.
But I suspect I fell into the tourist trap of visiting the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, which I did solely to kill time while I waited for the bus back to Inverness.
It was a terribly tacky half hour journey through a series of themed rooms (one complete with dry ice bubbling out from vents in the floor) where you play detective, judge and jury on whether or not Nessie existed.
Yes I admit the thousand-or-so documented sightings of Nessie are probably a mix of people seeing bobbing logs of wood, seals, swimming dear, shadows on the water’s surface on a rough day, and a few photoshopped hoaxes.
And of course, over the years technology and modern day science have pretty much confirmed that.
But I for one like to believe there is a monster down there and I hope for Inverness’ sake curiosity in it continues, because without it they’re really a bit screwed.