I am a die-hard romantic, and by this I mean that I love the idea of an ideal, fantastical world where humans, birds, animals, plants, nature, fairies, pixies, and monsters dwell, doing their own thing, mostly keeping out of each others' way.
And it is this romantic in me that keeps wishing that there is indeed a Loch Ness Monster, managing to hide its colossal body somehow, in the depths of the surreal Loch Ness. And it was this fascination with the legend of the monster that partly led me to undertake what has perhaps been the most expensive trip ever planned by me - my solo travels to the Scottish Highlands.
The trip to Loch Ness was planned on the second day of the 5-day-long tour. And I was desperately waiting to be there. I deliberately avoided looking up pictures of the Loch, as I wanted to avoid any build-up of expectations. I simply didn't want to be disappointed by the Loch. However, my imagination was hard at work and the build-up happened despite my resolve.
The Loch Ness, however, turned out to be beyond my imagination. It was serene and scenic. Almost heartbreakingly beautiful. The first sight was that of a van parked on the shore of the Loch. This was owned by an independent researcher who had spent several years tirelessly searching for Nessie, as the Loch Ness Monster is fondly referred to. The researcher raises funds by searching Nessie's memorabilia.
The desolate highlands surrounding the Loch definitely add to the mystery of the place. It always feels as if something exciting is just waiting to happen. Ducks and Swans help keep things real.
Though the Loch itself is beautiful enough, with or without the Monster, the most enduring image of my visit is that of a little boy playing on the shore. Somehow whenever I look back at the visit, this is the image that comes to my mind.
This was perhaps the first time when I have really looked forward to visiting a much-hyped place and have not been disappointed by it. Though I never got to see the monster (Gaah! who am I kidding? I knew I wasn't going to see it), the trip actually turned out to be about much much more. It was about calmness and introspection. It was about coming to terms with and loving myself.