Study Abroad

Day 12: Shooting one of the most photographed castles ever: Eileen Donan Castle

Saturday June 16, 2018

Today was the worst day. I am going to start off by saying exactly what made this day the worst day for me. My hard drive corrupted and I lost most all my photos from the trip, including my photos for my final photo essay. I cried.

In the morning, me and my friend Sarah, who was also my roommate at the swanky Pentahotel, brought our stuff down for breakfast and to load up the buses to travel to our next home for a few days.

The key cards for the hotel had been deactivating every day so finally, the previous day, I asked for yet another new card. The had been deactivating when they touched your phone, and somehow, even away from my phone, my was deactivating constantly (me and everyone else too). I had gone up to the desk the day before and he finally said “okay now, I am giving you a copy of my key card so it will absolutely work.” Now, I didn’t realize at the time, but he had given me a master card.

My friend, Sarah and I went back up to our room after breakfast to being down all of our belongings, but mistaking level 2 for level 3, which is the correct level we were on. We got off and went to “our” room and I slid in my card. The light turned green and we went inside and quickly noticed a man standing in a towel leaning over his bed, bewildered. Shocked, I muttered a quick sorry and shut the door quickly. We ran as fast as we could to the elevator, looked at each other, and immediately started laughing.

After loading up in the tiny vans, we were bussed to Eileen Donan, which is the most photographed castle in the world and was seen in Highlander and one of the James Bond Movies, Skyfall. The castle sat on a black lake that looked smooth as glass. To get to it, we walked over a bridge and then made our way inside. Once again, we were greeted with many reminders about “no photography inside”. Up a winding staircase, we saw living rooms, sitting rooms, and old bedrooms. The inhabitants of the home had been passed down for many generations, and Eileen Donan was a popular tourist spot, nuzzled in-between the mountains. The carpet in the castle was the same blue and yellow tartan of the McRae clan, and I adored how Scots kept tradition for years and years. We passed by old dresses from the early 1900s as well as beds that were older. One thing I did notice at Eileen Donan was that in every room, there was a little nook with a seat and a window, presumably for thinking and reading. I was overwhelmed with appreciation for the generations before me, and how they spent more time thinking and reading about the world around them instead of consumed by a virtual world behind a 5-inch screen.

After my-self tour, I went and took some photos with my friends on the beach, to where I quickly noticed how terrible I looked with second day braided hair and my waist travel pouch jutting out of my side. I still took photos for memories, but if they will surface and see the light of day on the internet is still something I am pondering.

We all met back up on our buses and ours smelled like smoke once again. To inform you, our bus drivers from this one specific service are not the best. Yes, they take us from point A to point B without a scratch, but they also choose to smoke their cigarettes in the back of the bus while we are our exploring because it is raining outside. Its unprofessional and nauseating as a customer, but it makes getting us to fresh air at our destinations all the better.

After Eileen Donan, we were going to shoot more photos of it from a different angle a few minutes down the road, but the rain was coming down too hard and our cameras would soon have fallen victim to water damage if we did shoot. Instead, we began our drive to a tiny town called Portree, which was a small fishing town in the Isles. Even though it was terrible weather, I still appreciated the multicolor buildings that sat in the mouth of the river. Seafood cultivated the town, but my friends and I found ourselves eating burgers and chips, once again, in a hotel restaurant after we set our things down in our hostel.

Let me tell you about this hostel. Now, I have never been in one before until now, but this one would not be so bad if we walked into a place with amazing Wi-Fi, which we did not. After a few days on the bad Wi-Fi in Inverness, we will have to continue to have (worse) bad Wi-Fi in Portree.

This is when the bad begins. So, as I was putting my photos from my SD card onto my WD passport hard drive, I noticed that the photos copying had been stopped at photo 130 for about 20 minutes. Now, this is a problem because it is not a movie, just a photo, and there should be no reason for it to be stuck on a small file. I tried stopping the copying all together and that didn’t work. Then I tried doing a safe eject on my hard drive and my computer would not let me because it was “still copying” which it wasn’t. Frazzled, I asked a roommate for advice and they suggested I do a hard shut down, which is just pressing and holding the power button until the screen goes black. I did, with my hard drive still plugged in and this was Mistake #1. After that, my hard drive wouldn’t even register on my computer and so every time I plugged and unplugged it, would be another improper eject for my hard drive. If you are not familiar with this, a hard drive that does not eject properly is TERRIBLE and can lead to corruption.

I had a guy in my study abroad group somehow managed to recover 5 days of photos from the drive, but nothing else. So all of my Harry Potter photos (so all of my photo essay that is due at the end of the trip) were gone along with my Edinburgh and Dundee photos, and a bunch of personal files. I said goodbye to 300 gigabytes of information.

The irony here is that my professor advised us to have at least two copies of our things, so the day before I had bought a 1TTB hard drive to be a backup for my backup and I was going to load everything tonight onto it. I even named it EmilyB4B. Backup for my backup. SO basically, right before I was about to be safe and load all my old stuff onto my new hard drive for safekeeping, my original hard drive corrupts, and gigs were lost. I am hoping to take it to a repair store when I get back to the states and hopefully recover some more files, so I am praying for that up until then.

I cried for a bit, primarily because most of my time spent at these beautiful and once in a lifetime locations were behind a camera taking photos, so a lot of those moments are gone.

I am going to talk to my professor in the morning to work out my photo essay, because I have to start all over. But I can’t let this get me down. I am still in Scotland, and I still have a hard drive (my new one) that works. I am going to buy another to MAKE SURE I am good, no matter what, and enjoy the rest of my time here.

Hello, yes hi there… Good luck can you come find me?


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