We are home from Scotland! I know many of you were following along on Facebook or Instagram, but what I posted each day was just a snippet! Today I’ll run through the highlights of the first week. Two weeks from today I’ll tell you about our second week there. In between, I’ll be posting other tidbits and photos on my own website. Don’t want to miss a post? Then be sure you are subscribed to my newsletter and you won’t! You can subscribe here.
We got to Edinburgh on a Friday night, which was good and bad. Good because we were tired and just wanted to go to bed. It was bad because besides being tired, we were hungry—and we didn’t have a plan. Those three things combined never work well for us! But we finally found take away at a Thai place. We had put in for an upgraded room and had it for only that night, so it was lovely to bring our food back to a larger room!
Saturday morning, we went on a walking tour. It was great because it was one limited to 10 people. A very manageable group. We got our bearings as far as where things were located as well as seeing and hearing about several of the iconic Edinburgh sites. It was a good overview. That afternoon, we had tea at The Georgian Room. It was lovely! Scrumptious scones, finger sandwiches, sweets, and tea. So. Much. Food. And so relaxing. We went to bed early, tired but happy.
Since we would be in Scotland for two Sundays, we wanted to worship with our Scottish brothers and sisters in Christ. This first Sunday we chose Charlotte Chapel. A more liturgical service than we are used to, but solid Bible teaching and super nice people. Jeff had gotten us tickets to tour Holyrood House Palace that afternoon because he’d seen it would be closed after that. I’m so glad he was (as usual!) on top of the details, because we’d have missed out! It was lovely. I can see why the Royal family enjoys time there. We ended the day at a beautiful dinner at The Gardener’s Cottage, a highly-rated but very small restaurant. They had a set tasting menu, and every time I read the descriptions, I panicked thinking I wouldn’t like the next course. And every single time it was fabulous!
Monday we met up with our five day Grand Tour of Scotland through Heart of Scotland Tours. We’ve never done anything like this before and we’re really sure what to expect! There were 12 of us on The Wee Red Bus. Most were couples a little bit older than us. One couple were sisters. One a brother and a sister. And all of them were a joy to travel with. It turned out to be a great mix of together and alone time. During the day we hit a bazillion sites or picturesque spots, but when we returned to our lodging city for that night, we were on our own for dinner and the evening. And that was nice. Monday took us up through Dunveld and Pitlochery, two cute villages, to Culloden battlefield and standing stones at Cairn. But my favorite that day was the Highland Life Museum village. They had probably 8 buildings there—houses from different eras, a barn, a schoolhouse, a church, a slinty pavilion (do you know what slinty is? We didn’t! It’s an ancient highlands game still played today, kind of like field hockey, soccer, and rugby had a baby.), a general store and post office, a joiner’s shop, a tailor’s shop, and a weaver’s. I especially enjoyed the stone crofter’s cottage with its heather-thatched roof and the peat burning in the fireplace!
That night, we ended up at a fish and chips place there on the river that runs through Inverness. The tables were close together and the service slow, so we began chatting with a mother and son next to us. Turns out they were from Houston! Well, she was originally from Scotland, grew up in London, married and moved to Texas. Now she and her husband had bought a summer home on the top tip of Scotland. How cool is that?
Our days through the highlands were amazing. Every corner we turned there was some new magnificent vista. I had no idea I could take so many pictures! We drove much of our wandering on a one track road—that’s a road wide enough for one car, with occasional pull off areas if someone coming the other way needs to pass you! (I’m sooooo glad someone else was driving!) The sky was kind of like Texas—always a massive part of the view. And the green hills and the blue lochs added depth and color to it all. And the gorse! Those beautiful but prickly yellow flowers that were everywhere! We were a bit too early to see the heather in bloom.
Loch Ness was beautiful, too, though no sign of the monster. And the castle Eilean Donan was the stuff dreams are made of. Small and intimate, but lovingly restored in the 1930s by the family who owns it. We crossed the bridge to the Isle of Skye and spent the next two nights in the adorable town of Portree. Had some amazing salmon there looking over the bay.
Skye is beyond words. The Fairy Glen—especially with the low hanging clouds and mist—was rife for imagination. The Village of Island Life was also awesome, several exhibits in stone crofters’ cottages, and one cottage just as the family left it when they walked away from it in the 1930s. Three rooms housing parents and 13 kids. There we also got to see Highland cow (or highland coos) and where Flora MacDonald (who helped hide Bonnie Prince Charlie on Skye) is buried. Quiraing, An Corran, Creag An Fheilidh, Upper Tote, Glen Sligachan—every single spot seemed more amazing than the next!
Our last day on The Wee Red Bus took us on the ferry back to the mainland, through Fort William, and to the Glencoe visitor’s center. Wow. Unfortunately, an accident blocking the road meant we didn’t get to drive through Glencoe or see Stirling Castle but had to backtrack and go back to Edinburgh the way we came. Disappointing, for sure, but couldn’t be helped.
And when we got back to Edinburgh? We checked in to our Airbnb in Grassmarket in Old Town, at the end of of the iconic Victoria Street! An amazing flat in an amazing location. But we. Were. Beat. So after a good night’s sleep we started our second week in Scotland . . .
Have you ever taken a trip that exceeded your expectations? Where?