When I think of all the places on my bucket list, Scotland was never on that list. I never even really thought twice about Scotland, until a friend moved there, and I had the opportunity to visit. I had a week of vacation in February, so I created a week itinerary of 3 European countries to visit, starting with Edinburgh Scotland. (I like to jam them all in there, due to the large amount of amazing places to see in the world) I had been to England, so I thought it may be similar, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Let me say, I was totally surprised when I arrived. There was something so enchanting about Edinburgh, even though it was gloomy out and outright cold. It was the end of February, so the weather wasn’t ideal for outdoor site seeing. (Although it sure beat the -30 weather we had going on in Canada) It was between 5-10 degrees Celsius, which felt almost tropical in comparison. Everything was so green, so old and unique. After 4 days in Scotland I would hands down say it was one of my favorite places id been. The shopping was great, the people were SUPER friendly, I felt very safe & the architecture was charming. I was a tad jealous my friend got to actually call this place home. Luckily my friend had a car, so our last day there we were able to venture out of the city center, tour a few other cities and take drive through the highlands. If you ever have an opportunity to see Scotland, take it!
I went with a girlfriend, so obviously there were no “backpacks” being brought, it was a full out fashion show, and an excess of luggage was in tow. To my relief we both didn’t loose any of our luggage on the over night flight, then hopped in a cab to our hotel in the city centre. We didn’t let the drizzle bring us down, we got into our cutest outfits, freshened up, got out the ol’ umbrella and hit the streets. Lets be honest the two of us had no idea where we were going even though the hotel provided us with a map. Two blondes just wandering, what could go wrong? We started walking, to our delight passing by a real life game of “Quittage” anyone who has never seen Harry Potter now thinks I’ve lost it. They clearly weren’t flying or anything but everything else was the same. I was later told they play this in gym class some times, which I think is amazing. We continued walking towards the Grass market area. To get there we walked down my new favourite street “Victoria Street” where I bought some adorable vintage teacups. In the Grass market you will get a look at the towering Edinburgh Castle, which is perched on top of a cliff, making its presence seen from all angles. In this area there are lots of little shops and pubs to explore. We ended up having a fish and chips lunch @ the famous Grey Friar Bobby Pub and then toured graveyard behind. It was still pretty gloomy out, so this graveyard was even spooky in the afternoon.
We then freshened up, another wardrobe change and met our friend for dinner at Bar Napoli just off Princes’ street. We continued to have drinks then make our way out back to the grass market for a good old Scottish pub-crawl.
The second day was a bit of a struggle due to the time change and the events from the night before, but we were up and at ‘em bright and early. We decided to climb Arthur’s seat- an inactive volcano within the city. There is nothing like some good old exercise to work off some pub food in the AM. After the hike we then climbed Calton Hill for magical views of the city. Enough of the exercise, time to eat and drink SO back to the hotel to clean up for some HIGH TEA at the Dome. This place was so regal looking. For 30 pounds you get tea and a tiered platter of scones, mini sandwiches and an assortment of deserts. It was good to split between 2 people, and it was delicious. All I forgot to pack for this trip was my fascinator.
We then hit up Princes’ street to do some shopping but first we took a stroll through the Princes’ street gardens. There is so much to see at every turn here. Later on we relaxed for dinner and wine at The Conan Doyle pub. I indulged in some Haggis, which I am still torn about. I didn’t hate it- but I probably wouldn’t order it again. My friends are just surprised I was the ballsy one to try it. If you don’t know what haggis is, Google it and you will understand.
The next morning was tummy was a little uneasy from the food choices of my day before but no time to be a baby, I had to hop into the car and prepare myself for the 4 hour drive through the highlands. It was definitely picturesque so the drive wasn’t so bad. The destination was Inverness to take our shot at spotting Nessie. Unfortunately she wasn’t out and about that day so we ended up in the gift shop for some retail therapy. From there we took a drive over to Urquhart Castle then heading back on the road stopping at “The Dairy” for lunch.
It felt as though we were driving forever until we reached the malt whisky trail and followed it right to The Glenfiddich Distillery for a tour and tasting. I was able to get a bottle and customize it with my name and date. NO that’s not it for today, one more quick stop on the way home to St Andrews. It would have been nice to see it in the daytime, but there are only so many hours in the day, right.
The final day in Edinburgh has come and I was not done with the shopping yet. SO we marched back down to Princes’ street to drain the bank account further. My 2 favourite stores include: Selfridges & NEXT (the home stuff here is adorable) When our visa’s couldn’t take it anymore we headed over to Edinburgh castle for a quick tour and then continued down The Royal Mile If you are a lover of plaid, this is your heaven. I did buy a large wool tartan afghan which I trucked all through Europe and don’t regret it at all.
All in all, I saw what I wanted in Edinburgh and Scotland is now one of my favourite vacation destinations. It would be nice to see in the summer next time, however if you get some time off in the winter, it is still as enchanting as ever.