Our trip to Scotland was anything but dull! It started with almost missing our high speed train from London, continued with busy bus tours each day, and concluded with a bright and early flight back to Southampton (Dublin for Brian and Trina).
Our train ride from London to Edinburgh was at 10am on Friday morning. “We’ll leave the apartment at 6am,” we said, “that’ll get us to London with plenty of time to spare.” Ha! Possibly because it was Good Friday, but most likely because trains can be so unreliable, we just BARELY made it to London in time to catch our high speed train. We had just minutes to spare. And that was with leaving the apartment four hours early!
The train ride from London to Edinburgh was nice, though! It was about four and a half hours long and offered some awesome views. I’m glad we didn’t miss it 🙂
We arrived in Edinburgh around 2:30 and made our way through Old Town to our Airbnb, which had a spectacular view of Edinburgh Castle from its balcony! After Brian walked into the sliding glass door to the balcony, spilling two glasses of wine but not breaking any glass, we made our way to the castle which sits atop an ancient, inactive volcano. We walked through its grounds and then hiked up to it, snapped a few pictures, and then wandered down the Royal Mile, which is really just kind of a tourist trap. But if you’re looking for an authentic Scottish cashmere or woolen scarf, the Royal Mile is the place to go!
Our Airbnb was located on Rose Street, just over the river from Old Town, and was full of little pubs and restaurants. We stopped at one for dinner, then got drinks at the cute pub, The Black Cat, and called it a night.
We got up extra early to catch an 8:15am bus tour. Both tours we did on our trip were through the company Rabbies, and I would highly recommend them! The buses were small, the trips were interesting, and the guides were fun. Saturday’s tour took us through the Scottish Highlands and to the opposite side of the country.
On our journey, we passed through Stirling, famous for the Battle of Stirling Bridge, stopped to explore the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, got lunch in Inveraray (after stepping into the most Disney-looking castle I’ve ever seen that also happened to be featured in Matthew Crawley’s last episode of Downton Abbey), and then ended the tour with some very friendly horses at Doune Castle, which was the castle used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail! On our way back into Edinburgh, our guide pointed out the train line used in the Harry Potter movies as the line the Hogwarts Express follows to get to Hogwarts, and made a quick stop in Queensferry, just outside Edinburgh, to see the iconic Forth Bridge.
The tour got us back to Edinburgh at 6:30pm. We grabbed a couple pints at the Cafe Royal Circle Bar and then made our way to Rose Street for dinner. We landed on a restaurant called Rosehip. It was adorable and delicious and offered us our first taste of the traditional Scottish dish, Haggis! We grabbed a couple more pints at another pub, and then headed back to our Airbnb for the night.
Back to the Rabbies meet-up for another bus tour! This time, we drove through several small fishing villages on our way to the famous St. Andrews.
The day started out cold and rainy, but by the time we got to St. Andrews, the clouds had gone and the sun came out to stay (which is really good, because we had three hours to kill in St. Andrews, and that could’ve been miserable). We explored the ruins of the historic Cathedral of St. Andrews, which had been, at one point, the center of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland before the Scottish Reformation, and then walked through town towards the golf course.
Neither me or Greg are golf fans, but the St. Andrews golf course was pretty impressive! And it went on forever! Apparently, there are a total of seven different courses in St. Andrews, including the one used for the British Open. I suppose that makes sense, considering Scotland is the home of golf.
We got back to Edinburgh around the same time as Saturday, explored the Old Town for a little while, and then headed back to Rose Street where we got an unexpectedly delicious meal at a restaurant called the Boozy Cow.
While the weather for our trip was kind of wacky, I think we picked a good time to see Scotland. Cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom, everything was incredibly green, and there were flowers of all colors everywhere. Even with the rain, it was beautiful. Greg and I had a lot of fun exploring with Brian and Trina. We’ll get to see them one more time before they fly back home, but we’ll be sad to see them go!
Our next visitors are Greg’s parents!