Friday, November 18, 2016

Two Days in Scotland

This better fucking be worth it is what I was thinking as we sat on the tarmac ready to take off for Scotland on Sunday afternoon. That morning we had dropped Stephen & Aubrey at the Shannon airport to head home, picked everyone up at the hotel and headed towards Dublin. The oil light was on, I had very little sleep, we could not seem to locate the hotel to drop our bags off, and I almost wet my pants. When we finally got to the airport we had the worst customer service ever from a Ryan Air ticket desk person, could not print our boarding passes out, and then MFD lost his boarding pass. It was a stressful day and I was just done at that point.

And in the end, was it worth it? So, so worth it.

The flight from Dublin to Scotland was less than an hour in the air. If I could do it again I'd spend another $50 and fly another airline. I was not pleased with Ryan Air at any point. We left most of our bags in Dublin at the Carlton and just took a carry on and went.

We stayed at the Apex Hotel on Bath Street, which was about 20 minutes from the airport. The service and rooms were great. I recommend them. Totally spent by the time we got there, we decided to have tea. Initially three of us ordered high tea, which was huge and we were happy they only had enough baked goods left for one. Dinner was at Two Fat Ladies which was a quick walk from our hotel - loved the food and the service.
We were in bed early because Monday we did a 12 hour small tour with Rabbie's up into the Highlands. That was honestly my main impetus for going on this side trip - to see the Highlands. It was totally worth it. I think it was under $60 a person and it was totally worth it to just relax and not drive or plot out routes and all that we'd been doing. We left from right across from the government building and it was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Our first stop was Loch Lomond. One thing I dislike about Europe: there are places where you have to pay to go to the bathroom and if you don't have change you're screwed. We rode out of there to the tune of The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond - the tour guide played some good music all day.
Our next few stops were scenic viewpoints in the Highlands, and good Lord the scenery was incredible. I don't know what I was expecting, but whatever it was, this was more. We happened upon some people taking wedding photos - can you imagine?
We also trolled around Fort Augustus, which is the town that houses the infamous Loch Ness. Peters got some motion sickness but the rest of us were actually out on the Loch Ness trolling for Nessie. No signs of her, but it was a beautiful little hour-ish boat ride.
Our next stop was the Well of the Seven Heads. Scotland has a brutal and bloody history and the story surrounding this is a testament to that.
We also stopped at an ancient forest so we could see the landscape that made the Romans say fuck this place and build Hadrian's Wall that they stayed well under. North of the wall was Caledonia (Scotland) and south was Britannia. We also stopped at a memorial and in the town of Pitlochry before we totally lost light. It was a great day, and we ended it by having one of the best Italian meals I've ever had at Sarti right across from our hotel. There were a lot of restaurants in Glasgow below street level. I dug that.
Our final day in Scotland was meant to be a Glasgow wander, and that's actually what Peters did. The rest of us did MFD's wildcard, which was a quick trip up to Edinburgh (Peters had vacationed there before). We took the train up and back in around the amount of time it takes me to commute to work daily. I loved Edingburgh, or what we saw of it anyway, which was essentially the Royal Mile stretching from the Palace of Holyroodhouse still in use by the Queen today to Edinburgh Castle.

I loved the architecture. It looks like a brooding little town, but it's quite light feeling.
We actually went in and toured Holyroodhouse, and that was really cool. No photos allowed inside, but MFD and I freaking ran into people we were on tour in South Africa with in the bedchamber of Mary Queen of Scots. It was a scream. We weren't even supposed to be in Scotland and we definitely weren't supposed to be in Edinburgh on this day. Life is funny.
You also couldn't take photos in St. Giles Cathedral unless you bought a photo pass. Luckily MFD did. Unluckily I have not had the opportunity to get the photos off of his phone yet so you get some dark outside photos. If you're ever in Edinburgh, it's worth a wander in. It's gorgeous, the Mother Church of Presbyterianism, and contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, which is Scotland's chivalric company of knights chosen by the Queen. Entry is free, taking photos costs a few pounds.
At the other end of the Royal Mile: Edinburgh Castle. We did not wander in, but milled around in front.
We were on a train back to Glasgow shortly after. Additional miscellaneous Edinburgh scenes:
After a late lunch and a wander, we headed back to the hotel. A cold rain began, and by the time we were on the tarmac at 8 p.m. that rain was snow. We sat there on the hot plane for over two hours with no communication from the crew. We were 2.5 hours late getting back to Dublin.

But was Scotland worth it? Yes. Yes it was. All in all we had a really great family celebrating my Dad's 60th birthday, and I think he enjoyed it.

See also: A day in Dublin, Ireland: The mountains, the sea, and Bunratty, Ireland: Clare, Galway, Blarney


  1. Now you know never to use that airline.
    That is so funny you ran into those people. You think of all the people in the world & when you cross people - across the world - in random settings... so mind blowing.
    What a cool place for wedding photos. I have so many questions &thoughts on that... is it actually their wedding day? Was their actual wedding nearby?... &is her dress GREEN at the bottom?!?!?! ;)
    Loving all the pictures.

  2. My corner of Canada is almost entirely Scottish and a lot of the place names here are identical to those in Scotland so I've always thought it would be cool to visit the 'original' places. I'd want to do some serious research before I went because I would love to trace my lineage back far enough to figure out where exactly in Scotland my ancestors came from...luckily I have some time to get around to that because a trip to Scotland isn't exactly on the horizon anytime soon!

  3. ahhhhh this is awesome. i really want to go to scotland one day so good to hear it was worth it. i have never flown with ryan air though i have seen their flights when i search - it's just never worked out or been the cheapest. i'll make sure to avoid them at all costs! how funny you saw people from your tour in south africa! small world and all that. those people taking wedding photos - holy moly. what an amazing backdrop. while i understand why they do the charging for bathrooms - they do it at home too - the not having change thing is a killer. i never carry money, especially change. they really should do something about that. not gonna lie, public bathrooms everywhere is my bladder's favourite thing about america. haha.

  4. Ever since I started reading Outlander I've been dying to visit Scotland, so I'm loving seeing all of your pictures! It sounds like you really got to see a lot, even with just a two day trip!

  5. My dad's side of the family are directly from Scotland and Ireland so this is a trip I totally need to do one day. I guess I never really thought about visiting Scotland before? Not really sure why, but your pictures are incredible and it makes me want to add it to the list!!!! I cant believe you have to pay for bathrooms at some places though, wtf.

  6. Whoa... all those baked goods in that firs photos are for one person??
    The scenery in the Highlands is breathtaking. Wow. And how freaking cool that you were on Loch Ness?? That's on my bucket list :)
    Now I have to look up Well of the Seven Heads.

  7. Ah, Loch Lomond! I've been there! I chaperoned a group of students 10 years ago to the UK and Ireland and we were based in New Lanark during our time in Scotland. We spent a day canoeing Loch Lomond and participating in team building activities there. I was only in Edinburgh one day as well, but I thought it was a fascinating place. Would love to go back one day, especially without children in tow... LOL! Glad to hear that, despite the flight issues, that it was a worthwhile side trip for you!

  8. Wow, this sounds amazing. I couldn't imagine getting my wedding photos done there. That's so awesome. I can't believe you have to pay to use the bathrooms some places! That's crazy. I'm glad the stop ended up being worth it!

  9. I've been out on blog reading lately but am catching up! Love seeing your travel posts! So glad it was a great trip!! Hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

  10. I have wanted to go to Scotland for years now. A friend from school did her study abroad there and it looks beautiful! I can't imagine taking wedding photos there!

  11. I think that Bieber sign is my favorite thing of your entire trip.

  12. I love this!! Sounds like some traveling frustrations but so glad you enjoyed it! I love the song Loch Lomond and hearing about the Loch Ness monster...sounds like a whirlwind couple of days but so fun!! Crazy about running into past travelling buddies too - what are the chances?
    I also agree with Jana - that Bieber sign is HILARIOUS.

  13. so awesome! I'm jealous. glad you guys had a good time!


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