Sunday, August 23, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Edinburgh Castle

Our adventure concluded back in Edinburgh where we spent the day at the Edinburgh castle - a must see! The day was extremely windy (for the golfers out there, this was the day they postponed the golf in St. Andrews due to the wind!) but a nice tour of the castle nonetheless. Our guide called the weather brisk and refreshing.

Another bright sunny day. A great time in Scotland - we absolutely loved the trip. A little too cold and rainy for our tastes to live there, but wonderful to visit!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Waterfall serenade with bagpipes

On our way back to Edinburgh, we stopped at a large waterfall (sorry, can't remember the name - must have been the whisky!). It was a large tourist stop with room for tour buses, etc. It was a Saturday so the place was pretty busy. The falls were beautiful and were made even more so by a pair of entrepreneurial teenagers playing bagpipe for tips. It was just the cheesy addition needed for the occasion.

So the kids on the bagpipes with their kilts and aviator sun glasses were funny enough, but even better is that they apparently took requests. As were were over at the railing watching the water, we suddenly heard the familiar chords of "Amazing Grace" . . . and then a whole group of Asian tourists started to sing along!! Look, bagpipes are hard enough on the ears, especially when screeching out Amazing Grace, but then to have a pack of out of tune tourists singing along . . . I was laughing so hard I was crying.

And of course we gave them some money - ya gotta reward that kind of initiative!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Getting tipsy at the distilleries

No trip to Scotland is complete without a wee dram of whisky and a tour of a distillery. We visited 3 and toured 2 and drank at all 3 and bought 1 (not too bad math, I think). :)

Our first distillery was Ben Nevis and I must have had more than I remember because I could swear I took a photo of the outside, but can't find any now. In any case, it was a bit touristy and they were in quiet season so nothing was up and running - we did get a tour though and a taste and ended up buying a bottle of 12 year old.

The next was Talisker, which is on the Isle of Skye. Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to take a tour, but they did still give us a taste. Talisker is a strong, peaty whisky - good for a taste and to warm you up, but too strong for us. Beautiful setting for this one.

Our final distillery visit and our favorite was Dalwhinnie. We had a great tour here and were told this is the coldest place in Scotland. It was July and we were freezing! No wonder they drink all that whisky.

So I wouldn't say we're converted whisky drinkers, but we do have a better appreciation and are enjoying a sip from time to time from our bottle of Ben Nevis. Next we'll have to plan a trip to Ireland so we can compare! :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Portree

At the end of day two we reached our destination, Portree, on the Isle of Skye. Portree is a gorgeous little seaside town with a bustling fishing harbor and some of the most delicious, freshest seafood we have ever had. It was busy and a little crowded since the weather is only kind to tourists for about a month every year, but we enjoyed our time here immensely.
Just a little something they had fresh off the boat that day.
Even overcast the harbor was beautiful.
Next to the pink building is where we had the seafood feast in the first photo!
Gorgeous first evening in Portree. This is from the Cuillin hotel where we had dinner.
Now that's a table view!
We were actually told there was no table for almost 2 hours so we decided to wait in the bar anyway as we'd already been to 3 other restaurants with no luck. We figured we could enjoy the view and the wifi and a drink or two. The manager then came over about 10 minutes later and said he could squeeze us in after all . . . at one of the nicest tables in the restaurant!! We were thrilled (and he got a big tip.)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Bonny countryside

Throughout our road trip we were continuously awed by the green, green countryside. Tons of sheep, mountains, lakes, castles and green, green, green. We were in heaven.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Eilean Donan Castle

Day two of our highlands road trip took us to one of the most photographed castles in all of Scotland - Eilean Donan Castle. It's also been a feature in movies like Highlander and Braveheart. It's a beautiful setting as you'll see by the photos. And what I also loved about it is that is feels like you could actually live there. It's not huge and rambling, but actually a bit cozy and with such gorgeous views! Have a look.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Ben Nevis Mountain views

After an amazing fresh seafood dinner and a restful first night near Glen Coe, we were back on the road by 10am and off to the Ben Nevis region. Ben Nevis is a mountain range where we took a gondola ride to see the highlands from, well, up high. First, we stopped in Fort William - a picturesque little town - to check out the visitor center and get some information on our journey. Then it was off to Ben Nevis Adventure park for the gondola ride.
This is downtown Fort William. Very cute with lots of little shops and restaurants. And a great visitor center with tons of information.
While Brian was having a second cup of coffee I wandered past this cute little church. I had to include the photo below because of the bright blue sky. We NEVER see a sky this blue or this clear in Abu Dhabi (and I'm not exaggerating when I say never.)

Brian loves to have his picture taken as you can tell. ;)
So beautiful - the photos don't do it justice, of course. And it's hard to tell how cold this was. We both had on fleece and long sleeve shirts and still shivered on this walk. And remember this is July!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Falls of Dochart

After Stirling Castle, we continued are road trip through the Highlands on our way to Glen Coe, which is where we planned to stay the first night. The scenery was amazing - so green you can't even believe it. And everywhere sheep, then a castle, then more sheep, then more green . . . it was wonderful.

I had found online in my searching reference to the Falls of Dochart so we decided to try and find them so we could have a little break and stretch our legs. The falls were not the high mountain waterfalls we were expecting but wide rushing falls running through the middle of a small town. A gorgeous stop to get out of the car for a bit.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Stirling Castle

After a day in Edinburgh, we set off on our road trip through the Highlands to Isle of Skye. We planned 4 days for the round trip to give us time to stop along the way and enjoy the scenery. It was an amazing drive (on the other side of the road, I might add).

Day one of our road trip took us through Stirling and a stop at Stirling Castle for our first taste of how Scottish royalty lived. It was a beautiful sunny day but still cool - perfect for our sandblasted, sweaty souls. The castle parking was full so we ended up doing a park and ride approach, which was a bit of a pain but worked just fine. The castle entrance ticket included a free guided tour, which was informative and entertaining. The castle has been restored to try and capture how things really looked when they were in use.
View of the castle from the road coming into town.
A view of part of the town on the road up to the castle.
A view of the countryside from the gun battlements of the castle.
The weather turned perfect about 30 min after we arrived.
A view of the king's receiving chamber - reconstructed of course.
This was part of the King's garden that has now overgrown with grass.
Castle and town cemetery.
And that amazing Scottish countryside. Photos don't do it justice.