Honeymooning in Scotland–Day 3

Day 3 started with an early morning to hit some last minute Edinburgh sights before heading to Inverness.

Our first stop was the Scott Monument built to memorialize author Sir Walter Scott. It was built during 1841-1844. While you can climb inside it, we chose not to due to time constraints and for the want of saving our money.

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Scott Monument is in Princes Street Gardens, so of course we had to walk along the paths. You can even see Edinburgh Castle from some of the paths. It was a fabulous last morning in Edinburgh.

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We made our way back to the hotel to retrieve our bags and hop in the car. I wasn’t looking forward to driving the streets of Edinburgh again, but we had gotten the bugs out of the GPS this time.

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I’m happy to report, it was much less death like and minimal wrong turns were made. We did accidentally end up at Forth Bridge. The bridge was completed in 1890 and has been voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder. The only reason we saw it was due to a wrong turn. We were perhaps a little too excited about the whole deal.

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Another happy accident was our lunch stop. We were trying to find something quick to eat, and typed in McDonalds in the GPS. I know, I know…who eats at McDonalds when in a foreign country? My only defense is we were travelling. We followed the GPS and arrived in the town of Pitlochery. The GPS lied. There was no McDonalds, but there was the cutest town where we had the best fish and chips at McKay’s. We walked around the little town, got some ice cream, and went on our way. Best stop ever!

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As we drove out of the cities, the landscape began to change to rolling hills and farms. I snapped pictures through the window left, right, and center. Little did I know that this was nothing compared to what we were about to see.

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The driving was much easier in the country, but the roads were quite narrow (I would later consider these roads wide).

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We stopped at Dalwhinnie Distillery for a tour. The process of making Scotch whiskey is fascinating. Dalwhinnie was the highest (in altitude) scotch distillery in the world. It is normally quite cold, but we were there on a rare warm day, however, the mountains were still snow-capped.

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We continued to wind our way through the Scottish roads until we reached Inverness. I fell in love with this little town. We had the most adorable hotel.

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For dinner we walked to the city center and ate at Bella Italia. While we got turned around walking there and didn’t get the river views going, we certainly got them coming back. Wow! Those walks with my new husband were some of my favorites of the trip.

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Along the walks are several pedestrian bridges to pass from the two sides of the rivers.

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One of the bridges led to a magical little island with a wooded area and river views.

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To top it all off, Inverness has a castle! It was all truly fairy tale feeling.

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Tips:

  1. It is ok to take wrong turns. Don’t freak out, but explore and have fun!
  2. While long, take the walk to the City Centre in Inverness, especially at sunset!
  3. Try Irn Bru soda. It is a Scottish drink and is similar to cream soda. Garrett loved it!

Honeymooning in Scotland: Day 2

Our second day in Scotland was all about experiencing the city and our very first castle!

The first stop of the day was a quick one to Greyfriars Bobby. Bobby was a Skye Terrier who guarded his owner’s grave in the Greyfriars Kirkland for 14 years until he died himself.

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After visiting Bobby, we headed to St. Giles Cathedral. It is as pretty inside as it is outside.

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We continued make our way down to Edinburgh Castle, our main attraction for the day. We had time to kill as we had pre-purchased tickets to the castle at a certain time the night before. We went in the Hub which ended up  being a convention center of sorts. You’d have never thought that from the outside.

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I saw a sign for Tartan Weaving Mill and just had to go in.

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Here, we explored 5 floors of tartan, wool, weaving, shops, and the history of tartan. I purchased a scarf in my clan’s tartan. I’m a part of the Gunn Clan from my grandmother’s side. We then grabbed lunch at the cafe at the top of the mill where we ate the most delicious club sandwich! So good!

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Scottish dress and tartan throughout the years.
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Garrett watching them weave

By now, it was time to enter the castle. Garrett and I were both pretty pumped to visit. Never did I realize there were so many nooks and crannies in a castle. It was huge and took the whole day to explore. We made sure to pay extra for the audio tour so we could hear additional information and stories.

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In the castle, we were able to see the crown jewels which were lost for a few hundred years. How do you misplace such a thing? They were found and later buried again during World War II to safeguard against the potential of Nazi invasion. They are now back in the castle and on display.

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We also saw the dungeons (my personal favorite) where you could see messages carved into the doors and learn about prisoners there.

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Garrett appreciated the many cannons…

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And we both appreciated the gorgeous views.

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The castle also features a pet cemetery…

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Museum…

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Grand hall…

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And a more modern prison.

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We were warned that Scottish weather is typically cold and wet, but our second day in Scotland would prove to be the only cold day, and never once did it rain! We were quite fortunate.

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Windy and a bit cold, but completely happy!

We ended our day with a stroll in the city, tour of the world’s largest collection of single malt whiskey, more views of the castle, and dinner at Biblo’s. We delighted in a meal of soup, chicken, and potatoes with chorizo sausage in it. Delicious!

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Tips:

  1. Give yourself several hours to do the Edinburgh Castle. You don’t want to rush it.
  2. Enjoy the shops on the Royal Mile on the way back from the castle.
  3. Beware of doorways. For tall people at least, castle doorways are rather low.

Honeymooning in Scotland: Day 1

I am officially a married woman! I am so excited to be married to the man of my dreams and my best friend. Our wedding day, while rainy, was the perfect day. I’m excited to share about that perfect day, but will wait until the photos are in. However, here is a quick sneak peek from the talented April Teceno Photography…

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I would like to share our fabulous honeymoon to Scotland with you, though! Garrett and I had a rather large list of potential destinations to honeymoon, but ultimately decided to explore Scotland. I was extra excited as my grandma immigrated from Scotland in the 60’s. I couldn’t wait to see where she had grown up.

Garrett and I worked for weeks to plan the perfect itinerary, but left room to be flexible and change up the schedule too. I love doing trips this way! It makes life less stressful, and you can enjoy the moment more. We would fly into Edinburgh, stay there a few days, make our way to the Isle of Skye, and then drive back to Edinburgh for a total of 2 days of flights and 7 days of exploring.

The day after our wedding we headed to RDU airport to catch a flight to JFK then to Edinburgh. As we watched the flight updates, we became increasingly nervous. The flight to JFK kept getting delayed. It soon became clear we would miss our flight to Edinburgh if we waited for the JFK flight. Garrett talked to the airline folks, and we ended up rebooking our flights completely. We flew to Heathrow in London and then to Edinburgh. It wasn’t what we planned, but it would only put us 2 hours later than our original plan rather than a whole day! Sadly, this meant Garrett lost his extra leg room seats (tall people problems), and we wouldn’t be able to be seated together on the flight from London to Edinburgh. We took it anyway!

Our flights were without incident (minus me balling in the middle of the flight due to watching a movie). I started to get way excited when we flew over Scotland, and I saw the scenery. I was so excited to be there!

We waited in line for our rental car for more than an hour and made our way to the lot. Garrett was really dubious when he stopped in front of a tiny smart car. I told him it was the next car over which was a much better fit for G.

We climbed in the car and prepared to drive on the wrong side of the road. I was to navigate. The trip from the airport to our hotel in Edinburgh was the scariest one of my life. We ended up going downtown Edinburgh! Bad idea to new European drivers. I was sucking at navigating. To Garrett’s credit he kept his cool and made several u-turns thanks to my navigation. When we got to the hotel, we parked and didn’t get back in the car for two days. My feet were much safer.

While we were pretty exhausted from the flight and time change, we decided to explore the city after a quick shower. We grabbed lunch at Starbucks (risky right?) and headed to Calton Hill. Edinburgh streets are gorgeous and filled with history. We could actually appreciate them now that we were on foot.

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Calton Hill views were a fabulous place to start in Edinburgh.

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We climbed on the National Monument and climbed to the top of Nelson Monument. I would definitely recommend spending the money to do that. The views are stunning!

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Nelson Monument
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The top of Nelson Monument
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Nelson Monument door

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National Monument

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While we saw Arthur’s Seat, we voted to not climb it. We were pretty dead on our feet.

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View of Arthur’s Seat

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We then walked to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Sadly, we weren’t allowed in as it was occupied. It was still cool to see the guards and area, though.

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We ended our day with dinner at Tollbooth Tavern. We happened upon it and thought it looked good. The neat part was it had a long and interesting history. It once collected tolls for a bridge, was a prison, courthouse, and even a site for an exorcism. It now serves yummy fish and chips  and bangers and mash with other menu items.

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While it wasn’t late, but we called it a night at 8:30pm. I had already fallen asleep standing up at Calton Hill and walked 5 miles around the city. We managed much the first day in Scotland, and I was very pleased. We would sleep for 12 hours. Day two of Scotland awaited…

Tips:

  1. Make sure you know how to operate the GPS before leaving the parking lot.
  2. Rent a special GPS that does European roads.
  3. Push through the time change and tiredness. You can sleep later.