Date: March 2018
Length of Stay: 100 Hours
Time it Took to Arrive Here: 28 LONG years
I’ve been dreaming of visiting Scotland, seemingly, forever. I saw the Scottish countrysides in movies and television shows and envisioned myself amongst it all. The lush green scenery grabbed my attention and had me daydreaming of the day I’d see it with my own eyes. I pictured myself running through the fields with braids in my hair, listening to bagpipes and giggling at the men wearing kilts. I could almost hear the Scottish accents already…
The “real world” had other plans for me, though, and it took 28 long years on this Earth to finally make it to the dreamland that is SCOTLAND.
When the time finally came to make my way to Edinburgh from Leeds, England, I was filled with excitement and anticipation. I knew Scotland would be a special place for me, but underestimated all that I would see and experience. I figured it would be almost as special as, perhaps even better than, the two weeks I spent in Ireland in 2016 (which would be tough to beat).
Not-so-surprisingly, Scotland delivered.
I was floored by the sights, the culture and the people. I spent only 100 hours in the country before making my way (sadly) back to England, and what I witnessed in that time far surpassed my daydreams leading up to the trip. Luckily I had my friend (and pro videographer) George with me and we captured it all!
Day 1: First 24 hours
We arrived by train.
It took about 3 hours from Leeds and I remembered how much I enjoy traveling by train that day as I took in the countryside views from my window seat the carriage. (The U.K. and Europe really have the train system down, and America could learn a thing or two, just saying.) I thoroughly enjoyed reading my book and writing in my journal (coffee in hand) during the train journey. Occasionally looking up from the pages to see views that cause eyes to pop slighly out and jaws to drop.
Once we arrived at the central train station in City Center, the rain was coming down. We didn’t mind the rain though, because it’d be melting the snow that had fallen the last few days from “Storm Emma.”
The first three nights were booked at a guesthouse in a nice, quiet neighborhood. We walked the 25 minutes and we were there, at Gilmore Guesthouse. We got soaked on the way but didn’t really care because “We’re in SCOTLAND!” I kept saying.
I’ve stayed in all types of accommodation at this point and can honestly say that guesthouses are some of my favorite experiences. They are cozy and feel like home- something a longterm traveler covets. My friend and travel partner, George, made ourselves at home and then set off to explore the area a bit. We found tons of bars, shops and friendly people all around.
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It was freezing cold, so I could’t wait to have a glass of wine and then get to bed early. We had a BIG day planned the following day…
Day 2: 48 hours
Perhaps my favorite day of the trip, was the second day when we visited the Scottish Highlands with Timberbush Tours. We were picked up at 9 AM and climbed into a tour bus full of Americans, Greeks, Swiss and Italians- it was like the United Nations in there. Our tour guide was absolutely adorable (Hi Stuart!) and whistled while he drove us outside the city into landscapes that postcards are made from.
We saw castles, countrysides, mountains and lakes (“lochs”) and I probably annoyed everyone on our tour with how many times I said the words “amazing” and “beautiful.” I always figured that Scotland would be a stunner, but everything we saw on this day far surpassed anything I ever expected or imagined. I ended the tour understanding why people dealt with the awful weather here. With natural beauty like that, who cares about the weather?! Not me.
Day 3: 72 hours
Day three, and still reeling from the day before, George and I set out to explore the city and check out Edinburgh Castle, City Center, and everything else in between. It was about 8 degrees Celsius and when we walked it felt crisp and refreshing out, as opposed to the freeze-your-face-off temperatures I’d gotten used to in the UK. It rained on and off, I didn’t mind.
It was a Wander Day- the best kind.
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We had no set plan other than to wander around and get lost, which is my favorite way to explore- aimlessly. George and I took our cameras and let our legs walk us to anything random, cool or beautiful- and there’s a lot of that in Edinburgh.
Roaming around a city like Edinburgh can put you on sensory overload.
Bagpipe players on the streets next to century-old churches/castles and endless shops and restaurants, all accompanied by some of the most friendly people on Earth.
I changed hotels, planning to spend my final night in pure luxury- which I absolutely did.
The Radisson Collection Royal Mile Hotel welcomed me with open arms and huge Scottish smiles. I stayed in and had a bottle of wine while I watched the sun go down over Royal Mile just outside my suite. The hotel treated me like a princess, and I loved every second.
When I woke up the next day, I was sad instantly.
Today’s my last day in Scotland…
Day 4: Final 24 hours
I slept like a baby in my suite at the hotel, and I woke up feeling completely energized, even though I was sad to have to pack up. I did so anyway, reluctantly, and went over my plan for the day: Three mile walk from hotel, hike up to Arthur’s Seat, eat lunch, pick up bags then train time.
My final day in Edinburgh was spent completely on my own as George had to fly back to Montreal.
Peace and quiet and rainfall accompanied me as I trekked up to Arthur’s Seat hours before it was time to catch my train back to England. The recent snow snowstorm made the trek up difficult with mud EVERYWHERE, and I almost fell down once or twice, but once I got to the top I took the deepest, more reviving, breath I’d taken in a while. If you’ve ever hiked to a view like this, then you know what I’m talking about. Sweeping landscapes over a bustling city. Birds chirping and very few people around. Pure. Bliss.
Words can not properly describe how it felt to sit on that hillside overlooking Edinburgh. I was hearing epic movie music in my head (like the one at the end of this Youtube episode) as I sat there looking out, watching birds fly in seemingly organized patterns, thinking about life and all the beauty we are surrounded by on this planet. Life is truly a gift. Earth is a glorious gem on a gorgeous planet we are fortunate enough to live on.
Scotland is truly one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen.
When it comes to natural beauty, and the serenity that comes with all of it, this country is topnotch and very high on my favorites list.
If everyone could see this place, I think we’d all be better for it. The world can be a dark place, especially these days, and finding pure beauty like all that fills Scotland is refreshing, invigorating and inspiring. I highly recommend adding this country to your travel list- and staying MUCH longer than 100 hours.