Friday, October 17, 2014

The UK Part II: More Scotland!!

To be honest, I'm having a hard time finishing the tale of our over sea's trip. The last few weeks, especially, were not GREAT. It's somewhat difficult for me to remember back to it all. Preston was just REALLY over traveling and was very depressed. I felt terrible for him, but outside of cancelling the trip---there wasn't much to be done. I often felt very sad and lonely, which sucked in such a wonderful place. I felt sorry for my husband and frustrated that there wasn't anything I could do. Traveling like this has been a longtime dream of mine and I didn't imagine it going the way it did towards the end. 

The truth is that traveling this way isn't for everyone. Preston had a hard time with it. It can be exhausting. It can be hard to not have a job or a real 'purpose' in life. There are a lot of societal pressures to follow a very distinct path. Preston is more comfortable being stable and having a routine. I think that, ultimately, it is our differences that make us enduring. It is our differences that help us grow and to better understand the world and other people and life. I don't think I'd learn very much from being married to someone EXACTLY like me. I am very grateful to Preston for doing his best to overcome what makes him uncomfortable and to attempt to do this for me. It was just REALLY hard near the end to be with someone that just didn't want to DO anything, that seemed to take NO joy from any part of it, that didn't want to speak. It made me want to scream!! I feel that people probably don't want to hear about all that...that people just want to read about the fun of it all!! And it was still fun, but I want this blog to be an HONEST account of our time traveling. 

So without further ado...

Saturday 28 June 2014
We had to be up before 8 today for the provided breakfast. We both ordered the ‘Traditional Scottish Breakfast’ and it was HUGE: eggs, sausage (or bacon or haggis or ALL THREE-Preston, ahem), beans, toast. There was also fruit and yogurt and cereal. CRAZY.

We waddled to the car with full stomachs and drove north to check out Loch Ness and try to spot the monster ;)

We stopped at a little tourist town that I’d visited last time I was here. We got coffee at a small restaurant and walked along the canal and its series of locks.


Lancelot!! BE CAREFUL!! You're in its jaws!!

A boat was coming up the canal, but was taking FOREVER, so we hopped back in the car to drive some more around Loch Ness.

Filling up for the boat

We found a visitor’s car park for an old castle, but the entrance fee was hefty, so we turned around to head back towards the B&B.

On the way, we saw the boat from earlier JUST starting to enter the lock!! I’m glad we didn’t wait ;) We also did NOT see Nessie.

Closer to where we are staying, we decided to take a hike. We rode towards some GPS coordinates that I’d copied down this morning. The coordinates promised a good hike!! We chose a relatively easy hike from the parking lot and headed up into the surrounding hills.

We started the hike through a cheery sunlit forest and continued up steadily climbing switchbacks. Our goal and endpoint was an old fort at the top.

The switchbacks seemed endless, but the views were incredible. Unfortunately, Preston is SO tired of traveling that nothing excited him much and we hiked the few hours mostly in silence :-/

At the top, we found signs pointing towards the fort, so we followed them through a rolling meadow. We climbed to the peak. After looking for the fort, we finally realized we were UPON it. Haha!! The ancient site just hadn’t been excavated yet!! Lol.


It was such a beautiful day with warm sun and puffy clouds. I’ve dreamed of hiking through these hills since my first visit to Scotland and it lived up to my every expectation…well, except I wish Preston was happier.  It’s been amazing to fulfill this dream.

LOL. I have gained SO much weight since wearing this on our NZ hike months ago :P
My travel philosophy? EAT ALL THE FOOD!!

We hiked back down…my foot is STILL throbbing from wearing the wrong shoes that day in Paris. Ouch.

With sore feet, we returned to the hotel to clean up and hit a local diner-like restaurant for dinner.


Back at the B&B, we tucked in for the night and put on “Braveheart”. Oh my Gosh-that movie is cheesy and WILDLY inaccurate!! It is NOT as good as I remembered :P

I'm SO clever!! (AGAIN)
Sunday 29 June 2014
We had ANOTHER giant breakfast this morning. I chose the ‘lighter option’ of eggs and salmon. It was tasty, but still wayyyy toooo much food!!

We packed up the car and hit the road for Edinburgh.

The Hogwarts Express??

Leaving the Highlands is as beautiful as coming in. We stopped at a few different spots to take some pictures-we couldn’t resist!!

We reached the town of Pitlochery-famous for its whisky distillery, but we skipped the tour. I'd been before and Preston said that wasn't his 'thing'. :-/

We settled instead for some window shopping and coffee. We strolled the streets of the charming town and then continued on our way to Edinburgh.

I had booked a well rated B&B just outside the city. When we arrived, the lovely owner hadn’t yet made up our room. She was SO nice about it and we were a tad early, so we assured here it was no problem and headed back out to explore the area.

The B&B was near Portobello, which is a cute, little, seaside town with narrow streets and rows of shops. After some struggle to find parking, we walked along the beach’s cement path. We got a beer and some nachos (bar food) to pass the time. You can really taste the salt in the air here. It’s breezy and COLD.

We returned to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening hanging out in the room with the World Cup.

The B&B is cozy and very cottage-y. The owner’s have dozens of pigeons in large cages out back (? so weird!!). They also have an ADORABLE pug puppy that I got to play with. It’s name is Penny-like my mom. Hehe. :)

I forgot to take a picture, but Penny looked like this!! 
Monday 30 June 2014
We had our GIANT and tasty Scottish breakfast this morning-made to order!! We then caught the bus into Edinburgh. The owner of the B&B was very helpful with the bus info. Conveniently, the bus stopped right out front of the house.

The ride was only about 20 mins and we got out in the center of majestic Edinburgh.

The city, itself, looks like a fortress. It rises steadily with a castle at its peak. There are beautiful parks, a great crest called Arthur’s Seat, tons of shops, and people. The city is bustling and filled with energy.

The most famous street is the high street called “The Royal Mile”. It runs from the castle down to the Queen’s residence of Holyrood House.

Preston and I headed over the bridge to explore the cobble stoned area of The Royal Mile. The street is lined with dozens of pubs and tourist shops. Narrow alleyways lead down into darkness.

Years ago, there was a lucrative business in Edinburgh…and that business was BODY SNATCHING!! With a shortage of proper cadavers for medical research, some doctors would pay top dollar for a freshly exhumed corpse. Two guys, hard up on their luck, got an even better idea!! These men-Burke and Hare-decided it would be best to eliminate all that digging through the dirt and just go into the business of murder!! They famously murdered 16 poor souls for the sole purpose of medical research. Dr. Robert Knox was their infamous buyer. With this history of bad business such as this-it’s easy to see why Edinburgh has a reputation for being haunted!!

Pres and I walked up the incline to the castle. We went through the gates and explored the gift shop, but passed on the high entrance fees to get into castle.

We walked back down the Royal Mile and followed a side street to check out the National Museum of Scotland. It was a pretty cool museum and housed many artifacts from Scotland’s long history. The big hubbub here now is all about Scotland’s vote for Independence on 18 Sept of this year. Scotland has been under English rule (quite begrudgingly) on and off for a thousand years. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

We walked back to the Royal Mile passing on the way the small cafĂ© (The Elephant House) where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter!! (GEEK OUT!!!!), but didn’t go in. I can’t for the life of me remember WHY.

Continuing across the Royal Mile, we got a cider in a pub and made our way to an art gallery of Scottish art. It was small, but worthwhile. We sat in the sun outside and enjoyed a musical performance. There are people everywhere playing bagpipes, but this was with a guitar too and very good.

Following another shopping street, we circled back to the Royal Mile and got a heavy late lunch of bangers & mash in a pub. We walked down to peer at Holyrood House (the Queen was actually there) and the ultra modern Parliament building.

We contemplated hiking up Arthur’s Seat, but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm. We are just so tired-Preston especially. He doesn’t want to do much and I’m struggling to motivate him.

We caught the bus back to the B&B and ventured out later for a snack at a local deli. I got pasta salad, but Preston was talked into a deep fried hamburger. It was dipped in batter and fried (something for which the Scots are famous!!) and it. was. disgusting.


We spent the evening reading (and playing with that pug puppy!!). We have to be up early to drive into England tomorrow!!

Goodnight Edinburgh!!

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