Scotland the beautiful

This newlywed has had an absolutely brilliant two weeks. A fortnight ago, I got married to my best friend and then we whisked ourselves away to Scotland for a honeymoon. A more beautiful country is impossible to find. We drove almost 600 miles through the most breathtaking scenery. I never got bored looking out the window of our little rental car. The west highlands were traversed and then re-traversed and we were awestruck each day.

We flew from Boston to Philadelphia to Edinburgh the day after our wedding. We were cramped in coach for the whole time but immediately on arriving in Scotland, we forgot our aching tired bodies and were excited and anxious to explore! There was, first however, the rental car. My brave husband decided to drive for the whole trip–wrong side of the road, switching gears with the wrong hand, everything. I was content to gaze at everything out of the windows, but getting from the airport to the hotel was challenging. At this point, we were on VERY little sleep, but I was still running on the excitement of being somewhere I had always wanted to go. I loved the cute little row houses and the odd signs. (Instead of a Yield sign, theirs say Give Way.) Sir managed to manipulate the differences in his driving magnificently and we made it to the hotel.

Now, the fun part was trying to understand our innkeeper. We stayed at a little boutique hotel near Haymarket and it was very cute on the inside. Homey. Nice. Our innkeeper had a VERY thick accent though, but not a Scottish accent. I believe she was Chinese, but I did not ask. We had the worst time trying to understand her directions to a car park and in the end I don’t think we ever found it. Edinburgh, we found out the next day, is a very walkable town and there was really no need for our car there. Anyways, that first day, the most important thing we did was take a nap. The time difference from New London, CT to Edinburgh was agony.

We made up for our lie in though the next day, when we walked from our hotel and saw the whole city from the top of a “mountain.” I know now, because I used Google Maps to calculate the exact distance, but we walked 5.3 miles and then had to walk back to the hotel. We were even more exhausted the next day, and I had some sore shins, but it was all worth it. We started at the hotel and then found a charming little church called St. Cuthbert. I think I just liked the name Cuthbert, so we walked around the grounds and into the sanctuary and it was absolutely lovely. Then we strolled through the Princes Street Gardens. Sir needed to make a couple phone calls, so I was happy to take more pictures of the roses that were growing EVERYWHERE and Edinburgh Castle looming right over our heads on the path. Then, the other end of the gardens was right next to the Scottish National Gallery, so we followed that sidewalk around up quite a steep hill to the Royal Mile. I found lots of quaint little side streets (called a “close” after a gaelic word, I found out) and very neat little stores. Some were quite touristy and some were for more specific needs. We walked the whole thing, top to bottom, from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace at Holyroodhouse. (In the middle, I found a shop selling Hunter rain boots and they were on sale, and Sir was kind enough to not complain as I tried them on.)

We reached the palace and peeked through the gates but chose not to go inside. Instead, we saw some cliffs off to the side and decided to investigate. They were glorious. They were magnificently rising above us, begging us to come closer. So. We climbed. Sir was wearing his combat boots and these were perfectly suitable to hiking huge hills. I was in riding boots that had no tread. Uphill was fine. Downhill was scary. But we made it. I stopped to take photos and to catch my not-in-shape breath, but Sir held my hand and we made it to the top of the Salisbury Crags. (I looked up their name afterward.) Behind us, we saw a much larger “mountain” and decided we chose to climb the smaller one in a fit of wisdom. We took photos of the beautiful city below us, with dark gray clouds that never actually rained on us. Then, once we climbed down, there was a sign telling us where we were in relation to other peaks. That turned out to be fateful. We were at the bast of Arthur’s Seat. I was out of breath. My feet were hurting (my boots lost their cushion aaaaages before this trip and I felt every rock under me). But this was Arthur’s Seat!

I’m a HUGE fan of the King Arthur myths and legends. I’ve been reading them since I was a little kid. Arthur’s Seat is one of the possible locations given for the mystical Camelot and I just knew that I should climb it. Someone built rough steps all the way to the summit and so, with Sir’s gentle support, we stepped up and up and up. I was determined. Sir was determined. We made it. I was so proud. The Hunter boots even made it. Sir tied them onto my little backpack so we didn’t have to carry them up the second peak.

The view was spectacular, just as we knew it would be. I had happy tears, looking out over everything. The wind up there was much stronger but it was fantastic feeling it. We loved it all.

We climbed down a different way from our ascent and found a little chapel in ruins. St. Anthony’s. We stopped there for a moment, but nature calls. Unfortunately, it calls me a little more frequently than others, and as such, I was well on my way to the public loo at the palace. I was also in incredible amounts of pain by the time we got to the ruins. It was my plan, seconded by Sir, to stop at the little palace cafe before heading back to the hotel. I knew it’d be a long walk. Agonisngly long. Stupid long. So we stopped for a coffee. Then we stopped to listen to a street performer. Then we stopped in the park again. Then we found the pub we had eaten at the night before and very nearly slept over our fish and chips.

We loved every moment of our day. The photos below are just some of the highlights. There just aren’t words to describe the glorious sights we encountered.

The next day, we did a tour of the west highlands, called Lochs and Castles. More on that later. Toodles!

2014-09-23 09.58.06 2014-09-23 10.15.26 2014-09-23 10.18.20 2014-09-23 10.21.51 2014-09-23 10.56.20 2014-09-23 11.05.16 2014-09-23 11.24.31 2014-09-23 11.33.54 2014-09-23 13.11.00 2014-09-23 13.49.11 2014-09-23 13.53.58 2014-09-23 13.54.02 2014-09-23 14.10.51 2014-09-23 14.13.25 2014-09-23 14.15.44 2014-09-23 14.15.59 2014-09-23 14.18.06 2014-09-23 15.53.14 2014-09-23 15.57.46 2014-09-23 15.58.10 2014-09-23 16.23.57 2014-09-23 16.30.55 2014-09-23 16.56.40

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