Travel, Writing
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Edinburgh, West Highlands, Stirling

The Highlands

Given that I am new to the blog world, I though I would catch you all up on a little trip I took a month and a bit ago to the United Kingdom. After all, it’s very much relevant to the whole documenting-my-travel-dreams-and-experiences thing I am going for here. I was lucky enough to make my way through a small portion of Scotland and England for a short three weeks. In no way did I see everything I wanted to see, and certainly not everything there was to see, but I sure wasn’t going to turn down a trip overseas now was I?

So…it began in Edinburgh. Oh Edinburgh. Not only is Scotland the most STUNNING place I have been to thus far, but Edinburgh is way up there in my top 3 favourite cities (again thus far – maybe it will be challenged, who knows). Everything about this city is beautiful. From the dirty stone of the old buildings on Cowgate to the Georgian terraces in New Town and the parks surrounding the Edinburgh Castle. Even a run-down warehouse with broken windows in the old market district had a certain charm. I spent the majority of the day with my mouth open in awe at this city that preserves its history and character so well. Mother Nature even put on a good show for us with blue sky and sun shining down on us all day.

We started the day with a trip to the Edinburgh Castle, and there is no way you can come to Edinburgh without seeing in it. Even if the seeing the Crown Jewels or touring through the old royal apartments and the war museum isn’t your thing, the views from the castle are well worth the admission alone. We then headed down the Royal Mile and hopped on a bus which took us all around the city, starting with the New Town area where I marvelled at the terraces, squares and gardens. If I could live anywhere in Edinburgh, a 3-storey terrace on Heriot Row with a key to the Queen Street Gardens would do the trick, but I have a feeling it’s a little (ok, a lot) out of my price range.

We then headed around to the Old Town seeing Grassmarket, St Giles Cathedral as well as the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Canongate. I could have spent hours driving around and around just so I could keep looking. Edinburgh is amazing, there is no other way to put it. But the problem is, it doesn’t seem to be high up on the dream-city scale for most people. When people asked me what my favourite place was from this trip and I say Edinburgh, their response is a quizzical look and “really?”. YES REALLY! It may not be a bustling metropolis like New York or London, but it character. Maybe my photos in the gallery below will help convert you non-believers.

Anyway, so the next adventure through Scotland was up to the Highlands and when I think of the Highlands, I think of words like WOW, PHWOAR, WOAH! Yes, it really was that good. There is something mysterious about the Highlands, a kind of wondering of what really goes on around all those mountains, moors and valleys. We left from Edinburgh, and headed north-west, stopping in the little village of Kilmahog were we first laid eyes on some Highland cattle. I never thought I would actually say this, but they were kind of cute!

We then continued up through the Rannoch Moor to Glencoe and this was the highlight for me. The landscape is completely bare and desolate and you can go for miles without seeing a house. But it’s the barrenness that makes it so beautiful. The shapes of the rocks and mountains against the sky, as well as the contrast between the grey and green is what is so interesting and intriguing. It was slightly eerie though travelling through the Glencoe Valley, called the Valley of Weeping because this was where the Glencoe massacre of the Clan MacDonald occurred in 1692. Even though it was such stunning natural landscape, there was that feeling of sadness knowing what had happened there.

Now a trip to the Highlands wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. All of the legends of Nessie aside, it is a beautiful loch which is home to the Urquhart Castle. The castle sits regally on the side of the loch and it’s very picturesque with the hills in the background.

Our next and final stop in the land of the brave was Stirling, a pretty little city next to the river Forth. The crowning glory of this city that was once the capital of Scotland is the Stirling Castle. Just like most of the other castles in Scotland, Stirling castle has played an important role in Scotland’s history, none more so than in the 1300’s when the Scots were fighting for freedom in the Wars of Independence.

The castle stands very proudly on top of rock and also houses the Renaissance Palace, which were the lodgings for the King and Queen, and the Great Hall. While the rooms were very impressive, the best thing for me was the views the castle offered. The castle is surrounded by walls, that visitors can walk along and look out at the surrounds. The natural landscape of Scotland never ceased to amaze me, and it continued to impress from the view points of the castle.

That was the end of our stay in Scotland, and I really did only crack the surface of what it had to offer. Glasgow, the Hebrides and Isle of Skye are on the list for my next trip, and hopefully it won’t be too long until I am able to go back.

What’s next? London, Oxford and Cambridge.


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