Friday, February 8, 2013

Touring Scotland

During the semester that Lyd and I spent abroad in Edinburgh, we had the opportunity to travel all over Scotland.  This is another post for the Travel blog covering some other must-see places in this beautiful country...
The Highlands
When you visit Scotland, you have to take a drive up through the Highlands.  This picture does not do it justice.  I think I was so captivated by it all, I really didn't take too many pictures.  It is a vast mountainous landscape of pure beauty.
Tucked away in the Highlands is a small town called Dingwall.  This is a perfect place to stop for a peaceful evening surrounded by true local Scottish life.  In a word, adorable:)
As we walked around this cute town, we saw a black sheep!
Loch Ness
Of course if you're all the way up in the Highlands, you have to stop and see the famous Loch Ness!  This is a picture of Urquhart Castle on the loch. 
A fun place to stay is The Loch Ness Inn, located in the cute village of Drumnadrochit.  The village is close to the castle, loch, and has a little museum dedicated to the Loch Ness Monster.  So cool to see! 
Loch Ness... monster?  ;)
Dundee is a fun city, a quick train trip from Edinburgh, home of the University of Dundee, and is located right on the North Sea (seen above).
The RRS Discovery ship in Dundee is a must-see.
St. Andrews
St. Andrews is home of the University of St. Andrews where Prince William attended.  We loved getting to walk around campus with high hopes of seeing him;)  The old golf course is really beautiful to see, as is St. Andrews Castle shown above.
 The Southern Borders of Scotland
You cannot leave Scotland without visiting the southern areas like Ayrshire and Arran, and Dumfries and Galloway.  There are endless small villages just filled with images like above.  It was beautiful and so peaceful with rolling green hills full of sheep farms and ancient rock walls. 
The next time I go to Scotland, I plan on seeing the Isle of Skye.  I ran out of time on this trip, but it is definitely on my bucket list.  What are some of your favorite places or dream destinations in Scotland?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Edinburgh, Scotland

In college I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad with one of my best friends, and we were swept away for an adventurous semester in beautiful Scotland.  We lived, studied, and worked in the magical city of Edinburgh.  It always seemed so magical to me because no matter where you are in the city, you can look up and see Edinburgh Castle staring down in all its majesty.  On top of that, you are surrounded by ancient old stone buildings, bag pipes on corners, rolling green hills encircling the city, and the coolest accent transporting you to scenes from movies like Braveheart.  I loved every second of my time in that city; every shortbread filled second.  Here are some of my favorite and must-see places in Edinburgh...
Edinburgh Castle
This picture was taken by a very special man who became like a grandfather to Lyd and I while we were there.  We fell in love with the Scottish people, who are so kind, welcoming and friendly.  In the picture you can see the castle towering over the city, and in the forefront are the Edinburgh art galleries.  Touring the castle is a must.
 Greyfriars Kirkyard
Here is a view of the castle from the Greyfriars cemetary.  We loved hearing the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a dog who was said to have guarded his masters grave for 13 years after he died.  There is a statue there in honor of the dog.
The Fringe Festival
If you have the chance to travel to Edinburgh in August, you will be surrounded by this annual monstrous festival.  You can kind of compare it to Mardi Gras.  There are costumes, tons of color, music, food, and concludes with an amazing fireworks display at the castle.  You also cannot miss the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which is an awesome show of Scottish bagpipes and drums performed by an enormous military band that make their way up the royal mile and into the Castle courtyard.
 The Royal Mile
This is the old brick street that stretches from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace, which is the queen's official residence in Scotland.  This street is so much fun and full of ancient history.  You will find the home of John Knox, St Giles Cathedral, lots of historical statues... and then you have your Scottish pubs, coffee shops, souvenir shops... you name it.
And you always see something fun going on... band playing for this couple that just got married.  That big guy playing bagpipes on the left was in the movie Gladiator!  He was the guy at the beginning that threw the head onto the battle field...
St.Giles Cathedral
Beautiful to tour.  Lots of Reformation history here.

Carolo Secundo statue behind St.Giles, located close to the hidden burial spot of John Knox.
Buccleuch Free Church of Scotland
This is the steeple.  Beautiful, old, traditional Scottish church where Lyd and I "worked":)
Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

 Now we get into some good hiking spots around Edinburgh....
Arthur's Seat

The Craigs

Calton Hill
The National Monument is here along with lots of other monuments.
Blackfoot Hill

Princess Street
To this day, Princess Street has some of the best shopping I've ever seen.  Full of fun modern stores mixed with history, like the rest of the city.  You can see Scott Monument towards the right, which is the gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.
I hope you all have the chance to visit Edinburgh if you haven't already.  If you haven't, put it on your Bucket List!  You will fall in love with this city:)
View behind are house:)
Highland cows (or as the Scottish say, Highland coo)