I know I’ve had a wonderful trip or vacation, when I suffer from a vacation hangover that goes on for days. The holiday to Scotland was one such trip. I loved it and am so grateful that I had an opportunity to visit and experience this magical place with my family 🙂 So, as per tradition, I have to write about my trip, which will be part diary and part travelogue..hehe
So, my younger sister had travelled all the way from Chicago to spend her summers with us and her niece, but she also wanted to travel during this time. She went to Ireland with her friends, and we did some sight seeing in London together. But my partner suggested, we go on a 7 day trip to Scotland, since he had been there twice before and thought all of us would love it! So, all our bags were packed and we were ready to go (leaving on a jet plane..lol) and went to Luton airport in UK, to catch our onward flight to Edinburgh.
<Funny toddler story interval here>
Despite the fact that we had packed everything and ticked our checklist the night before, and even had spare time on our hands before checking in our luggage, it was only when my daughter suddenly woke up from her nap in the buggy crying, that we realised, we had forgotten to change her diaper, and her pants were wet and we had forgotten to pack spare change of clothes in the backpack for her!!!! <rolling eyes at parenting error 101> So, we had to spend £20 to buy her a princess dress (as she called it) and change her in the airport..sigh.
We made it without any more incidents on the flight and my daughter had the most fun sitting and singing in the airplane. By the time we got our luggage and the rental car and drove down to our airbnb home, it was 5 pm already. So we decided to stay in that evening, order some food and watched the match with some beers. My sister really wanted to try the traditional Scottish dish of Haggis, so she ordered that. I tried a bite, but couldn’t stomach it once I got to know the ingredients. Sometimes I act like a food hypocrite, because I eat meat but not all kinds of meat. My daughter had a lot of fun going up and down the stairs in the house (this was something she did in every other house we stayed in)
I just have one kid, who is 2 year old. But my sister did give me an experience of parenting a teenager as well. So between the 2 year old who wakes up before the sun rises, and the adult teenager who cannot seem to wake up before afternoon, it was an accomplishment having them both ready and out of the door by 11 am 😀 We went down to the Edinburgh castle first, but there was a crazy queue to get inside the castle, and we were starting to get hungry. So while my daughter was distracted with her ice cream, we changed the plans and decided to have a leisurely lunch instead, and my partner volunteered to take the toddler home for an extended nap, while my sister and I could sight see and explore the Castle. We had lunch at this cute little al fresco restaurant called Maxx.
Once my partner and daughter left, my sister and I checked out the Whiskey tour first- because priorities..lol. We both love our drinks and how can you not do the Whiskey tour in Scotland? It was absolutely worth it, and I discovered a brand new flavour which is my current favourite Scotch- the Islay whiskeys 🙂
Tour Trivia: Whiskey Tour near the Castle road, silver tour costs £15.5 per adult and lasts 45 mins, and you get the whiskey tasting glass as a souvenir!
After this, we headed straight for our trip to the Castle and although some of the views from the top were great, I was slightly disappointed with the Castle overall. I have seen much more beautiful Castles or Palaces in India, such as in Mysore, or even ruins in other places. Maybe it was the number of tourists there, or something else, but I didn’t enjoy it much. They had a nice little tea room there, which I wanted to take my sister to, to try the Scottish cream tea experience, but they had some event going on, so we couldn’t eat there.
Tour Trivia: Edinburgh Castle entry ticket, costs £15 per adult
It was 3:30 pm by then, and on a status check with my partner, we found that the toddler was still blissfully napping. So the two of us just explored the streets and some of the architecture in Edinburgh, and finally found a pub (Burger and Beer), to sit down and chill a little. I had the view of the street and could see the body of water and the end of the street on the horizon. There was music playing and the atmosphere was so relaxing. It was nice to catch up over a few drinks with my sister, sitting in that pub. Finally, around 5 pm, we took an Uber back to our Airbnb, picked up the rest of the family and headed straight for dinner to a nearby family pub called White Castle.
Post dinner, we drove to the town centre to another tourist attraction called Camera Obscura. This is a really cool science museum that has multiple floors. Each floor has a particular theme, like 3D, pictures, holographs, magic with lights, etc, and then the terrace view from the top. My two year old just loved this place and we were glad we went here later in the evening, since it was hardly crowded and we could enjoy all the attractions at our own pace 🙂 I will totally recommend it to everyone, and especially for families with children. After the Obscura tour, we drove down to Tesco, bought some groceries and called it in for the night.
Obscura Trivia: child friendly, but you need to climb the floors. Children under 5 go free, I think (wasn’t paying attention there) and £15.50 per adult, and it is open till 10:30 in the night! Once you have the stamp, you can go in and out multiple times in the day as well 🙂
We woke up at our own pace, and post breakfast at the house, cleaned up and checked out to leave for the Highlands. Our next stop over was at another Airbnb at Lochend (which is the bottom tip of Loch Ness). The drive was beautiful and breath taking. We stopped on the way for lunch at a cute little restaurant, and then a few places in between to take pictures. Although, the pictures do no justice to the real landscape and beauty of the journey. My daughter slept through most of the way, which was lucky for me, since I was able to enjoy the road trip without too many ‘mummyyyy!’ moments 😀 We checked into our Airbnb around 4 pm, went straight to check out the lake side next to the house. Oh my gosh, it was heaven! Just sitting on those pebbles, watching the calm and transparent lake and the mountains looming on either side of the lake, was the most blissful thing I did in the entire trip I think. That place at the lake was hands down the entire family’s favourite place in the whole trip. My sister and partner went to the nearby Tesco again, to get things for dinner and breakfast, and we just ended the night watching the football match and drinking, once my daughter had gone to sleep.
We had planned to see the Loch Ness monster, Nessie, on this day. Luckily for us, the weather on all the 7 days had been brilliant, with sunshine all the day and not a single drop of rain. So post breakfast, we booked a ferry tour and hopped on the ferry towards Urquhart Castle. The ferry ride was short but breath taking nonetheless, with a beautiful view of the Loch, and its blue waters. My sister is a strong believer in Nessie and she really thought she spotted him, or his shadow (ahem) in the Loch. She also bought her niece a mini Nessie, and mini Nessie stuff toy was added to the growing collection of stuff toy family that belongs to my daughter <sigh!>. We walked up and down the ruins of the Castle, and once done, waited with the three little ducks for our ferry to return. All 4 of us loved the morning trip and the ferry ride. We stopped by at Beefeater for lunch and a few drinks and then headed home so my daughter could nap, and we could watch the match.
Later in the evening, we didn’t have much planned, so after another quick visit to the lake side near home, we dressed up and went out for dinner to Fig and Thistle at Inverness. I have to say, the place is tiny, but the food was exceptional! All three of us agreed that the best food of the trip award went to this place for us:) My daughter ran around the road and then had a chance to ride the small toy ‘wheels-on-bus’ three times (yeah, you have to endure that when traveling with a toddler..lol), at the mall nearby. We made another stop at Tesco on our way back, but by then we had a bit of a toddler meltdown, since it was a bit past her bedtime (my fault), but we all survived and the toddler promptly went to sleep on her cosy bed as soon as we reached home (bless her:)) The rest of the three adults stayed up a little longer than usual, enjoying Scotch, music and conversations.
The next morning, post breakfast, we bundled into the car and had a road trip to the Kyle of Lockalsh planned. My partner had been here before and was highly recommending this drive to cross the Skye bridge, just for the magnificent views. And he wasn’t wrong. We had to stop once on the way right when we started because my daughter was having a moment but then she relaxed once we took a breather outside on the road and started off again. The next stop was to grab a bite and we saw this cute little caravan on the road side selling hot dogs, sandwiches and ice cream, overlooking a small stream. So we parked there, did a small hike towards the water stream and then had a small lunch of quesadillas, a hot dog and an ice cream (oh make that two, since my daughter dropped the first cone and was terribly upset about it). After lunch, we didn’t stop until we crossed the Skye bridge, and I find it difficult to phrase the beauty in front of my eyes. There were mossy green mountains on either side of the road, towering over us. Blue sky and white clouds, while the sun shone intermittently. Flat grasslands along the side , which were sometimes laced with small pebbled streams- my gosh, in love with the views. The only other time I have been so in awe of majestic views like this was when I was in Kashmir and Ladakh in India. I know there are many similar beautiful places in the World, but I have to see them to talk and rave about them 🙂 As luck would have it, my toddler slept through most of the drive, so we stopped at multiple places and just stepped out the car to take in the views when we felt like it. It was one of the best drives for me.
Now this is the only disappointing part of the trip, since I had wanted to do some sight seeing in Inverness, and mainly visit the old Gaelic church site which had been changed into a second hand book store and go inside the Inverness public library as well. However, by the time we reached Inverness, it was 5 pm, and since it was a Sunday, both the library and the book store were closed 😦 So, we just walked around the town centre a little, and I went to another old 16th Century Church that overlooks the river, and we all got an ice cream from the gelato store nearby, before heading home for the day.
We had to check out that day from our cute little lakeside airbnb home, and it felt a little sad leaving this place. But all good things come to an end, so we can plan for more good things and trips:) So, we checked out by 11:30 am, made our usual stop over for lunch at a cute little Scottish inn on the way in a little village called Carrbridge. The inn was so cute and my sister said, the young bartender reminded her of the actor from the Leap year..lol! The return journey seemed shorter, so once we checked in to our last Airbnb home, we left straight for Carlton hill, since my partner really wanted to hike up to Arthur’s seat. However, I had caught a cold by then (how inconvenient) and my toddler was tired, and she just wanted mummy, so we had to give up the hike and just chill about in the open field garden beneath it, while my sister went up for the hike. My partner also skipped the trek, so he could spend time with us instead- thoughtful:) We decided to cook at home that night, and spend time checking pictures and playing with my daughter. So we got some rations from Tesco again, and spent a nice relaxing evening with Scotch and home made pesto pasta. It was awesome.
That’s it, we actually could have returned on Day 6 itself, but I liked the easy pace and the last dinner together in Edinburgh to end the trip. We checked out and spent some time at a nearby mall, and then headed to the airport. I found the return journey check in at the Edinburgh airport a little confusing, since there weren’t very clear instructions on where to collect your boarding passes from, what to carry, what is allowed in cabin luggage for the child, etc. But otherwise, it was an uneventful flight back.
Thank you Scotland, for the smooth and smoky Islay Scotch, for your beautiful Lochs and views and for the warmth of the people there:) I hope I can visit again one day. The trip was made more special because my sister, partner and my little baby were with me to share my joys and experiences:)