There are some places you visit and you just know you'll love it even before you have explored. Scotland was one of those places. The culture, the people, and even the weather all lived up to my Scottish expectations.
We flew into London and took a train to Edinburgh. Our ride on the London Tube to the train station was quite entertaining. Pretty sure we annoyed a lot of people on our packed train with our luggage. Sorry local Londoners, I tried to pack light. Traveling with camera gear always makes me look like a diva who needs that extra bag of clothes she won't wear. A piece of advice for transportation in other countries: take the train when traveling between countries when possible. Sure, you could fly and probably get there a lot faster, but in my opinion seeing the country side via train is a lot more exciting to me. It's also a good way to interact with locals traveling as well! How else would we have known that tea cakes are absolutely delicious if they didn't recommend us one on the train? (We brought some home and I ate one today ;) On our journey to Scotland we spotted a lot of sheep, so like a typical tourist I got all giddy and pointed them out. ;) You can't see sheep from planes, now can YOU?
Our ride was smooth to Edinburgh and we were all incredibly exhausted upon arrival. 7 hours on a plane and 4 hours on a train, plus the time change we were worn out. After walking (imagine heavy breathing but trying to still look cool) our luggage all the way down the main street in the heart of Edinburgh, we finally made it to our hotel. This was my first stay at a 5 star hotel and I felt like a complete peasant when a man in a kilt greeted us at the door. I said 'thank you' looking rather dingy in my well-traveled-in clothes and crazy hair from sleeping on the train. ;) Our hotel was a Waldorf Astoria (ha, only ever seen one of those in Home Alone. Told you, complete peasant.) and it was a former railway hotel in the early 1900's (has its own wikipedia page, how fancy). Our hotel served us mocktails (juice and sparkling water) when we arrived, and I'm apparently so uncultured the waitress walked all the way to our table just to tell me how to stir it. haha! Our first evening was spent walking around the city, exploring, and trying to find dinner. We settled with a local hip burger place. Yeah, Americans going to a burger restaurant the first night in a new country. We lived up to our American-ness. We arrived late and it was also the bank holiday weekend, so we had to settle for what was open. We also learned that in some restaurants in the U.K. where a waiter usually serves your table (as we are used to), you just seat yourself. Things like that to just have to get used to and dive into the local norm.
I didn't have a chance to journal on our trip. So I'll be writing a lot of what I remember. Please bear with my long Europe posts and consider this an introduction post. SO many more photos to come. In other words, I took too many. Forgive me in advance. Pour yourself a cuppa if you read though this whole post, you deserve it.
EDINBURGH BY IPHONE: