I bring you a kind of diary of my Scotland trip in today's post.
DAY 1 -Travel to Glasgow-
I signed up for yet another tour group for Scotland. It was a 5-day trip from Glasgow through the Highlands to Edinburgh. The tour was with CIE Tours International, and I would highly recommend booking with them if you are interested in joining a tour group in Britain or Ireland (totally not sponsored.). It was very professionally done, and everything (except a couple meals) was taken care of.
Check out their website: CIE Tours International
I first needed to travel to Glasgow from London to meet with the tour group at 2:30pm. I opted to take the train (Virgin Trains) into Glasgow, as flights at the time I was looking were too pricey, and a bus ride would be too long.
My train departed London Euston at 8:30am and arrived at Glasgow Central at 1:00pm. The hotel was located a quick 10 minutes walk away from the train station, so I headed that direction. But first, a fabric stop. On Google maps, I noticed that the hotel was situated right across the street from a fabric store, Mandors Fabric Store (134 Renfrew Street, G3 6ST).
The hotel for the night was the Double Tree by Hilton at Glasgow Central (36 Cambridge Street, G2 3HN). Before I could properly settle in, we were off on a tour of the city! We made stops at Glasgow East (the more medieval part) and Glasgow West (the more modern part).
|The Necropolis, Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0UZ|
|Glasgow Cathedral, Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0QZ|
|Glasgow Cathedral from The Necropolis|
|Major Archibald Douglas Monteath Mausoleum|
|Provand's Lordship: Glasgow's oldest house|
|St. Nicholas' Garden at Provand Lordships|
The night ended with a welcome drink and dinner at the hotel.
DAY 2 - Highlands: Loch Lomond, Loch Ness-
Day 2 took us up to the Highlands of Scotland. This is where a lot of Scotland's clan history exists. The terrain is still very pristine and undisturbed. If you want to escape the bustle of city, this is where you come. The calmness of the Scottish Highlands will be sure to relax you. We caught very nice weather during the tour in Scotland. It usually isn't as sunny as it was (so the locals keep telling us).
A trip through Glen Coe valley had us reach Loch Ness where we went on a short cruise through the Loch.
|Three Sisters of Glen Coe (Gearr Aonach, Aonach Dubh, Beinn Fhada)|
|Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge|
The end of the day brought us to the town of Nairn, where we stayed at the Newton Hotel (Charlie Chaplin stayed here). By far, Newton hotel was my favourite. From the way the building looked from the outside, to how cute the interior was, I would definitely return. So much old charm!
|The very cool Newton Hotel, Inverness Road, Nairn, IV12 4RX|
Before dinner, I took a walk through the town, and stumbled upon, what more, a fabric shop! If you ever stop in Nairn, head over to the Nairn Wool Store. The shop keeper was super helpful (and let me get a few things although I came in 2 minutes before closing!) and she recommended I go down to the beach. She said it was a must see, especially when the tide was low and you could see the rocks. So I did just that!
|Hey, look! A seagull.|
DAY 3 -Whisky Tasting & St. Andrews-
After breakfast at the Newton Hotel, it was off to the Blair Athol Distillery for a tour and tasting! Although I'm not an alcohol connoisseur, I did learn how to properly drink whisky! You must warm it up in your hands to release the flavours, then consume the drink by sipping. Whisky is not for me though.
|Trees around the distillery are black because of the whisky!|
|Blair Athol Distillery|
|Water for the distillation comes straight from the river!|
After the whisky woke everyone up, we headed for St. Andrews, a.k.a. the "home of golf". Besides the infamous golf course, there were many other things to see in this quaint town of St. Andrews.
|St. Andrews Cathedral|
|St. Andrews Cathedral|
|St. Andrews Castle|
|A building along The Scores in St. Andrews|
|The infamous golf course of St. Andrews|
After St. Andrews, we tour continued into Edinburgh, which we would be for the next 2 nights. This evening we had traditional Scottish entertainment and dinner at the Surgeon's Hall.
|Traditional Scottish music and Highland dancing|
DAY 4 -Edinburgh-
Our full day in Edinburgh started with breakfast at the hotel. We then traveled to the city and had a drive passed many of the points of interest. Our first actual stop was at the Edinburgh Castle, where we had a quick tour, then the rest of the day was left to us! A tour member and I took a scenic walk through the Old Town and New Town before heading back to the hotel in the evening for some golf (just the driving range though). I had dinner at the hotel, as there wasn't much to eat around there.
|Bath House located outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse|
|Scottish Parliament Building|
|Palace of Holyroodhouse|
|Views from Edinburgh Castle|
|Views from Edinburgh Castle|
|St. Margaret's Chapel at Edinburgh Castle|
|St. Columbia's Free Church of Scotland|
|The Elephant House Cafe, a.k.a. the "birth place of Harry Potter"|
|A Piper outside the Surgeon's Hall|
DAY 5 -Departure-
The last day started with breakfast at the Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club, then I caught a ride to Edinburgh International Airport back to London Gatwick.
I enjoyed Scotland more than I thought I would. It has a lot of "old world" charm, that intrigues me more than that of England's history (maybe it's all the clan rivalry!). I love that the cities within Scotland aren't as congested as those in London and if you need a breather, it's a quick pop into the Highlands. The uniquely Scottish traditions makes everyone have a good time; from The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond to Haggis to Highland dancing. In some ways, Scotland reminds me of the Pacific Northwest with the varying terrain: rolling hills, mountains (with skiing facilities) and beaches. I have so much more of Scotland to explore!