For the past several big trips, I’ve created “snapshot” posts with a summary of superlatives and sidebars from our travels. It’s a fun way to me to reflect back on specific moments and to include some photos that I might not have blogged previously, so to continue that tradition here is my Scotland snapshot!
Both Ireland and Scotland have been on our must-travel list for quite a while, so it was just awesome spending a whole week in each. And, this was my most complicated itinerary to plan so far, with multiple flights involved, two rental cars, two ferries, two trains, and eight different accommodations. I was pretty anxious that something major would go wrong and foil our plans, but everything went more smoothly than I could imagine.
As for a Scotland-specific Best Moment, I couldn’t have been happier to find a Highland cow. Chris counts the whole Islay weekend as his favorite moment. I also loved my quiet morning on Calton Hill, watching the sun rise over the city.
This cringe-worthy moment is still a little fresh for me (ugh, pun not intended) and I didn’t even mention it in my post about our Islay distillery tours, but it easily wins hands-down as the Worst Moment on this trip so I suppose I have to divulge it now!
Chris and I were on the Water-to-Whisky Experience with Laphroaig, walking over a hilly pasture on the way to see the water source. I was in the back of the group pausing every so often to take photos, so I had to quicken my steps to keep up. I thought I was being careful enough with my footing, but while walking down a slope my shoe slipped on a wet patch of grass, I landed in a big pile of mud, and I slid several feet down the hill. Only it wasn’t mud.
I had smeared a thick layer of fresh cow patty all over the seat of my hiking pants, and we weren’t even half-way through the 4.5-hour tour! I had no choice but to finish the hike to the water source and sit awkwardly through lunch. Thankfully our guide was able to drop me back off at the distillery after our picnic, and I was even more thankful that Chris and I had our suitcases in the car parked at the distillery parking lot. Laphroaig even had a washing machine that I could use to launder my pants and shoes and I was able to change and meet up with the group for the rest of the tour, so it wasn’t nearly the disaster that it could have been, but it was still my least favorite moment!
Fact: overhead can lights don’t make it easy to take a decent iPhone snapshot (so the one I took below is pretty bad). Terrible food photography aside, the Malt Shovel Inn on Cockburn Street served my favorite meal in Scotland. Their traditional Bangers and Mash sounds perfect as I write this post on a cold and dreary day at home in Virginia.
Something We Learned
The Real Mary King’s Close tour taught us about the streets and spaces that were hidden underground in 17th century Edinburgh. I think that would have been a hard concept for me to imagine if I hadn’t seen it first-hand, and it was a fascinating tour that I highly recommend to anyone visiting the city.
We’re Thankful We Packed
Outfits with layers. Half of our days in Scotland were a little on the chilly side, and the other half we found ourselves shedding jackets and scarves. It was nice to have options while still keeping our luggage to a minimum.
We Didn’t Need To Bring
Rain gear! I would still recommend to anyone visiting the UK that they bring a rain jacket and I’d certainly never travel there without one, but we really lucked out with the weather and never needed our rain gear.
I deeply regret falling onto cow poop.
Reasons To Go Back
We only scratched the surface of Scotland. Our main goal was to see Islay and Edinburgh, and I didn’t want to squeeze much else into our one week there. I’d love to see Isle of Skye and more of the Highlands. Chris wants to cover Speyside as well, so we’ll make a return trek for sure.
Chris ranks this photo of the Laphroaig barrels in his top favorites.
And I picked a photo of Edinburgh, one of Victoria Street, and probably every single Highland cow photo we took!