So...we went to Scotland and it was ah-mah-zing. In ways we can go on and on about and in ways we can't articulate, let's just say our trip through the Highlands was transformative. What began as a silly idea to visit Jamie's homeland (ya' know, the lead in sci-fi/romance novel, Outlander) became a full-fledged adventure lasting over two weeks. Annie and I made the trek with three of our closest girlfriends (you'll meet them in just a bit) and truly fell in love with the countryside. Scotland's landscape is brooding and romantic, with out-of-this-world vistas your brain can barely comprehend. The people are passionate, kind, and curious. The food? So, so good. The drinks? Strong and many.
We will be posting about our trip over the next couple of weeks. To get us started, here is a look at the route we took. We wanted to be free; to get lost on long winding roads. So we went for it and rented a car. And heck, driving on the left ain't too bad!
First stop, London! We opted to recover from jet lag with afternoon tea at The Orangery in Kensington Gardens, spicy curry at Dishoom, and walks through the neighborhood. We've spent time in Shoreditch before and loved the vibe—think Silver Lake but with hoards of well-dressed Brits. There are plenty of pubs and late nights spots to explore so we stayed awake and busy.
After a few days we boarded a train and made our way North to Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city. We booked an Airbnb just north of city center in Stockbridge, a neighborhood in New Town. The city is lively with bits of history around every turn. Between the bars, restaurants, and sightseeing, there was way too much to pack into three days. Look out for a more in depth profile of our whereabouts and top picks!
From Edinburgh we made our way through the National Cairngorms Park to Inverness. The photo above is our first sunset...I MEAN COME ON! In Inverness we enjoyed a bucket of mussels, toured our first whisky distillery, and enjoyed a tasting at Black Isle Brewery. To satisfy our history fix, we drove out to Clava Cairns, a burial site created around 2000 BC, and walked the Culloden Battlefield, which marked the final confrontation of the Jacobite uprising. It rained that day; the skies were gray and the wind was blistering.
Inverness was built on the River Ness which flows directly into Loch Ness. We opted to drive alongside the Loch in its entirety, in the hopes of spotting the lake monster. While we explored Urquhart Castle, Diana even chanted, "Here, Nessy, Nessy!" But, no luck.
The Isle of Skye is where all things magical live, along with dinosaurs (once upon a time), golden eagles, and more shaggy Bieber cows. There is nothing and yet there is everything all at once. Skye made my heart skip a beat. We booked an Airbnb just about as far north as possible, in the small village of Kilmuir. To soak up it all up, we drove along the coast in a big loop. Between the views at Kilt Rock and the hike towards Old Man of Storr, we were ready to finish the day with drinks and dinner. We opted to spend the evening in Portree at Merchant Bar and Dulse & Brose.
The drive to Oban began with a very important detour—hunting for authentic Scottish blankets. And with luck we found them at Skye Weavers, a teeny-tiny, really tiny shop. In getting lost we also happened on Dunvegan Castle, home of the Fairy Flag!
We spent two nights at Barcaldine Castle, a 17th-century castle just outside of Oban. Why did we opt to stay in this castle? Because it is supposedly haunted. While there were no outright demonstrations of paranormal power during our visit, Annie and I both dreamt of one of the ghosts. Perhaps they haunt only in guests' dreams? During the day we drove into town and stopped in for a tasting/tour at the Oban Distillery. Not to be forgotten was our hike to Fairy Bridge. That was magical.
While our time in Glasgow was brief, we strolled through the Botanic Gardens in the late afternoon and walked on Argyll Street in the West End to explore local bars. Kelvin grove Café was my favorite spot; the scene was relaxed, drinks innovative, and bartenders eager to share their knowledge.
With our time in Scotland at an end, we hopped on a flight back to London, this time staying in Chelsea. The photograph above was captured on an afternoon walk through St. Jame's Park. We picked up a few bottles of wine and watched the sunshine warm each other's happy faces. It was the perfect way to close the trip—all together, beaming.