Okay, so we definitely didn’t take part in any major battles for independence from a tyrannical king (or even manage to make it over to Stirling Bridge or Bannockburn!), but I just couldn’t justify posting about Scotland without taking advantage of the opportunity to do my best Mel-Gibson-as-William-Wallace impression!!
It’s not often that I get the opportunity to really demonstrate to my Mom how much all of the millions of sacrifices, large and small, known and unknown, that she’s made for me and my siblings are so so deeply appreciated. Beginning with folded pieces of paper with crayoned “I love you, Mom” messages as a child and various objects constructed with paste and popsicle sticks and progressing to gift cards for pedicures, every attempt at “thank you” just seems so pale and scrawny next to all of the swim meets and PTA meetings and warm meals and tight hugs and sleepless nights that only begin to scratch the surface of all that my Mom put into my childhood. And while a trip to Scotland still doesn’t begin to make a dent in the debt that I owe her for all that she’s contributed the the incredible life I am living, the opportunity to say thank you in a slightly bigger way was one that I just couldn’t miss!
As you may remember, my rockin’ Mom ran her first half- marathon on her 60th birthday, just a few days before we left for our trip! Taking her aching legs in stride, she boarded a plane to Maine less than 24 hours after crossing the finish line in order to spend a couple of days checking out our new home before our trip! Obviously, we immediately had to walk over to Starbucks and then LL Bean, since it’s just not a first time visit to Freeport without the boot!!
(We were trying make it an “action” shot!)
And then we were off!! One 17 hour flight, a mad run through Charles de Gaulle airport, a harrowing tram ride to the world’s smallest plane, and one handing over of keys to a little car with the steering wheel on the “passenger” side of the car later and we were in Edinburgh!! I won’t harp on the driving thing, but I have to say this much…who ever the genius was who thought it was even remotely a good idea to simply hand me the keys to the car and turn me loose on Scotland, especially in an ancient city filled with winding, uber-narrow (2-way!!!), cobblestone streets and a proliferation of traffic circles (that go LEFT!) without the slightest bit of advice on driving on the left or any indication of what various traffic signs might mean should be considered a public menace. We’re going to go ahead and let the girl who accepted said keys without considering the full extent of the potential consequences totally off the hook. Let’s just sum it all up by saying that it took more than 2 hours to get the 10 miles from the airport to our hotel in the city center and there was a fair amount gasps, yells, veers, and fleeing pedestrians involved.
Lucky for us, we could walk all over Edinburgh from our hotel
! St. Giles Cathedral
and the Royal Mile
were our first introduction to Scotland!
The view from our hotel was pretty awesome!
was the real-life individual on whom the character “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde” was based upon! Such a cool story….
In case you didn’t catch this from the shot of my Mom in the phone booth, we acted unabashedly like total tourists, including taking photos of the taxi cabs!!
Our second night was spent at the super cool Atholl Palace Hotel
in the absolutely adorable town of Pitlochry!
We grabbed tea and toast for breakfast in town at the cutest little tea house and I just had to grab a quick shot of the “morning cuppa” on the menu!!
On our way up to Inverness, we stopped to check out Blair Castle
We got into Inverness
late, but the city was so walkable and cool to check out at night!
We decided it was just a tad too cold to take one of the many boat tours offered on Loch Ness, but definitely wanted to check it out, so we headed over to Urquhart Castle
on its banks! So so cool!!
My poor Mom, I shot a lot of photos of her taking pictures!!
From Inverness, we were off to St. Andrews
! I know that I said I wouldn’t harp on the whole driving thing, but we ended up having ourselves a little driving adventure on our way to St. Andrews…suffice it to say that, at one point, we drove for more than 40 minutes with the gas light on, in the dark, having seen nothing but stone walls and hedgerows for a very long time, not at all sure we were even heading in the direction of St. Andrews! By the time we arrived at our hotel
, we were definitely ready for a glass of wine (or 3!)!
But the next morning we were ready to brave the elements and the roads to check out the Cathedral
and wander a bit around this very Harry Potter-ish town!
It was seriously
Okay, just looking at this 3×5 mine shaft careening into the bowels of the ancient castle ruins made me light headed…thanks, buuuuuut no.
Once again, we arrived at our destination after dark! It turns out that it’s just as harrowing to drive around Edinburgh at night as it is during the day! Go figure. Once we got settled in, we decided to skip the car and grab a cab into the city center for dinner and to check out the sites after dark! Turns out that the sights are pretty dang awesome after dark!!
…we never quite made it there, unfortunately, but it looked amazing from Edinburgh Castle
We actually decided to turn the car in early and taxi-cab it for our last day…probably a good idea since it was another hour-plus adventure around Edinburgh to get the 7 mi to the airport to turn it in and we had a 6am flight! This is our parked impression of my driving…now imagine it with more terror and whiter knuckles!
We spent our final hours in Scotland checking out Edinburgh Castle
, buying gifts for family and friends, and trying to soak in as much as we could before heading out!
Full of adventures (and a few mis
adventures!), it was truly the trip of a lifetime and time spent with my Mom that I know that I will always be deeply grateful for!