Speechless... so much to say about Scotland that its proving difficult to find the words. Not since Iceland have I found a place who's landscapes dazzle my senses and enchants my soul so effectively.
The grandeur of the Highlands is whatever is beyond the word epic. Mountains that rise from the sea, boulders seemingly dropped from the heavens and the water of the lochs, who's depths appear endless.
I love when my pre-trip expectations are both right and wrong. When the reality is so far beyond the wildest dream I possibly conjure. But also when preconceived notions are cast aside as false and new truths replace them.
We've all heard the tales of the the difficult to understand, thick Scottish accent. I can say that not only was the accent delightful to listen to but very easy to understand and follow. Yes, there were a few times when we said, "huh?" but it was overwhelmingly easy to follow along and communicate.
Now unto the magic ... this vast land. A juxtaposition in the truest sense. Colorless and colorful. Subdued browns and vibrant greens. All set against the rugged grey rocks that rise around you everywhere.
The Isle of Skye in particular was extremely dramatic, where every microclimate seems to occupy space and time. Deep blue waters, lush green valleys and snowcapped mountain peaks, all abound on this magical island.
We attempted hikes at both the famous Old Man of Storr and the Fairy Pools. I say attempted because we hadn't done any homework, and arrived at both locations to learn that each hike was multiple hours in length. Having set aside only one day for the island, we did our best to hike as much of each as we could. Perhaps had be looked the night before, we would have arrived a bit earlier in the day to ensure being able to complete both journeys.
The hike to the best vantage point for the Old Man, in particular, was far out of our reach. The views we had were still stunning, but the best viewpoint for the rock much too far to reach this day.
Edinburgh, a fairy tale city, which we found to be as charming as you'd think it could be. We all agreed it was a perfectly sized city, easily accessible by foot and only needing a couple days to explore. Its old world feel paired almost perfectly with the contemporary hustle and bustle.
Both the Observatory at Calton Hill, and Edinburgh Castle provided stunning 360º views of the city. The streets are a magical mish-mash that weave in, around and over each other. Multiple times while walking a street we realized there was another street more than 100 feet beneath us!
And while here, I celebrated another trip around the sun. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, complete with Haggis, before Eli and I imbibed on some delightful cocktails at a wonderful bar called Tonic.
And for my father, no trip to Scotland would have been complete without a visit to the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews. We are pleasantly surprised to find out that for three months each year, the course is handed back to the public and on Sunday's there is no golf. The course is opened to the public and you are allowed to walk freely on the course ... even bringing along your dog!
This is a place that will stick close to my heart. Getting the chance to spend time with my parents and Eli in a new place was such a special opportunity, and I will cherish this time forever.
Oh, and we saw the Highlander castle ... haha!