Studying in Ireland, I knew I had to go to Scotland. It is so close! I had very little knowledge of the country other than bagpipes and scotch whiskey. We had heard great things about Edinburgh so we decided to spend our weekend there!
Our first day started with an early morning flight. Once we arrived, we found our way to our hostel and began our search for food. After a delicious breakfast we began our hunt to find the Royal Mile, the main road in Edinburgh that ends with the Edinburgh Castle. On our way we saw the National Museum and decided to stop in. It is so cool to see such old artwork and admire how detailed the work is. Art museums are often a great way to get a quick glance at the history of a country, especially when there is a whole section on the buildings and people of the country like the one in Scotland.
After our detour, we continued on to the Royal Mile. Edinburgh is one of the most amazing cities I have been to. It sits on a hill and there are so many historical and old buildings everywhere. We began walking up the Royal Mile and found ourselves right in front of the castle.
My one complaint with Scotland is that it is on the pound and the pound is EXPENSIVE. Unfortunately, the castle was not cheap, but how could we not go into the Edinburgh Castle while in Edinburgh? We dropped the 16 pounds and began to wander the grounds. The views from the castle were panoramic and there were tons of small museums and educational areas. We also got to see them launch a cannon, which was really cool to see as well as incredibly loud.
After the castle we did the Whiskey Experience. The tour started with a ride that felt like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. The ride took us through the process of how whiskey is made in Scotland. After the tour we got to do a tasting of whiskey. I chose the fruitiest one I could find and hoped for the best. I can now safely say that straight whiskey is disgusting and not for me, but I got to keep the tasting glass so that was cool.
We ended our day with a free ghost tour that took us around the city. Apparently Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in Europe. We walked through cemeteries and execution points and heard murder and ghost stories. After being sufficiently freaked out, we made our way back to our hostel.
The next morning we woke up early to get to our tour to the Highlands. The Scottish Highlands came highly recommended so we decided to see what the hype was for ourselves. Although we got an incredibly foggy day, the Highlands did not disappoint.
We were surrounded by incredible mountains and scenery. The 12 hour tour ended with a trip to Loch Ness. There was an option to do a boat tour, but being the poor college students we are, we decided to opt out of that and explore ourselves. We found a path and began to climb. Unfortunately, trees were in the way of a view of the lake, but we were still able to peek through to see the water. After our brief adventure, we headed back to the gift shop to warm up with a cup of tea.
Our last day in Scotland took us to Arthur’s Seat. I had read about the hike prior to going to Scotland and a girl we met on the ghost tour told us there were amazing views. We met up with two guys who are also studying abroad in Galway who were visiting Scotland as well and headed to the hike.
This was by far my favorite part of our trip. The hike was not exactly easy, but once we reached the top we got the most amazing views of the city. With my hair blowing everywhere, I couldn’t stop smiling because I was in such a beautiful place. We began our descent back to the Royal Mile and headed to the the Elephant Cafe.
The Elephant Cafe is where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter. I’m not going to pretend that I am a Harry Potter super fan (i have only seen the first, second and part of the fifth movie) but there was coffee and croissants and amazing views of the castle. I understood why J.K. Rowling chose this spot to write her novel.
The cafe was pretty standard and lived up to the name (there were elephants everywhere) but there was little sign of Harry Potter until we walked into the bathroom. The walls were entirely covered with odes to Harry Potter and J.K. It was pretty amazing to see the dedication of so many Harry Potter fans.
After some more wandering around the Royal Mile, we headed to the bus to get to the airport. Our trip was short, but it was plenty of time to fall in love with such a beautiful country!
Check out my video of our trip to Scotland: