Well the last stop on our tour of Scotland was Edinburgh and it brought our visit to a climactic ending. Its architecture rivals any European city, an impressive breadth and depth of Georgian and neoclassical buildings which will make you dizzy spinning 360 degrees for the views and your neck permanently kinked from looking up. It’s like getting lost in Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies but Scottish Style. Looming over the city impressively is the monolithic Edinburgh Castle which is home to Scotland’s crown Jewels (the real ones) and the Stone of Destiny used for royal coronations. Arthur’s Seat looms above the city center, the remnant of an ancient distinct volcano in Holyrood Park.
The Isle of Skye for me was a highlight of Scotland. It’s rugged land and coastal scenery was so epic and atmospheric, maybe it was the misty weather that added to the ambiance but the island left a distinct impression. The weather changed frequently from windy and misty to sunny and calm so if you didn’t like it as the saying goes ‘wait 5 minutes’ but we never minded the wet weather, it was part of the experience.
We spent three nights in Fort William to experience the beauty of the Highlands and could have easily spent a few more days here. The views change as you drive every few miles through this diverse countryside, a car is a must to really get the most of this area. There is lots to do here especially for the outdoor enthusiast but shopping, dining and lots of other activities are also available.
A few days ago we made a trip to the town of Roslin to view its famous landmark, the Rosslyn Chapel. It was made more famous by Dan Browns book- The Da Vinci Code and movie of the same name starring Tom Hanks. if you recall it was the locale for the scene of the climactic ending as Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon race from London to Roslin, chased by the French police and Catholic zealots. They are on the brink of exposing a 2000-year conspiracy to rid evidence that Christ had children and Sophie was one of those decedents. They discover that the Holy Grail itself once resided in Rosslyn brought by the Templars many centuries ago but has since vanished.
The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies, Calendar House and Park, Linlithgow Palace and Loch. Virtually everything in Scotland is close by North American Standards. We were staying near Broxburn and these tourist sites are nearby, within close proximity are the towns of Falkirk and Linlithgow which are all in the county of the West Lothians. We checked off these items on our tourist list over two days although you could easily start early and hit them all in one busy day. You’d need a car to see all these sites in a day but you could more than cover them in two by buses which serve these attractions. Each site needs about an hour and a half depending on your interests unless you plan to spend a leisurely day at any of them.
On Sunday we settled in to our second house sit as our billets left for a holiday in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham. Yes, the home of Robin Hood is a real place! Well thank goodness for a housesit, the timing was needed as both Janet and I have been sick. Mine only lasted a few days as a bad cold/flu bug but as soon as we settled in to our second place Janet got hit hard. She’s been in bed since so we’ve just been laying low and enjoying our temporary home. Luckily we were fine on moving days as I don’t know what we’d do if we had to travel while being sick. We had anticipated getting ill at some point but not so early on, hopefully we’ve got that done and over with now. If Janet’s not better tomorrow we might need to make a trip to the doctor.
In the Stirling area another interesting Castle we totally enjoyed visiting was the Doune Castle which has been a popular filming location for movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, Outlander and many others. As you wander the castle grounds Actor/Director Terry Jones from Monty Python narrates the audio tour handed out at the castle entrance along with Outlander clips from Sam Heughan (James Frazer), Janet’s favorite parts! They help bring to life the history surrounding the castle and add an ambiance as you make your way through the castle trying to remember scenes from the movies filmed here.
Yesterday we visited the famed Stirling Castle and had the first opportunity to use our Historical Sites Membership card so entry was free, or included in the cost of the pass. There are a number of ways to save money on entrance into the historical sites, the best option depends on your travel scenario.
Well we are a few days into our first house sit in a small village called Cambus, in the Clackmananshire area of Scotland, near Stirling. It’s suburban but on the edge of a rural area so the best of both worlds with sheep farms and countryside a step away. We’ve settled into a routine and living life like the local Scots which really isn’t much different from life at home, only the accents are different.
Well it was our last full day in Glasgow and we decided to wander over to The People’s Palace as it is a walkable distance from our apartment on the east end of the city. The People’s Palace is located in the Glasgow Green, a large 136-acre urban park along the river Clyde and within walkable distance of downtown. Its center piece is the Palace and attached Winter Gardens, highlighted by the incredible Doulton Fountain.
One of the top tourist destinations in Glasgow is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Museum and Park. Situated on the northwest end of town on Argyle street by the banks of the River Kelvin it is the most popular ‘free to enter’ visitor attraction in Scotland. The museum opened in 1901 as the Palace for Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition held that year. It is built in a Spanish Baroque style in the local red bricks, a magnificent building with a grand pipe organ occupying the heart of the museum in its grand hall which is played daily at 1pm.
‘walk the hills’ as they say.. If we had more time, I’d be planning some hikes here. The island is divided by the Highland fault line that runs right threw, separating the mountainous north end to the lush pastures of the south and making for some diverse terrain. Cycling also seems to be very popular here as many cyclists had transported their bikes onto the ferry and were seen about the island. We also saw lots of sailboaters and kayakers playing in the bay.
We’ll it’s day three in Glasgow and we’re starting to come out of our surreal fog as the trip begins to feel real!
The few days before leaving it started to sink in that we would be away for a long time and we struggled with the emotions of saying good-bye to friends and family, thinking about leaving the dogs and especially the kids. We hadn’t anticipated it being hard, Janet cried on and off for the two days prior. The word ‘AIRPORT’ became the trigger and the kids and I made a game of it, maybe a bit cruel like tickling but we thought it was hilarious!