A Trip To Scotland, Part One: An Overview

Thousands of moons ago, in the spring of 1977 to be exact, I backpacked around England, Scotland, France and Italy for six weeks. I had little money at the time, lots of hair on my 29-year-old head, and enjoyed the hell out of the trip.

In ensuing years I returned to England, France and Italy. And entertained the idea of visiting lovely Scotland once again too. You know what? It finally happened, because my wife Sandy and I spent eight days there in late May. This time I had a decent amount of money to my name, but distressingly less hair on my head. And, as before, I enjoyed the hell out of the trip.

Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands

Sandy and I were based in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. We took day trips to other parts of the land (the county of Fife, which is north of Edinburgh; and the Scottish Highlands, a majestic territory of mountains, forests, meadows, lochs and charming villages), but otherwise spent our moments in that hilly, fine city. Which was our game plan. When traveling nowadays, you see, we prefer to linger in whatever locales we’re visiting, rather than race from one town or city to another. You can’t see and do everything anyway, so why put pressure on yourself trying to?

Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh doesn’t have the knock-your-socks-off looks and attractions of, say, Paris and Amsterdam. But it’s got plenty going for it. For one thing, it’s very walkable. Most of what anyone might want to see is no more than two miles apart. Its buildings, solid and stoic and constructed from stone far more than from steel, create a comforting sense of permanence and often one of mystery. It boasts Princes Street Gardens, an enormous park that is one of the most magnificent I’ve ever seen. And not only does the city ooze history and culture, it is filled with pubs, bistros and restaurants where hungry and thirsty souls may find nourishment and refreshment. A low-level beer geek, I was anxious to check out the brew scene in town. Success! Each night I quaffed an ale from a brewery that I’d never heard of before.

Old Town
Old Town
Warriston’s Close, in Old Town

The sections of Edinburgh that visitors spend the most time in are Old Town and New Town. Old Town was the first part of the city to be inhabited, and though few ancient structures remain, much of what stands in Old Town is old enough, dating from around 1600 to the late 1800s. Old Town, built on a ridge, is heavily cobblestoned. It is peppered with winding streets and with alleys (known as closes) that often are steep and that connect one street with another. Ergo, Old Town is highly atmospheric. I preferred it to New Town, which actually is pretty old, but flatter, more open and far less funky than Old Town. And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Old Town was mobbed with tourists and locals while I was in Edinburgh. New Town was busy with people too, but less so.

Street performer in Old Town
Old Town

Sandy and I went on two walking tours of Old Town, accompanied by our Parisian friends Martine and Alan. That handsome couple was with us for the first two and a half days of our Scottish experience. The four of us also wandered here and there on our own for hours, both in the Old and the New. It was good to hang with folks with whom we’re very comfortable and on the same wavelengths. Life’s better that way.

Left to right: Sandy, Martine, Alan, Neil
New Town

I could write loads and loads of words here about all that the four of us saw and did, and loads more about the experiences that Sandy and I had after Alan and Martine returned to Gay Paree. But that would be too much information for this humble essay. After all, A Trip To Scotland, Part Two will follow fairly soon to fill in some gaps. And who knows? Maybe Part Three also will emerge.

Exterior view of Edinburgh Castle

For now, then, I’ll toss out a few comments about Edinburgh Castle, which sits high on a hill at the western end of Old Town and looms over the city. Its history is long and complicated, too much so for the mostly-in-one-ear-and-out-the-other likes of me to understand and retain, though the leaders of both walking tours went into great detail. But let me say this: The castle complex is a maze-like assortment of buildings. There’s a palace, prisons, barracks, a chapel and many other structures, only a few of which have present-day usage.

I dug the palace, which holds the Scottish Crown Jewels (a crown, a scepter and a sword) and also the Stone Of Destiny, a slab of sandstone that was the coronation seat of Scottish queens and kings during long-ago centuries. The Stone Of Destiny was last used by a Scottish monarch in 1292. (Damn right I’d like to include photos of the Jewels and of the Stone, but taking their pictures is forbidden.) Within the palace I also saw the tiny room in which Mary Queen Of Scots gave birth in 1566 to a son, James, who in 1603 unified the Scottish and English crowns. See, somehow I retained a few iotas of historical information!

St. Margaret’s Chapel
A window in St. Margaret’s Chapel

And I especially admired the castle complex’s St. Margaret’s Chapel. Built in the 1100s, it is the oldest-surviving building in Edinburgh. The chapel is small and plain-looking. That was its main appeal for me, as those two adjectives describe yours truly very accurately. And I thought that its stained glass windows were beautiful.

The proper way for me to close out Part One is to note the most intriguing event that happened during the vacation. Namely, I met in person the one and only Andrew Ferguson, who lives not far from Edinburgh. Andrew is a multi-talented guy, being a lawyer, a writer, a musician, a wine lover and who knows what else. One of the places upon which he places his written words is his WordPress blog (click here to reach it).

Somewhere in the misty past, Andrew and I discovered each other’s WordPress sites and quickly developed an online friendship. When Sandy and I made our plans to visit Scotland, I contacted Andrew. He and I then arranged a meeting date. It’s amazing that WordPress brought the two of us together, in the flesh.

Left to right: Alison, Neil, Sandy, Andrew

I’m here to tell you that Andrew and his wife Alison are swell. They drove Sandy and me around Fife, where we stopped at a couple of fishing villages. And, before returning us to our hotel, they gave us a mini-tour of some of Edinburgh. In all, they took out a day from their lives to show Sandy and me a good time. They couldn’t have done more. Wait, that’s an overstatement. Shit, they should have picked up the tab for Sandy’s and my hotel stay!

Anstruther, a fishing village in Fife

I have a couple of other online Scottish buddies via WordPress. Alyson and Anabel, I’d have liked to have met you. But the trip was too short to allow for any additional socializing. I hope you understand. (Click here and here to read, respectively, Alyson’s and Anabel’s blogs.)

Readers, thanks for joining me on this journey. Goodbye till next time.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this piece.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

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147 thoughts on “A Trip To Scotland, Part One: An Overview

  1. Sheree June 5, 2019 / 1:18 am

    Sounds as if you had a great trip. I await with interest the following parts. By the way, I agree with your travel philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ccgoesdutch June 5, 2019 / 1:40 am

    My husband and I have been three times to Scotland and loved the country side and the people! The scotch wasn’t half bad either 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 1:54 pm

      Hey there. I stuck to beer. Never had a taste for whiskey. Thanks for stopping by. Take care.

      Like

  3. Paddy Tobin June 5, 2019 / 2:54 am

    Well, that was a bit of a bigger step-out than your usual ramblings. I’m delighted you enjoyed it so very much and I enjoyed reading of it. Looking forward to the next installment.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Paddy Tobin June 5, 2019 / 2:45 pm

        You’ve recovered from the Scottish beer then!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. lievelee June 5, 2019 / 3:00 am

    Couldn’t agree more with your view on travel… Take your time and do a few sites properly, you can’t take it all in and see it all anyway… I must apply that to my exploits soon!!

    Loved reading all the details about Edinburgh Castle: British history is fascinating… I am definitely looking forward to reading parts 2, 3 and beyond of your travelogue.

    Lieve

    Liked by 3 people

  5. joyce hamilton June 5, 2019 / 8:02 am

    Great blog and loved the photos. I will be looking forward to mire.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. greenpete58 June 5, 2019 / 8:06 am

    I’m headed to Scotland, for the first time, for two weeks on July 3. (Our daughter lives in Milngavie, just outside Glasgow.) Along with playing with my two granddaughters, one of whom I haven’t seen, I plan to backpack part of the West Highland Way, and probably visit Edinburgh. A train trip to Liverpool is another potential excursion (assuming I can’t hitch a ride on a lorry). I’ll click on the links to your friends’ blogs. And if you can recommend any Scottish brews for another low-level beer geek, I’m all ears.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 2:03 pm

      Here are 2 from Scotland: Brewdog Punk IPA. Stewart’s First World Problems IPA.
      Here’s one from England: Camden Town Pale Ale.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. vprofy June 5, 2019 / 8:54 am

    Only one trip to Scotland in 76. Were scheduled to leave after a week to go to Ireland. Stopped for lunch and asked, “why leave?” So we called the car rental and turned around. Ireland could be another trip. Beautiful. Attendance at Highland Games on day was quite memorable.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Laurie Graves June 5, 2019 / 9:06 am

    What a place! And so cool that blogging connected you to a friend in Scotland. Wonderful pictures, but I especially enjoyed seeing the shots of you and Sandy. Always good to be able to put a face with the words.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jacqui Murray June 5, 2019 / 10:16 am

    What a trip! I love your descriptions, especially ‘walkable’. Though that steep flight of stairs had me virtually panting. The history is something we don’t get much of here in the US. Our history is just too short.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 2:08 pm

      Some of the alleys (i.e. closes) have steep steps, but not all. Going up the steep ones is definitely a lot of exercise.

      Like

  10. cbraun354 June 5, 2019 / 10:17 am

    I enjoyed the commentary and photos. Waiting for Part 2 and more adventures.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Robert Parker June 5, 2019 / 11:07 am

    All this time, I thought they were saying “The Scone of Destiny” and it was like one of those fruitcakes that nobody ever eats. And when I looked it up, it says “Stone of Scone” Did you try tasting this thing??

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 2:10 pm

      I had one scone during the trip. Somebody recommended the place I got it from. It was absolutely delicious. It seemed different (and better) than the scones I’ve had in the USA.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. mariezhuikov June 5, 2019 / 11:10 am

    So jealous! I love Scotland. That’s so cool that you were able to meet fellow bloggers. I look forward to hearing more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 2:11 pm

      Hi Marie. Right, meeting Andrew was a neat experience. He’s the only WordPress writer that I’ve ever met face-to-face.

      Like

  13. eden baylee June 5, 2019 / 11:13 am

    I write with an author who lives in Scotland and hope to one day go there! Your pictures inspire me to do it sooner than later,

    eden

    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 2:12 pm

      You’ll have a blast. But don’t forget to bring an umbrella. It rains there pretty often.

      Like

  14. carolinehelbig June 5, 2019 / 11:21 am

    Scotland has been on my list for a long time but for some reason seems to get pushed aside. I look forward to reading more in your series. So cool that you connected in person with another word press blogger. This just happened to me while visiting Sri Lanka and it was such a great experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Cindy Bruchman June 5, 2019 / 11:41 am

    Awesome post! I’m going to Edinburgh and the highlands in July so your pictures have wet my appetite. I’m glad you had a fun time and thanks for sharing your pictures.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Helen Devries June 5, 2019 / 11:55 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed visiting Auld Reekie and the Kingdom of Fife…….did you have time to visit the fisheries museum in Anstruther?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter June 5, 2019 / 4:39 pm

    You came to Scotland! I would love to have met you, but I know it’s hard to fit everything in. You missed a treat not visiting Glasgow though. Just saying …

    PS I had a visit from Green Pete today looking for tips! Now I’ve read this I know how he found me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 5:51 pm

      Hi Anabel. Thanks for understanding. I would have been very glad to meet you, and to see Glasgow. But with one thing or another, it wasn’t to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. alhenry June 5, 2019 / 6:04 pm

    Wow, the Stone Of Destiny! I last saw it–well, actually the one and only time I saw it–in 1976. I was so looking forward to a pic of this historic chunk of sandstone and am devastated to hear it is not photographable. It may have been photographable back in 1976–back when the Sistine Chapel was a relatively small room unconnected to anything else at the Vatican. Back when one could lay their cheek to the floor tiles in the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey, where Parliament met in the 14th century. I get that today there are something like 14 billion tourists annually at every major site, and so things must be conserved. But I would have loved a pic of the Stone of Destiny. Perhaps on your next trip, after the environmental apocalypse has left about two dozen of us on the planet…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. andrewcferguson June 5, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    Wow, I seem to have come late to the party here! It was such a pleasure to meet you and Sandy, Neil, and to show you a bit of Edinburgh and Fife. One thing I missed out on was the beer exploration part! Next time….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 7:11 pm

      Yes, I was happy to find out that the craft beer thing is going on in your land. There are a zillion tasty brews worldwide these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. cincinnatibabyhead June 5, 2019 / 6:08 pm

    Neil, does anyone in the world get as much out of life as you? I knew “walk-able” would turn up in your piece somewhere. The only way to get a feel for any place is with shoe leather. The lad (Scottish term) I collaborated with on the Doors take lives in Scotland. Did either Sandy or you “Toss the caber?” I couldn’t help myself.
    I’ll see you for part 2 (3?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2019 / 10:15 pm

      Hey there, CB. I did most of my walking in Scotland in a pair of lightweight hiking shoes that I bought years ago. They never wear out.

      I don’t know what toss the caber means, but I’ll let you try it first!

      Like

      • cincinnatibabyhead June 5, 2019 / 10:27 pm

        “Tossing the caber” is a sport native to Scotland.. I think it’s in the Highland Games and to give you an image it’s like throwing a telephone pole as far as you can. Once you see it done you’ll appreciate it more. You know it’s a CB tease. Oh yeah, you have to say it with a Scottish accent.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Ann Coleman June 5, 2019 / 8:33 pm

    Someday I’m going to Scotland! Until then, I live vicariously through people (like you) who are generous enough to share their trips with the rest of us. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Joanne Sisco June 6, 2019 / 6:02 am

    A wonderful trip for sure but meeting a fellow blogger in ‘real life’ has to be the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Eugene Knapik June 6, 2019 / 6:41 am

    Getting to know a city is one of the most satisfying approach to travel, in my mind. I’ve never been to Scotland but it’s on my list of places to visit for sure. A friend of mine did fly fishing trip to Scotland during which he stayed in a home on an estate with a trout stream on it.

    I really enjoy meeting friends I’ve made through blogging. I’ve had an opportunity to meet 4 I think, all of whom live or lived in Calgary and Edmonton. I was still participating in the workaday world at that time and was dispatched west for something or another. Meeting blogging friends really made those trips special.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2019 / 8:35 am

      ” . . . participating in the workaday world . . . ”

      Hi Eugene. I like that turn of phrase.

      Yes, it’s good to meet other writers. Andrew, so far, is the sole one that I’ve met. Take care —

      Like

  24. johnlmalone June 6, 2019 / 6:57 am

    It’s good you guys had such a good time and good to see a WordPress friendship carry over to real life. That has not happened to me yet but it may 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2019 / 8:37 am

      Hi. There are 2 other WordPress people in Scotland that I’d have liked very much to meet. But time and logistics interfered with that happening.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. We Travel Happy June 6, 2019 / 7:06 am

    You’re so very lucky Neil that you got to go back. I’m still wondering when we could go back. I had a good laugh! Lotsa money less hair! My hubby could borrow that line hahah 🙂 Is St Margaret’s Chapel the tiny chapel with a cemetery beside it? I’m trying to remember. It’s really so amazing whenever we get to meet a fellow WordPress blogger. 🙂 — amor

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2019 / 8:44 am

      Hi, and thanks for stopping by. St Margaret’s Chapel is part of the Edinburgh Castle complex. There isn’t a cemetery up there.

      Like

  26. sniderjerry June 6, 2019 / 7:29 am

    Do you have room for a stow a way on your next trip? Glad you had such a wonderful time. Have a great day! Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

  27. tanjabrittonwriter June 6, 2019 / 10:12 am

    It sounds like a fun time, Neil. I spent about two days in this lovely city once, but would have loved to be able to extend my stay and exploration of its environs. Scotland is definitely on my must-go-back-to list.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. swabby429 June 6, 2019 / 12:44 pm

    Congratulations on your trip. This looks like a fascinating visit.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. tylerus June 6, 2019 / 1:57 pm

    As always, wonderful photos . . . and you took me back. I’d visited Scotland many years ago, all the cities you mentioned and then some. It was nice to return, if only vicariously. Thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2019 / 3:46 pm

      Hi Tyler. I think that Edinburgh has become more popular with visitors than it once was. Maybe it’s the effect of the Fringe Festival, which in August draws throngs of people from all over the world. When I was there two weeks ago, I was very surprised by the big crowds.

      Like

  30. Isabelle June 6, 2019 / 3:52 pm

    It was great to follow your steps Neil. I enjoyed wandering in the Old Town and learning the historical facts about Mary Queen of Scots. And perhaps most of all, reading the magical connections between people. It warms the heart. You all look great! Take care, Isabelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2019 / 4:40 pm

      Yes, being with our friends and meeting Andrew Ferguson took the trip to a higher level. Many thanks for adding to the conversation, Isabelle. Be seeing you!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Cristina Crawford June 6, 2019 / 4:05 pm

    Terrific read! I’m getting ready for a Scotland trip myself, next week! We will spend seven days in the saddle….the bike saddle that is. Three of our seven days will be spent on the Isle of Arran. After your read, I know that we will definitely need to schedule another (more relaxing, say) visit to Scotland. Thanks for sharing and “Lang may yer lum reek!” – May you live long and stay well.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Alyson June 6, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    Neil – you were in my neck of the woods and didn’t stop by for a cuppa! Seriously though I’m so glad you had a good trip and your Edinburgh pictures remind me of some of the ones I shared last year. I remember you commented and said you’d like to return some day – Now you have.

    Ps Thanks for the mention

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2019 / 7:19 pm

      Hi. Do you live in the Highlands? We went on a whirlwind trip thru the Highlands via a tour bus. Beautiful area (obviously).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson June 7, 2019 / 3:40 am

        I do indeed. Not sure if you passed through Inverness but if so, I maybe saw your tour bus travel by! Yes it is beautiful if you get the weather, and it sounds as if you did.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Alyson June 7, 2019 / 7:33 am

            Ah, you would have seen the locks on the Caledonian Canal then. Nice part of the Highlands.

            Liked by 1 person

  33. jeanleesworld June 7, 2019 / 6:26 am

    What a marvelous journey! And I love how WordPress has helped me connect with so many fine souls, too. Yes, yourself included. 🙂 xxxxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  34. viewfromoverthehill June 7, 2019 / 12:49 pm

    Oh thank you Neil: For taking me back to Scotland. I traveled there several times and wandered about the country. As a history buff, it was particularly interesting for me. Neat that you went back. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. selizabryangmailcom June 7, 2019 / 1:22 pm

    I was there when I was 16 with my cousin’s dance troupe. I still have my Edinburgh Castle mug! But the wool sweater I bought has long since fallen to the moths and time………

    The meeting up with fellow WordPress bloggers was amazing, though. How great it is to connect. Maybe we could use WordPress to start a “World Peace” movement……? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 7, 2019 / 3:17 pm

      Hi. The world needs. a World Peace movement.

      We bought an Edinburgh Castle magnet. No mug, though. It’s cool that you still have that mug.

      Enjoy the weekend. See ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. K E Garland June 7, 2019 / 1:40 pm

    This looks like an amazing trip Neil! Also, it’s funny your post showed what I just talked about…connecting with bloggers!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Grammy Writes June 7, 2019 / 5:18 pm

    I loved reading about your experiences in Scotland – brought back wonderful memories for me. I look forward to your next post!

    Liked by 2 people

  38. George June 8, 2019 / 2:20 am

    What a wonderful trip. I think Edinburgh is a lovely city, the Old Town especially. You captured it beautifully with your words and photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Wandering Dawgs June 8, 2019 / 7:49 am

    I enjoyed this post very much. Edinburgh was the last place we visited in Scotland. We only had a day and a half to explore and we spent all of it on the Royal Mile. Your pictures remind me of how much I liked it there. We probably just missed you – we flew home on May 23.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Wandering Dawgs June 8, 2019 / 9:51 am

        That’s the day we toured Edinburgh Castle. How funny would that be if we passed each other somewhere along the way! We walked a pretty long way up the hill to the castle. We ended the day at the Albanach Pub.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, Another Blogger June 8, 2019 / 10:32 am

          We didn’t tour the castle that day. But we were on High Street. And our hotel was on Cockburn, a minute from High Street. So, it’s possible.

          Liked by 1 person

  40. smilecalm June 8, 2019 / 11:16 am

    who needs hair up there
    crowding out such wonderful
    Scottish memories? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  41. The Lockwood Echo June 9, 2019 / 7:49 am

    Looks like a fabulous trip. I’m lucky enough to have been to Edinburgh twice. Left a piece of my heart there both times. Looking forward to the further installments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 9, 2019 / 11:18 am

      Hi. Yes, Edinburgh is a fine city. Did you climb to Arthur’s Seat, atop Holyrood park? I wanted to do that, but time-wise it didn’t work out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Lockwood Echo June 9, 2019 / 3:15 pm

        We took a drive around it but didn’t get out of car to walk any of it. Like you, not enough time to do it all. But we did go up the Scott Monument and the view from there was incredible.

        Liked by 1 person

  42. marilynyung June 9, 2019 / 3:16 pm

    I agree with your idea about staying longer in one place as opposed to darting from sight to sight when traveling. You get a more accurate feel for the place, I believe. Nice post! Might have to head to Scotland someday.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 9, 2019 / 5:05 pm

      Scotland’s got plenty going for it. I saw only a small part of its territory, and had a real good time.
      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Marilyn. Enjoy the upcoming week!

      Liked by 1 person

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