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  • Writer's pictureJanetJoanouWeiner

Spectacular Scotland: Part 2

Although our trip to Scotland was two months ago, this enchanting country lingers on in my heart. Is it my Scottish DNA? Maybe. I felt at home there in a way I've not previously experienced. Something about the way the people relate and indeed the entire atmosphere drew me right in. I found myself wishing I lived there, and that's saying a lot as I love my life in France.

The Highlands

After Iona island and all those modes of transportation (see last months post: Stupendous Scotland, Part 1), we landed in Glasgow. This lively and diverse city, full of students and professionals, had lots to discover.

George square, with its iconic statues of famous Scots and interesting architecture, was my favorite Glasgow spot. It's appeared in multiple movies, including the latest Indiana Jones and Batman movies, and The Flash.

George Square, Glasgow

The night we were there, a busker serenaded with songs from the Seventies late into the night. Lovely!

George Square

Left: The Duke of Wellington statue, in honor of his defeat of Napoleon. Authorities have given up on removing his iconic orange traffic cone hat, a tradition started in the 1980s as a reflection of the city's humor.

Center: I couldn't get enough of this fascinating architecture.

Right: Famed Scottish poet/writer Robert Burns. His works include: My Love is like a Red, Red rose, Comin' Through the Rye, and Auld Lang Syne.

A highlight of the entire trip was my day in the Scottish highlands. Oh, my goodness. I knew it would be amazing, but the dramatic scenery, history, and sheer scope of the place took my breath away. The photos only partially do justice to the sweeping wildness of this place. Come along on my ten-hour tour (loved every minute!) and discover this incredible area.

We passed through Inveraray, intending to see the current Duke of Argyll's ancestral home, used in Downtown Abbey for some far off relatives. Alas, they'd blocked it off the day we were there, most likely for filming something else. No problem! Just spent the time in some cute village shops instead.

Farther along, we came upon Kilchurn Castle and Loch Awe. Awesome indeed.

Are you seeing what I mean about these incredible Scottish highlands? The gorgeous, sunny day only added to the spectacular scenery.

We stopped for lunch in the port town of Oban. I'd passed through the day before on my way back from Iona and was glad to have a bit more time in this charming fishing port. And, best of all, I made a new friend! Sharon and I hit it off immediately, with many shared beliefs and interests.

At my suggestion, we ordered "langoustes" from a food truck I'd seen as my husband and I ran to our train the day before. These large prawns looked good, and it seemed like a local thing to do. But they were WAY more trouble than they were worth, in every sense of the word.

Oh well, we had a good laugh. Still hungry, we found a most delicious fish and chips shop where we loved the food and had a friendly chat with an older couple sitting next to us.


Sharon and me at the spectacular Highlands Visitor Center

After lunch, we headed farther into the highlands. Jaw-dropping is one word I've read to describe this place. It's accurate. Spectacular beauty on a massive scale.

The Scots are storytellers, and our excellent guide lived up to the reputation. He'd stayed in this house when training as a ranger. His host put out a bottle of whiskey every night, which they drank together, until our guide grew concerned he'd succumb to alcohol poisoning. Thankfully, the host figured this out and stopped pushing for excessive whiskey drinking, which he didn't enjoy either!

This portion of the highlands includes Glencoe, the site of an infamous 17th century massacre. Royal troops brutally slaughtered thirty-eight men, women, and children, all MacDonalds. Others died trying to escape into the wintry mountains.

On a lighter note, not every tour finds the "hairy coos" of the highlands, but we did!

Coos is the word for cow in the old Scots language, but for these massive highland creatures, the name has stuck.

On our way back to Glasgow, we drove by Castle Doune, used as Castle Leoch in the Outlander series. We also passed by Stirling Castle, the sight of William Wallace and his men's heroic stand and Wallace's tragic death. Mary Queen of Scots spent a portion of her early childhood here. So much history!

Stirling Castle

What could top such an epic day in the highlands? A completely different, but equally delightful, day in Edinburgh. I fell in love with this city.

Off the bus, this was the first thing I saw, Edinburgh Castle, high on its hill.

I wandered up, soaking in the views and the fascinating architecture, and arrived at The Writers' Museum. The building alone is amazing. I spent a nice long time inside, learning about Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott. Very inspiring!

The Writers' Museum

Next, I wandered up onto the Royal Mile, the famed road used by kings and queens of yore as they traveled between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.

Not only was the architecture stunning and the weather perfect, this bagpipe player filled the air with a recognizable song. I soaked it all in and took this video (including my thumb, oops!)

Around the corner is Victoria Street. Not only is it full of charming shops and little restaurants, it's said to be the inspiration for "Diagonally" of Harry Potter fame. J.K. Rowling wrote the first books of this series in cafés in Edinburgh, and there are many spots in the city that appear in the stories.

Victoria Street

Greyfriars Cemetery is full of interesting old tombstones and a most touching, true story. A "wee" dog named Bobby remained extraordinarily loyal to his person, even after death. Read his story and see his tribute statue:

Isn't that a great story? My dog-loving daughter, Sarah, is convinced someone actually buried Bobby with his owner. I hope so!

I climbed farther up the hill to Edinburgh Castle, past kilt-wearing guards, and into the compound. The view is stunning, as you can see. My great-grandmother came from Fife, just across the Firth of Forth (river) so this was a moving moment for me. To top it off, I caught the tail end of a rainbow just as I arrived.

View from Edinburgh castle, with "Cemetery for Soldiers' Dogs" below

So sweet!

Thank you for traveling with me through super Scotland. I hope you enjoyed the trip.

La vie est belle!

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