Ahhh, Scotland, a place that had always been on my bucket list, but nevertheless absolutely blew me away and surprised me with each turn around every beautiful corner. Briana and I headed off from our London Hostel early in the morning and caught the train from King's Cross up to Edinburgh. The trip itself was very comfortable and I felt a bit like I was off to Hogwarts. Amazing Scenery and I'm glad we took the train rather than flying.
As we took our first steps out of the station my breath was taken away - I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful city. Everywhere we looked was stunning architecture, scattered up and down hills - and did I mention that the weather was perfect?! In Scotland? Something we were definitely not expecting was a perfect summer's day with the bluest of blue skies. Crop top weather, and we took full advantage! After checking into our hostel, we spent the afternoon strolling around the Grassmarket and Downtown, as well as perusing local markets before heading back to the hostel for dinner and the World Cup Final. We stayed at Kick Ass Hostel right on the Grassmarket and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It was super modern and clean. We felt secure with ourselves and our belongings and there was a great atmosphere, with friendly and helpful staff. The location is central and right near Edinburgh Castle. We loved the hostel so much that we cancelled our booked accommodation for our return to Edinburgh and booked a room at Kick Ass again. It was probably the best hostel that we stayed in on our whole trip.
The next morning it was off to join our Bus Tour around Scotland. We took a tour with HAGGiS Adventures. We'd gotten a great deal to do both this tour and a similar tour around Ireland through STA Travel. The tour that we took was the 3-Day Skye High Tour, and from having a quick look at the website it is still on offer, although I think there have been a couple of little changes. So, we all climbed aboard and were off!
We were headed up to Loch Ness, stopping first in a sweet little town where we stopped for a bite to eat along the way, and have a stretch of the legs. Once we arrived at our Hostel (Morag's Lodge, Loch Ness - which I could also recommend) we headed down to the boat to search for Nessie. As you might have guessed, she managed to elude us this time, but we had a great time out on the lake anyway, and enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate with Baileys.
The next day we were off to the Isle of Skye. First stop along the way was Eilean Donan castle which has appeared in many films and is one of the top tourist spots in Scotland. We enjoyed a scrumptious cheese scone and cup of tea before heading through beautiful scenery, past pipers on the side of the road, fairy waterfalls, cliffs, and plenty of hairy cows before reaching the Isle of Skye.
We had some time in town and stayed the night in a little hostel by the water. The next morning it was off again through Glen Coe and Stirling on the way back to Edinburgh. The day was very cold, foggy, and rainy, and I managed to pick up a lovely Henderson tartan scarf in a little wool mill in the woods and for lunch we ate Cullen Skink - a smoked haddock and potato soup and I still dream of that soup. YUM.
Before we knew it we were back in Edinburgh, for one night only before we flew to Dublin, Ireland. I do wish we'd had a bit more time in Edinburgh, but that's the way it is when you are trying to fit everything in within such a short time period! So, there's always a next time. I will definitely be back!