I was in London on business and decided to make the most of this trip. I was looking to do a quick trip to one of the neighbouring countries on the Continent and one that didn’t require an additional visa. The two natural choices were Scotland and Ireland and I decided that I wanted to see a ‘Hairy Heiland Coo” more than kiss the Blarney Stone.
Given my limited time I opted to fly into Edinburgh. The journey from the airport to the hotel was effortless and I selected the Haymarket Hotel which was within walking distance, a couple of hundred metres, from the train station and bus routes into town.
Despite the generally overcast weather, the first thing one notices are the extremely friendly people, something the Scottish pride themselves on. Edinburgh is split between the Old and New town, each having its own charm. The city is very easy to explore on your own with most attractions within a comfortable walking distance.
Scotland, I believe is only one of two countries in the world where Coca Cola is not the number one selling soft drink. Their national drink is called IRN Bru pronounced Iron Brew but nothing like the South African version. Irn Bru however takes second place to the number one selling drink being Whisky. I am not a Whisky drinker but as they say, when in Rome. So I set off for a visit to the Whisky Museum, got seated in a barrel and was taken on a interesting tour of the creation process of Scotland’s number one drink, followed by a tasting.
Other attractions to visit include Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and Giles Cathedral. I wasn’t up for a scary underground tour so instead chose a day tour of Mary’s Kings Close. Interesting to see how both the rich and poor lived together and the difference between their style of living yet each house was a few metres away. If you suffer from extreme Claustrophobia, give this a pass. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fit a hike up to Arthur’s Seat, if you have time I would suggest you include it on your list as the views looked great!
A day trip to the Highlands is around 12 hours and I was excited to possibly get a view of Nessie, the Lochness Monster. She didn’t pitch but I did get to see some beautiful scenery, visit quaint towns and listen to entertaining stories about Highland History. Try the Tablet ice cream if you ever pass through Pitlochry.
Although I was only in the country for a few days, I was able to tick off Glasgow being just a short train ride away (+/- an hour). The city has a great vibe and modern feel. I was surprised to learn that Glasgow has the largest retail centre in Britain outside London. If you love to shop take a stroll down Style Mile and if shopping is not for you I would recommend spending a few hours at The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
No visit to Scotland is complete without trying some Haggis, and make sure you layer your clothes because you will experience every season in one day!