Sunday, June 25th, 2017

My Love Affair with Scotland

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The question I get more often than any other is, “So what’s your favorite place?”

Truth? I understand why people ask me this question, but I hate this question. Most other travel bloggers hate it, too. It’s not just that we get asked it constantly, it’s that it’s impossible to boil down years of travel and hundreds of destinations into just one place and to cap it at one is a disservice to your travels and life.

But if you tell people that, they get disappointed. They just want to hear a place.

So I’ve come up with a scripted answer that is both truthful and satisfying for the listener: “Well, my favorite countries are Croatia, Italy, South Africa, Japan, and Thailand. And one place that is very special to me is the island of Koh Lanta in Thailand.”

But that answer is incomplete. It leaves out how much I love the food of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It overlooks the joy of summer in Finland, the quiet paradise of Little Corn Island in Nicaragua, the outstanding natural beauty of Montenegro, the feeling when you watch a sunset from Boracay in the Philippines. It even omits mentions of my favorite city in the world for 16 years running: Paris.

Worst of all, it overlooks Scotland.

Shetland

Oh, I love Scotland. I love it FIERCELY. It is a destination that brings me endless joy, no matter where I’m going. And I really need to talk about it more for that reason.

I love the cities. Edinburgh looks like a fairy tale and it’s one of my favorite cities on the planet, and Glasgow is a lot of fun, too.

I love the natural beauty. The mountains, the lakes, even the beaches.

I love the people. Scots are so warm and friendly and welcoming. And the accents are out of this world!

I love the castles. They’re everywhere and they vary so much! My favorite ruined castle to photograph is Dunnottar Castle on the East Coast, not too far north from St. Andrews.

I love the food. Haggis is great. Fried Mars bars are…an indulgence. But go to a nice pub that uses local ingredients and you’ll delight in a real Scottish meal. The single best thing I ate in Scotland was an Arbroath smokie (smoked fish) that came right off the smoker. I ate it like an ice cream cone.

There’s only one thing that I don’t love — the whisky. Sorry, guys. I’ve tried whisky (as the Scots spell it) dozens of times, sometimes at outstanding distilleries in the Scottish countryside. And it always tastes like feet to me. I’m a gin girl, I’m afraid.

(My friend Peter even brought a bottle of whisky to Leipzig last week for the Video Summit and had me take a sip. Nope, still tasted like feet.)

Anthony, Kate and Kash

The First Trip: An Introduction to Edinburgh

I first set foot in Scotland in September 2011 — a weekend in Edinburgh to visit my friends Kash and Anthony and check out Haggis Hostels, which had just opened back then (and is still going strong — congrats, guys!).

Turns out this was somewhat of an atypical visit. Temperatures were around 30 degrees celsius — 86 fahrenheit — an almost unheard of heat wave. Everyone was lying out in the sunshine! It was crazy — on Anthony’s advice I had packed warm clothing, including tall leather boots, and I went to H&M and Zara to buy sunglasses, only to find out that they sold none!

But I fell for Edinburgh SO hard. The beauty, the friendliness, the walkability, the castle perched on a hill. This was my place.

There were a few late nights at clubs. There were haggis quesadillas (at a place that has sadly closed since). There was a crazy dancing man on the Royal Mile. But above all, this visit lit the spark for everything that came after. I look back at this weekend as a truly happy time in my life.

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Trying haggis for the first time and realizing that it’s delicious as long as you don’t think about what you’re eating!

Crazy Viking Kate

The Second Trip: Shetland, Up Helly Aa, and the East Coast

The second trip to Scotland was one of the greatest things I have ever done: Up Helly Aa. This Viking fire festival takes place in the remote Shetland Islands, adrift between Scotland and Norway.

I did the Haggis Adventures Up Helly Aa tour — it was so good, three of my readers booked the same tour the following year! (Worth noting: the tour they run today includes an extra day in Shetland. Excellent!)

After traveling up the coast, we took an overnight ferry to the islands and explored the ruins and the landscape. Shetland is phenomenally beautiful and even has a double beach!

Shetland Double BeachFirst Glimpse of LerwickTropical Beach in Shetland?

The next day, the Up Helly Aa celebrations began with a parade and Vikings yelling, “Yarrr!” before breaking into the Broadway standard “Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think.” We posed for photos with the Vikings and I was even filmed for BBC Scotland!

Kate and a VikingViking CelebrationBaby Vikings

That night began the burning. Men and boys dressed up in fancy Viking costumes were paraded down the street in a beautifully lacquered Viking boat made for the occasion. Following them were lines and lines of Shetland dressed in various costumes — drag! Marvel villains! Chicken suits! — and holding flaming torches.

The boat was pushed to a field, the Vikings got out…and then EVERYONE THREW THEIR TORCHES INTO THE BOAT AND LIT IT ON FIRE. That beautiful boat had served its purpose.

Up Helly Aa in Drag!Up Helly AaUp Helly Aa

Next, everyone moved to parties and danced all night long to traditional Shetland music in between performances from the various squads of Shetlanders. They had costumed routines to “Moves Like Jagger” and “Party Rock Anthem.” (I still think of Shetland whenever I hear those songs.)

Our guides taught us all the dances and soon we were whirling around with the kilted locals. And the best part of Up Helly Aa? It goes ALL NIGHT LONG. Seriously. We danced until 8:06 AM and just skipped sleeping that night, falling into bed at around 9:00 PM on the ferry home.

Dancing in ShetlandViking SmurfsWe made it!

It’s been more than four years and I still consider Up Helly Aa one of the best things I have ever done on my travels. You can read all my posts about it here. Bonus: I’ve stayed close with many of my Up Helly Aa friends and we’ve had reunions in London, New York, Sydney, and even Hvar, Croatia!

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Dancing to traditional music until delirious at 8:06 AM. I will never forget it.

Gin and tonic tasting

The Third Trip: A Luxurious Return to Edinburgh

I was delighted to return to Edinburgh at the invitation of the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa to check out their new offerings. While this isn’t the kind of trip that I’d do today, at the time I had a wonderful overnight with several of my blogger friends.

Sheraton Club RoomGin and tonic sorbetOyster bloody mary shooters

And finally I got to experience typical Scottish weather — lots of gray rain!

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Swimming in the outdoor spa at the Sheraton as fierce rain pelted down.

Kash, Kate and Mike

The Fourth Trip: Yet Another Edinburgh Trip

Can you tell how in love with Edinburgh I am yet? With another opportunity to return for a blogger meet up, another opportunity to hang out in Edinburgh with my friends, of course I took it!

This time I got to overturn a new stone: exploring the Water of Leith, a path winding through quiet parts of Edinburgh. Kash and I explored it through the rain, getting soaked before the sun came back out once again — it’s the Scottish way!

Muddy ShoesWater of LeithSunny Edinburgh

Also memorable from this trip is the meetup. It was mayhem, in a nutshell, and I still laugh over the resulting pictures.

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Taking a long, rainy walk along the Water of Leith and warming up with a cup of tea at a cafe afterward.

Glasgow

The Fifth Trip: Glasgow 

Because I can’t keep going back to Edinburgh every time, on my next trip I went to spend a few days in Scotland’s largest city: Glasgow.

One of my favorite ways to travel is to go to a new city for a few days and pretend I live there. I do my thing: I take long walks, I go to cafes, I people-watch. Whether it’s Helsinki or Bogotá, I like to carve a Kate-sized shape in the city. And I think that was the best way to explore Glasgow.

university-of-glasgow-gallery Glasgow ParkAshton Lane Glasgow

Glasgow may not have the overwhelming beauty of Edinburgh, but you know what it has? Beauty all its own. Lots of culture. Cool small shops and businesses. Incredibly friendly people. And it has several friends of mine, including Emma, who is an authority on all things Scotland travel.

Quintessential Scotland Experience: finally getting to love Irn Bru, the bubblegum-esque bright orange soft drink, and trying my first-ever deep fried Mars bar.

Haggis Tour

The Sixth Trip: Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Highlands

Scotland is world-famous for its New Year’s celebrations: Hogmanay! I was invited to cover the festival for New Year’s Eve 2012, and I was happy to take part in the traditions.

My favorite part was the torchlight procession the night before New Year’s, joining Scots and visitors from all over in marching up the hill, flaming torches in hand. (Yet another moment in Scotland where I thought, “This could never happen in America.”)

New Year’s itself was a giant party with a concert and much revelry. Personally, I preferred the calm torchlight procession to the party night itself — it gets WILD! Also, I saw a girl walking home in bare feet. In Scotland. IN WINTER.

Kate Torchlight Procession Hogmanay Edinburgh

After the trip, our group went on a Haggis Adventures tour of the Highlands, and this is where I felt a connection to Scotland like never before. My Scottish roots on my mother’s side come from Inverness and the Isle of Skye.

What really affected me was hearing about all the tragedies of the Highlands and how difficult life was here. So many wars, deaths, betrayals, massacres. Thinking of my long-lost relatives and how they could have been victims was deeply moving.

Kilt RockCulloden Battlefield

The Isle of Skye was the true highlight of the Highlands for me, and I’d love to go back and explore it more.

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Learning that there’s no colder winter than a Scottish winter. It’s the dampness that gets you. Even after a scaldingly hot shower, the chill remained within me.

Kate, Sandra and Mom in Edinburgh

The Seventh Trip: Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival with Mom

Traveling with my mom, we went to Edinburgh as part of our genealogy trip. The timing was perfect: August was the time of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

This festival features nonstop performances, both paid and free, in the street and in theaters. The Royal Mile in particular is chock full of these performances. I ended up seeing several terrific shows and one truly bad show, roughly half of them paid and half of them free.

The most memorable show, Sing For Your Life!, was a puppet show musical using taxidermied animals for puppets. It was weird and wonderful and hilarious.

Edinburgh Fringe FestivalEdinburgh, ScotlandRelaxing in Edinburgh

During this trip, we stayed with my mom’s friend Sandra, and the two of them often went off while I did my own thing, including hosting my first Edinburgh meetup. I love having alone time in Edinburgh — it gives me time to revisit my favorite places, like The World’s End for a bowl of cullin skink (smokey fish chowder) and a dark beer.

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Waiting in line for a taxi next to a thickly brogued, kilt-wearing Edinburgh tour guide as he told me about guiding: “The German tourists, they look angry. They look like a constipated Woody Harrelson. As the tour continues, you think they’re not enjoying it. Then at the end, they come up, shake your hand and say, “That tour was the greatest experience of my life. I will name my grandchildren after you.”

Kate in Inverness

The Eighth Trip: Inverness and Loch Ness

Finally, last month I returned to Scotland for the Social Travel Summit and hit up a new destination: Inverness, the gateway to the Highlands.

Unfortunately, between a late arrival, being busy with the conference, and being worried over lost luggage, I didn’t get to enjoy the region as much as I could have — but I still had a great time. And just like my first trip, we had some very un-Scotland-like weather: clear blue skies!

InvernessCafe in InvernessInverness Kitty

I did get to experience a lovely cruise on Loch Ness past Urqhardt Castle, a dressed up soirée at nearby Achnagairn Castle, and the local Inverness nightlife: and by that, I mean some crazy nights at Hootenanny, capped off by some locals asking me to dance.

Quintessential Scotland Experience: Becoming fast friends with the taxi driver who took me to the airport to pick up my luggage. And then I find out he has the same last name as my relatives from Inverness! We posed for a selfie that I sent my mom. (Her response: “He doesn’t look like a [name] but he looks very nice.” LOL!)

Harris, Scotland

Image: iknow-uk

What’s Next? My Scotland Travel Goals

I know a lot of Scotland travel experts will look at this list and say, “Psssh, you didn’t even go to the best spots!” Oh, believe me, I know that! There’s so much more to see.

The following destinations are particularly high on my list:

St. Kilda. This remote archipelago on the far northwest of the Outer Hebrides has some of the most spectacular landscapes in Scotland.

Lewis and Harris. People say that the further north you go in Scotland, the more beautiful it gets. These islands in the Outer Hebrides are home to long, white-sand beaches with crystal-clear water. That picture above is Harris! How crazy is that?!

Loch Lomond. This lake is great for adventure activities and one of the most popular destinations in the country, yet I’ve always missed it.

Orkney. Whenever I mention that I’ve been to Shetland but not Orkney, Scotland lovers lose their minds. Ornkey is home to some incredible archaeological wonders.

Shetland Folk Festival. I’ve got Shetland fever! If the traditional music I heard at Up Helly Aa was any indication, this festival will be a rollicking good time.

Sligachan

Choose Scotland

I feel like Scotland is one of the best all-around destinations in the world. Here’s what makes it great:

It’s perfect for solo female travelers. Scotland is one of my top choices for solo female travelers because of the ease of travel, the variety of things to do, the friendly people, the relative safety, the pub culture (great for dining alone), and the lack of language barrier for English speakers, on top of being an overall wonderful destination.

There’s enough variety to customize your trip. Do you want to be in the throes of a festival or have an isolated getaway? Do you want to have an active hiking, biking, and canoeing trip or would you rather visit historical sites? Do you want to drive or take the train? Go solo or with a group? Do you want a foodie adventure or do you have a limited palate? There are endless options.

It’s much cheaper now. The fallout of the pound has caused lots of financial damage to my friends and me (as some of my clients pay me in GBP), which is no laughing matter. But this is good news for tourists to the UK, who now get more for their money than ever before.

The only place where Scotland falls short is the weather. One of my Scottish friends likes to say, “Scotland would be the best country in the world if it had better weather.” Nope, you’re not going to lie around in a bikini here, but if you make peace with that, you’re going to have a great time. I guarantee it.

Have you been to Scotland? What do you love about it?

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Comments

63 Responses to “My Love Affair with Scotland”
  1. Lauren says:

    Scotland is the most beautiful place in the world (biased, I know!)

    It’s true that the further North you go, the more beautiful it becomes..if you are lucky enough to see some Sunshine!

    I am from Lewis but can definitely vouch for the above picture – If you go to Lewis and Harris – Luskentyre is the beach you want to visit!!!

  2. Smidge says:

    Lovely to see someone in love with Scotland as much as me. You have so much more to explore. Give me a shout if you want some off beat recommendations next time you are here 🙂

  3. Love this post! I went to Edinburgh earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I thought haggis was great, the Scottish people were so friendly, and the city itself was awesome. It definitely piqued my interest to return again for a Highlands trip.

  4. Christine says:

    I’ve actually never been to Scotland, but your photos and posts always make me think that it needs to get higher on my list! I’m totally in love with the nature photos (those beaches!), and Edinburgh sounds like such a fun photo. David LOVES whiskey, so that might be reason enough to go for him 🙂

  5. Wow!
    So much of Scotland in one post! I simply cannot contain my excitement. Shetland seems incredibly beautiful.
    Thanks for the information.
    Happy travels 🙂

  6. Lynne Nieman says:

    I’m hoping to get to Scotland for the first time in the spring. I really want to walk the West Highland Way, get to the Isle of Skye and the far northwest of the mainland. I love that you’ve been to the Shetlands. I’d love to get there too, but something tells me that like you, Kate, I’ll make that first visit but it won’t be my last! Thanks for sharing this. I’m inspired!!

  7. Allison says:

    I went to Scotland for the first time in April and it was absolutely magical. I only had three days in Edinburgh but I just remember being deliriously happy the entire time I was there, even though the weather was crap (it somehow managed to be brilliantly sunny and snow at the same time). I really want to go back and explore it properly, especially the Highlands, Shetlands, and Hebrides!

  8. Marie says:

    I went to scotland several times for Workaway and Woofing and must admit that I did not have the best time over there (it’s incredible how one or two persons can spoil a whole region….). Your post and the pictures are beautiful though. I will definitely return and look at Scotland with new eyes 🙂

  9. Dominique says:

    Scotland is one of my favourite places. After my studies in 2010 I decided to travel around the world. Instead I got stuck at my first destinations: Edinburgh. I’ve lived there happy for three years and never regretted it! It’s been more than a year since I’ve been back for a visit and I miss it!

  10. Vivian says:

    I totally agree with you, I’ve been living in Glasgow for the past year and although it is soooo beautiful the weather can sometimes get to me! However, the people, the environment and the outdoors is well worth it. I can’t believe you don’t like whisky though! ;D

  11. Brooklyn says:

    I have never been to Scotland but it somewhere I have dreamed of going for as long as I can remember.
    Everything looks so beautiful and I LOVE grey rainy weather. I think I would fit right in 🙂

    Also, that cat picture! Love it

  12. Gwen says:

    My husband and I go every almost year since he’s from there and his family still lives near Edinburgh. It’s become a second home to me. Your pictures inspire me want to book a flight (and I just went in June!). Next year we’re planning a birthday trip to the highlands…your description of Shetland, along with the TV show with the same name, makes me want to include it on the itinerary. Thanks for posting!!

  13. Bex says:

    My family is from the Loch Lomond area and yet I’ve never been! It’s on my (increasingly long) list of places to visit and this post makes me want to go explore Scotland even more.

  14. Graeme says:

    Hi Adventurous Kate,

    I found your blog on Scotland very interesting. Edinburgh is without a doubt the best city in Scotland. The costal towns & cities can also offer their wonderful seafood etc but for me it has to be the areas of Highland Perthshire & Cairngorm National Park. It is here where my heart is.
    Have you ever tried the small town of Pitlochry. Check it out, you will not be dissappointed. The town has everything to offer (even a gin distillery). Have a look at http://www.pitlochry.org & http://www.torrdarach.co.uk
    This has to be one of the best small towns in Scotland.
    Try it out for yourself,
    G

  15. Wow! Looks amazing!

    How do you decide when to return to a place you love versus go somewhere new?

  16. Maria says:

    My daughter, who is a surgeon, will soon work in Edinburgh. So, I’m really excited to visit Scotland. And with all your enthusiasm, I’m really looking forward to be there soon. And I have a great excuse – I want to visit my daughter!

  17. Liz says:

    I did a two week trip to Scotland last spring- Edinburgh, Inverness/highlands, and the Isle of Skye. If you haven’t been to Skye, I HIGHLY recommend it- GREAT hiking (and I am not even a huge hiker) and spectacular views. I did some water trips as well (canoeing, kayaking) and hung out in portree. There are also a lot of castles around there as well for rainy days.

  18. Maria says:

    I have also been to Scotland quite a few times by now, and actually share a lot of your Scotland bucket-list goals! I have been to concerts in Glasgow and Inverness, went for a drive with a local guide around Skye and been to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St. Andrews and I still want more! Scotland is truly addictive 😛

  19. Leandra says:

    Some of these photos are absolutely breathtaking! The closest I’ve been to Scotland is London. I loved it, and am looking forward to exploring more of the British Isles in the future (hopefully sooner rather than later!).

  20. Taylor says:

    I have only ever been to Glasgow and Loch Lomond, but I absolutely adore Scotland too!
    It must be said how fierce Glaswegians are. While there, I stayed at an inner city airbnb with three other female friends, and upon arrival our 6ft burly man of a host told us that if we had any problems in the city AT ALL, to call him. He would take care of it, no questions asked. It was like the Scotland Sopranos.

  21. AudreyD. says:

    Well, I’ve always wanted to travel to Scotland, but now, this makes me even more eager to go there!! It looks so beautiful and fun! My boyfriend has Scottish ancestors from his father’s side, maybe it’s time to look that up?

  22. Katie says:

    Scotland was the place that made me fall in love with travelling over 6 years ago. It’s still one of my favourite places in the whole world.

    I can’t wait to go back some day and explore the highlands more.

  23. Andrea Mackey says:

    Am planning a trip to Scotland next September. Great article and stories about your travels. As always, thanks so much for sharing. Love your blog and especially your snaps!!

  24. Ahh, Scotland! 🙂 My ultimate goal is to move to Edinburgh eventually. I have so much more to explore in the country though, and I grew up here! In fact, I grew up in Orkney but I’ve never even been to Shetland – funnily enough your adventure at Up Helly Aa has really made me want to go for that. 🙂

    P.S. I’m trying to figure out what the hell is going on with that cat HAHA!

  25. Danny says:

    I’ve only been to Scotland once (Edinburgh), and that was waaaay back in 2003. But my colleague recently went to the Shetland Islands and couldn’t stop raving about it. After seeing all her pictures, it’s definitely on my travel wish list now too!

  26. Brian says:

    Love Scotland! I went first back in 2009 during a study abroad trip to Oxford. Just went back again last year and drove up through the Isle of Skye and Highlands. Amazingly beautiful and definitely a place I can’t wait to get back to again. Thanks for sharing your experiences there!

  27. Kassie says:

    I’ve been dying to go to Scotland ever since I finished the Outlander series earlier this year! I know I want to the hit the Highlands but this post has given me so many more destinations to add to my list! Thanks for always sparking my wanderlust 🙂

  28. Susan says:

    With that dread of whisky, you’ll be very glad to know about the amazing craft gin revival going on in Scotland. So many to try. You can tour the country tasting gin from Harris to Edinburgh and lots more.

    • Yes! I actually did a trip on that last year — gin distilleries are popping up throughout the UK. Scotland has the most, of course, but my colleagues and I split up and covered different regions. I covered northwest and central England.

  29. Emily says:

    I just returned from a short trip to Scotland and I am already thinking of when I can go back. Enjoyed reading your post!

  30. Carl Kruse says:

    Love, love, love Scotland and glad to see you do as well Kate!

    Carl Kruse

  31. Brilliant post, Kate! It was very nice to learn a few previously unknown facts. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to reading more posts like these! Cheers

  32. Robbie says:

    Scotland looks quite before and is on my list in the near future. It reminds me of Ireland quite a bit and i loved that!

    The fire festival, Up Helly Aa, looked immensely fun as well. In my opinion, festivals and nation wide celebrations (i.e the Thai New Year) are some of the most fun events you can attend while traveling. Although it is pricier to be there during that time, you will not regret it.

    Cheers to the great post.

  33. Denis says:

    Scotland’s nature looks really impressive and majestic. Finally got my visa going so its definetely our next destination on the bucket list! Great article, thanks!

  34. Dean says:

    I still haven’t made it to Scotland, even though I have been so close to it in England. I would really like to visit someday, particularly the stunning scenery of the highlands. Also, those accents! 😉

  35. Steven says:

    Maybe most people dying to get there, Scotland is really a sophisticated country. Its remind me to Sherlock, Lochness and the Train of Jacobite. The nature is so wonderful so people will be mesmerize if ever visited it. That Viking festival is totally awesome Kate, Thanks for sharing

  36. Stephanie says:

    I so much love Scotland as well! It’s a great country, I had a great time there!
    I’m like you, I hate the question “what’s your favorite country?” I usually answer “All of them, for different reasons” 🙂

  37. Cara says:

    Thank you for this post. Scotland is a great place to visit – I often find you don’t actually have to travel to the other side of the world, to find new experiences. Edinburgh is a beautiful city, and I’d recommend visiting when there’s an event on – like the fringe festival for example.Over the summer, the Edinburgh festivals bring a wave of colour and soaring excitement to the city. Eight spectacular festivals proudly serve up the most incredible smorgasbord of culture you could ever imagine, filling the city’s performance venues and event spaces in late June, July and August. Attend a star-studded film premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and listen to top class live music when incredible musicians from all over the world roll into town for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.

  38. Global Mimi says:

    Yes, I totally agree! Scotland stole my heart as well. I just spent 3 months living in Edinburgh this summer and have fallen for the city. Also the highlands and lowlands are incredible as well. I am both a gin and whisky girl but I get what you mean, some whisky’s can be really pungent!

  39. ada says:

    Your photos looks amazing ! I live in London so don’t really have any excuse not to go there! Hopefully I can plan something soon ! Thanks for sharing your story! love It

  40. I love Scotland! Been to many places far, far away, but still Scotland is my nr. 1!

  41. Samantha says:

    Scotland is soooooo pretty! Definately on my bucketlist, pity its so darn far away! Where woudl you recommend to stay eg: a nice luxury hotel thasts central?
    Haha! Love the viking shots.

  42. Ian says:

    I like the post. If you are lucky with the weather then Scotland has some of the best coastline and beaches in the world.

  43. Colleen.L says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! Love it. I’ve been to Scotland but it was just one day trip, so I didn’t really get to explore this beautiful place. I am definitely planning another trip to Scotland now!

  44. Anna says:

    Scotland is #1 on my travel wish list – a dream I hope to realize with a week-long getaway in 2017. I am already excited about a food tour in Edinburg, castles and cliffs, and horseback riding in the highlands.

  45. Abby says:

    Scotland is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in the world. The architecture is unbelievable – you’re right, it looks like something out of a fairy tale book!

  46. I love Scotland! Lots of fond memories from two very formative years living there. I would’ve stayed longer if my visa hadn’t run out.

  47. Ah, Kate! Your photos take me on a journey of my own love affair with Scotland. It’s funny, my first visit was just after yours (October 2011). I stayed in the cheapest hostel I could find (the Belford) and met my future husband just a few dorm beds away lol. Then I came back for a year to study. I went to Glasgow and saw that exact same canopy of lights. Incredible!

    It is such a gorgeous place with wonderful people. What can I say, I’m here now and staying with my friend’s parents—such a hospitable folk! I love haggis. I love the highlands. I even love the rain. Scotland is amazing, and I hope your post inspires more people to visit this magical land!!

  48. Amy Goettl says:

    I also loved Scotland when I visited. If you love castles though, northern England also has some amazingly beautiful ones. I actually lived in Alnwick Castle when I studied abroad in college!! The Northumberland area has so many great things to see.

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