Tag Archives: Scotland

Scotland Part 10 – the last photos

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh posts please check part 5part 6, and part 7 of my trip**

**For the Highlands please check part 8 of my trip**

**For the town of Stirling, Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, please check part 9 of my trip**

In the last 9 posts spread out over the last year I’ve covered a lot of stories, and a fair number of pictures.  That said, I took well over 1500 photos of my trip, and after cutting out all the crappy through alright photos I was left with about 600.  As you may have noticed, I didn’t share that many with you.  Don’t worry, I’m not about to throw hundreds up here.  I am however going to share a few more, some of my favorites that just didn’t make the cut for each post.  I hope you enjoy them…

The Glasgow Council Chamber – the Scottish version of a City Hall

Some of the marble found in the Glasgow Council Chambers

More of the incredible marble.  I’ve never seen so much marble in one place before!

Some classic red phone booths – as seen on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, it was the sight of this structure that caused me to fall in love with the city

Me in front of the Locks at Loch Ness – Fort Augustus

A Scottish flag flying at Loch Ness

A police box!  Sadly this one didn’t appear to be the T.A.R.D.I.S as the Doctor never appeared

My favorite statue in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens greenhouse.  I kept coming back to this one.

Some rather awesome looking doorways in Stirling Castle

Wallace Monument

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Scotland Part 9 – Stirling

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh posts please check part 5part 6, and part 7 of my trip**

**For the Highlands please check part 8 of my trip**

Welcome to the final day of my Scottish adventure, the town and castle of Stirling.  Also the home to the Wallace Monument, however I only got to see that from afar.  This was on of those times where I realized that November was not the best time to go, after all the sun sets WAY too early.  If I’d gone in June I could have walked over to the monument and still have had daylight.  Oh well, it’s just one more reason for me to go back.

The town of Stirling is about half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh, therefore a quick train ride away.  As I’d already taken a chance to figure out the trains in Glasgow when heading to Edinburgh, it was a no-brainer to stick with them.  Besides, trains are far more comfortable than buses and if travelling on the off hours, really not much more expensive.  Thirty minutes after hopping on my East bound train I arrived in Stirling and set off.  I wandered all through Old Stirling on my way up to the castle, even stumbling upon a great comic shop which had Doctor Who stuff, including action figures of the tenth doctor, my personal favorite 🙂

Right Stirling.  As I was saying Old Stirling was great, lots to look at, many old buildings, an incredible hostel (don’t I wish I’d stayed there!), several things to read on my hike up the hill, and the piece de resistance, Stirling Castle.  It’s been mentioned before that I have a thing for old abandoned buildings, well, I also have a thing for old building in general.  Castles being one of the best!  There are so many things to look at, so many stories to imagine and hear, so many images that pop into your head as you explore.  Yep, I love castles.  Stirling was no exception to the rule, I wandered around for about and hour, and then joined a tour.  There were so many little nuggets of info that I won’t bore you with, because they just aren’t the same if you’re not there! 

From Stirling Castle I was able to look out over the Scottish Country side and see the Wallace Monument.  With the fall colors and the setting sun it made for a resplendent image.  Boy am I glad I got to at least see it.  Hopefully next time I can actually visit it. 

As the sun set, I slowly made my way back down through Old Stirling to the more modern looking parts.  Here I wandered into a Marks & Spencer where I picked up a Canadian Maple smoothie (I thought that was kind of cool) and some sort of salad for supper.  Just outside of M&S I ran into a guy canvassing for some charity and we struck up a conversation.  He was very interested to here what I thought of his country and wanted to now about Canada as he was planning a trip over to BC in the next year.  I told him I didn’t know much about BC, but I could tell him about Ontario and the East Coast.  After about 20 minutes I headed off and he got back to work canvassing.  Meeting random strangers and bonding over something is one of the best parts of travelling 🙂

Well, we have made it through all the highlights of my whirlwind tour of Scotland.  I am still planning on more post, just to highlight some of my favorite pictures that didn’t make it into all fo these posts.  There won’t be much writing, but I have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Scotland Part 8 – Scottish Highlands

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh posts please check part 5part 6 and part 7 of my trip**

Guess what, we’ve almost made it all the way through my week-long trip to Scotland.  Best part is think we really will make it through everything before I’ve been back for a year.  If all goes according to my current posting plan, there will be one maybe two more posts!  Good grief.

What are we reminiscing about today?  Just one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.  One place I wish to re-visit, this time for longer and with some serious hiking.  Where on Earth could this magical place be?  If you really are wondering, go read the title of my post.  Yep, the Scottish Highlands.

One of the few things I knew before landing in Glasgow was that I wanted to take a tour of the Highlands.  I would have loved to do one of the multi-day tours, alas I was only in the country for a week.  Had to limit myself.  For that reason I made a point of picking the one day tour that seemed like it would show me the most.  I ended up going with Rabbie Burns Tours as they had lots of great sounding awards.  The way I see it, awards mean people like them and have had good experiences.  I want to have a good experience, so why not.  Also, I had a coupon for…I don’t even remember how much.  The tour I took was Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands.  We also saw Loch Lomond.  I have to say, the tour was well worth whatever it was I spent on it.

Our first stop was at Loch Lomond, and we all got out, wandered around, took some pictures.  Already the views were stunning.  For those of you who don’t know Loch Lomond is the largest of the Lochs in surface area.  Oh yeah, Loch is Scottish for lake.  I kind of want to start calling it Loch Ontario instead of Lake Ontario now!  After we got back on the bus we listened to a very haunting tune “Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond.”  I’m not going to lie, every time I listen it brings tears to my eyes, and while passing along side the banks of Loch Lomond it was even more of a struggle to keep my composure.

Try not to be moved by that song.

After Loch Lomond we headed over to Fort Augustus where we stopped for lunch and to check out the locks and Loch Ness.  Try saying that one five times fast!  I think many of my travelling companions stopped in a restaurant for lunch, I on the other hand purchased a portion of chips and wandered along the locks while munching on them.  It was chilly, but well worth the extra time to make sure I could take everything in.  That and locks are cool!  **side note, I still remember stopping somewhere with Dad when WAY younger to check out a lock…I was fascinated**

After lunch we hopped back on the bus, drove along the banks of Loch Ness, which I might add, is not only home to famous Nessie, but is also the largest loch in the UK by total water volume.  After awhile we passed Castle Urquhart, not much further up the road we pulled over and hopped on a boat tour of Loch Ness.  We got to go right up to Castle Urquart and I of course took a bajillion photos.  After viewing the castle we headed back to the dock, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for Nessie.  You be the judge as to if I saw her.

 The only other part of our day trip that was amazing, mind-blowing and/or heart wrenching was as we drove through Glencoe.  Which if I remember my translation from Scottish correctly means, where the valley meets the river Coe (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, it has been almost a year!).

Many of you may have heard about the Glencoe Massacre, I had previously not.  I’ll try to do it some justice right now:

Back in 1692 King William wanted all of the highlanders to swear an oath of Allegiance to him.  For some reason, never known, the Chief of the MacDonald clan was late arriving to sign, possibly due to the weather, or maybe it was an act of rebellion…we will never know.  William was not happy about this so he sent the Campbell clan to the MacDonald’s to stay until further notice/order.  Back then in the highlands there was an unwritten rule that you never turn away someone needed a meal or bed, it is a rather harsh environment.  For this reason, for two weeks, the MacDonald’s played host to the Campbell’s, until February 13.  On this night, the Campbell chief received notice that they were to kill the MacDonald’s, and the Campbell’s followed their orders.  All told, 36 MacDonald’s were killed in their homes, while another 40 women and children died of exposure in the winter night. 

Even now, writing out the story I get shivers running down my back.

There you have it, my day trip up to the Highlands.  It was filled with gorgeous scenery, and interesting facts.  Oh yeah, and it lit up some sort of fire in my soul, I dont’ just want to go back, I feel like I need to go back.

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Scotland Part 7 – St. Giles Cathedral

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh posts please check part 5 and part 6 of my trip**

 Good news, we’re on the last Edinburgh post, and then there are only two or three more posts to sum up the whole trip!  I think I just might get you all caught up before November (and the one year anniversary of my trip) like I said I would.  What part of Edinburgh are we visiting today?  We’re taking a brief tour of St. Giles Cathedral

I already spent some time waxing poetic about the Glasgow Cathedral, and I’m not going to lie, I liked that one a bit more.  That said, St. Giles was amazing and the Thistle Chapel was magnificent.  Apparently one of the many carved angels in the Thistle Chapel can be found holding a bagpipe, I was not able to locate said angel.  The stone work, columns, stained glass and general character of St. Giles was rather impressive.  While I may have a slight preference for the Glasgow Cathedral, I was still awestruck at the majesty found in St. Giles. 

Here is your chance to take a peak 🙂

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Scotland Part 6 – Harry Potter in Edinburgh

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh part 1 please go here**

In my last post I promised Harry Potter related landmarks.  For those of you who are not Harry Potter (HP) geeks or fans this post is not for you.  Feel free to wait for my next post.  If you’re a HP fan like me, this might be just up your alley.  As we were taking our walking tour of Edinburgh (remember this was through Sandman’s New Europe Tours) our Guide Owen asked if any of us wanted to see sites related to HP…thankfully I was in a tour group where about 95% of us gave a resounding YES! 

Up until this tour I had no idea that J.K. Rowling wrote the first few books in a small cafe in Edinburgh.  This cafe is called The Elephant House and I was able to see the window she sat at, and the plaque they have placed on the front of the building.

From her seat in The Elephant House she was able to see a private school and the Edinburgh Castle both of which gave her inspiration for Hogwarts.  We also went to Greyfriars Kirk (also home to Greyfrairs Bobby), and went into the cemetery.  Why would we go wandering amongst the grave stones?  Simple, apparently Rowling got many of her characters names from the head stones.  The most notable of them being:

Yep, that’s right Voldemort!

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Scotland Part 5 – Edinburgh

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

Okay, so I’ve sort of been neglecting getting everyone caught up on last years trip to Scotland…blame my life, it’s always busy.  Awesome, but busy!  I will try to get you caught up on my Scottish adventures as well as my hectic and amazing Summer…no promises though! 

Edinburgh, where to even start with this city?  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love Glasgow.  But when I first stepped out of the train station and took my first real look at Edinburgh my heart seemed to swell and I realized that this city, this city was for me!  Everywhere my eyes rested they were being treated to gorgeous stonework, beautiful buildings and awe-inspiring spires.  There I was standing in a city that I could have easily spent at least a week or two in and I’d only left myself one day, yep, one day.  There was so much to do and see that if I hadn’t previously spoken to Matt about his stay in Edinburgh I wouldnt’ have even know where to start.  Thankfully he’d told me about this amazing free walking tour service, Sandman’s New Europe Tours.  Boy am I glad he told me about this for two reasons.  1) This way I had a starting point, I knew that I needed to be in front of a Starbucks on High Street for 11 am and 2) this tour was AMAZING!  Thank-you Matt 🙂

My tour guide for the day was Owen.  As soon as he opened his mouth and started to talk, I, and everyone else in the group, realized he was not Scottish and could tell that his base accent was one with which I was very familiar.  I just couldn’t place it as he’d started to pick up a bit of a Scottish one on top.  Of course I needed to know, turns out he’s a good old Canadian boy – Edmonton to be exact.  I knew I recognized the accent!  Over the course of 3-4 hours Owen took us along the famous Royal Mile.  We saw several points of intrest including, but not limited to, St. Giles Cathedral (upcoming post), several closes, the court-yard by Robert Burn‘s flat, the Council Chambers, Edinburgh Castle, and several Harry Potter related sites (another upcoming post).

For those of you who do not know what a close is here is a very quick lesson.  It’s a skinny little pathway between buildings leading to the buildings/courtyards (no garden involved) behind said buildings.  Some of them are so narrow that you have to walk single file, and others are wide enough to walk one or two abreast.  The names of the closes used to change all the time as each one was named after the most well to do person/family in the courtyard the close lead to.  When they stopped doing that all the closes were left with the names of the last person it was named after.  Kind of cool.

Of course everyone has heard of Robbie Burns even though it turns out he never went by Robbie, always Robert or Rabbie.  Edinburgh is one of the many places he called home and we were lucky enough to be shown the window to his home/flat.  I failed to take a picture of the window, but here is a picture of the building beside in the same little courtyard.

For this post I’m going to finish up by a quick little visit to the outside of Edinburgh Castle.  Since I only had one day for the whole of Edinburgh there wasn’t the time for me to explore the castle.  Hey, it just gives me a really good reason to go back, well, it’s better than “but I want to.”  I was able to walk as far up as the gates and I did get to see it up close as well as from several different vantage points around the city.  It really is a rather impressive looking place, and I hear the history is fascinating.  When I eventually make it back there I’ll tell you all about it 🙂

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Scotland Part 4 – Glasgow Cathedral

** Please see parts one through 3, here, here and here. **

Now that we have made our tour of most of Glasgow’s highlights, in one fewer posts than days I spent truly exploring the city, it’s time to round out the city with what I felt was the highlight.  The stunning and rather magnificent Glasgow Cathedral.  I believe I already mentioned that I stumbled across this gem thanks to the Hop on Hop off bus tour I took, granted, I stumbled on many different things (several unmentioned) thanks to that tour.  I am however most thankful that I took the tour as I hadn’t come across anything that even mentioned the Cathedral otherwise.  Knowing that I could have missed out on this place makes me unbelievably sad.  It was awe-inspiring, breathtaking and humbling all at the same time.  This was one of those rare places that brought me peace and joy from the moment I crossed the threshold – the only other place that immediately springs to mind are the Sydney Botantical Gardens and Domain.

The first time I visited the Cathedral was an hour before closing time.  Didn’t seem like it would be an issue to only have one hour, until I walked through the doors that it.  In that one hour I was only able to glance over half of the building, and that was without taking my time and appreciating it.  For that very reason I came back the second day for a few hours and just took my time walking around, looking at the stone work and wood carvings, admiring the hight of the columns, and gazing up at the stained glass windows.  Of course the camera received a bit of a work out that day!  I won’t spend anymore time talking about this place as my words could never do it justice; instead I shall provide you with some pictures, which if you use your imagination, you just might be able to see and feel what I felt inside.

 

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