I’m a different person after visiting Scotland.
When I arrived I thought I knew what beauty was and what I liked, but after 10 days my world was turned upside down… in the best possible way imaginable.
We began our adventure to Scotland by taking a ferry from Belfast to Glasgow. We took a coach bus that drove us straight onto this giant boat that we could walk around and explore for 2 or so hours, and then the bus drove us off the ferry and straight into the city.
The locals like to refer to Glasgow as the “working city” because it was created out of necessity for jobs, and although it has the highest population, it is not the capital of the country.
We were lucky again to have a new friend, Alex, who let us stay with him, showed us around Glasgow and introduced us to some fantastic craft breweries like Brewdog.
We were interested in trying a local delicacy but not brave enough to order it in a restaurant, so we bought and cooked our own haggis for the first time.
Haggis has a mixture of scary sounding ingredients like sheep heart, liver and lungs but it has the texture of ground beef and, while it is a little on the fatty side, is surprisingly delicious (so much so that we later ordered it in two different pubs)!
I fell in love with these marvelous hairy weirdos, so Greg had the pleasure of hanging out while I fondly chatted with each of them...
Edinburgh’s history is dark and full of captivating stories. We learned about grave robberies, witch burnings, and even some failed hangings on a free Sandeman's walking tour. It seemed strange to hear such horrifying tales while walking amongst such beautiful architecture.
In general, Greg and I love learning about the origin of sayings, so we found it wildly entertaining to learn where the saying “shit-faced” came from while on this tour.
Yes, of all of the stories we’ve heard so far this is one I’m choosing to share with you.
Back in the day, people did their toilet business in chamber pots in their homes. Once they were full, they needed to be emptied and this was usually done by throwing it out of the window.
Overtime, these sporadic “dumpings” (pun intended) were becoming a problem for passersbys, so a law was made that it could only be done at 6 AM and 10 PM. There weren’t many issues during the 6 AM time, but at 10 PM, if you were walking home drunk and didn’t respond in time to warning of “gardyloo!” (meaning mind the water!), and then looked up to see what was happening, well, you’d get the contents of that chamber pot thrown onto your face.
You were quite literally shit-faced drunk.
The more you know.
We left Edinbough the next day to embark on the best tour we’ve been on to date, to explore the Highlands with a group called MacBackPackers (and obviously to search for the Loch Ness monster).
Here are some of the amazing places we visited:
Kelpies (mythical Scottish water horse)
Loch Ness (home to the Loch Ness Monster)
Our guide for this tour was hilariously off-side, and complemented his stories with a well-timed playlist of songs to drive his points home. We even heard some awesome bagpipe covers by a band called “The Red Hot Chilli Pipers” that our guide Dave described as “seriously, rock n’ roll!”
The weather that weekend could be described perfectly in one word: moody.
We had rain one minute and clear skies the next. Greg and I honestly didn’t mind though, and relished every opportunity to run off the bus to explore the vastness of the Highlands.
The tour was great because we were never on the bus longer than 1.5 hours before being shown another natural marvel that we could walk/hike/take pictures of. We even spent the night right on Loch Ness.
No, sadly, we didn’t see Nessie.
One of my favourite spots was stopping to see Lealt Falls-- a potentially nerve wracking experience for anyone afraid of heights, we followed a narrow sheep path down a hillside with hairpin turns until we came upon a beautiful waterfall.
At the start of our 10 days in Scotland I never would have thought I’d be saying that my new favourite animal is the highland cow, or that haggis is delicious (and I want it on everything), or that walking through the Highlands made us feel more at home/refreshed/alive that we ever could have imagined.
Thanks to our friends for the recommendations on what to see and to Alex for being our gracious host in Glasgow!
Okay, now let’s recap:
Always carry a rain jacket-- Scotland's weather is moody and changes fast!
Hiking boots are ideal when walking through the Highlands because it's often very muddy
Haggis is delicious
Scotland has a great craft beer scene
Visit Edinburgh for at least 2 days! There are so many beautiful museums and things to see (especially for Harry Potter enthusiasts)
In Edinburgh do a FREE Sandeman's walking tour to learn about the history and what is worth seeing/spending your money on
Consider booking a multi-day tour with MacBackpackers to see the most of Scotland without having to drive on the left-side of the road yourself. We did the 3 day tour to Loch Ness and Skye and LOVED it
Cost Breakdown for 10 full days in Scotland (in CDN$):
Accommodations: $53.25 (High Street hostel in Edinburgh for 1 night)
Transportation: $241.96 = 139.13 (buses/uber) + 102.83 (ferry from Belfast to Glasgow)
Food: $549.64 = 429.80 (dining out, coffee etc.) + 119.84 (groceries)
Attractions: $532.44 = 517.44 (3 day Macbackpacker tour incl. 2 night stay) + 15 (tip for the Edinburgh Sandeman Walking Tour)
TOTAL MONEY SPENT: $1377.29
Go; experience the mystical land of Keplies, Loch Ness and bagpipes. You’ll leave Scotland a different person.
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