The Land of Lochs and Legends
Our adventures into Scotland started with playing a little hooky away from school. Leaving mid-week gave us the opportunity to really grasp the land of lochs and legends. Though we never made it up to see Nessie or come across Mel Gibson, there was enough time for Scotland to show us how awesome it is.
Arriving late Wednesday night, we were dropped off next to the lively Edinburgh Christmas Markets. With the glow from the ferris wheel and the aroma of fried food reeling us in, you could guess how we spent our first night. The awesome atmosphere, food, and shops brought us back every following night. The next day, we set off on a walking tour of Edinburgh. With an enthusiastic and awesome guide, I never wanted the tour to end. From the stories of the legends to seeing where JK Rowling was inspired and began her Harry Potter series, Edinburgh had my eye. For a big Harry Potter fan and after walking the streets of Edinburgh, I could see how JK put so much of the city into her series. Side note: Hogwarts was a combination of the castle and the prestigious school of George Heriot's, while Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort) and Professor McGonagall could be found in the Greyfriar Kirkyard graveyard. All in close proximity to the Elephant House cafe, where JK wrote the Sorcerer's (or Philosopher's) Stone.
Friday was spent in St. Andrews. Just an hour train ride away from Edinburgh, we had a big day set in St. Andrews. Along with walking the Old Course's links, we had a free VIP tour of the Eden Mill brewery and distillery lined up. Another perk of the awesome Christmas market was receiving that VIP pass after doing a little taste testing of their awesome chocolate, oatmeal stout. When we arrived in the small town of St. Andrews, the anticipation grew as we followed the signs to the Old Course. With a breeze from the waterfront, walking the course and past the famous Swilcan Bridge on 18 (couldn't walk over it due to re-sodding) made me realize what a special place I was in. So much history, it was awesome. After spending the afternoon at the course, the next stop was Eden Mill. Being formed in just 2012, we entered into not only a small scale brewery but also distillery. Samplings ranged from their chili/ginger holiday brew to a bourbon barrel soaked batch, along with a taste of their staple hop gin to top it off. The day trip was a hit.
On our last day, we had set out for a hike. A hoof to the top of Arthur's Seat- a set of hills and cliffs set right next to the city. After a bit of a hike and some improvised climbing, we made it to the top. The best view in town and a lot of green on the ground still in December. In the afternoon, I experienced my first European football match. None of the big dogs, but a Scottish football match indeed, Hearts to be exact. With a front row view and a 4-1 win, I had the full experience- including the hysterical Scots badmouthing the refs the whole game. At night, we joined part in a pub crawl across some of the coolest bars in Edinburgh. Including some awesome alley-tucked away pubs, it was an awesome cap-off to an awesome time in Scotland. Until next time...