Thank you guys so much for joining me on this magical journey.
I realized, as I was reading it over, that I did very little to truly describe what I saw and what I did. I do believe that there are absolutely no words. NONE – that will ever be able to share how gorgeous and other-worldly Scotland is.
Here we are on the last two days of my trip. Let’s see what I can conjure up in imagery.
We got up super early and hit the road. And boy oh boy was it snowing! I was half asleep, and every time I opened my eyes, I would see huge snowflakes pounding the windshield.
As we were driving, and I want to say it was near or outside of Fort William, we came across this little village in the night. Telisa pulled our rental over and we just got out and listened to the complete quiet and calm. This perfect blanket of snow was creating an ethereal carpet before us. The little Inn had the twinkle lights all along the edge and we just stood there in awe. Such a fairy tale moment for us.
It was as if Scotland was teasing us and willing us not to leave. I joked that my ancestral pull was giving me that feeling of home and I really, REALLY just wanted to send for my husband, my dog, the cats, and my things. I would have been content to live right here.
We got a little closer to Glencoe and saw this little bridge that had this gorgeous little stream. We pulled over on the one lane road and took some pictures. All Telisa and I could keep saying was, “Wow.” “Oh my God, do you see that?” and “Is this even real life?”
Then it happened.
We made it to the famous Glencoe. For one, it was famous for the clash and deception between the Campbell clan and the MacDonalds, but it also is known to have the most hairy coo. I was banking on the latter.
As you can see, it looked like where the Wildlings lived in Game of Thrones. Cold, barren, and just breathtaking. Miles and miles of mountains and snow.
But still no sign of Hairy Coos.
But we did see several herds of White Stag just chilling out on the side of the road and once, while we were standing outside taking photos, I did hear the familiar, “baa,” but I knew better this time.
When I tell you that I was mesmerized by the beauty of Scotland, I think that is a complete understatement. From the fresh air, to the kind people, to the simple way of life – The Highlands, in particular, are amazing.
We spent the next several hours weaving in and out of the mountains of Glencoe. If you look real carefully at the picture above (or any of the pictures of Glencoe,) you will see the road we were traveling. Winding, snowy, and hilly.
Wondering a little about the area? Glencoe is regarded as the home of Scottish mountaineering and is popular with hillwalkers and climbers.
On the February 13, 1692, in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1689, an incident known as the Massacre of Glencoe took place there. Thirty-eight men from Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by government forces who were billeted with them on the grounds that they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William II and Mary II. They actually worked out a deal with the Campbells to sneak in at night and kill their neighbors. To this day, if your last name is Campbell and you enter a bar, they will (not-so-politely) ask you to leave. Yep.
The Glen is named after the River Coe which runs through it.
One last look….
Alright, by the time we got to Glasgow (the home of my ancestors!,) it was a little after lunch time. We found a really cool old pub called the Horseshoe Bar. At 104 feet and three inches, their grand Victorian bar is apparently the longest in Europe and merits an architectural listing all of its own. It’s the center of the Horseshoe, where we were able to get great value pub-food.
As always, there was a soccer match playing on one of the 11 big screen tvs they had hanging around the place. This place dates back to about 1884. Funny to think I still had my direct ancestors living there at the time. It was sort of fun to think that maybe, just maybe, they sat at the same bar I was sitting at.
We ordered the food and then headed back toward our car. Along the way we saw some interesting sites:
We finally started heading out of town and made our way to a little village outside of Edinburgh which had the castle/manor home for Jamie Fraser from Outlander.
Yes, boys and girls. We found Lallybroch!
Also known as Midhope Castle.
Telisa was beyond fan-girling out! She wore her Je Suis Prest! shirt, the motto of the Clan Fraser.
We took our time wandering the grounds of this castle.
Unfortunately, they were not accepting visitors at this time.
We were thrilled to get to visit!
Once we left the area, it was farmland and the hills got smaller as we got closer to Edinburgh.
We saw so many grouse or pheasant, I am not sure which. Plenty of sheep and plenty of beautiful vistas!
As we inched closer and closer to Edinburgh, I sort of gave up on the ability to see my hairy coos. Seriously! It had been eight days – sure I had seen tons of post cards, stuffed animals, magnets, T-shirts, and mugs with these adorable Hairy Coos… but for whatever reason, and lord knows, we covered most of Scotland, I did not see one single one.
The roads started getting a little more complicated, while the lanes went from one to two, to three, to maybe five on each side and the sun was setting, Telisa asked which exit to take.
Well…. I screwed up.
But I’m so glad we did.
Yes! Right off of the highway.
We shot up the road to the next exit and found the street. Telisa parked the car and I skidded my way (it was icy!) down this one lane road to this field and came face to face with my very FIRST HAIRY COO!!!!!
This baby just stood there watching me watching him/her! I couldn’t believe it. I tried to get a little closer and ended up getting tangled up in some thorny vines….
But it was so worth it.
Yes, on my last night in Scotland.
We left the area, both content with our checklist of things we wanted to do and we made our way back to the airport to take our covid test and return the rental car.
After we dropped off the car, we walked back to the airport to hail a cab to take us to the Grassmarket. Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic old town, behind the castle, the Grassmarket neighbourhood is one of the most vibrant, picturesque and lively areas of the city. A paradise of independent merchants, designers and artisans, the area was bursting with some of the best shopping Edinburgh has to offer. The area is well known for being home to some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh as well as some of the most animated and eclectic bars.
We were staying in an apartment on the third floor of this old building. More circular staircases, but just an adorable spot. We sorted through our stuff and headed out for dinner.
We ended up choosing the Beehive Inn right across the street from our apartment and right at the foot of the Edinburgh Castle. We could even see the Castle from our apartment.
It was your typical British pub where I ordered a burger and I really can’t remember what Telisa ordered, but we both agreed it was good. (WE WERE SO TIRED.) To think we drove from the North all of the way to Edinburgh and to process the things we saw….
It was amazing.
We decided to go back to the apartment and take showers, pack up and get ready for our 6 am scheduled taxi ride back to the airport. We were leaving Monday morning to head back home.
The next morning, we made it to the airport in perfect time and boarded our first plane to Amsterdam. Once in Amsterdam, we high-tailed it to our gate and almost immediately boarded the plane for Atlanta. An almost ten hour flight home and we stood in line at customs for almost an hour and caught the MGA Lux driver service back to Warner Robins, where my sweet guy was waiting for me. Tim and I drove home and I slept sooooo hard that night.
It was an amazing opportunity! I am thrilled that she and I got to travel together. Yes, we hit some speed bumps along the way (all of it outside of our control,) but at the end… Telisa would ask, “But did we die?”
Nope. We did not.
But four days later, my mother-in-law would.
I’ll share more about that heartbreaking story tomorrow.