Sunday, July 27, 2014

Travel Diaries - Scotland (travel and day 1)

So apparently I am totally into series on the blog at the moment.  And you know what? I am totally okay with that!  I have a new mini-series that is going to talk about our recent vacation to Scotland and Ireland.  We had a total blast and I cannot wait to share our adventures with you all (and for record keeping for myself).

We had the great opportunity to take an amazing road trip around Scotland and Ireland with my Daddy.  It was a trip we had planned to take back before my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer, when she got diagnosed the trip went on the back burner and now since Ellie is still essentially "free" to travel with, my Dad thought it would be the perfect time to go.  And of course with the opportunity to go to the motherland we couldn't help but agree.

Scotland - Travel Day

Let's start off with the travel part.  We had to take 3 planes to get to Scotland.  Seattle to Chicago then Chicago to Dublin (35 minute layover - stress me out) and finally Dublin to Glasgow (45 minutes layover with a trip through customs and back through security - stress x5)

After nearly 14 hours of travel we finally arrived to our destination country.  We rented a car at the airport (as well as a car seat for Ellie - she had to be facing forward) and then began our journey of seeing the country via road trip.  In Scotland you drive on the right side of the car and the left side of the road and most rentals are standars (stick shifts).  Thomas was able to adapt rather quickly to this new driving skill though I am not going to lie there were some hazy moments here and there and only one trip over the curb on the shoulder.  Not too shabby.

Our first stop on the road trip was to Stirling.   We did a little sight seeing and had some Indian food for lunch.  Then headed to our B&B called "The Barn", it was a little difficult to find so a very nice lady at the petrol station kindly offered to guide us there! Even though it was called the barn it was nice place.  After arriving we were so tuckered out from our voyage that we decided to take a quick nap - that lasted nearly 5 hours!! (of course due to the stress of the day traveling with close calls on all of our connecting flights - I got a wicked migraine) we headed across the street to the well suggested restaurant for dinner.  Since my head was pounding so bad, I skipped dinner to head back to the room for a hot shower and time in the dark hoping my meds would kick in soon so I could feel better.  The boys (and Ellie) finally came back after dinner and watching the World Cup in the bar and we all fell asleep in a matter of minutes. 

Scotland - Day 1

I awoke at 3:30 in the morning fresh as a daisy - no migraine in sight! but then I couldn't fall back asleep.  So I watched the sunrise at 4:45 and tried to get some catchup reading on my blogs - thank goodness for wifi! Finally around 6:15 I started to get heavy eyed and was able to go back to sleep until it was time to get up at 8.  

We all got ready and hopped across the street to the same restaurant for breakfast and went on our way to visit William Wallace monument - we didn't actually go up but got a picture and stopped in the gift shop where we found the most adorable children/s books and a cool shirt for Thomas.  

Then we stopped by the bridge on our way to Stirling Castle.   Okay folks this was a fantastic Castle.  There was a lot of history found here and it was all very well maintained.  Some of the rooms were furnished as they might have been back in the day and it seemed to be very clean.  The grounds were beautiful and they even had a few activities for children and adults alike to partake in, so this was a very family friendly Castle (although the terrain might be a bit of a challenge for those who are not very stable on their feet)  We also went down to the kitchen where they had it all staged with manikins and whatnot to see what it was like.  Cool points about the Castle: the Tapestries hung in one of the rooms depicts the Passion of the Christ by way of a Unicorn being hunted, the Great Hall once held a ship for a sea themed dinner, and we learned about the significance of the Coats of Arms in the Queens bedroom.

After finishing up with the Castle we started on to our next stop Glencoe.  The views and countryside of Scotland are just beautiful.  On the way we drove through Drymen and saw a wedding party taking photos, then we went to Balloch and had a boat ride tour around Loch Lommand.  As we had quite a distance to travel we didn't get too much time in Balloch but it seemed to be a very quaint town.  We stopped in a convenience store and had a sausage roll for lunch and then as we were the last boat tour of the day the guy manning the concessions on the boat gave us the last two chocolate chip cookies and a cup of tea for free! He said he would rather give it to us than throw it away - we very willingly obiliged.  Then we traveled more of the country side and saw some beautiful views.  The roads were much better than we had imagined they would be, wider and paved well.  We had some difficulties finding our next hotel as well.  The map we had from the website was not correct and the town of Glencoe is tiny.  Not much there except for a petrol station and a pub.  Thankfully the petrol station was open and the clerk new exactly where it was that we needed to go... we were about 5 miles off and needed to cross a bridge.  But boy oh boy was it a nice hotel.  I would totally recommend it.  It was spacious and clean and so much nicer than we ever thought we would come across due to the lackluster of the town.  As the distance we traveled was so great we arrived after 8:30 in the evening and still needed to have dinner.  They suggested a restaurant down the next road over.  It was a very formal restaurant with a casual Pub in the back.  Seeing as the menu was the same in either location we chose the Pub so we could watch World Cup.  This restaurant had the BEST FOOD.  The service was a little slow - by American standards, in Europe they want you to enjoy your food and experience. We got a delicious Goat Cheese Bruschetta for an appetizer and then Thomas and I shared Fish and Chips - good thing because they served us a whole fillet of fish.  The tartare sauce was divine and since the meal was so good and I also happened to see Sticky Toffee Pudding on the menu we got that for dessert.  By far the best pudding I have ever had. (Pudding in the UK isn't actually like the instant pudding we have in the states its actually more of a cake)  Ellie was a total champ! She sat pretty well in the high chair for most of the meal and then we let her out to go and walk around.  Our waitress gave her the triangle and a ball for the billiards table and she had a blast carrying both around. We finally got out of the restaurant and back to the hotel around 11 pm.  It was bath night for Ellie and she had a blast in the tub and was so tired she fell asleep almost instantly.

Our days in Scotland were pretty busy and jammed packed with activities, stops, and miles to drive but they were all amazing and we just loved it!!

♥ Ashley


  1. Gah I hate short layovers like that! I'm so jealous, I want to visit here too! Your pictures are so pretty - I just love all the green! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Haa!!! I LOVE the picture of you and E with the cannon. SO great.

    Major thank goodness for wifi!!


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♥ Ashley