Ascent to Arthur’s Seat

One of the things I love about Edinburgh is that it’s so green. Just outside the city centre is Holyrood Park, which includes hills with the highest point being Arthur’s Seat. I climbed it at nighttime the last time I visited Scotland back in February, but this time, I had a chance to climb it during the day. It was a cloudy day, but I still managed to see beautiful views of the Scottish landscape, the city below, and the waters of the Firth of Forth in the distance.

Love, Elizabeth

Road trip to Scotland!

Road trip to Scotland!

Scotland was amazing!

On Friday morning, Molly and I went back to Edinburgh and spent one last night there. The bus to Birmingham left at 3 on Saturday and we got home just before midnight. I was so glad to be heading home—I was at the point where I was really excited to sleep in my own bed, use my own shower, wear something other than the two outfits I’d been circulating all week, make tea with my own kettle, and eat real food (I spent part of the week running on protein bars, pumpkin seeds and apples).

However, I was really sad to be leaving behind such an amazing place full of wonderful new friends. I’ll definitely be going back in a few months!

Here’s a quick recap of my trip:

Glasgow: It has a pretty bad reputation (people wrinkle their noses in disgust when they hear that I went there), but I actually really liked it. It reminded me a little bit of Cincinnati because there are rough, stabby parts of the city, but the rest is really beautiful. I mean, just look at the architecture. Any city that has a Ferris wheel is automatically awesome, in my opinion. Not to mention the TARDIS that I saw there. That was pretty neat.

Aberdeen: This was probably my least favourite city. The university part was really pretty, but other than that, Aberdeen was pretty bland. It’s probably the fact that all of the buildings are gray and boring. I’m sure some people love it, but it was just not the place for me. I had a nice time there, nonetheless. The best part about Aberdeen was staying with Bridget.

Stonehaven: I loved this quiet little town! I can see myself going back for a relaxed holiday sometime. The feel of the place was wonderful, and the walk to the castle from there was one of the prettiest treks I’ve ever been on, even though it was an overcast, windy day. And the castle on the cliffs was probably the most beautiful thing I saw during my time in Scotland.

Inverness: I definitely hope to come back here. I would love to have had more time to browse through the quaint bookshops and spend time at some of the many cute coffee shops. Plus, it’s in a great location for seeing some of the surrounding Highlands. Which brings me to my next point…

Loch Ness: Absolutely beautiful. Right after the castle near Stonehaven, it was one of the prettiest sights I saw in Scotland. I probably wouldn’t make it a priority to go back (unless I happened to be nearby anyway) because seeing it once was enough; however, it was still one of my favourite places.

Edinburgh: This city was so beautiful. The castle was gorgeous, because it’s situated on a hill, so you can see it from lots of different places within the city.Arthur’s Seat was a lot of fun to climb with my friends, and next time I’m here, I’ll go up there during the daytime. There were kilt-making shops everywhere, and I even saw a few people walking around wearing kilts. I had so much fun here because I got to spend my time with friends, and so I will be going back to visit them and to see more of Edinburgh.

Love, Elizabeth

More photos of Loch Ness

"Loch Ness is so deep that you could stand three Big Bens in it and they would still not reach the top.

The Statue of Liberty could dive in happily without any chance of her head hitting the bottom.

And five jumbo jets could be placed wingtip to wingtip and still have room to loop the loop…

…plenty of room for a monster!”

Nessie: The Most Famous Tale of Monster Mayhem Ever… by Richard Brassey

Love, Elizabeth

Loch Ness

Because we had already seen pretty much all of Inverness, Molly and I took a bus to Loch Ness on Thursday. The weather was incredibly warm, and we enjoyed walking around without our coats. We looked for the Loch Ness Monster, but unfortunately, Nessie didn’t make an appearance that day.

Loch Ness is definitely on my list of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The amazing weather made it even more gorgeous. Just look at the sky in the pictures! I think the clouds are the prettiest part of British weather.

I can’t decide which photos to choose of Loch Ness, so I’m just going to share all of them. Here’s the first batch!

Love, Elizabeth

Inverness

Molly and I met up on Wednesday morning at the bus station and boarded our bus. Four hours later, we arrived at Inverness and made our way to our hostel. After my horrible hostel experience last time I was in London, I was a little nervous, but I’ve since decided that this is the best hostel ever. Nice location (right in the town centre), nice kitchen, nice staff, nice price (£11/night), nice toilets, nice showers, nice bedrooms. The pillow is a little lumpy, but that’s okay because I brought my own.

We spent the day just walking through the town. Everyone I had talked to told me that Inverness was really small, but in my opinion, any town that has a mall and streets upon streets of restaurants, cafes, and shops isn’t “really small” (but maybe that’s because I grew up in a tiny village in the middle of a cornfield). I really liked Inverness. It had quirky shops and cute cafes. It was full of beautiful churches. The grass was bright green and the River Ness runs right through the town.

My favourite thing in the town was a place called Leakey’s Bookshop. It was in what used to be an old church, so the windows are still stained-glass and there’s an overall antique feel to the building. I didn’t take any photos of it because some shops are weird about that, but you’ll just have to believe me that it was an incredible place. There were shelves upon shelves of old books. The smell of the books mixed with the smoke from the wood-burning stove that warmed up the entire building. Upstairs was a cafe, some couches, and more shelves of books. It took so much discipline to leave that place without buying anything, but my backpack was heavy enough already without adding books to it, and I didn’t want to think about trying to haul more back home in a few days.

After our wanders, Molly and I went back to the hostel so that I could write all of my blog posts and she could work on homework.

Love, Elizabeth

Ever since I came to England, everyone’s been telling me that I need to try a deep-fried Mars bar. They told me it was rumored that up North, if you brought a Mars bar into a chip shop, they might batter it for you and then fry it.
I had my chance to try one when I went to a chippy in Stonehaven where this delicacy originated. It was every bit as delicious as it sounds, and every bit as unhealthy. They batter the Mars bar and then fry just for a few seconds. When you bite into it, the candy part is all delicious and melted in contrast with the flaky battered shell. For obvious health reasons, it’s not something I would get again, but I’m very glad to have tried it.
Love, Elizabeth

Ever since I came to England, everyone’s been telling me that I need to try a deep-fried Mars bar. They told me it was rumored that up North, if you brought a Mars bar into a chip shop, they might batter it for you and then fry it.

I had my chance to try one when I went to a chippy in Stonehaven where this delicacy originated. It was every bit as delicious as it sounds, and every bit as unhealthy. They batter the Mars bar and then fry just for a few seconds. When you bite into it, the candy part is all delicious and melted in contrast with the flaky battered shell. For obvious health reasons, it’s not something I would get again, but I’m very glad to have tried it.

Love, Elizabeth

Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle

On Tuesday morning, Bridget and I went to Stonehaven, which is a quiet sea town about twenty minutes from Aberdeen. We walked from the train station through the town centre. It was quaint with a lot of pink rose granite houses mixed in with the gray granite. The town is full of retirement homes and bed and breakfasts, so there was a relaxed, sleepy feel to it. We made our way to the beach, climbed up the cliff, and followed the coast a few miles until we got to Dunnottar Castle perched on a cliff over the sea. It’s now in ruins, but it’s still partially intact and open for those who want to tour it. 

The sea was absolutely beautiful. While the water at Aberdeen was indistinguishable from the gray sky, the ocean here had a slight bluish tint that made it stand out from the clouds at the horizon. The tall brown cliffs were covered in overgrown grass, and in some parts black rock formations at the bottom of the cliff turned into caves. It felt like something I’d seen in a British-themed film (First Knight, anyone?), and I was so glad to have had the opportunity to see it all!

Love, Elizabeth

Aberdeen

On Monday morning, Molly and I were up bright and early again to board a bus, this time to Aberdeen. Once more, I slept for most of the trip, but the few glimpses that I caught of the Scottish scenery were absolutely breathtaking, especially the view of the sea as we approached Aberdeen.

Molly’s friend from University of Aberdeen met us and we got some lunch and went shopping for a little bit before I met up with my friend Bridget. She showed me around the city centre, and I saw a little bit more of the city as we walked back to her flat. Aberdeen is called the Grey City or the Granite City because almost all of the houses are made of granite. Against the cloudy backdrop, it can be a little oppressive, but I was told that (on the two days of the year) when the sun shines, the buildings sparkle in the light.

Bridget has travelled a lot, so we swapped travel stories and she gave me some tips for some of my upcoming trips. She’s Irish, so she told me where I should go when I visit Ireland. (I hope to get there sometime this spring!) I was just recovering from a cold and she was just coming down with one, so we stayed in for a movie night and then went to bed early to prepare for our adventure the next morning.

Love, Elizabeth

I really liked these statues in Edinburgh.

love, elizabeth

Arthur’s Seat

After we got back from Glasgow to Edinburgh, we had dinner at a chippy. (The nice thing about the UK is that it’s so veg-friendly that even at a fish and chips place, I can still find a veggie burger!) At that point, it was about 8:30. Dom’s flatmate Mike joined us and our next stop was Arthur’s Seat, which is a really tall hill overlooking Edinburgh and the surrounding area. For anyone who’s seen One Day, that’s the hill that Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess went to at the end of the film.

It took about an hour to climb to the very top. Because it was dark and muddy, we had to climb more slowly than we would have otherwise. But it was still so much fun, and we had such a nice view of the city all lit up at night. It was cloudy, but as we had climbed, the sky had cleared so that we could see all of the stars. It was really windy at the top, so we only hung around for a little bit to take some photos and then headed down and back to Dom’s flat.

Love, Elizabeth

One of the coolest things I saw when I was in Glasgow was a blue police box. I talked a little bit about Doctor Who when I saw some of the sights in Cardiff, but here’s a brief summary for those of you who haven’t seen it: It’s a show about a man called the Doctor, who travels through space and time. He’s really cool and saves the world all the time. The show started in the 1960s, making it the longest-running science fiction series. It’s also something many British people are very proud of. (When I arrived in England, my flatmates were relieved that I was caught up on all of the episodes so that I would understand the Doctor Who references.) 

Anyway, the Doctor travels in his time machine/space ship called the TARDIS (time and relative dimension in space), the slogan of which is “It’s bigger on the inside.” It’s supposed to change to blend into its surroundings. However, the “chameleon circuit” broke when the Doctor went to London in 1963, so it’s been stuck in the shape of a police call box ever since. I had no idea any of the boxes existed anymore, so seeing one in Glasgow was a nice surprise and a fan-girl’s dream come true!

Love, Elizabeth

Glasgow

On Sunday morning, Molly, Dom, and I piled on a bus to Glasgow, which was just over an hour away from Edinburgh (giving me some time to nap!). It’s not much of a tourist place, so we just walked around, exploring parks and window shopping on the numerous pedestrian shopping streets. Then we went to a coffee shop for hot chocolates and ended up squeezing onto a couch there to solve a crossword puzzle on my iPod. It was a lot of fun because usually I travel on my own and make friends as I go, but this time I was with really good friends and it was great to be in a new place with them.

Love, Elizabeth

First day in Edinburgh