Sometime in the spring of 2019, Casey’s mom Blythe made the exceedingly generous offer to take us to Scotland in the last week of August. In addition to the trip sounding excellent, the thought dawned on us that we had nowhere to go that last week of August (still in exile from our home in Czech) and needed to find a place to rent anyways, so we said “yes!” We are so happy that we did and what a wonderful way to celebrate the very last days of our exile, get some much needed Nana and Grandpa time, and have great adventures. Warning: this post is long.
Day 1: Edinburgh
Some of the sights: the real Tom Riddle’s grave, the street that may have inspired Diagon Alley, the Edinburgh castle, weapons, the statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, a huge fireworks celebration over the castle at night, Harriet’s private school (Hogwarts was modeled after how this school is run). Our tour guide wore a kilt and was very patient with all of our questions. It was even a very warm day.
Day 2: Linlithgow Palace, Battle of Bannockburn visitor center, more weapons, the William Wallace Monument, the Lake Menteith hotel, and the hairy coo.
We literally did a potty stop at the palace on our way top the visitor center but took a few pics on the way. The next stop was the visitor center where you could see how the battle was fought, do role-playing, and even try on some of the armor and swing some weapons in the end. Our boys LOVED it! Weapons!!!!!
Next, Sterling castle, archery, and the William Wallace monument
I finally got my salt and vinegar potato chips at the castle and Emilio continued to win over the hearts of our boys with their fellowship of the sweet tooth. Gotta love that! One of my favorite quotes of the day, “our national animal does not even exist [the unicorn] and our national flower is a weed [the thistle].”
Our day ended at the Lake of Menteith hotel on the lake. It turns out that it’s the only lake in Scotland. The rest are called “lochs.” The boys certainly did not hate the Keurig in their room with hot chocolate.
I took a stroll down the country road that our hotel was on and got some pictures of the sereneness of it all. The church right next to our hotel was silent, surrounded by green, and (as Beni told me once about our local chapel in our Czech village) “the graveyard is where people go to die.” I love graveyards, especially these ones with tombstones overgrown with moss about to topple over. Plus, the side door to the church was for people that would call me an absolute giant. I love the highland hairy coos (cows) too. They are just so cute without even knowing it.
Day 3: A boat ride on Loch Lomond, Some excellent tea, Falls of Dochart, and our cozy hotel room
Great Scottish breakfast (included blood sausage), the cute village that we departed from on our boat ride on Loch Lomond, and Loch Lomond. This was our kids’ first ride on a speed boat EVER. They had no idea what they were in for. Some of the highlights were: the McFarland stronghold/Invergulas island that we stopped at to climb all over, and Rob Roy’s prison (hung on a rope upside down by the lakeshore) and cave hide-out.
One last picture of beautiful Loch Lomond, our lovely British tea, our stop at the Falls of Dochart, a visit to see some hairy coos, and back in our hotel by Lake Menteith in fuzzy robes.
Day 4: The Jacobite (Harry Potter) steam train, the famous Glenfinnan viaduct (also from the movie), Scottish Highlands, and the Glencoe House (the nicest place we have ever stayed overnight).
The boys loved riding on the train. It was really a pretty ride too. Of course, we had to buy all of the Harry Potter treats (a chocolate frog, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and Jelly Slugs (all thanks to Nana Blythe and Grandpa Emilio). Unfortunately, Beni got a vomit-flavored bean twice.
Since we were staying in Glencoe that evening, we had to do some backtracking by car after the train ride. During the car ride, we passed by the viaduct again and saw a tall stone tower that our driver, Gordon Craig, described as the tower commemorating where the Bonnie Prince Charles (the son of Mary Queen of Scots) started the Jacobite uprising. As he was explaining that at some point Prince Charles had to escape his enemies and did so disguised as a woman (thus his nickname “Bonnie”), he mentioned that he had no ears. I thought that it was kind of strange and was wondering if it was some kind of birth defect (you know, all the incestuous royalty stuff), but no, I misunderstood Gordon. He had no heirs! His ears were fine. We laughed and laughed. It is so funny how accents can confuse people who are native speakers of the same language.
That evening, we stayed in the most marvelous place that we have ever stayed in. It is called the Glencoe house. First of all, Beni barfed in the car all over his clothes and shoes on account of all of the windy roads that day. This is how we arrived and what did they do? They took all of our icky stuff, had it cleaned and returned it to us the next day. I have never had someone else deal with my kids’ barf. That was a first. The place was warm with roaring fireplaces, amazing food, all the comforts. Thank you Nana Blythe and Grandpa Emilio!
Day 5: The guys went to the Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery and the rest of us went to North Berwick, then back to Edinburgh.
Our last picture at the Glencoe House. What a stay!The famous Scottish Kelpies (shape-shifting water spirits)Meat pie does not look like a pie at all. It’s yummy meaty goodness with a big puff pastry thingy on top. This is our driver Gordon Craig (below) telling us how to address the haggis. It was the best. You will probably understand very little but is sounds amazing just the same. I love the Scottish accent. It is not every day that you hear a Scottish man addressing the haggis when there is no haggis in sight and he is driving. Talk about multi-tasking!
Edinburgh at night.
Alexander Graham Bell’s home.
On the roof, you will see many chimneys. Every residence has it’s own fireplace and its own chimney. All of the roofs of the historic buildings in the center were like this. Fascinating.
And our day of departure. Gordon Craig was an extremely good driver and guide during our stay. It was such a pleasure to get to learn about history, see beautiful things, eat all the yummy things, but, most of all, get some precious time and make memories with Nana and Grandpa!