Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve had the chance to work on a non-Real Honeymoon blog post! We were in Europe for 11 days, and then I spent the past week getting caught up on work and everything we got behind on while we were out of town. The trip was pretty excellent though, and I would highly recommend both Scotland and Ireland to anyone who’s considering a visit. It was especially fun to visit both countries in June because it stays light out for so long. The sun sets around 10:30 pm, which meant we could sleep in late guilt-free and still have plenty of daylight for sightseeing.
Although Scotland and Ireland are seemingly similar in landscape and culture, I’m going to recap our trip in two separate blog posts because it’s too difficult to lump both destinations together. As this one’s title suggests, it’s all about our time in Scotland!
So how did we decide on Scotland in the first place? Our friends were getting married in Ireland, and since I’d been there before we knew that we wanted to go somewhere else, and we didn’t want to travel too far between the two places. We narrowed down the options to Iceland, Portugal, and Scotland. We ruled out Iceland once we found out that there are currently no direct flights between Reykjavík and Dublin. Then a friend happened to mention to us that Bruce Springsteen was going to be on a European tour this summer. Intrigued, we immediately looked up his schedule, and wouldn’t you know it Bruce had a show in Glasgow a few nights before the wedding. At first I was a bit disappointed about missing the beaches in Portugal, but once we started talking about going to Panama over Memorial Day Weekend I got really excited for Scotland.
We had four nights to spend in Scotland, and we chose to do three of them in Edinburgh and just one night in Glasgow. The two cities are just an hour apart by train. In Edinburgh we stayed at Angels Share Hotel, a boutique hotel with a nice restaurant and hip bar. The location was perfect – just a short walk to pub hopping on Rose Street, shopping on George Street, and all things touristy on The Royal Mile.
Here are some of our favorite bits from Edinburgh:
- Cafe Marlayne – I have to admit that I was not looking forward to food in Scotland, but our first dinner at this wonderful French restaurant proved me wrong. (Two locations in Edinburgh.)
- Rose & Crown – Rose Street is absolutely full of pubs, so what drew us into this one? Some guy playing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” on his guitar. We spent the rest of the night there, and even went back for more the next day.
- Brew Dog – Our tour guide recommended the beer from this “anti-Stella” brewery that has bars all throughout the UK (and coming to Sweden soon), and we were not disappointed. Make sure to get a tasting flight so you can try all of the varieties.
- Whistle Binkie’s – This pub has a live band every night, but we were told to avoid Open Mic Mondays. There was a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band the night that we went, which was less than fortunate.
- Pub quizzes! – You can find a pub quiz almost any night of the week in Edinburgh. Great way to enjoy a few pints and meet other people.
- The Edinburgh Castle – The castle is set high on a hill looking down on the rest of the city, and it is is the number one tourist draw in Edinburgh. Huge crowds show up to watch the daily 1:00 pm gun, but we chose to skip that and visit later in the day when there would be fewer people. (Alright, who are we kidding here? We slept in until noon and just couldn’t get there in time.)
- North Berwick (pronounced “North Berrick” – When we asked a tour guide for a recommendation for getting out of the city, he suggested walking around his hometown, North Berwick. It’s a lovely seaside town located just 45 minutes away from Edinburgh by train. Great for golfing, too.
While people are likely to describe Edinburgh as “charming,” I think that the word that best describes Glasgow is “cool.” Or as my husband puts it, Edinburgh is a bit like Scottish Disneyland, whereas Glasgow is where actual people live. Although it may appear a bit rougher around the edges, we really enjoyed our one day in Glasgow, and not just because of the Bruce Springsteen concert! But since he was in town, many of the city’s hotels were either sold out or were way out of our price range, so we ended up renting a room in the West End through AirBnb.
Although we didn’t get the chance to check out the University of Glasgow and the Botanic Gardens like we wanted to, we still really enjoyed the following:
- Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) – Located right next to the central train station and George Square, this free (!!!) museum was excellent.
- Glasgow Cathedral – One of the oldest cathedrals in the UK, it was no disappointment.
- The Necropolis – after visiting the Cathedral, take a walk around this beautiful Victorian cemetery and get some beautiful views of the city below.
- Nice N Sleazy – A favorite of totally awesome Glasgow band CHVRCHES, this pub/music venue has the best burgers in town.
- The Bruce Springsteen concert at Hampden Park. Duh.
We hope that we can visit Glasgow again someday, and hopefully see much more of Scotland. Come back soon for another “recap” blog post about our six days in Ireland.