We booked a good amount of time in Scotland because we wanted to explore the highlands. Plus we were meeting up with Hayley’s good friend, Minfurn! She joined us halfway through our time in Glasgow and joined us through our time in the highlands.
We were ready for castles, William Wallace, Loch Ness Monster sightings, and rainy weather. Scotland did not disappoint – the only thing it didn’t deliver was the monster, but everything else ending up being a perfect Scottish experience.
Our first stop in Scotland was to Edinburgh, the capitol. While we did enjoy our time here, it ended up being way more touristy than we would have thought. Edinburgh is known for its Royal Mile, which is a popular street packed end to end with shops, cheap keepsakes, and tourists.
But all of that isn’t to say we didn’t have fun. Although we did pick a few duds in regards to activities, we saw plenty of fascinating Scottish history.
The Royal Mile
We started up at the top of the mile, which is right next to the Edinburgh castle. From there it is a steady decline to the end, pretty much past most of the commercial areas.
The Royal Mile has some sweet Gothic architecture. Castles and churches galore.
We’ve arrived at Adam Smith’s monument. If you aren’t familiar with Smith, we’ll clue you in: he wrote The Wealth of Nations. This book is a very big deal. It deals with free-markets and productivity. If you like the fact that a new product (iPhone for example) gets better and better (and more affordable) because it has to compete on the free-market against other companies like Samsung, pay some credit to Adam Smith. This cat thought all that stuff up hundreds of years ago.
Here we are at his grave.
Part of the joy of Edinburgh is just walking around and taking in the views.
This one is a double-edge sword because in retrospect we wouldn’t say this wasn’t really worth it, but it still provided some fun pictures and memories. Overall, based on the price and how hokey it was, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Hayley isn’t a huge fan of Scotch whiskey, but I sure am.
Here’s a really short history on the Scottish Parliament: way back in the day England took away Scotland’s ability to rule itself. Scotland joined the United Kingdom in the early 1700s. Since then Scotland has politely been asking for some degree of sovereignty. Very recently Scotland got its own parliament and can make some decisions on its own. Big stuff like foreign affairs, military, etc are left to the British parliament in London.
We ended up doing a little tour. We could only take photos in a few certain rooms, namely the one where SMPs (Scottish Members of Parliament) cast their votes.
Time to head to Glasgow. Our good friend Rory lives here in town, so we budgeted more time in town. Less touristy than Edinburgh, Glasgow has a rough reputation. It’s a hard drinking town and its east end has the lowest life expectancy for men in the Western Hemisphere. On average, men there die at 54 years old!
Wow! Anyway, besides being a little seedy and hazardous to your health, we had a fantastic time there.
But first, food!
This doughnut joint is called Tantrum Doughnuts – perfect name. Delicious roundies.
We stopped at a restaurant called Bread Meats Bream and Hayley was able to enjoy a Royale With Cheese. This is an old reference to the movie Pulp Fiction where one character tells another, after having spent time in Europe, that the French call a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese a Royale With Cheese since the French have the metric system and don’t know what a pound is.
And here’s our favorite Glaswegian, Rory. He showed us around, met up for drinks, and chatted the night away. Can’t wait to see this guy again. I still owe him a beer!
One of our first brewery tours in a while. Much better than Edinburgh’s whiskey tour.
University of Glasgow
We stopped by here because of how beautiful the campus is. We also stopped by to see the memorial bench for our late classmate, Vanessa.
Train Station Tour
How often do you get to tour a train station? We jumped at the opportunity and explored the nooks and crannies beneath the station. It was pretty darn interesting but our guide’s accent was so thick we had a hard time understanding some of the info.
We heard fantastic reviews about the city hall, so we decided to check it out. Wow! It is massive and beautiful. The stairs, the ballrooms, the paintings – everything about this place is royal. It’s not as gaudy as Buckingham Palace. It has the right amount of flash and was a joy to walk through.
They let us sit in the city council member’s seat, including the head honcho’s!
Here’s an odd one: Glasgow’s official seal includes a trout with a ring in its mouth. The story goes a magical trout recovered the ring so a princess wouldn’t be executed for losing it.
Traffic Cone Statue Guy
Glasgow is known for putting traffic cones on statues. This is the most famous one. His cone changes depending on the season. Here’s a little test for those of you who’ve been reading closely: what type of columns are behind the statue? They’re the same example from the end of our London post.
William Wallace Memorial
We stopped by the William Wallace monument to get the lowdown on how accurate Braveheart was. Spoiler: not super accurate! Really cool, though.
We spent our time in the highlands on the Isle of Skye. Everywhere you look is a scene so beautiful you didn’t think it could exist but it does. All around stunning sights. Definitely a must visit again. Isle of Skye, by the way, is way up in the north.
This first picture here is an odd one. Hayley and I were busy filming a video for Nice Minn and a couple of other tourists just stood there and watched us. Very odd.
Anyway, back to the scenic views.
We ate lunch at this table.
We stopped at a small factory that processes sheep hides into house decor. Fascinating how small of a footprint the whole place takes up. This machine is just one step in a long series. You have to soak the hide, brine it, stretch it, dry it, soften it, clean it, brush it, etc. It’s a long process but pretty cool. Once a hide like the one you see here is finished, it costs roughly, 40 – 50 pounds sterling (that’s their currency), but some can go for much more.
Here’s Hayley using a bike powered loom to make fabric. Their product is fantastic.
We looked for these cows our whole time in Scotland. It wasn’t until the very last evening we finally found some.
What a great time in Scotland. Edinburgh wasn’t our favorite but Glasgow and driving around Isle of Skye was well worth the rain and not understanding the accent.
So keeping all of our adventure in the highlands and Glasgow in mind, plus the fact that our friend Rory lives here, we will be visiting Scotland again in the future. It has too much charm and history to pass by.
So with all that in mind, we give Scotland…
There you have it, that’s our review of Scotland. Have you been there before? Did you love it? Did you hate it? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.