What to See in Scotland
Scotland offers the sights, the history, and the landscape, but my number one reason for making the trip abroad was to see my daughter! Jon and I landed at Glasgow Airport, had our first cup of coffee for the day, and enjoyed a warm greeting from Jordan after months of being apart. Never mind that we look rough after a redeye flight. These faces before you can’t help but radiate joy. Reunions are the sweetest!
Jordan planned an itinerary for our week of touring and told us to be prepared for activity as soon as we arrive. So off we went! First stop: Jordan’s flat. She and her housemates are all international students spending a semester or more at the University of Glasgow. At the time of our visit, they were beginning week two of a three-week spring holiday.
We left our luggage in her room and headed to a neighborhood breakfast spot called the Kelvingrove Café. The meals and the staff were special. Our waitress was especially excited for our upcoming travel to the north and told us that come clear weather or snow, it was going to be spectacular.
Ten minutes in, and I’m already in love with the locals’ accent. Everything sounds entirely charming! Tell me your special of the day again!
With bellies full we made the ten minute walk to the university campus and book store. I couldn’t wait to see the stone arches with my eyes. The architecture of the fourth oldest university in the world did not disappoint. Jon especially appreciated the design elements constructed long before use of modern machinery.
We shopped a store that Jordan scouted out long ago knowing it would be to my liking. I purchased a necklace and a souvenir to take home for our son and his wife. And that summed up my shopping for the week. Sad, I know.
After checking into our Airbnb rental, we stocked up on groceries at the neighborhood market, went to a pizzeria for dinner, and took a little rest in our version of a family sofa!
I mustered up some more energy and told Jordan I was ready to see City Center. Our excuse for walking the few miles there and back was to get dessert at the chocolate cafe. My kind of place!
We stayed in Glasgow on Easter Sunday and enjoyed the sunny day and warmth of Christian community at the Re:Hope morning service.
I noticed on one of our passings by a café with outdoor seating that as long as the weather was dry and above 40 degrees, the diners were happy to eat outside! I guess “good weather” is relative.
Monday’s itinerary introduced us to the city of Edinburgh. The weather was not conducive to our spending much of the day outdoors, but we did so anyway!
Saint Giles Café became a refuge for us and served a lovely lunch.
Walking the Royal Mile. I was amazed at the volume of people visiting the city.
We joined the crowds on a tour of Edinburgh Castle. There’s a beautiful view up there of the waterway leading out to the North Sea.
I was impressed at Jordan’s skill in navigating the train stations. People toting luggage were everywhere, and trains entered and exited with speed. With one departing for Glasgow every eight minutes, we had no wait. In less than an hour, we would be back at the flat in time to prepare dinner.
Up to this point, I loved the Edinburgh visit more than anything we had seen so far. But adventure awaited us… it was in the form of a foreign import. A Ford Fiesta car rental had our name on it, and we were about to discover Jon’s challenge found in being seated behind a right-sided steering wheel while driving on the left side of the road (and shifting with his left hand!).
Jordan and I were so proud of him. He rocked it! Only once in a super busy roundabout did things on the road get dicey! But the little Fiesta came out unscathed!
For the next three days, we were off to the small towns and wonderful sights of the Scotland Highlands.
Look at the beautiful forest with its green undercover. This hike promised to deliver an incredible view of Loch Lomond.
First sneak peek…
Continuing our trek toward Fort William, I spotted this castle near the highway and quickly yelled from the backseat for Jon to pull over.
The drive to Isle of Skye was breathtaking. The rugged mountains made for a beautiful backdrop to our hours of car travel. We finally came to the little town of Portree, and fell in love with its colors and natural harbor.
The next morning brought forecasted snowfall, but I was hopeful for the promised partly sunny skies to appear midday. And they did!
Straight ahead is the Quiraing. Everyone came to Isle of Skye for a chance to hike it!
Look at the snow-capped mountains! On the opposite shore of Isle of Skye is the town of Ulg from where you can ferry across the channel and witness even more unbelievable sights on the Outer Hebrides Islands. If you check out photos from Harris, Scotland, you’ll be surprised to learn you’re looking at something from the Outer Hebrides and not a place in the tropics. Because of the proximity of the Gulf Stream to the islands, some of Scotland’s Atlantic coastline mimics the turquoise water and white sandy beaches of the Caribbean.
Satisfied from the much needed exposure to the salt air, we jumped back into the Fiesta and took the scenic route again through Isle of Skye and to our next destination: Inverness. You’ve heard of Loch Ness, right? We drove alongside of it for miles before approaching the city.
Here we found something for everyone:
A walk in the park (My personal favorite).
A bookstore for Jo.
Scotland’s chain coffee shop (For me and Jordan).
And a cute little kitchen where Jon was blessed by his girls prepping a favorite meal- a big salad.
Our final night in Scotland led us back to Glasgow where we met up with Jordan’s friend, Zoe, and took the girls to dinner in City Center. Wouldn’t you know we had to walk through George Square to enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean at the Greek restaurant! I had been peering at George Square the past three months by going to the city’s webcam site. It had been my only connection to Jordan’s temporary home prior to arrival in Scotland. Seeing it with my eyes brought immense satisfaction.
We returned home a little over a week ago and stacks of tartans like these are nowhere to be found!
I am so glad we joined our daughter for part of her spring break. Scotland had never been on my radar as a place to visit, but I now can say I’m grateful for the opportunity. I found the people to be so kind, the cities wonderful and the towns charming. I will especially always remember the beautiful landscape and simple architecture of white stucco homes dotting the countryside.
And now I have a new appreciation for a chilly spring day in the mid fifties. If I could walk miles in yucky Scottish weather, then I have no excuse to getting outside today to exercise. I’m lacing up my shoes now. Cheers!