This trip has been a dream of my mother and I for nearly 25+ years, ever since we started going to Celtic Festivals to celebrate our heritage at Hunter Mt. in upstate NY. We loved watching the Highland games and listening to the bagpipes, a beloved instrument to us both. We would often daydream about a trip one day to visit, but it just never came to fruition until now.
I was lucky enough to score some ridiculously cheap tickets to Glasgow from Newark with Iceland Air ($340) and used airline miles to make it free, my favorite and often used method of travel. The great part of booking with Iceland air is they include a 1-7 day stopover in Reykjavik, adding an incredible mini vacation inside an already amazing trip.
So off we went. I flew from AZ and met Mom at Newark and we spent a few hours eating and drinking wine and champagne in a lounge before our departure. We had a harrowing near miss for our flight from Newark after it was delayed several hours and then unexpectedly the time was moved up without notice or being posted on the monitors,
resulting in us having to push past a security line of the likes I have never seen, and sprint to the gate and be literally the last ones boarding the plane. My poor Mom, ran ragged before our trip even officially started.
We eventually arrived in Glasgow a couple hours later than scheduled with all the delays, but I managed to pick up our rental car and drive straight away to Edinburgh, hardly losing any time. I told Mom that I would NOT drive in any of the major cities, quite nervous about the whole driving on the left with unfamiliar traffic patterns and congestion. Well that lasted all of about an hour before I found myself off course with an inoperable GPS and driving straight into center city, a block from the tourist center of the “Royal Mile.”
Needless to say driving here is quite stressful. If the never ending series of roundabouts with several lanes of traffic feeding in and out with the most complicated traffic patterns wasn’t enough to stress me out, the excruciatingly narrow streets (carriageways) where they expect two lanes of traffic to squeeze through a space barely wide
enough for a single lane puts it on another level. I have already tested our breakaway mirrors on our nearly brand new Mercedes. Mom said she would have been parked crying on the side of the road within the first mile if she had been driving.
We were able to catch up with our afternoon city tour of the famous Royal Mile with Sandmans (free+tip) and delve straight into the history of this gorgeous medieval city. Edinburgh is an ancient city and what makes it so picturesque is there is a huge castle on a high mountain in the center of the city. For some reason Edinburgh is overlooked by many travelers to Europe, but it was once known as the Athens of the North and is quite literally one of the most stunning and fascinating cities we have ever been to. We immediately regretted only having barely a day to spend here so we tried to maximize our time and we stayed out until almost 1 am, which is easy to do here with it not getting dark until almost 1030 pm this time of year. There’s no better way to beat jet lag than to
just muscle through your first day and try to stay awake until normal local bedtime.
We went on a nighttime Ghost tour with City Explorers (free+tip) which was more a fascinating true history tour of everything disturbing and creepy about this ancient city. We learned of the 17,000 witches the Scots killed (more than any other country), the serial killers Burke and Hare, the real Jekyll and Hyde and more, ending our tour in a pitch dark cemetery with bats fluttering overhead. Easily one could spent days just taking the various tours offered here and just winding up and down the captivating streets and alleyways. I already can’t wait to return.
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