Monday, March 21

Summer 2014 - Scotland Recap 3

Continuing on a previous post series, my last post about Scotland-- 2 years ago at this point! I had a fantastic time, so be sure to catch my first and second post in the series here!

Saturday, July 21 - Exploring the Highlands at Blair Atholl

On Saturday, we had a "Highlands" day. I had wanted to go to Loch Ness (for Nessie related reasons) but the trip there was prohibitively long. We ended up choosing a different location that was a lot closer. After a yummy breakfast of chocolate croissants, pancakes and Haggis, we set off. 

Blair Atholl was about 2 hours north by train and breathtakingly gorgeous. It reminded me of Austria. First on our list in Blair Atholl was to find some food. 

The Mill was recommended as the place to go and how right Yelp was! The Mill felt in all honesty like a Hobbit Hole. It was small, dark and warm. Most of the furniture was wood and it was very welcoming. We ordered paninis with chutney (yum). My friend got a scone with butter as a side. I have never loved scones because since I usually think they are dry, but I grew to love them in Scotland. Lastly, we split a chocolate cake with the most extraordinary ganache, made up of extremely simple ingredients. 

From there, we took a detour, got lost and then went to visit the Blair Atholl Castle. 

Castles in Scotland are all so different. There's what you may steroeotypically think of as a castle, then there's Blair Atholl, which to me, looks Mediterranean. While pictures were not allowed inside the castle, it was a mixture of old oil paintings, 19th century dining rooms, huge displays of artillery on the walls, and antlers. Probably hundreds of pairs or antlers on the wall. 

I've visited a French castles and German castles, this Scottish one was humble by comparison. What I did like about it was the mixture of ancient history dating back to the 1700s... and photos from just a few years ago. I learned that the Duke who owned the castle was actually living in South Africa. As an American, the idea of aristocrats seems like an ancient and foreign idea--so it was refreshing to see that system in a modern context. 
We walked around the castle for a few hours, and of course, there was that 2 hour train ride. By the time we got back, it was already 8:30. However, the skies were deceivingly light and instead of heading home we decided to have some Italian in St. Andrews. After a long day of walking, the food was amazing and well appreciated. Slightly gratuitous pasta porn:

Sunday, July 21 - First Day in Edinburgh

All the walking made us pretty tired but when I got up on Sunday I had to pack all my bags and head back towards Edinburgh. I had become acquainted with the trains on Saturday, so Sunday's trip wasn't special to me. We had breakfast first thing in the morning, or course. This was a full Scottish breakfast. Beans, eggs, toast, haggis, sausage and that European bacon!

I enjoyed travelling via rail along the coastal high way to McTaggert's Cafe. Or rather, the city of Aberdour. But what I really remember was the cafe. After the flour mill on the day before, I had expected McTaggert's to be like that bar from Lord of the Rings, but it was surprisingly modern. 

But back to Edinburgh. After setting our stuff down in the train station, we went to the Chocolate Tree. This specialty chocolate restaurant sounded amazing, but I didn't realize how far it was. By the time we walked across the city, I had no idea where I was and I was incredibly grumpy. At the same time, I loved the walking tour of the city I got. The architechture was breathtaking. The family homes looked aged and refined, and yet comfortable enough for modern living. Their windowsills were decorated with beds of flowers and gorgeous curtains. We passed by a park where people were playing golf or having a picnic. 

The Chocolate Tree was delicious. We had hot chocolate with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in it. I probably would never order this at home, but there's just something about being on vacation. No rules. 

We ended the day by walking around Grass Market. I really wish that there was a place near me like Grass Market. It's an long street, filled with bars, pubs and restaurants. But there is still a decently open walking area in the middle. Right over it lies the Edinburgh Castle, which I guess is really why I don't see anything like that day to day. Nothing in the US is quite that old. We even ended up passing by the Elephant House, where die hard fans will know as the birthplace of Harry Potter. 

Monday, June 23rd - Last Day in Scotland

My last day was spent entirely in Edinburgh. I think I was most excited for this trip. St. Andrews was a University town, Anstruther was a quiet fishing village, and Edinburgh was a city. And I loved the city. I'm glad that this trip helped me discover that I'm a city girl, through and though. First order of business was to climb Arthur's Seat. I don't think I ever really learned what Arthur's Seat was, but it was always visible in the background as a flat mountain of sorts. Some kind of stronghold for the city perhaps? Either way, I was promised gorgeous views at the top so I started. My friend was tricky. A forty minute hike turned into an hour and a half, but the experience was honestly awesome. I am not a fan of hiking, but if I lived in Edinburgh, I'd be hiking that thing every weekend. 

After we came down the mountain, it was time for lunch. I had yelped a place adjacent to Arthur's Seat and we went there for something lovely and simple. Sugarhouse Sandwiches had delightful...sandwiches! 

Then, on the way to get back into the city center, we passed by two fudge shops and purchased a good deal of fudge... because we need that much fudge to carry. 

I was really tired the rest of the day but we trekked across the city anyways to the Edinburgh castle where I attempted to receive a free ticket by pretending to be a member of a Chinese tour group. We walked by Camera Obscura, an illusion museum of sorts, but didn't go in. I got a few pictures of Edinburgh as we walked across it. 

The last part of our day was spent people watching. I wanted to make sure that my bus would actually take me where I wanted to go, so we tried to verify the bus stop... while doing so, we were distracted by some bagpipers in front of a hotel. Now, I know that bagpipes are a very Scottish thing but holy crap, if they're playing close to you, they are LOUD.

From the city, I flew to the airport and started on a long trek home. Overall, I look back on this trip super fondly. I got to spend a week exploring a few cities in a brand new country with a very good friend. 


  1. Food looks so amazing. Thanks for sharing your trip. Sounds like you had an amazing time!

  2. cool post! the food pics are superb!

  3. So much yummy food!!


  4. beautiful views and delicious food, that's all i need hah! seems like an amazing trip! x

  5. All the food looks so delicious, and that castle looks absolutely magical :)

  6. Oh my, these photos are wonderful. You're so lucky to get to travel and see all this! The architecture is just amazing. You're right, that castle looks far more Mediterranean than a stereotypical castle. The Mill sounds really cozy - have always wanted to live in a little Hobbit Hole.

  7. I loved Edinburgh!! Would love to go back there and see more of Scotland!! What an amazing trip!!

  8. Love your post!!

    I am glad you enjoyed reading my Toronto Fashion Week posts but I am officially back to my regular content posts.

    Thanks for the support and thoughtful words on my recent post, I deeply appreciate it!!


  9. What an amazing trip! We are wanting to visit my brother in Ireland but we might have to make a stop in Scotland while we are there!

  10. Ahhh, I want to go to Scotland, NOW! So cool, lady- great recap!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  11. Your travel photos are all amazing! I really love that you actually tried Haggis, so many people that go to scotland are not brave enough! That first castle is so unique, so different from English and other European castles as you said

    Rachel xx

  12. Oh yum, you enjoyed so much food on your visit there! This was such an interesting travel diary to read as I've recently booked a visit to Scotland for next month - it'll be my first visit there! :)

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice

  13. It looks absolutely lovely there - definitely on my to-visit list. The food pics though... I'm a sucker for food of any sort anywhere

  14. The food looks delicious! I'm drooling right now :D

    xx Jamie| With Love, Jamie

  15. The rich food looks absolutely scrumptious! I'm also so impressed by the architecture and scenery. Blair Atholl castle has a such a cool contrast of colors on the outside and luxe decor inside. The hiking trails have the most stunning views, too. I'm also not a huge fan of hiking (I'd rather run), but I think I could make an exception for those views :)

    imperfect idealist

  16. I like your blog, its really dope.
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  17. Sumptuous food. Idyllic place. Wow.

  18. I know you went for traveling but the food *wow*! No wonder I will never lose weight... lol~ :X

  19. Hello from Spain: very tasty. I just discovered your blog and I like the variety of topics that you write. Fashion and beauty are my hobbies with my Barbie doll collection. Right now I have a blog dedicated to those dolls that I invite you to visit: If you want we keep in touch. I already made me a follower of your blog.

  20. Whoa lovely pictures!! I have never been to Edinburgh before. But it's on my list :-) The food OMG they all look so yummy!

  21. There is nothing quite like a full Scottish breakfast!


Thanks for your comments!