Before I start, I'm gonna give myself a pat on the back for KILLING IT with the on-time posts, because it's been over 2 months since we were actually in Edinburgh, and what's better than a blog post full of images that everyone has already seen on Instagram, right? Good job Hanna, you are nailing ittttt
By the time we arrived in Scotland, we had been in Europe and in cities for 2 weeks. Our drive north into Scotland was leisurely, allowing us to stay in Gatehouse of Fleet near Castle Douglas the first night. We basically just opened Expedia and put a finger on a random hotel room, and we ended up loving it. Gatehouse of Fleet is a tiny town with gigantic bushes full of flowers in all different colors that's split by a small river. We didn't spend much time there; we arrived at sunset and left early the next morning, giving us just enough time to walk across the bridge to a store and buy a snack before settling in for the night with our windows all the way open. That was about the time where I finally started feeling better, if you remember me mentioning that I struggled to feel happy in London. Scotland did wonders for my state of mind. I grew up surrounded by beauty and lush greens, but Scotland is on a different level.
We booked our trip so far in advance, and I spent so little time paying attention to where we were staying that I totally forgot that I had found a REALLY great Airbnb in Edinburgh. When we arrived I basically lost my mind and couldn't stop taking photos and melting into the bed.
Old Town was an easy walk (by easy I mean all downhill, which makes the return NOT EASY) from our flat. I was much more excited for the highlands than any sort of city sights after weeks of roaming around Paris and London, but Edinburgh was pretty impressive regardless.
THE HIGHLANDS, THOUGH. The rental car meant we had free reign over where to go and when. We started with Loch Lomond, on the recommendation of pretty much everyone. Some highland cow cuties were begging to be fed carrots and potatoes at the Trossachs Woolen Mill, and we happily obliged. We wandered for a while and stopped in Glasgow to have dinner at The Gannet before heading back.
On our next trek into the highlands, we went north through Cairngorns National Park toward Inverness. I understand why we were continually told to start with Loch Lomond. It's explorer-friendly, there are plenty of things to pull over for, plenty of places to do the pulling over, and it generally feels...consumable? If that makes sense? Cairngorns and the surrounding area felt like wilderness untouched by humans. That's totally untrue, but there was a notable contrast. The fog was so thick that it made us feel even more isolated. The drive was long and unbelievably beautiful. There were many times when we wanted to stop and stretch or photograph what we saw, but we couldn't. Many roads in Scotland are extremely narrow with no shoulder, meaning stopping was nearly impossible for most of the drive, sometimes frustratingly so. Cairngorns gave us the impression that the goal was to drive in, do a loop, and get out as quickly as possible without dicking around so that the Earth might be able to rest peacefully once again. We made good use of safe spots when we were able to find them.
There was no way to go everywhere we wanted with only 5 days — leaving Edinburgh was a big bummer. There will be at least a week budgeted for exploring the highlands next time. In the meantime, I'm thankful to have visited. I went through a weird phase when I was 10 where I was obsessed with Scotland. I knew endless facts, collected photos of it from National Geographic, and drew the flag to hang up on my wall (A truly weird phase, right? Like what kid gives a fuck about that kind of thing?). I was overcome by the feels a few times during our stay. It was exciting to give the little kid in me something she wanted SO BADLY.