Linlithgow Palace: A Quick and Cheap Morning Trip

Linlithgow Palace - A Quick and Easy Morning Trip

It doesn’t happen too often, but every once in a while I find myself with a free morning in Edinburgh. On mornings like these I like to get out of the city and explore somewhere new. Trains and buses take you pretty much anywhere you want to go that isn’t within easy walking distance, which is something I’m definitely going to miss a lot when we leave. Our trip to Linlithgow Palace occurred on one of these rare mornings when we didn’t have anything else planned.

The ruins of Linlithgow Palace sit in the town of Linlithgow, a short train ride away from Edinburgh. With a great history and free access to almost every corner of the palace, it makes for a great morning away from Edinburgh.

You’ll have to excuse the quality of photos presented in this blog post. I forgot my camera and had to use my phone to capture these moments.

Continue Reading

Photo Highlights from the Scottish Highlands

Photo Highlights from the Scottish Highlands

I’ve been obsessed with the Scottish Highlands ever since I was a little girl. I read books and watched documentaries about them whenever I could. So when we had the chance to actually go and see them, I was stoked! I imagined myself walking through fields of heather, climbing over hills and dipping my toes in lochs, bagpipe music floating over the air as I became one with Scotland.

Granted very little of that happened, but I was still amazed by the astounding beauty that I found in this rugged, wild place. We drove through a decent portion of the Highlands, stopping every once in a while to take photos and stretch our legs. Since our final destination was Isle of Skye, we didn’t have too much time on the mainland to explore, which was a bummer. But I didn’t mind since Skye was absolutely wonderful.

I must note that I’ve spent hours over the last couple of days trying to virtually retrace my steps and give you names for all of the places I’ve photographed. Unfortunately I’m not able to figure out some of the shots – we stopped and took photos of too many places! So the photos that I can’t name I hope you’ll just join me in enjoying them for what they are: gorgeous shots of the Scottish Highlands.

These photos are some of the highlights of our three-day Isle of Skye tour. 

Continue Reading

15 Reasons to Visit the Isle of Skye

There have been a few places I’ve been to that have left a mark on my heart and soul, the Isle of Skye being one of them. I know I’m prone to fits of hyperbole, but guys I really mean it. This little island off the coast of Scotland has some serious charm, stunning natural beauty and the friendliest people. When you have the chance to visit you’ll feel it too: you’ll be dreaming of this place for a long time after you leave.

We spent two nights in Portree, right off the town square. We had one full day to explore the island even though I could have easily spent more than a week. An entire summer, perhaps. You can roam through fields of heather, climb some stunning hills and walk along beaches at your leisure. It’s island life at its finest!

There are so many amazing reasons to make the trip into the Highlands to Skye, many more than I’ve included here. This is just a taste of what the Isle of Skye has to offer. It’s my way of making you want to rent a car and head up to the island yourself.

Continue Reading

Eilean Donan and Dunvegan: Iconic Highland Castles

Two Iconic Scottish Highland Castles

Over the weekend we returned from our latest tour, this one took us up into the Scottish Highlands. We took the three day tour through Timberbush through glens and past lochs until we got to the Isle of Skye, where we spent two nights. I can’t possibly put our entire trip into one blog post; it would be way too long and probably take a week to write. Baby steps! I want to start with our adventures to two gorgeous, yet very different, Scottish Highland castles, Eilean Donan Castle and Dunvegan Castle.

Because if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I love castles.

These two experiences couldn’t be more different, but they were both highlights of the trip for their own reasons. But to be honest there were a lot of highlights for me. So many that I felt like I was constantly walking around with a grin on my face. Although now that I think about it, my grin could have been caused by the insane amounts of caffeine coursing through my veins. One of the best parts of staying in hostels is when all of your bunk mates snore. There’s nothing like the dulcet tones of snores surrounding you to lull you to sleep! I kid, I kid. It’s actually the worst. But I think these two castles are a great place to start our Highland journey together!

Continue Reading

Ten Reasons to Stay in Leith, Edinburgh

10 Reasons to Stay in Leith, Edinburgh

There are plenty of neighborhoods to look at when you’re booking accommodations for your trip to Edinburgh. You could stick close to city center and find a hotel in Old Town. There’s a chance you might find a great place near the University or in New Town. Maybe you’ll decide to stay in Bruntsfield or Stockbridge, both close enough to city center that you can walk easily. Don’t do any of those. When you’re looking for a place to stay, I think you should check out Leith first. You’ll probably fall in love with it and not need to look elsewhere.

Our neighborhood is my favorite place in the entire city of Edinburgh! There is so much to do here, and it’s a short bus ride away from both Old and New Town. You could stay in other areas of the city, but I think for everything that Leith offers, as well as how inexpensive it is, you’d be silly to stay elsewhere. It’s such a cool neighborhood, a prime location and home to some of the best food in the city! But those aren’t the only reasons why you should base yourself here. Keep on reading for more information about staying in Leith.

Continue Reading

A McVagabond’s Guide to Liverpool

Guide to Liverpool

It’s official, I can’t hide it any longer: Liverpool is one of my favorite cities. We’ve visited a ton of really great places over the last year, but not a single one has left me feeling the way that a weekend in this English city has. It’s a delightful combination of all of my favorite aspects from my favorite cities! The city has a really great vibe, and you can feel it from the moment you step out of the train station. It’s hard to describe, which means you have to get there in person.

We spent a weekend taking in as much of the city as we could, from a game in Everton to an afternoon stroll along the River Mersey and stopping in to a couple of museums. Check out what we did, and hopefully I can convince you to add Liverpool to your dream destination list!

Continue Reading

Edinburgh Castle: One Castle, Many Views

It’s been pretty rad living in Edinburgh for the last six weeks. There’s culture everywhere, epic nature within city limits, crazy awesome history to learn AND I can walk everywhere. What’s not to love, right? I love all of the architecture and  friendly people. But my favorite thing about living here is that quite often when we’re out walking, I look over and see Edinburgh Castle sitting on top of it’s rock.

It gave me chills when I first saw it. Even now, seeing it multiple times in a week, I’m still usually in awe and ask Ryan to take a moment with me and just look at it.

This isn’t my usual post, full of interesting history and little details. Rather it’s a visual love letter to one of my favorite parts of the city: Edinburgh Castle.

Continue Reading

Cramond Island: An Island Getaway in Edinburgh

Cramond Island - An Island Getaway in Edinburgh (1)

Have you ever typed “cool things to do in city name here” into Google and actually hit the jackpot? I have to admit, most of the time when I try to use Google, I end up throwing in the towel within a few websites (go Pinterest!). You usually find the same information regurgitated on many different websites, which is a bummer. But once in a while, I find something that I want to go and check out immediately. Cramond Island was the result of one of these searches.

Even though we’ve been spending most of our time in Old Town watching street performers and taking in Fringe shows, we’ve also made sure to leave the city center. There are a ton of extra people in the city right now (roughly 1 million extra) and sometimes my anxieties just can’t handle being around all of them. So when I stumbled upon this little piece of paradise, I immediately wanted to go.

Continue Reading

A Morning Walk in J.K. Rowling’s Shoes

I have a lot of love in my heart. For Ryan, for my family, for our little loves Sascha and Max. However, there’s a large part of my heart that only has love for two people: J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. One of my favorite things about Edinburgh is that Rowling once walked the same streets that I currently walk each day. It gives me chills to think about, and I get a little thrill every time I’m on a bus and I see something that reminds me of the world of Harry Potter. Maybe Rowling saw it too, and it made it’s way covertly into her novels.

We did a walking tour of Old Town a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a bad tour, but there were a lot of people on it. It was hard to jockey a position where I could hear and see. We didn’t really have much time to linger anywhere or take decent pictures, because there was so much information to learn. But one of the places they took us to was Greyfriars Kirk, where we saw some of the graves that provided names to Harry Potter. Of course, I had to go back and get better photos and spend some time looking around. I happened to turn it into an event: a morning spent walking in Rowling’s shoes.

Continue Reading

Melrose Abbey: Breathtaking Ruins in the Scottish Borders

There are some places that I’ve visited that have left me breathless. Yosemite Valley, full of nature and overwhelming beauty. San Juan Island, with the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen. New York City, full of life and vitality that you can’t find anywhere else… Melrose Abbey is in a league of its own. Upon first glance, I was completely awestruck by the power of the building it once was. Although now in ruins, it’s still absolutely captivating. As I explored further, I fell completely under the spell of this once magnificent building.

We have started venturing outside of the city whenever the opportunity arises. A few days ago we chose to go on a day trip to the Scottish borders, an area we otherwise would have probably skipped over on our way through to London at the end of our stay. We came here with plans to venture into the Highlands, but with none to really go south. I’m so glad we changed our minds! The borders are gorgeous, full of history and such a wonderful place to visit. We chose to go with Heart of Scotland Tours for this day-trip, and our tour guide John was the most fabulous guide we’ve ever had. He was warm, witty and absolutely charming. I could have followed him anywhere, but since this was just a day tour we sadly had to part ways with him at the end of the day.

Continue Reading