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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Back to reality

Coming back from a vacation is always a little hard. It's difficult to pry my fingers from the rest and relaxation and jump back into my busy life. But at the same time it's invigorating. So invigorating in fact, that I was up till 2 am last night trying to convince my mind to go to sleep.

Scotland was amazing. I'm not talking about Disney world amazing, I mean soul calming amazing. I keep forgetting how hard it can be to live in Egypt. It's like my brain goes numb after awhile and I forget, or don't notice anymore; all the little things that wear me down day after day. None of it is huge, but little things add up. Don't get me wrong. I love my life and the incredible experiences I'm getting because of living in a foreign country. But there's a growing part of me that wants to whine "this is too much" whenever I come back to Cairo.

Anyway, Scotland, focus... This is what you get with only four hours sleep.

We started our trip in Glasgow, but only stayed there the amount of time it took us to get the rental car and head south. My husband Ryan is a freak for football, and his favorite team is in northern England. So we headed to Carlisle and spent two days there so he could watch a live game. Luckily they managed a win and our trip was off to a great start.

While in the area we went to Hadrien's wall. It was blistering cold that day, but the view of the valley and farms was amazing. We also visited an abbey and tramped around the woods a little bit. It was wonderful to feel my boots sink into mud and smell the clean air. I could literally feel myself unwinding. And I will admit that one of my favorite things was seeing all the baby lambs frolicking in the hills around Hadrien's wall. Ryan and Matt were walking through ruins and talking about the history. I was chasing after lambs with my camera.

And the breakfasts... oh the breakfasts. Have you ever tried a traditional English breakfast? It is simply fabulous. First of all they have beans, which I love! Then there's the bacon, oh the bacon. I almost cried over my first piece that morning in the Cherry Grove B&B. Margaret, I know there's no way you'll ever be able to read this, but you make the most amazing breakfast! We had this just about every morning, with varying degrees of tastiness, but the Brits love their pork and I was happy to oblige them by eating as much as possible. Sorry Wilbur, but Some Pig is very tasty!

Then began the "almost" part of the trip. We almost made it to Lindesfarne in time to see the castle, but it's set on an island and you have to leave by a certain time or the tide comes in and you're stuck. Well we arrived at the site about 25 min before the tide was set to come in, so we raced around the little town, but didn't have time to make it to the castle. After that we went to Roslyn Chapel (remember the DaVinci code). It didn't look anything like the movie, but it was a neat little place with a great historical explanation.

The next two days were spent in Edinburgh, where we walked until I thought my legs were going to fall off. We saw Edinburgh Castle, walked the royal mile, ate in a little pub, bought shortbread and gifts and once again almost make it to Holyrood Palace. It closed about 30 minutes before we got there.

After Edinburgh we had long days in the car. The first day we stopped at Stirling castle on the way into the highlands. It was beautiful and the countryside was lovely, but personally I preferred Edinburgh castle. Stirling would be a great place to bring kids though, they had tons of interactive activities you could do. This was also the point where I learned that I can zoom on the camera on my iPhone! How did I not learn this before now?!

The rest of the day we spent driving through beautiful mountains and rugged terrain on our way to Inverness. Now the reason I wanted to go to this particular city is really stupid. Maybe if you're a Diana Gabaldon fan you might understand. This city is the initial setting for my all time favorite book, Outlander. I've always had a picture in my head of what it would be like, but that picture was completely wrong. Inverness is a lovely city, but much larger than I pictured.  And sadly there were no stones to sweep me back to the days of the clans.

That night we completed our sweep of the north in Loch Ness. And yes, I did see Nessie, she waved at me from the lake I  promise! If you squint you can just see her in the photo.  :)

The next day was my favorite of the entire trip. We drove west into more mountains and went to the Isle of Skye and then south to Glenfinnan. Personally I think this area of Scotland was the most beautiful of all the parts we saw. There were lakes and mountains everywhere, and even though the sky was overcast most of the time, it was breathtakingly beautiful. I think I started to annoy the boys with "can we pull over so I can take a picture?"

The trip ended back in Glasgow where we started, though we didn't really spend any time there. Instead we decided we hadn't seen quite enough historical spots (ahem) so we went back east a ways to some abbeys. My favorite was Melrose Abbey, where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried.

Scotland was beautiful, soothing, and a lot of fun. It's been one of the places to visit on my list since I was a little girl. It feels really "right" to have traveled there and seen so much of the country. I would definitely go back. In fact, I would live there if they'd let me. Maybe J.K. Rowling needs someone to do her laundry or something?


  1. I loved Scotland & know what you mean about it feeling right. My family came from Scotland decades ago, and it felt like going home.
    Did you make it to Culloden? That's an eerie and sad place to visit.

    1. Nope, didn't make it to Culloden, we had too many places we wanted to see! It was a wonderful trip though.

  2. Lovely Devin :)
    I could almost taste the scottish are and bracken :)
    Your pics are lovely :)

    1. Thanks, can't wait to see your pics from Bali!

  3. crap that was supposed to be AIR.
    Shows me for writing a comment the minute I wake up :)