On our last day in Edingburgh, Julie and I packed up our things and sought out the Elephant Cafe for breakfast. This is the coffee shop where JK Rowling wrote the majority of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, thus adding yet another check to both my Harry Potter and great novelist pilgrimages.
We then made our way to Edinburgh Castle, the most distinctive landmark of the city. Along with seeing the highlights, like St. Margaret’s Chapel and the Scottish Crown Jewels, Julie and I discovered new (or rather, new to me) gems, like an American prisoner’s carving from the Revolutionary War. It was a great way to cap off our time in Edinburgh, and after grabbing a sandwich from Marks & Spencer (a mandatory Fisher ritual), we hopped on the train headed to one of my favorite places in the world, the Highlands.
I love traveling by train because you still get to see so much of the country while en route to the next destination. Chugging along through the Scottish countryside, we even stopped in the Fisher’s beloved Pitlochry (our 2013 home base) before finally ending in Inverness.
Translated to “the mouth of the River Ness”, Inverness is a lovely city right in the heart of the breathtaking Highlands. I knew that if we were going to Scotland, we had to come here because it’s just so beautiful and quintessentially Scottish. And what UK trip would be complete without saying in a bed and breakfast? Our B&B, Eden House, was spectacularly charming — the owners, Donald and Carolyn, were so sweet and friendly, the breakfast was delicious, and the room was filled with doilies and florals. Perfection. Julie and I, tired from our long day of travel, called it an early night and watched Bride Wars on tv, at which point we realized that I am the Kate Hudson to her Anne Hathaway. It’s these kinds of pivotal revelations that really define friendships, ammiright?
The next morning, our tour guide from Inverness Tours, Laura, picked us up and we set off to find Nessy! The last time we were in Scotland, my family use this tour company, and this excursion was equally as fun and insightful! Laura drove us and another group down the side of Loch Ness, explaining the folklore and history behind this famously mysterious body of water. We landed at Urquhart Castle and surveyed the ruins among the breathtaking scenery. After several other pit stops featuring gorgeous Highland views (and one very hilarious conversation about our, err, some people’s infatuation with Outlander), we hugged Laura goodbye for the afternoon.
Having an open evening, we took Laura’s suggestion to visit the Glen Ord Distillery just a few towns over by train. While the tour itself was very interesting, Julie and I unanimously agreed that, despite the high quality of scotch we were tasting, it’s still pretty hard to drink unless it’s mixed with Coke or shot back hastily (pretend you didn’t read that, Mom and Dad)!
We ended the day with one last Scotland souvenir stop — God bless Julie for her patience — and packed up our things for the trip across the Irish Sea the next day!