Bagpipes, Fuzzy Navels, and the Loch Ness Monster!

 

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This week’s wild card Wednesday post is about my trip to Scotland. Out of all the trips that I have taken so far, my visit to Scotland holds a very special place in my heart because it was the first place outside of the United States that I had the opportunity to see and it was the first time that I traveled to somewhere other than school by myself.

I was 18 years old at the time, and I was so excited to finally cross the pond and experience a new culture. The trip was through my university. At my school freshman had the opportunity to take a week long trip to an assorted list of countries in South America, Europe, and Asia. My first choice was Scotland, and that was the country that I got!

This shocked my friends who were all going to London and Paris. I thought about going to one of those places but I also knew that I wanted to study abroad in London and that I would for sure go to Paris at some point, so I decided to chose a location that I probably wouldn’t visit on my own.

DSCN0109The flight from Newark, NJ to Scotland was long and I didn’t sleep for a second.

The leaders of our trip didn’t want us to succumb to jetlag, so we were banned from going to our rooms and sleeping.

We arrived at our hostel, which was located right in the center of Edinburgh, and dropped off our luggage before leaving to explore.

Armed with our umbrellas and gloves, we set out onto The Royal Mile and naturally began our trip by taking ridiculously touristy photos with the red phone boxes along the street.

 

Later that night, myself and the group of girls that I had bonded with decided to hang out at the hostel that we were staying in. There was a bar in the lower level, and like the rest of my freshman class we were over the moon to be of legal drinking age on our trips.

DSCN0142 - CopyHere’s me looking like an absolute baby with my first legal drink, a fuzzy navel! It is consists of vodka, orange juice, and carbonated water. The hostel that we were staying in had a bar in the bottom lower floor. Although it wasn’t the classiest place, we were so excited to be there that you’d think we were drinking top shelf cocktails in a high rollers lounge!

Looking back now, I don’t know how we had so much stamina. During our trip we manged to get up at 6 am every morning to attend tours and lectures after staying out until around 3 am every single night. Here are some of the highlights from Edinburgh (excuse the terrible photo quality, I knew nothing about lighting or photography at the time).

DSCN0134Edinburgh Castle

DSCN0136The gorgeous view when you are facing away from the castle

DSCN0132St. Giles’ Cathedral

DSCN0138Princes Street (the more modern section of Edinburgh)

During that amazing week, we got a crash course in Scottish history and culture. Although I found it all fascinating, I particularly loved the folklore about faeries or as they were called “the wee ones.”

Scottish culture has an infectious element of charm and mystery. This can be found in the elaborate tales of faerie sitings and even just in walking through the gorgeous cobblestone streets of Edinburgh that are lined with independent shops and eateries. We even happened upon a cafe that claimed to be the site where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel. Now if that isn’t magical then I don’t know what it is.

DSCN0144We also traveled outside of Edinburgh during the trip and saw some beautiful sites including:

DSCN0202The infamous Duke of Wellington

DSCN0165The gorgeous mountainside

DSCN0182And last but not least Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness, which to do this day is one of the most extraordinary places that I visited (and no I didn’t see the Loch Ness monster, jut spectacular views of the loch and castle)

This was the most jam packed week of my life. My eyes were completely opened up and when I returned to America I truly felt like my horizons had expended. I toured, partied, listened to a lot of bagpipes, and even went to a Scottish caleigh. I am so grateful to have had this experience, and am eagerly awaiting the day when I can visit this beautiful country again.

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