The Pirate enjoying a cold ale, dressed for the EU weather
After touring Ireland for six full days of pure pleasure, it was time to embark on the next leg of our month in Europe, Scotland. I was very excited, to say the least, because I had been looking forward to visiting Scotland ever since I was a “we bit o a lad”. You see, my Great Grandmother “Grandma Wallace” told me many stories about my heritage, which by the name would suggest I was lineage of the Clan Wallace, as in the “Braveheart” William Wallace. William lived and died in Scotland, and I was planning to visit his birthplace, and location of his death. Ok, so there are also a ton of historic castles in Scotland as well to visit.
Ya just got to see the family resemblance 🙂
So here we are in Killarney, Ireland on the coast, and we initially looked at driving the rental car back to Dublin and taking the ferry over to Scotland. This was going to kill the whole day, and also there were hours of driving on the wrong side of the road! Or, we could drive an hour to Shannon Airport north of Killarney, catch a short hour flight directly to Edinburgh, Scotland instead. Was there really any decision there, we flew.
Another pub crawl ya sayin? I’l have a pint o that malt of the month
However, the story was not that simple you see. You see, the following day President Trump was landing in Shannon, Ireland for a visit. After multiple check stations, and inspections, we finally made it to the car return center, and terminal.
My proud heritage, battle after battle, after a battle, for what is just and right!
I have to say that both flying out of Ireland and into Scotland, as well as our flight from Scotland to London, was very smooth, and there’s no “Immigration Check” because they are all in the EAU.
View from the Edinburgh Castle
We arrived without any issues in Edinburgh, Scotland Airport. As we were “carry on only”, we breezed off the plane and out to the taxi stand for a short ride to our Air BNB in “Old Town Edinburgh”. Again, very excited because we were a short distance to Edinburgh Castle, so we were told.
Our Air BnB was the top floor of one of these in a residential zone, near the “strip clubs”?
Hot Tip: They use Pound Sterling for currency, and when paying pub bills, the tip is usually already included as a 10-12% Service Charge.
Let me just say here that although they ramp up excitement over this “Castle” it quickly became obvious that the “castle” was a fort built on top of a big rock hill, basically a fortress. Castles have high walls and towers, but this one has none of these because it sits high above the city. It was fun listening to the tour guide (yes we did take the tour), and to learn about the castle’s history. In my opinion, it was the least exciting of ll the castles I visited.
Sipping a cold Scottish Ale at a pub, overlooking “Old Town” and the castle
That being said, there were a couple other exciting parts about visiting Edinburgh, Scotland, and the North of Scotland, other castles, Braveheart sites, Pubs, and of course, our “Outlander Tour”.
The Edinburgh Castle, or as I call it “Fort Rock”.
I’m just going to stop here for a minute and get something off my chest about Scotland, this country is not “user-friendly”. What I mean compared to Ireland, and I mean everywhere in Ireland, people were helpful and very friendly. They invited us to sit at their tables if the pub was full, and enjoyed friendly conversations. In Scotland, not! What a drastic difference in social ability here, and I will say I was surprised and disappointed.
Looking down from the Edinburgh Castle walls, I found this “pet cemetery”. Every ruler of this castle buried their palace pets here.
We took a taxi from the airport to our Air BnB, which turned out to be just fine, except it was quite a hike to the castle and “Royal Mile”, uphill! I highly suggest that you ask questions directly when making reservations. The walk was only about 10-15 minutes up to the “Mile”, stores, pubs, and of course the castle. We opted not to do the castle on our own, instead of to take a guided tour with “City Tours” while there.
The Royal Mile in Edinburgh at dusk, still busy. Notice the red “phone booths”? They had been converted into ATM’s.
We did enjoy each day a “special treat”, walking up from our apartment to the main section of “old town”, in fact, something you can only experience in Edinburg, in our neighborhood. Right up the road, we crossed each day at a 3-way intersection in our neighborhood, there was a strip bar on each corner. I felt so blessed!
Nothing beats a great “Scotch Tasting” in Scotland.
The first afternoon we did have a bit of tasty fun, with a special “Scotch Whisky Tasting” at a local pub. Now that’s how you do Scotland! Of course, we just had to enjoy a Scotch Egg and a bit of “haggish” as well for dinner.
Scotch Whiski, Yum, Yum, Yum.
The next day we were off early in the morning aboard a beautiful “Rabbies Tour” bus, on our Outlander Tour. I would highly suggest taking this tour if you enjoyed the Outlander TV series, or even just wanted to visit historic castles. We met the tour at their office/cafè on Waterloo Place on the main street down from the castle. The nice thing is they also serve breakfast there and also coffee drinks.
Midhope Castle, scene of one of the Outlander whippings of Jamie inside the arch.
Our bus was actually a small new van that held no more than twenty people so it was a true “small bus tour”, exactly what I wanted. It proved to be a very long tour, leaving the cafè at about 9 AM and returning at about 8 PM that evening. They do suggest that you bring lunch with you and snacks, although we did have the opportunity of grabbing lunch at a pub along the way.
This was Jamie and Claire’s country home, where he was beaten.
We visited five castles from the Outlander Series, along with other sites used in the series along the way. Among them were,
Culrose Palace, Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, and Midhope Castle. We also got to visit the spot where Jamie was tied and whipped, as well as the country home from the last season. It was a long but full of adventure day.
The “great hall” in one of the castles, with roof arches built by the Vikings.
Our final day in Edinburg we enjoyed a tour of the castle with “City Tours”. After breakfast at the “Treehouse Cafè”, we met our tour guide and headed up the hill to the castle entrance. Although we had many opportunities to view the castle from below in many different locations, it was very anti-climatic for me touring it. I would say that was probably because we had visited so any old castles, with towers and turrets, that we climbed, and this had none. Yes, it was called a castle on the big hill, but I would more likely call it a fort!
Recognize that location from Outlander Series? Another “whipping location” of Jamie.
The views of Edinburgh were spectacular from the castle, and then there were always the cannons, which always get my attention. The bottom line for me is had I known then what I now know, I would have skipped the tour. Just saying.
This is Claire’s Garden, that was located in a small village used by the Movie ProductionCrew.
Me walking up the tall steep walkway to view Claire’s Garden Below. They used to let people into the garden but it got too popular on tours, and as it is actually private property, they gated it.
I have to say, of all the tours, the Outlander was one of the best, although it did last all day. One thing I can tell you from experience, pay attention to time, especially when they tell you as you exit the tour bus, “be back to the bus at 1PM”.
At one of the destinations, we lost track of time, and arrived at the parking lot, to no bus It was a harrowing taxi experience to catch up with the bus at the next destination. 🙂
Climbing one of the many castle towers steps.
Until we meet next time, in London, England, I leave you with this. Don’t wait until its to late to do a vacation in Europe. Very few handicap set-ups, lots of stairs, towers, slippery stone paths, etc. You really need to be in shape, or you’re going to hate it.
Gary ….The Pirate