It’s a beautiful day in Edinburgh. The sun is out, the city is full of energy, and the parks and gardens beckon with their bright green grass and pretty autumn leaves. But I’m not going to sit in the sun today. I’m headed indoors to visit three of the best museums in Edinburgh, and they’re good enough that I’m willing to give up the Scottish sun for them (which is saying a lot, because the Scottish sun is a fickle star).
I’m speeding through the Scottish countryside on the train from Glasgow to London. To my right are fluffy sheep, to my left big bovines. The hills are covered in pink wildflowers, and I have a serious urge to stand up and sing something from The Sound of Music. This is only partly due to the beautiful scenery, though. It’s mostly due to my excitement about the time I’ve just had at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
After two days in St Andrews, I thought I would have had enough of famous Scottish golf destinations. In fact, the opposite was true. After exploring the city, I couldn’t wait to go to the next location on my post-Hogmanay tour of Scotland: Gleneagles.
There is more to St Andrews than just golf. In fact, nine out of 10 people that travel to the home of the sport don’t even play. I am one of them. So what is there to do there if you don’t tee off on the Old Course? A lot.
The Scottish Highlands are a place of legends. The Loch Ness monster, William Wallace, and Bonnie Prince Charlie are just a few. Add to that the tradition of storytelling and the abundance of whisky distilleries, and the myths grow more miraculous. But legends alone are an insufficient way to experience the staggering beauty of the landscapes and lochs, the craggy cliffs and snow-capped mountains that wash the hills with waterfalls. No, this is a place that must be seen, felt, and tasted to be true.
You have to be a wee bit crazy to go to Scotland in January. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s empty. Except if it’s unseasonably warm, the sun rises late enough to see the sky glowing orange and pink at nine in the morning, and you like visiting beautiful places free of crowds. In that case, you’re pretty wise. Or really lucky, like I was this week when I traveled to the Isle of Skye.
Whatever you do, don’t call it New Year’s Eve. We’re in Edinburgh, after all, and we call it Hogmanay here. And it’s not just a fancy name for something celebrated all over the world. No, it encompasses three days of festivities filled with torchlight processions, street parties, fireworks, concerts, ceilidhs, and competitions.
A month ago I wrote that I had an exciting announcement to make soon. Today is the day. I am happy to say that I am going to spend New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh and then travel through Scotland for a week and a half!
My trip to Scotland didn’t want to happen. Both of my flights got canceled, and I ended up traveling by train up and taking a delayed flight to another airport back. But sometimes a difficult journey makes the time spent in a place all the sweeter, and my 24 hours in Edinburgh were no exception.
If you were given a choice between a Cairo, Marrakech, Bergen, Berlin, Venice, or Edinburgh sightseeing trip, which would you choose? That was a question I had to answer on Wednesday morning when I was invited to travel to one of those destinations to write a story about a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
August is festival month in Edinburgh. With around ten festivals going on at the same time, Edinburgh comes alive with music, street performances, art, literature, food, and the occasional day of sunshine.