Just over a week ago I left a place that captured my heart and soul on a level I didn’t expect. I have always felt drawn to Scotland and felt I NEEDED to be there for some reason.
From what I know and have researched about my family ancestry we did not come from there - father’s side immigrated from Ireland and Italy in the 19th centuries and my mother’s side from Ireland and Norway.
I know this is not a historical or genealogy blog, but I merely want to express that I do not have any logical reason to feel as connected to Scotland as I did/do, yet I have had this yearning and longing to be there for a very long time.
In 2023 my Guided Travel groups will begin in Scotland, Ireland and England. I canNOT wait for this experience and to help others truly have the journey they wish to have - whether it is self discovery, healing they seek or adventurous hearts wanting to wander somewhere they’ve never been.
After spending 9 days abroad and exploring Scotland, I decided my first post-vacation blog back would be discussing some of my favorite things on this Friday!
I’ve limited myself (you’re welcome) to just 5 favorite things about this trip.
F I V E ::
Coming in at number five is, of course, the views. Every corner turned, every stop made, there was no shortage of brilliant sights and wondrous, mystical views.
From mountains, to glens, lochs and castles, cathedrals and coastline - there truly is something for each person to admire in this beautiful country.
Sunset at Calton Hill was by far the perfect view to end my time in Edinburgh/Scotland. I might have died a little bit on the walk up from across the city, but that view was worth it.
So many gathered for the experience, the moment the sun turns to sleep and leaves twilight blanketed across the city and her ancient landmarks. The glow was mesmerizing and comforting - a hug goodbye, a kiss of "see you soon" to this Texas Traveller.
Scotland truly is filled with majestic beauty.
F O U R ::
Peaceful paths. Need I say more?
At Hopetoun house (more on this in a later blog) there is a path you may recognize, if you're an Outlander fan. This is where Jamie meets his son Willie as an infant in season 3 of Outlander. The path runs for a distance adjacent to the impressive estate home.
The golden leaves slowly fluttered to the ground as the breeze whispered through a canopy of luscious green over the walkway. Fall had arrived, her beautiful colors just beginning to touch the edges of leaves, bringing a chill on the breeze with her.
There were paths like this everywhere - on the way up a mountain to the Wallace Monument in Stirling, again near the loch at Linlithgow Palace, and, my favorite, in Princes Street Gardens. You can see all of these on in my most recent Reel on my personal Instagram.
T H R E E ::
The architecture. It all seems so ancient and full of stories.
You can't help but walk in to St. Giles Cathedral and think of all the royalty that's walked there, the people who sat there centuries before, the souls that experienced peace there.
I had just missed seeing the Queen rest there for all of the public to pay their respects after her passing. I was able to still see the beautiful floral tributes there in Edinburgh when I arrived in front of the intricate gates of Palace of Holyroodhouse. It was a part of history I got to experience and that is not lost on me.
Everywhere you turn there is a beautiful landmark to be appreciated and a new attention to detail to stare in awe over.
From castles to cathedrals to major estate homes to the cottages across the highlands, you'll never NOT find something to be so visually appealing that a moment of silence is required just to take it all in.
T W O ::
The highlands. I will never not dream of this place. I will never not long to be here.
I drove for H O U R S a day through the Scottish highlands - okay, okay, a dear friend drove me. I wasn’t doing THAT alone on my first trip there. Denis is from Edinburgh, a friend for almost 20 years (if I remembered correctly - He will correct me again if I am wrong). I couldn’t have done this trip without him, and I am forever grateful for his guidance and especially driving me all over this beautiful country.
On the hours-long drives, between places of interest, places I'd dreamed of seeing, I couldn’t speak. I was hypnotized by the majestic mountains. I couldn’t take it all in quick enough or deeply enough. I think I could travel on these same roads for my entire life and not tire of the views and peace found along them.
This experience of the highlands is something very hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced a moment like this, whether in Scotland or elsewhere. Moments that change you to your core.
The majestic mountain that towers above you is not intimidating, it is not arrogant or boisterous. Instead, they invite you to wonder at them, feel small beneath their shadow, to feel humbled and comforted by their beauty. To know you are in the presence of such an invitation to peace is overwhelming.
They beckon you to explore all they have to show you - waterfalls, see the houses in the nooks and crannies where peaks meet, listen to the birds who are the only ones that get to see them the way they can.
The birds there sing such a sweet and mesmerizing song. I heard them everywhere, adding to the magic of the Highlands.
Roaming across these highlands is forever engrained in my memory and heart. My soul will never be the same.
O N E ::
This one has not left me from the moment I first saw it in person. It echoes within me and every time my eye close, this is the moment I return to. I’d dreamed of this place, seen it on documentaries, experienced it through television shows and movies. But nothing prepares you for the moment you arrive, yourself, into the actual place.
I honestly didn’t think it would hit me the way it did. I don’t think I spoke a word the entirety of the time spent there - which was a good bit of time, yet still not near long enough. I knew it would be a moment to never forget, I just didn't know the profound depth it would cause me to experience.
It is yet another moment that is hard to describe, but I will try:
The sun was out, uncharacteristic for Scotland. Like Scotland wanted to show me the best parts of itself with sunshine that seemed to stalk me throughout my journey there.
The car came to a stop, my hand reaching to open the door, pulling my shawl across my body, my feet meeting the marshy ground as I stepped onto the wild highland land to come around the car.
Seeing Glencoe in all its glory, sun illuminating everything in light and gold, I had to stop and take a breath - remind myself I was indeed there, not dreaming.
There was a massive boulder waiting for me to sit together, chilling me quickly as I sat on it to admire the splendor that I couldn’t believe I finally got to see MYSELF in person, finally. Shawl wrapped tightly around me to keep out the wind, I sat for so long, no words able to form in my mind, much less come out of my mouth to express what I was feeling. I still don’t have the words to describe all the emotion in that experience. It felt as though my chest would break open at all the feelings that hit me in the same second. Tranquility. Realization. Healing. Appreciation. Joy. Stillness. Calmness. Pure happiness. Overwhelming PEACE. These still don’t even seem to come close to what I felt in that moment.
It must be the closest thing to experiencing Heaven this earth can offer us.
After a while, we decided to move on to the next part of the highlands, the next stop in this journey.
I may have left Glencoe, but it has not left me.
These five things were so HARD to choose because this trip was TRULY the best trip I’ve ever experienced. This is just the start, where my mind has begun to really digest what I experienced before I put it all in writing, officially.
I will talk more about it in the coming blog series - talking all things food, lodging, travel tips, tourist sites and things I know NOT to do now. Haunted castle hotels may or may not be involved.
Make sure you subscribe so you know when the next blog publishes. Until then, follow my social media for more photos, video, reels and stories of my Scotland travels and quickly approaching trips!
Most importantly, book the trip, make the memories - I promise you won't regret it.
Best wishes & safe travels, y'all.