Highlights… & Hindsights Making The Case for Repeat Destinations

I’m currently, ok always, considering my next vacation destination, and with so many amazing places in the world it’s hard to decide. Should we commit those precious vacation days to repeat destinations, digging deeper into what a city has to offer? If we do, what about all those wonderful new places just waiting to be discovered?

#jardindestuileries
Sailing ships! A highlight of our Paris visit!

When traveling, I’m torn between wanting to wing it and not wanting to miss anything, which definitely helps makes the case for repeat visits to certain destinations. For example, our recent trips to Paris, London, and Edinburgh were all repeat visits, we’d already checked off many of the main attractions, which enabled us to explore more freely. One point for repeat visits!

#bigben
Our tour of the Houses of Parliament was a definite highlight!

That said, one of my favorite things about traveling is the discovery of the new. The surprise and delight you feel when discovering something wonderful in a new place simply can’t be beat! These moments are one of the reasons I love to travel, the highlights of our adventures! One point for new destinations!

#arthursseat
We missed out on Arthur’s Seat during our first visit to Edinburgh.

However, being new to a place can at times be a hindrance. No matter how much research I’ve done, there are times when things don’t go quite as planned. Whether it’s accommodations, location, food, or timing, these are what I like to refer to as the hindsights of our adventure. These are things one can only know after time spent and often it’s too late… Another point for repeat destinations.

#brugge
This view from our hotel window in Bruges was a highlight!

Of course not everywhere has a hindsight and some places are just plain full of surprise and delight. I love surprise and delight! Looks like another point for new destinations!

Northern Ireland Antrim Coast
Flying to Glasgow from Belfast we were treated to this fabulous view!

So, it looks like a tie between old and new, which means I’m no closer to working out where in the world, we’ll go next, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights and hindsights from our summer 2016 adventures in Europe!

Highlights & Hindsights

Dublin, Ireland

Highlight: Guinness Factory Tour

There were many wonderful moments during our visit to Dublin, however it was our visit to the Guinness Storehouse that came out as number one! Which speaks volumes, since I don’t even drink beer. All four of us absolutely loved this experience and if you should find yourself in Dublin I highly recommend you go.

#guinnessstorehouse

Hindsight: Popular attractions require advance planning

Our planned a visit to the  Kilmainham Gaol Museum went awry when we couldn’t print our tickets and unfortunately we missed out. We ended up visiting Malahide Castle instead, which was delightful, but lesson learned.

Cork, Ireland

Highlight:  The Blarney Stone

For more than 200 years people have been kissing the Blarney Stone and after some debate (it is the world’s germiest attraction) Simon and I decided to join the club!

Cork Blarney Castle
The Blarney Stone

Hindsight: Touristy doesn’t always equal bad

If only we’d known how much we were going to enjoy exploring Blarney Castle, we would have given ourselves more time.

Killarney, Ireland

Highlight: Killarney National Park

We spent three nights in Killarney, the gateway to the Ring of Kerry and the perfect little Irish town! Quaint, friendly and picturesque, it was exactly what I had pictured an Irish town to look like!

Killarney Ireland
Ross Castle is located inside Killarney National Park

Hindsights: Whoops, attention to detail is key!

Putting the wrong fuel in our rental car meant a drastic change in our plans. Instead of a visit to the Dingle Peninsula and Skellig Michal we spent a lovely day wandering in  Killarney National Park. If I ever find my way back to the west of Ireland a trip to the Skellig Islands will be my first order of business!

Limerick, Ireland

Highlight: King John’s Castle

We weren’t sure what to expect at King Johns’ Castle, but I do love a good castle and we had to stop for lunch anyway so why not just eat lunch at the castle?

#kingjohnscastle
King John’s Castle

Hindsight: There was none!

This was a bonus stop on our way to Galway, and we were delighted with the way this midday stop turned out!

Galway, Ireland

Highlight: The Cliffs of Moher

The spectacular Cliffs of Moher are a definite must-see if you’re visiting the West Coast of the Emerald Isle.

ireland cliffs of moher
The Cliffs of Moher

Hindsight: Allow time for unexpected adventures

There is a walk along the cliff tops , but we were running out of daylight and weren’t really dressed for a hike, so we satisfied ourselves with a good long look over the edge.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Highlight: Everything about the entire visit

Our visit to the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland was by far the best day of our 12 day tour of the Emerald Isle, if not our entire summer abroad!

#dark Hedges

Hindsight: We should have stayed longer.

Having no idea how much we would enjoy our visit we only booked three nights, but easily could have spent twice that many exploring Belfast as well as the amazing natural beauty along the Northern Coast.

Glasgow, Scotland

Highlight: Mural Trail

A very happy accident, we discovered Glasgow’s Mural trail on our way to another destination!

#hiphopmarionettes

Hindsight: Glasgow deserves more time!

Two days just wasn’t enough in this walk friendly city brimming with architecture, art, music, and shopping!

Inverness, Scotland

Highlight: Urquhart Castle on the Shores of Loch Ness

Having missed out on a visit to Loch Ness on our previous trip to the Highlands, we decided to make it a priority. A highlight was exploring the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle, located on the shores of the lake.

#urquhartcastle

Hindsight: So much more than a monster!

Our visit here was wonderful and exceeded our expectations in every way.

The Highlands of Scotland

Highlight: Eileen Donan Castle

A last minute decision to see Eileen Donan Castle did not disappoint. It’s no wonder that Eilean Donan is the most photographed castle in Scotland, it’s setting in the middle of three lochs is stunning!

#eileandonanbagpiper

Hindsight: The Isle of Skye

There is never enough time in this magical country. We got a small taste of what the Isle of Skye has to offer and I’m definitely going back for more!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Highlight: Everything

Have you ever visited a place that felt so right, so special that it was almost painful to leave? Love at first sight? That’s exactly how I felt about Edinburgh from the very first moment.

#edinburgh

Hindsight: I’ve realized my Edinburgh list will never be completed

Although we didn’t have time to go inside the Writers Museum, we did spend time in the courtyard reading the tiles, which are inscribed with lovely quotes written by some of the city’s most famous writers. All of them about Edinburgh of course!

Hadrian’s Wall

Highlight: A dream come true

I know that for some, what basically amounts to a crumbling brick wall in the middle of nowhere England might not be interesting, but for me, a history loving anglophile, this was an absolute dream come true!

#hadrianswall

Hindsight: Walk the Wall Hike

It’s quite popular to “walk” the Wall and I would have liked to, at least for a little while, but serious rain was threatening and after a few minutes the boys abandoned me for the shelter of the Housestead’s Museum.

York, England

Highlight: York Minster

It made sense that the center piece of York, York Minster, the largest medieval Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, would be our first stop. We were not disappointed!

#yorkminster

Hindsight: There wasn’t one!

The rain fell hard and steadily during our visit, but thankfully we still managed to enjoyed this lovely city.

Nottingham, England

Highlight: THE Nottingham!

Yes, that Nottingham, home of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men!

#robinhoodnottingham

Hindsight: Sometimes the weather wins

Sadly, extremely heavy rain put us off from a visit to Sherwood Forest.

London, England

Highlight: Camden Market

My highlight is also a hindsight!  I can’t believe the Camden Market wasn’t already on my radar, It’s right up my alley and reminds me a lot of Venice Beach, California. Fun & quirky!

#camdenlock

Hindsight: Top of the Shard

With my love of photography, I regret that I didn’t take the time to visit the observation deck at the Shard. Greenwich is also high on my list for next time…

Brugge, Belgium

Highlight: Beautiful Medieval Town

I was delighted by the incredible beauty of Brugge, a quaint little medieval town. I immediately fell in love and spent the better part of my three days there taking endless photos.

Bruges Canal

Hindsight: Why didn’t we eat more chocolate?

The question is: With endless chocolate shops around every corner, why didn’t we visit more of them? I’m afraid that’s a question, I’ll never know the answer to.

Ghent, Belgium

Highlight: Graffiti Street

Wanting to see something a bit off the beaten path and big fans of street art, we were excited to learn that Ghent has a dedicated graffiti street called Werregaren straat. We really enjoyed this and loved the idea of a dedicated place where anyone can express themselves freely.

#wergeranstraat

Hindsight: Maybe next time…

Elliot really wished we’d had a can of spray paint or two, so he could contribute.

Amsterdam, Holland The Netherlands

Highlight: Everything about our visit!

A lovely and walkable city with no shortage of interesting sights and streets to wander we made the most of every minute of our visit in Amsterdam.

#nightcanal

Hindsight: We visited Amsterdam and didn’t ride a boat or a bike, what?!

We made the most of every moment while visiting this fabulous city, but still ran out of time before ever stepping onto a boat, or peddling a bike. We did see some windmills though! If I had to do it over again I would stay on a houseboat!

Zaans Schans, Holland

Highlight: Windmills

I felt I couldn’t visit Holland without seeing at least one windmill up close and personal! I know, I know, that’s a very touristy thing to do, but hey, sometimes I’m a tourist!

#zaanseschans

Hindsight: Why didn’t we rent bikes here?

If we ever find our way back to this wonderful place we will be sure to rent bikes. The wide pathways and lovely scenery would make for a perfect bike ride!

Paris, France

Highlight: Sainte Chapelle

As I emerged from the doorway into the main part of the chapel my mouth literally fell open. I was completely surrounded by jaw dropping beauty. How did I not know about this amazing place?

#saintechapelle

Hindsight: Accommodations

While there wasn’t really anything wrong with our hotel, I’ve yet to really hit the nail on the head as far as Paris lodgings go… hopefully next time!

Versailles, France

Highlight: Marie Antoinette’s Gardens

My favorite part of the day was our visit to the Petit Trianon, the home away from home of Marie Antoinette, who apparently wasn’t so enamored with the main Palace and preferred to spend her time elsewhere.

#petittrianon

Hindsight: An evening visit might have been better

We should have considered going later in the afternoon for the musical fountains show and evening fireworks. We might have been able to beat the crowds, and the heat.

London, England

Highlight: Hyde Park

London’s parks are the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon just like the locals do! They are beautiful, vast and filled with activities for every interest.

#serpentinepavilion2016

Hindsight: Do we really have to go home?

Even after six weeks of travel, I wasn’t ready to go home.

Nothing makes me happier than discovering new places with my family and sharing them with all of you!


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Along the Way: Hadrian’s Wall

#hadrianswall20 days into what had already been an epic road trip we were headed to the stop I was most excited for: Hadrian’s Wall. I know that for some, what basically amounts to a crumbling brick wall in the middle of nowhere England might not be interesting, but for me, a history loving anglophile, this was an absolute dream come true! Built in AD 122, Hadrian’s Wall, was the North-west frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years!

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I already knew this day was going to be great, but the icing on the cake, was when we accidentally came across a home once inhabited by Mary Queen of Scots on our way to Hadrian’s Wall. Ancient history and royalty, my perfect day!

Mary Queen of Scots House

ALONG THE WAY FROM Edinburgh to York… Jedburgh, Scotland

76.5 KM FROM Edinburgh

#maryqueenofscotshouseI do love a road trip, but I also love a nap, so it was pure luck that I woke up from my nap at the exact moment we were passing a sign that said: Mary Queen of Scots House. Of course we were stopping!! We soon discovered that we were in Jedburgh a little town 10 miles from the Scottish English border.

The boys weren’t as interested in visiting the Queen of Scot’s house, so they had a bite to eat while I looked around. The home contains what is said to be one of her two surviving death masks along with some other of her other items.

#maryqueenofscotshouseThere is no admission fee, but if you want to purchase anything at the little gift shop keep in mind that they only accept cash.

#jedburghabbeyJedburgh though small was a great place to take a break from the road. There were a number of interesting sites, one of which was the Jedburgh abbey, which looked absolutely beautiful! However, Hadrian’s Wall was calling, so we were on our way…

Hadrian’s Wall

ALONG THE WAY FROM Jedburgh TO York… Hexham, England

83.7 KM FROM Jedburgh

#hadrianswallThe challenge when visiting a site 73 miles (80 roman miles) long is working out where exactly to stop. Many parts of Hadrian’s wall are truly in the middle of the countryside, in disrepair, or inaccessible by car. Adding to the challenge were the many fences also made of stone. After all, making sure we were oohing and ahhing at the right wall was key! After doing a little research we decided the best place for our visit to the Wall was the visitor center and ruins of  Housesteads Roman Fort.

#housesteadsromanfortI was excited to discover that while most of Hadrian’s Wall is off limits there are sections where it is acceptable to stand upon or even walk along for a bit. Standing at and on such an important and ancient piece of history was an incredible feeling! The edge of an empire!

#hadrianswall

It’s quite popular to “walk” the Wall and I would have liked to, at least for a little while, but serious rain was threatening and after a few minutes the boys abandoned me for the shelter of the Housestead’s Museum.

##hadrianswallThe photographer in me wanted options, so we found another car accessible spot along the Wall, where I overcame my fear of “what might be in the grass,” cows, and bugs and ventured into the fields for a closer look and a few more snaps!

#hadrianswall

Maybe you’re not a history lover, but how about entertainment or movies? Hadrian’s Wall, although not a person, plays a major part in the movie King Arthur starring Clive Owen and Kiera Knightly, a personal favorite of mine. Standing on the wall looking north might bring to mind another favorite, Game of Thrones? Whether it’s an interest in pop culture, or a love of history, or both consider a visit to Hadrian’s Wall! Especially if it just happens to be “along the way…”

England Hadrian's Wall

Practical information: There is a charge to visit Housesteads and if you’re planning to “walk” the wall for any length, you’ll want proper hiking shoes. We didn’t join a tour, but did enjoy the museum’s short film about the Wall’s history, Emperor Hadrian, and the Roman soldiers who lived at Housesteads and built the Wall. Of course we stopped in the gift shop where we picked up a few mementos of our visit!

Next stop: York, England

 

24 Hours in Edinburgh

#edinburghHave you ever visited a place that felt so right, so special that it was almost painful to leave? Love at first sight? That’s exactly how I felt about Edinburgh from the very first moment. I’m not exaggerating when I say my mouth literally fell open with the unique beauty of the city, so when Tim suggested we go back for a repeat visit I was ecstatic and  so were our boys!

#edinburgh

Having already visited many of Edinburgh’s major highlights on a previous visit, and because we only had one full day, we decided not to plan too much in advance. This worked out to be the perfect mix of old favorites and new discoveries.

#forthbridge

A bonus was our meet up with close friends from California! How exciting to meet up with friends in a far away place! Our dinner together and a lovely walk along the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle was a highlight of our visit.

#theroyalmile

#reunion

First Things First

#oinkedinburgh

Our first stop the next day was brunch! I know I said we weren’t planning anything, but there was one exception, our much anticipated repeat visit to Oink, located in the Grassmarket neighborhood. I guess we were excited because we arrived on the early side and they weren’t open yet. Wandering in and out of the area’s shops was the perfect way to pass time while we waited. The above photo of our meal at Oink speaks for itself!

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

#thequeensgallery

After brunch we decided upon a walk along the Royal Mile with our final destination the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Simon, always up for anything, accompanied me to the Fashioning A Reign exhibit showcasing a selection of the Queens wardrobe from over the course of her lifetime. Tim and Elliot weren’t as nice interested, so they waited just outside in front of the new Scottish Parliament building. Cheering on some marathon runners helped them pass the time.

The apartment of Mary Queen of Scots located inside the Palace and the adjacent Abbey were highlights of my last visit and the unexpected revisit to them on our way to the fashion exhibit was a very nice surprise.

Arthurs seat

#arthursseatSimon thought it would be a good idea to climb up Arthurs Seat, the highest point in Holyrood park and just adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. An ancient volcano, Arthurs Seat, is 251 meters above sea level, so nothing to sneeze at.

I hate to say no when the kids get excited about seeing or trying something new, so even though we weren’t wearing hiking shoes… we thought we’d give it a try. Turns out the hike was very manageable though not easy by any means. Our hard work was rewarded with incredible 360 degree views of Edinburgh and beyond.

#arthursseatWe didn’t spend much time at the top, rain was on the horizon, and we were nervous about a slippery descent. The entire hike took about an hour and a half and we made it down just as the rain started!

St. Giles Catherdral

#stgiles

By the time we finished our hike and walked back to our hotel the rain was coming down quite heavily, so we decided on a visit to St. Giles Cathedral, a place we had missed out on during our last visit.  A lovely cathedral and well worth a look around, especially on a rainy day.

The Writers Museum

#writersmuseum

Although we didn’t have time to go inside the Writers Museum, we did spend time in the courtyard reading the tiles, which are inscribed with lovely quotes written by some of the city’s most famous writers. All of them about Edinburgh of course! Further exploration of this place is on my list for our next visit…

The Inn on the Mile

#innonthemileOur accommodations at The Inn on the Mile were perfectly located right in the middle of the Royal Mile. However, the seven flights of stairs we had to climb each time we came and went definitely presented a challenge, especially after climbing Arthurs Seat. Elliot loved sitting at the bar and watching the bartenders at work… something that isn’t allowed here in America.

#innonthemile

The rooms, although small, were lovely. The bathrooms were especially nice and were equipped with GHD flatirons (to combat the Scottish wind), fog less mirrors, and double sinks.

#edinburgh

Even though our visit was partially interrupted by heavy rain we still managed to find time for a bit of shopping on Princes Street!

Of course there is still so much to see in this amazing and picturesque city, but this time I have a good feeling we’ll be back…

Here are the Highlights of our 24 hours in Edinburgh:


Take Me With You!

Would you like directions to all these fabulous places? Why not take me with you! you can download this and other fun hilarystyle articles using the GPSmyCity app!

#gpsmycityhilarystyle

Along The Way… Surprise! Another Castle!

No matter how much time we allow in a given place we always seem to run out and it was no different when we visited the Scottish Highlands, for the second time! I hope we will find our way back someday as we barely scratched the surface.  However, places to go and things to see…

#scottishthistle
Scotland’s Flower The Thistle

Blair Castle – Blair Atholl

126 KM from Inverness and exactly halfway to Edinburgh

Driving along in what seemed like the middle of nowhere Scotland we came across what looked like a shopping mall. It was called the House of Bruar and it turned out to be just that! This seemed like a great place to get out, stretch our legs, and have a meal. Upon further inspection we discovered a really nice self-service restaurant, food markets, flower stalls, house wares, clothing and more!

#blaircastleAs we were leaving we noticed a sign for Blair Castle. We were in a bit of a hurry, but just like there’s always room for cheesecake, there’s always time for a castle!

Dating back 700 years, Blair Castle has played an important role in much of Scotland’s history including visits from many important historical figures, including: Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

#blaircastleballroomBlair Castle turned out to be the perfect stop. There was something for everyone and all four of us enjoyed the tour of the castle and it’s gardens. With 12 generations of Dukes, each with their own tastes and style, the 30 rooms on the tour are filled to the brim with many treasures ranging from a large weapon collection and military uniforms to jewels, photographs and other personal belongings. With the exception of a very unique ballroom photos aren’t allowed inside the castle.

Scotland Blair Castle GardensThe grounds are quite extensive, however Edinburgh was calling, so we only had time for a quick loop around the Hercules gardens, which recently restored offered a number of  photo opportunities.

#herculesgardenBefore getting back on the road I stopped to take just one more photo of the Castle’s incredibly long and lovely “driveway!”

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Considering Blair Castle was an accidental find, I would say we were more than pleased with how our visit there turned out! If I were to do it over again this place would definitely be on my itinerary!
Next Stop: Edinburgh!

 

Taking The High Road…

#culloden

#cullodencottageOn our last morning in the Highlands we woke up to discover that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. While we knew this was a possibility, like many people, we didn’t think it could/would actually happen. Yet, here it was, history unfolding right in front of our eyes… It felt like a bad dream. Watching and listening to the local news we were shocked to hear that so many people felt the same, even those who’d actually voted for Brexit! People, this is proof that there is no such thing as a protest vote!

All day long we kept thinking, this can’t be real, can it?  Yet, it was and although we aren’t citizens of either the EU or the United Kingdom we were deeply affected by the outcome of this vote. With the political turmoil in our own country reaching an unprecedented level of craziness it seemed like a dark foreboding…

Culloden Battlefield

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s somewhat ironic, but our plan for the final day of our tour in The Highlands was a visit to the Battlefield of Culloden. A lover of history and a fan of the book series Outlander I’d read about this place for years and was excited for our visit. For those of you who haven’t read Outlander, Culloden was the site of the last had to hand battle to take place on British soil. The battle between the Jacobites, supporters of Prince Charles Stewart, and the English is also considered to be the inspiration behind the famous Scottish song The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond .  You might be familiar with the chorus:

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye,

#cuillodairThe visitor center, run by the National Trust of Scotland, tells the story of Culloden from both perspectives in a very unbiased way. There are interactive displays throughout the exhibits, which we all found interesting, especially the weapons exhibit at the end. During our visit we joined a guided tour of the battlefields, which of course are mainly grass fields with markers and monuments placed here and there. While  I found the tour fascinating, my boys are allergic to grass, which made it less than pleasant for them. Once the skies opened up, that was it for them.

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Eilean Donan

#eileandonanbagpiperSitting on a small tidal island where three lochs meet, Loch Dutch, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh, it’s no wonder that Eilean Donan is the most photographed castle in Scotland! The inside is fully furnished and lovely as well, however, photography isn’t allowed inside the Castle. We finished our tour of the island just as those pesky rains caught up to us!

#EileandonanThere has been a castle on the island since the 13th century, however the castle was demolished during the Jacobite risings by the Royal Navy in 1719 and stayed that way until it was restored by Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap in the early 1900s. Keep your eye out for the war memorial located on the island dedicated to the men of the MacRae clan who died in WWI. You might recognize the lines from the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by his relative John McCrae.

#memorialtoclanmaccraeEilean Donan is not only one of Scotland’s most visited castles, but it’s also been featured in a number of films. The many views make amazing backdrops, and if you’re not already married It’s also available for weddings!

#eileandonan

The Isle Of Skye

#lochalshThough it wasn’t in our plans to visit the Isle of Skye on this trip, we saw that we weren’t too far and decided on a quick trip over the bridge.

#bridgetoskye

Unfortunately, we were running out of time and only spent about an hour driving before we had to turn around and head back. The little I saw was beautiful beyond description and these photos don’t even come close to doing it justice. I definitely hope to find my way back to Skye someday…

#isleofskye

#skye

Though the clouds and rain chased us all day long, there was a silver lining: Elliot counted as many as 11 rainbows on our way back to Inverness!

#skyerainbow

More Than A Monster… Loch Ness

#lochness

#lochnessThe Loch Ness Monster, otherwise known as Nessie, is famous worldwide, but the Loch Ness is more than just a myth. In fact, at 23 miles long and almost 800 feet deep it is the second largest lake in Scotland, and contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined!

#urquhartcastleHaving missed out on a visit to Loch Ness on our previous trip to the Highlands, this time we decided to make it a priority. I was excited to discover that beyond the search for an elusive monster we would also have the opportunity to explore the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle, located on the shores of the lake. So, even if searching for the ever elusive Nessie isn’t on your list of things to do a visit to Loch Ness should be!

Though it can’t hurt to keep your eyes open. Just in case…

#thelochnesscentreandexhibition

If it is the search for Nessie that brings you to Loch Ness you might like to visit Nessieland or The Loch Ness Exhibition, which are both located nearby in the little town of Drumnadrochit. We poked around the gift shops of both, but ultimately decided these exhibitions weren’t for us. However, the idea of a boat ride was appealing, and since it wasn’t raining…

There are many boat companies to choose from, but we hadn’t done our homework, so went with the easy one at the Loch Ness Exhibition, after all our car was already parked there!

Thankfully, these weren’t the boats we were going on, or I may have changed my mind!

Here’s our boat!

#nessiehunter

The hour long ride turned out perfectly. While some of the tour was spent “looking” for Nessie using the boat’s deep scan radar equipment, most of it was spent enjoying the beauty of our surroundings while learning about the history of both the area and legend. With room for only 12 passengers the boat wasn’t large, but it was comfortable and we had many photo opportunities.

#urquhartcastle
The boat ride gave us unique views of the castle ruins

Toward the end of the ride the boys were given the opportunity to drive the boat!

Exploring the ruins of Urquhart Castle

#urquhartcastle

Though Urquhart Castle was reduced to ruins in 1692, its advantageous position overlooking and surrounded by the Loch Ness on three sides, and it’s incredible storied history dating back to before the times of Robert the Bruce, make it a popular and very worthwhile tourist destination. I highly suggest stopping in the visitors center to watch the short film on the castle’s history before you begin exploring.

#urquhartcastleAfter that, take your time wandering about the ruins and enjoying the view. Who knows, maybe you’ll see something out there on the lake…

#urquhartcastle

Fiddlers Restaurant located in the little town of Drumnadrochit is definitely worth a stop! The food and service were excellent!

#drumnadrochit

Photo Gallery

Do keep in mind that the boats won’t operate if the conditions on the Loch aren’t optimal, so if there is any doubt consider calling ahead.

Exploring The Highlands of Scotland

#welcometothehighlands

#inverness

We spent three perfect days in the Highlands of Scotland this summer, and its capital, Inverness made the perfect home base. Though much of our visit to the area was spent day tripping, we really enjoyed the time we did spend in town.

#nesswalk

The path along the River Ness, aptly named, the Ness Walk was really lovely and lucky for us the sun made an appearance during our visit.

#nesswalk

#nesswalk

The many footbridges provided not only a convenient way to cross the river, but lovely views as well.

Although it’s not open to the public, Inverness Castle, makes a very pretty picture perched on the hill above town.

#invernesscastle

During our river walk we discovered the Waterfront restaurant where we enjoyed one of the best meals of our entire trip. Not only was my salmon excellent, but on this rare occasion everyone enjoyed their OWN meal!

Hitting the two week mark of our six week adventure it was time for a laundry stop! The New City Laundromat, turned out to be just right for our needs! Disaster was narrowly averted when I left an entire load of my clothing in the washer, which then got mixed up in another family’s laundry… thankfully I figured it out and recovered everything. Whew!

#laundromat

Our accommodations at The Kingsmills Hotel, about 5 minutes from downtown Inverness, were very comfortable. The rooms were spacious and all of the bathroom amenities were very nice. This was the one place on our trip with a pool and the boys and I enjoyed it very much! The water was warm, there were pool toys available for the boys and over all it was a really lovely time. A very family friendly place with excellent service, I would absolutely stay here again.

My hilarystyle review for the Kingsmills Hotel is: hairdryerhairdryerhairdryerhairdryer

 

 

48 Hours In Glasgow!

Glasgow Scotland

A short trip to Scotland three years ago left me wanting to see more, so I was pretty excited about getting back for another visit. Glasgow, the first of three stops in this amazing country, did not disappoint! Two days just wasn’t enough in this walk friendly city brimming with architecture, art, music, and shopping! Lesson learned… However, two-ish days were all we had, so we wasted no time making the most of them!

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Our first afternoon, spent wandering aimlessly in the main part of town, gave us a sense of what to expect… We really enjoyed the architecture and window-shopping on Buchanan Street.

Glasgow School of Art

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Tim was really exited to visit the  Glasgow School of Art, which was founded in 1845 and is internationally recognized as one of Europe’s leading visual art schools. A fan of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh he was most interested in seeing the school’s famous Mackintosh Building. However, a fire, set accidentally, during the 2015 end of term exhibition caused extensive damage and the building is currently closed for renovations.

The school does offer various walking tours and our guide, a current student, did a great job! We not only learned about the history of the school, the Mackintosh Building, and other Mackintosh works around town, but we viewed a collection of Mackintosh furniture as well. The Mackintosh building may be closed, but we did get an opportunity to visit the new Steven Holl building where we were able to view current student exhibitions of both fashion and jewelry.

Of course we had to visit the gift shop, which was filled with many lovely items all created by past and current students of the school. Elliot really enjoyed the children’s activities provided by the museum.

Glasgow ScotlandAfternoon Tea

Glasgow ScotlandHaving learned about Glasgow’s tea rooms during our tour of the Glasgow School of Art we decided to visit the Willow Tea Room located on Sachiehall Street. We enjoyed our traditional afternoon tea, cocoa, and for Simon, haggis surrounded by early 20th century decor.

 

George Square

Glasgow ScotlandOnce our bellies were full with tea and cakes we wandered toward George Square, named after King George III, it is home to an impressive amount of statues as well as the city council’s headquarters. This is a lovely spot to stop and rest, or feed the many birds.

Glasgow’s Mural Trail!

#streetartglasgowA happy accident, we discovered Glasgow’s Mural trail on the way to our next destination! The trail, a series of paintings in just about every style imaginable, was created to reduce the negative impact of an economic downturn and to help bring new life and visitors to the city center. You’ll find these amazing works of art on the side and front of buildings both occupied and vacant. These are just a few of the many amazing pieces of street art on display! If you’re interested in the Mural Trail there is a handy map available and if you’re not up for walking bicycle rentals are always a fun option!

The Necropolis

Glasgow Scotland

Hoping to capture a few great photos of Glasgow, we visited the Necropolis, a Victorian era cemetery located on a hill just east of the Glasgow Cathedral. Not only did we enjoy sweeping views of the city, but the Cathedral as well. We were fascinated by all the monuments, memorials and graves.

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These are just a few of the 3100 monuments in the Necropolis, but there are as many as 50,000 individuals buried there!

Glasgow Cathedral

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View from the Necropolis

We spent so much time wandering in the Necropolis the Cathedral closed before we could get in, but I really wanted to see it, so we decided on a morning visit on our way out of town. I’m so glad we made time! The details in the stonework and stained glass windows are stunning and if you have time I highly recommend it. Built in the 1200s it is the only medieval cathedral in Scotland to have survived the Protestant Reformation virtually unscathed.

#glasgowcathedral

We’ve Only Just Scratched The Surface…

Beyond the above sights, we wandered in Merchant City, enjoyed a number of memorable meals and even found time for a bit of relaxation in our hotel bar. I know that we barely scratched the surface of this lovely city and I hope to find my way back someday…

Blythswood Square Hotel

Our hotel, the Blythswood Square, was just a short walk from Buchanan Street and the Glasgow School of Art. The building had at one time been an automobile club, so was decorated with many car inspired accents. The perfect place for my automobile loving husband! The common areas were lovely and the service friendly.

The rooms, though not spacious were nice, with the exception of the bathroom, which was quite large and had an unusual opening into the sleeping area.

Glasgow ScotlandLike so many European hotel rooms the plug for the hair dryer was nowhere near the bathroom mirror and instead was located just next to the bed with an awkwardly placed mirror. I will say that the dryer was quality and the products, Neal’s Yard were nice!

My hilarystyle rating for Blythswood Square is: hairdryerhairdryerhairdryerhairdryer


Take me with you!

Would you like directions to all these fabulous places? Why not take me with you! you can download this and other fun hilarystyle articles using the GPSmyCity app!

#gpsmycityhilarystyle

 

Glasgow…Whoops! I did It Again!

Glasgow day one-3336Whoops! Accidentally hit the publish button before I was ready, again… Tomorrow we will be two weeks into our six week whirlwind adventure, which includes six countries, multiple cities and countless experiences! Keeping track of everything over the course of six weeks will be a challenge, so keeping a daily log of everything we are doing, eating and seeing will ensure that I can share it with all of you! Oops! My plan was to work out the correct spelling, punctuation and small details later, but things don’t always go as planned. I’ll chalk it up to spending the day traveling from Belfast to Glasgow and settling into our 5th hotel in just under two weeks time.

Though we haven’t had time to see very much of Glasgow as of yet, what we have seen is pretty great! I’ll look forward to writing all about it later, but until then here are a few photos from this afternoons first glimpse!

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