Posted by: brendamarienyc
My first trip to Scotland starting in Edinburgh and then heading up to Speyside.
I flew out of NYC early this morning, and didn't arrive until late in the evening, but it was still light out!
I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to an amazing whisky bar, The Albanach, right by my hotel. They had probably over a hundred different whiskies, and they serve them in 1oz or 2oz "drams", so I was able to try a few without feeling too light headed just before bed. I think my favorite so far is the Bunnahabhain 18. I have no idea how to pronounce that name correctly. The Scottish accent though overall, is not as hard to understand as I had feared. :)
I woke up fairly early, and headed straight for Arthur's Seat for what I thought was going to be a lovely morning walk, but it turned out to be a pretty decent hike uphill. As I panting and pausing to take breaks, several people ran past me as part of their morning workout. The day was fairly clear and so I had an excellent view from the top.
After that, I needed a big meal, and so I headed to a restaurant called Mussel and Steak Bar, because obviously, both of those things are delicious.
I headed up down the Royal Mile and ended up at Edinburgh Castle. I'm so impressed with this city. It so beautifully combines the past with the modern.
It's my last full day in Edinburgh. My only complaint about this city is that everything shuts down at about 6pm except restaurants and bars. I know I'm a New Yorker who expects everything to be open 24 hours, but it feels like such a waste for everything to close down when the sun is still out for 5+ hours this time of year.
I did a little shopping today and walked along Princes Street. In the afternoon, I took a whisky tour with "The Scotch Whisky Experience", which I thought might be totally cheesy, but was actually really interesting and informative. It confirmed that I prefer the Speyside region. I can't wait to head there tomorrow!
I ended my day with a really nice meal at what felt like a trendier whisky bar/restaurant called "Whiski Rooms".
Today I took an amazing drive from Edinburgh up to Craigellachie through the Cairngorms National Park. The scenery was stunning, craggy hills and narrow roads. I love driving these tiny backwoods roads.
I stopped along the way at the Edradour Distillery, which has a reputation for being one of the best whisky distillery tours in Scotland. It's the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland. They let you sample their whisky at the beginning of the tour, which is excellent for us drivers.
My hotel in Craigellachie is very charming and this town is only one tiny street long. with about 4 hotels, a tourist shop, and a post office.
Today was one of the best days where I felt the worst I have ever felt in my life. The cold that I have been desperately trying to stifle has become full blown, just in time for the day I intend to take a 12 mile hike. But I did it anyway. And I felt miserable but it was totally worth it.
The hike itself was incredible and I am so glad that I did it! I started at my hotel and the trail begins just behind it. The trail, The Speyside Whisky Trail, is well known and wide and very easy. Except it was pouring all day. I thought my clothes were waterproof, but they weren't totally. The first part of the hike was pretty mellow on the trail, and then I was to divert onto a smaller trail to cross into Dufftown. I didn't know what to expect, but I ended up in some woods, and then like in a movie, I walked out of the woods into a hilly meadow full of yellow flowers. Even in the rain and fog, it was breathtaking. It made it all worthwhile.
The end of the hike took me around Balvenie Castle, which was built in the 12th century. I unfortunately didn't go inside, as the castly had no roof and I thought I was going to pass out by this point. For the last part of my hike the trail was flooded, but I made it back and immediately fell into a hot bath. I ate a small meal at the hotel and then collapsed. I couldn't even handle a wee dram of whisky tonight.
Today was mostly a driving day, which was probably best as I needed to recharge and try and get well before my flight home tomorrow. I drove to Glasgow, but stopped off at the Glenfarclas distillery for one last whisky tour in Speyside first. By the time I got to Glasgow, I was tired and I hadn't really done any preparation for my time here. I didn't know where to go or what to do. Glasgow feels more modern and more like London vs Edinburgh. Edinburgh felt like more of a tourist destination where Glasgow is more urban, more down to business. My flight leaves early tomorrow so I may not to get to see much before I go, unfortunately.