I have never been anywhere outside of the United States except for cruises to the Caribbean. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to take a vacation in Scotland, I jumped on it! Since Great Britain recently exited the European Union this summer, plane tickets dropped quite a bit. So after watching prices for awhile I snagged my round trip flight out of Jacksonville, Florida to Scotland for only $730! One of the main reasons I couldn't pass this trip up! The other reason of course being that Ryan's job had sent him there for a month. Sounds like a good enough of a reason to go visit this beautiful country!
On my first day there, after a day of international flying, my husband met me at the airport and drove our car (on the opposite side of the road!) to Inverness. We had lunch there at a local brewery that also served some amazing pizza before hunting for a waterfall Ryan had read about. Finding the waterfall on the other hand was a different story. After driving out of town we reached a one lane road that my husband and a few friends thought would be a great idea to see how fast they could go. On the opposite side of the road....on a one lane road! This was when I was regretting booking my ticket to Scotland. At one point we stopped on the side of the road after seeing this vista alongside Loch Ness, where the famed Loch Ness monster supposedly resides.
After still not finding the waterfall we decided to drive for 10 more miles before turning back around. My husband was determined that he would find it, and soon we finally saw signs pointing us just a bit further down the road. We finally arrived at Foyer Falls. It was a hike to see the waterfall, but definitely worth it. I also got my workout in for that day! I love the last picture below. The vista right at sunset was gorgeous and if you look closely you can even see some sheep!
After our excursion we finally made it back to the hotel my husband and his coworkers were staying at, The Mansefield Hotel. I can't say enough good things about this place. Their hospitality was amazing and even when Ryan was sent back home earlier than expected my time there was so enjoyable. At that point I had made friends with the bartender and my waiter at their restaurant where each knew which wine I preferred. My bedroom was a cute attic space overlooking the city where I could work on my laptop or enjoy a coffee while reading a book.
Our next adventure was a few days later. After I had sufficiently recovered from jet lag, and after checking business emails. Apparently when your on vacation is when you get the most inquiries! This trip was harder for me to plan since my husband was working during it. I usually use Tripadvisor to book all of our excursions and have our whole week planned out. But since I couldn't do that this time, I had to plan the day before. Which was a challenge since we were in another county. The best thing to purchase while you are abroad is a local sim card. It will allow you to make local calls, which I did when booking our next excursion, and it lets you text friends and family. Although in my case I only could message friends and family who had an iPhone like us. It wasn't too hard to find wifi either around town, which was a great bonus.
The next place we visited was an hour south of where we were staying near Aboyne, Scotland. Which is right by the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. I had booked an hour horseback riding for Ryan and I, and a few friends through the Glen Tanar Equestrian Center And the scenery during the ride was absolutely gorgeous. I had thought about hiking the national park but horse back riding was definitely the better option, even though my butt was sore the next day. :) Below are pictures from that adventure.
After our horse back ride we continued on to Stonehaven, Scotland to see the Dunnotar Castle. According to their website, they recommended parking in the nearby town and walking 1.5 miles to the castle along the cliffs to take in the beautiful scenery leading up to the castle. And it was definitely gorgeous....but I know it was longer than 1.5 miles! What a hike! When we got to the castle it had just turned 5 p.m., and we actually missed seeing the inside. Ryan unfortunately got the times mixed up. That was okay, though. Our hike up provided some wonderful pictures for everyone there.
One of the last days we were in Scotland we decided to visit Elgin's Cathedral. For $7 a person, we were able to explore the grounds and actually climb up two of the remaining towers of the cathedral. They displayed the masonry of many of the columns and intricate details of the walls all made of stone. And each mason left his personal mark on each piece. At the top of one of the towers we had a bird's eye view of the surrounding town, and they had a map from the previous centuries describing where prominent landmarks were during that time. It was very unique!
My trip to Scotland was amazing, and I can't wait to go visit Europe again. There is so much history to see and cultures to experience. Our next international trip will be most likely to Australia or New Zealand next fall after Ryan's deployment. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading!