Thursday, February 7, 2019

Edinburgh Part 2

I had plenty to say so I thought I should break it up and post my days separately so the posts were not terribly long.  On our second day we were up early and attempted to catch a bus from Princes' Street to the Palace of Holyroodhouse but somehow managed to mess that up so we walked.  It was a bit of a stroll but I didn't mind as the weather was lovely and it's fun to see neighborhoods on foot. 

We first went into the Parliament building but didn't plan to well and missed the tour we wanted to take.  They run them frequently but we didn't want to wait so we took a quick walk around the main floor and learned a bit about how the Scottish government works.   So if your interested in the tour make sure you check the site for times.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is near the Parliament and at the end of the Royal Mile.    I was so excited to visit here and it's obviously very popular.  The line for tickets was long but it moved fairly quickly and we purchased the Royal Visit tickets so we got a guided garden tour, entrance to the Queen's Gallery, and entrance to the palace itself which is self guided but has an audio guide available for the rooms open to the public.  I loved the garden tour as we were able to go off the path and deep into the gardens with our guide.

The views of the back of the palace are also better from the garden tour as the paths are pretty close to the building so if getting nice photos are important I would keep that in mind when deciding what ticket to purchase.  

The self guided tour of the interior was pretty informative and if you're obsessed, like me, with the drama of the Scottish/British monarchies you'll enjoy it.  I really enjoy seeing the places that I've only read about before come to life when I get to visit historical sites like this.  I loved it and tried to picture Mary, Queen of Scots wandering through the palace or Jamie Fraser meeting Bonnie Prince Charlie here.  It is such a fun way to meld real history and fiction together.  No photos are allowed inside so I only have exterior shots. 

The palace took a couple of hours so we had a quick lunch at Oink which was a good place for a fast but delicious sandwich.  We met another American couple on the garden tour and then we saw them at Oink and shared a table and some travel stories before heading out.  

As we walked up the hill we found Bakehouse Close which stands in for Carfax Close in Season 3 of Outlander.  This is where they filmed the exterior of Jamie's print shop.  And just up the street is The World's End pub, which is famous enough on it's own but Outlander fans know that Jamie is a frequent visitor here during his time in Edinburgh.  

You can find JK Rowling's handprints just off the Royal Mile in front of the Edinburgh City Chambers building.  This is a quick and easy to find stop for Harry Potter fans.  We also checked out Victoria Street which JK Rowling has said was her inspiration for Diagon Alley.  It's a short street but it is a must for fans to visit.  

At the end of the day we took The Real Mary King's Close Tour and that was really interesting and another thing I totally recommend.  You not only learn more about Edinburgh's past but also see how people lived in the Old Town.  Such a contrast to the Georgian House and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  Unfortunately they don't allow photos on the tour.  They are located right across the street from St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile.  

While we waited for our tour time we went into St. Giles Cathedral.  It was lovely on the inside but I didn't purchase a photo pass from the staff so I was well behaved and didn't take any photos of the interior.  We really enjoy going into cathedrals and churches as they are full of history and some impressive art.  Most are free but usually have a receptacle for donations if you feel so inclined.  

There are a couple of things worth noting that I haven't mentioned yet.  First, we had exceptional weather a majority of the 3 weeks we were there.  Scotland had a record setting summer and we benefited from it.  It was really lovely.  Second, since it was just my husband and me, we kept a pretty quick pace and while some people criticized just how much we had planned we only felt rushed at one site on our trip but we still managed to see what we came for.  Most of the sites maintain a 10-5 operating schedule during the summer so we were up fairly early most days but had plenty of time to eat a nice dinner, relax, video chat with our girls back home, and went to bed at a decent time.  So, this style of traveling worked well for us on this trip.

Thanks for checking in today.  The next part of the trip will take us out of the city and I look forward to sharing those stories with you!  I hope you'll check back.  

Monday, February 4, 2019

Edinburgh Part 1

We took the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh early in the morning.  It was a short 1 hour ride and we got off at the main station in Edinburgh.  The train offered free WiFi which was nice since we didn't add an international plan to our cell phones before we left so the hour went by quickly.  Once we got off the train and made our way to the street I was incredibly happy that our suitcases had wheels.  We had a bit of a walk to our hotel but it wasn't incredibly long.  Our hotel was located on the New Town side of the city and we were once again able to drop off our suitcases since it was too early to check in.

Right around the corner from our hotel was The Georgian House and it is operated by the National Trust for Scotland.  I didn't get any photos inside and I'm not sure why as according to the website you can take photos.  I was certain I had but after reviewing my phone and Canon files I cannot find any.  I do recommend you visit here, especially if you love seeing how the upper crust lived.  It's so different from how people were living in the Old Town side of Edinburgh at that time and I think it's a great reminder on how class struggles have always been a part of history.  It is a self guided site with helpful staff around to answer any questions you may have so you can spend as little or as much time as you'd like exploring this restored town house.

After we left there we strolled through Princes Street Gardens as we headed towards Old Town.  The views of the castle were gorgeous from here and even if you're not staying in New Town, you should check it out. 

After we crossed into Old Town and walked up a lot of hills we came across the Elephant House Cafe and I just had to take a photo.  Harry Potter fans will know this as the cafe where J.K. Rowling spent some time writing the beloved stories.  We were in a hurry so we didn't pop in but I wanted to.  Maybe next time we're in Edinburgh.  

We continued our walk to the National Museum of Scotland where admission is free but even if they charged admission I would highly recommend you schedule several hours and visit this museum.  It's huge!  Make sure you pick up a map of the building on your way in because you'll need it to navigate through.  We decided to focus mostly on the Scottish History and Archaeology Galleries as we knew our time was limited.  One of the coolest things about the museum is that you can climb up to the roof and get some stunning views of the city, especially on a clear day.  It was worth all the stairs it took to get there.  

We rushed back across town to visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery  (which also has free admission) and made it with about an hour to spend inside.  This museum has a wonderful collection of portraits of some of Scotland's most influential citizens from it's past.  We spent a bit of time looking at a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie and one of the staff members started talking to us about it and noted some other Jacobite paintings in the same room.  She was knowledgeable on the subjects in the paintings and she shared some juicy stories about them.  We talked a bit about Outlander, too!  One of my most favorite parts of the museum was the ceiling in the hall.  This is a great reminder to always look up, even if you are in a hurry.  

Not too bad for our first day in Edinburgh.  I wish I had more photos to share but I did link all the sites we visited so you can check them out if you want to learn more about them.   

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Scotland and Our Outlander Adventure

This past June my husband and I took a 3 week vacation to Scotland.  While Scotland has always been a place I have longed to travel we never made it to the United Kingdom in our 4 years in Germany.  I, like so many others, fell in love with the idea of a Scottish vacation after reading the ever popular Outlander series written by Diana Gabaldon. I watched seasons 1 and 2 of the Outlander series on Starz and I was finally able to convince my husband to watch with when I began them again ahead of the season 3 release.  We binge watched and all the amazing scenery convinced him that maybe we should bump Scotland up on our list.

We originally looked at a 3 week vacation to England, Wales and Scotland but eventually the England and Wales portions were dropped for now.  We'll get there eventually since my maternal ancestors can be traced to Wales and I'm interested in visiting there.  However, Scotland was truly where I most wanted to visit and my husband was easily able to fill 3 weeks there.

We flew from Cincinnati to Philadelphia and then had a long delay there due to weather which pushed our arrival into Glasgow back about 3 hours.  Sitting on the tarmac was absolutely horrible especially when we had an international flight ahead of us but at least they kept the air on so we weren't suffering too much, we were just uncomfortable with the cramped space of the airplane.

The Famous Duke of Wellington statue with 2 cones that morning instead of the standard 1  

We arrived in Glasgow around 9, went easily through customs and took a shuttle bus to the George Square area.  We stayed at the Ibis Styles Centre George Square Hotel located there and they were kind enough to store our luggage for us until our room was ready in the afternoon.  George Square is a great place to stay with easy access to public transportation, restaurants, shopping and hotels.  We chose to tour the city using the City Sightseeing Glasgow Hop On/Hop Off (HOHO) bus.  This made getting around the city and seeing highlights easy since we only stayed in Glasgow for 1 night.  There are guides who point out things around the city and talk about the rich history.  These guys were entertaining and we learned quite a bit.  I totally recommend them, especially if you are limited on time.
The cloisters on the campus of the University of Glasgow

Our first stop was at the University of Glasgow to see the cloisters which stood in for Harvard in season 3 of Outlander.  Claire and Brianna are seen walking through here.  The campus is lovely and the cloisters are beautiful.  It was a quick visit but worth it if you're a fan of the show.

A few months before we departed the US my husband purchased annual passes to Historic Scotland and National Trust for Scotland  so we visited the Tenement House which is a charming look into a perfectly preserved apartment from 1929!  If we hadn't had passes and time to kill we most likely wouldn't have visited but the staff was very friendly and it was a quick, self guided tour.  We didn't take photos and at this point I cannot recall why so I'm going to assume it wasn't allowed.

Finally, and I say finally because jet lag was killing me and despite my excitement to be there I was exhausted, we went to the Glasgow Cathedral.  I love visiting these grand places so much and this one was not disappointing.   The interior of the cathedral stood in for L'hopital scenes in season 2.  Most notably, the scenes where Claire recovers after losing her baby.  The cathedral was free to visit but does accept donations and has a small gift shop as well.

I loved the interior of the cathedral

This is the location of Claire's bed during the "Faith" episode in season 2

After this we caught the HOHO back to the George Square area and checked in to the hotel to shower and take a nap before dinner.  We ate next at a pizza place next to the hotel and I cannot recall the name but it was a delicious way to end our day.  We happily went to bed early so we could be up to catch an early train to Edinburgh.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Love Making Cards Again

Last year I decided I needed to actually make cards again instead of buying them.  Every time I pay $4 for a card at the store I die a little inside.  I even ended up making a majority of my Christmas cards and that had never happened before despite my good intentions.  Besides, being totally honest with myself, I like to buy cute stamps.  I used the Lawn Fawn Out of This World stamp and die set for the card above.  I used Distress Inks for the background with a bit of white spray ink.  

Now I need to actually mail out the cards I make!  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

That was a long break!

I've been on the fence about either getting back to blogging or just letting it go.  I love looking back at my past entries and seeing all these parts of my life and the stories that go with them.  I've done some things that I feel are worth sharing like a cross country trip from Ohio to Seattle and back last summer.  We visited some amazing places for the first time and revisited some old favorites from our years living in the Pacific Northwest.

Badlands National Park June 2016
I've got tweens now and that brings about some new challenges.  We moved to Ohio 2 years ago and I never even mentioned it.  That was hopefully our last move.  One thing that hasn't changed is my passion for crafting.  It isn't always paper crafting these days but fiber arts as well.  I gardening for the first time ever outside of pots sitting on my patio.  These things are filling my days with creativity and joy.  I appreciate and am saddened at the same time by the fact that my girls need me less.  It allows me to do things on my own but I miss the days of tiny clothes and naps.

All of this brings me right back to the issue of continuing the blog or not.  I don't think anyone even reads them much these days but I do get visitors every week.  I feel like I want to branch out a bit so I think I'll add some new stuff and see how it goes.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We’re recovering from this…

Spring Break 1

For our spring break, I loaded up the dog and the girls and we headed south.  We dropped the pup off with my mom and then went to Florida to visit my dad.  We went all over St. Petersburg and enjoyed the Rays home opening game, a trip to the beach and a visit to The Florida Aquarium.  The weather was beautiful, the food (and beer) was delicious and the company was excellent. 

SB 5

Spring Break 9

I was terrified of the long drive without my husband but the girls were so, so good in the car and traffic on the way down was fine.  On the way back it was terrible but we made it safely so that’s all that matters.  The dog had fun at my mom’s making friends with her puppy and cat.  It was a great vacation for everyone.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Snow Day!

Penny Jan 17

We have well over an inch of snow today and that is a lot for my little Kentucky town.  The schools were closed so we bundled up and went out to play.  My puppy loves being outside and really loved the cold snow on her nose but was less enthusiastic about her doggy coat. 

Jan 17