Monday, August 26, 2013

The South West of Scotland, my Farewell to Summer 2013

The time has come to say goodbye to summer. It is so sad since the summer of 2013 was incredible with our trip to the USA, weekends exploring Scotland, the Fringe Festival, our engagement parties, and visits from our German family. As usual summer flew by and I am about to begin my 4th academic year at the University of Edinburgh. I always like to take the last weekend of summer to reflect on things, similar to what people do at the end of a calendar year. For those of you working in education, you get the concept of a new year beginning every September. I love this time of year, and am really excited for the next year to begin, but not before properly saying goodbye to summer with one last weekend getaway. 

Since arriving in 2010, I have really taken every opportunity to travel through Europe, but this year I wanted to make it a point to explore Scotland as much as I could. I have been to the Isle of Mull, East Coast, and this past weekend the Southwestern coast.  With work getting quite busy the past couple of weeks, I didn't have much time to research, so we just hopped in the car Friday afternoon to see where the road took us. I must say the Southwestern Coastline was pretty spectacular! 

On Saturday morning we woke up and began a coastal hike at Barclay Bay. The path walked right next to the cliffs, and you definitely had to be cautious at certain points, but for the most part it was a moderate hike. In the distance you could see England's Lake district and when the sun came out the views were absolutely spectacular.

Parts of the path were along rock and others were in the grass. I was glad I brought a good pair of hiking shoes! 

Along the coast

Rocks meet the water

Christian at the edge (but not too close!)

Cliffs edge

Then we rounded a corner and saw donkeys. Totally random! 

On the way back to the car we had to walk to a cow pasture. There were little baby cows too. 

The hike was great and after we headed to lunch in a tiny sea town called Kirkcudbright. It was such a quaint village with an interesting ruin right in the middle of the town. 

We also made a detour to one of the local attractions...a stone circle. 

Later that evening we decided to head to a town called Port Patrick which is suppose to have amazing sunsets. They also had a little cliff walk to Dunskey Castle. The light was really perfect that evening!  

Panoramic of me at Dunskey Castle 


Exploring the castle on the inside

 Not too bad of a view! 

After the sunset we went to the town of Portpatrick for dinner.  

Where we shared one of the best meals ever. Fish stew followed by....

The seafood platter consisting of lobster, langostinos, mussels, scallops, prawns, mackerel, and salmon. I know American's overuse this phrase, but it was AMAZING!

On Sunday we headed back towards Edinburgh, stopping on the way at the Drumlanrig Estate. Driving up the long driveway to this house was really cool, and made me think of Downton Abbey. I must say I can't wait for the season premiere next month.  

My favorite part was the grand gardens in the back of the estate. The flowers were in full bloom and beautiful. 

Another view of the grand garden

There are hundreds of acres to explore including wood walking trails, mountain biking trails, and gardens. You could always see the house in the distance which made for some great photos. 

We took a 5K hike through the forest and saw these highlights along the way.  The sculpture in the creek is suppose to represent salmon swimming upstream. 

The grounds were also home to the Scottish Cycle Museum and with Christian being such a big cyclist we stopped in to check it out.

He was pretty excited for all the bikes.

And these were a few of his favorites. 

 The Drumlanrig Estate was really the perfect way to end the weekend, and the Summer of 2013. Now starts the madness of a new school year followed by a trip to Corfu in October. 

Until then, we'll see you on the internet. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Seafest Weekend

It's August, and summer is quickly coming to an end. August is a great month in the Burgh because of the Fringe Festival, but it also takes a toll on locals with the hording crowds and tourists taking over the place. Christian and I decided to get away this past weekend and visit the town of Arbroath which is located on the Eastern Shore of Scotland. My good friend Mel is from there and has been trying to get me up to visit her hometown for a few years. We finally made it, and it was a fantastic weekend! Arbroath is known for fishing, and during the weekend boats were colorfully decorated with many flags. The weather has been amazing this summer in Scotland, and was in the high 70's this past weekend! We couldn't have asked for anything better. 

We drove up early Saturday morning and arrived, checked into our B and B and then met up with Mel for lunch. We went to a little cafe called Sugar and Spice, one of her favorite restaurants. It happened to be next to the chippy she worked at when she was a wee girl. It was really fun getting to know her hometown and all the places she use to frequent. 

Arbroath is famous for smokies, which are fish that are cooked using an old smoking method.  Little smokehouses were everywhere and an aroma of smoked fish was in the air throughout the town. It reminded me a bit of Ketchikan, Alaska, which is about the same latitude as Arbroath.  It's hard to believe I live as far North as Alaska! 

My favorite part of Seafest was all of the decorated boats at the harbor. The colors were great to photograph. 

 Mel and Me at Seafest

  Mel's Aunt owns a pub in town that had karyoke for the festival. This was a highlight watching Scots enjoying themselves and singing along to the music. I was lucky enough to meet Mel's entire family; from parents to siblings to nieces. They are so lovely and made me feel like I was home with my family! 

Sunday we decided to venture out of town to visit one of the castles closely called Dunnottar. On the way we stopped at a farm shop for breakfast. It is berry season here in the UK and I feel like all I have been eating is berries!  

We made it to Dunnotar and the weather was perfect!  

Every time I see these old castles I wonder how they were constructed, especially this one which was at a point on a cliff.  

The views to the sea were amazing 

Christian and Me

There was even a bagpiper, could it get anymore Scottish?!

Mel and Me

On our way back to Arbroath we stopped at a lighthouse...

and Lunan Bay, one of the best beaches on the East Coast of Scotland. It was quite windy by the time we got there, but the sun was out and it was so pretty.  

I think the beach pics speak for themselves. 

After our day of exploring we had a family BBQ with Mel's family. I really didn't want to leave but had to head back to the Burgh for work this morning. This summer has been amazing and I hope the weather continues to be brilliant! We have one last weekend away before my madness with work begins. Any suggestions on where to visit?

Until next time, we'll see you on the internet.