Dancing in Scotland

My friend Teresa and I, having arrived from Dublin, Ireland to Edinburgh, Scotland in the late afternoon, decided to check out a local pub right down the street from our Airbnb, called “The Grapes”.  When we first walked in, it was apparent we were outnumbered by the males, only seeing a couple of other females.  We bought a glass of beer because that’s what you do in Ireland and proceeded to talk to a few of the friendly looking men standing around also with beer in hand (well not in this photo).

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As you can see they were quite friendly, posing with Teresa!  The DJ, who looked to be of Latin descent, was playing American 70’s music, so we decided to get the party started by dancing in the small area in front of him.  It was so much fun!  When the bartender saw me taking photos, she asked me what I was there for and I replied, “To have fun!”

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I asked this gentleman to pose for a photo in front of the lady’s room and I swear he looks just like Popeye!

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We only stayed an hour or two, but danced most of the time!  It was a great way to start our four-day adventure in Scotland!

Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh was high on my list of things to do while in Scotland and early in the morning on our last day there, my friend and I walked 10 minutes from our Airbnb to do just that!  Located a mile from the Edinburgh Castle and standing 822 feet above the City, the views are breathtaking!  This is the highest we got because it had drizzled and was a bit slippery and the route we chose to hike was a bit more like rock climbing.  But the view of the city was spectacular!

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My friend Teresa took a photo of me with her camera navigating my way up the steep hill and she remarked that she wasn’t as worried about going up as she was with coming back down.

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I saw the Loch Ness Monster

For day three of our four-day stay in Scotland, I scheduled a day trip (12 hours round-trip) from Edinburgh through Rabbie’s Tours for a journey to Loch Ness, Glencoe, and the Highlands in Scotland.  They take smaller groups (16 and under) on their tours which provides a more intimate experience.  Here I am on the boat ride (an additional cost) on Loch Ness.  I purchased a new rain coat that was both functional and stylish for the trip and it came in handy a number of times, although we had wonderful weather for the most part!

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Our first stop was at one of the many “lochs” (lakes) along the way before reaching our final destination of Loch Ness.

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Traveling North over the flat fertile plains of the lowlands eventually gave way to shimmering lochs, rugged mountain tops and forest-filled glens.

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The knobby hills (the Scots call them mountains) rose dramatically over the lush green glens in the most famous of them all, Glencoe.  The area is very popular with hikers and rock climbers.  Glencoe was the home of Hagrid from Harry Potter and was also the backdrop for a James Bond film.

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Upon arrival to Loch Ness we were greeted with beautiful blue skies!  The larger boat on the right is the one my friend and I took a ride on for spotting Nessie.

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Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland‘s most visited paid tourist attraction and sits upon an extinct volcano.  The castle has undergone so many attacks during it’s 1100 years of history, it is the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world!

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I captured these photos after touring the Castle and walking down toward Princes Street Gardens.

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As you approach the castle to enter, this is your view…

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The Royal Mile

Having researched The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland before my trip, and checked out some photos of it, I have to say it’s even more beautiful in person!  It stretches from the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, hence the name.  A little known fact, at least to those who don’t live in Scotland, it’s actually a bit longer (.12) than a normal mile, because it’s a Scot’s mile.  After spending four nights in Dublin, my friend and I flew on Ryan Air to Edinburgh to explore for four days.  The architecture can only be described as being Grand and the City is filled with so much history!  Compared to Dublin, the City of Edinburgh is much hillier and to me more interesting.

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I reserved an Airbnb, located within 15 minutes walking distance from The Royal Mile, and was very pleased with the Apartment.  It’s a three-bedroom and we had to share it with other people.  The first couple that stayed for one night of our stay weren’t very friendly, but the next couple were very talkative and nice.  Cute living/dining/kitchen area…

DSC_6809Breakfast was included with the rental and the owners made sure to keep it stocked with yogurt, cereal, milk, fruit, bread, etc.

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Here’s my friend Teresa taking a photo of her bedroom…

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which looks just like my bedroom…

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The weather was overcast much of the time, and rained for part of one day, and drizzled a bit another day, but nice the remainder.  The umbrellas are nice for photographing!

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Itinerary for Trip to Ireland, Scotland, and Turkey

Planning travel itineraries usually take many hours of research and when you’re taking a group of people with you, the details become even more important.  Initially, I was putting together a 9 day trip to Turkey in September for my travel meetup http://www.meetup.com/Travel-Spirit-Meetup-Group/, but then looking at airfare, I realized for just an additional few hundred dollars, I could fly to Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland.  With airfare being the biggest expenditure, hitting a couple of my bucket list spots made sense!

Four nights in Dublin and four in Edinburgh should give me ample time to explore the Cities and take a day trip or two.  Traveling solo, I’ll be able to take photographs and leisurely or quickly make my way through these amazing Cities.  I’ve found a couple of Airbnb accommodations in the City centers that range between $50 and $60 per night.  I’ll have my own bedroom in someone’s flat with access to their kitchen for making breakfast and perhaps a sandwich for dinner to save money.  Of course, I’ll dine out occasionally…probably every day for lunch.

Some of the places I intend to visit in Dublin are Howth Head and St. Stephen’s Green.

Additional spots within Dublin are Temple Bar, Grafton Street, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, O’Connell Street & bridge, Trinity College, Dawson Street, and Kilmainham Gaol (an old jail).

My flight from Dublin to Edinburgh through Ryan Air is $107 with the baggage fees.

In Edinburgh, I’ll walk the Royal Mile, visit the Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and climb up to see the view from Arthur’s Seat.

$170 will take me from Edinburgh to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey (near Fethiye) to a beautiful family owned Villa with a pristine swimming pool, and hiking along the Lycian Way trail to the towns of Oludeniz and Fethiye.  The weather should be perfect, in the 80’s!  I have four tour participants signed up and one gentleman who is very interested.

After spending four glorious days of soaking up the sun and regenerating our spirits, we’ll head to the exciting and bustling City of Istanbul.  Exploring main sites such as the Blue Mosque pictured below, the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Spice Market, and the Grand Bazaar, our senses will be filled with bright colors, aromatic scents, and the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer as it permeates the Streets!

My philosophy is…if you want something badly enough…you’ll find a way to make it happen!