(May 18-26 2017)
I’ve always been the kind of person who loves the idea of travel but isn’t so great at following through by saving money and actually booking the trip. To be brutally honest with you guys, and myself, I’m the kind of gal who can be completely comfortable hiding out in her house for months on end with little to no contact with the human race. My husband gets a pass because I can tolerate him.
I may be exaggerating a bit, but I’ve seen very little of the beautiful world we live in. I live in Tennessee and I’ve never been out of the country. I’ve seen little of the beautiful state I’ve live in and I actually haven’t been to that many states in the USA. Do layovers count? No?
When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon for May 2017, I KNEW we had to go out of the country. In my heart, I sensed it was the ideal opportunity and that we had to seize it. I still plan on traveling out of the country again, but I think our next trip will be road tripping and seeing more of the country that we live in.
But we did it! We got out of the USA and spent a week around the Scottish Borders. I thought I’d give you guys a taste of our first experiences out of the country, what we learned, where we went, and more! If I get the chance to travel out of the country again, I might just go back to Scotland and do some more exploring. It was that amazing and we didn’t get to see nearly as much as we would’ve liked, considering we only had a week to peruse.
One thing I learned right off the bat about traveling, especially after long 15 hour flights, is that your stomach is prone to feeling upset no matter how hungry you are or how delicious your food is. We landed early in the morning and had time to kill before we needed to catch our train so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try the Traditional English Breakfast I’d been dreaming of for months. It was so damn delicious, but my stomach wasn’t having any of it. I didn’t eat as much as I’d hope and part of me wondered if we may have offended our waitress… Note to self: eat lighter after landing.
We stayed at a cute little cottage called the Meadshaw Farms B&B in the Scottish Borders of Hawick. The place is beyond beautiful with a bathroom, two bedrooms, kitchen, laundry appliances, and two horses right outside our door! Next to the cottage is a Shepherd’s Hut that has a wood burning stove, a single bed, and fixings to make tea and coffee. My husband and I spent more time in the Shepherd’s Hut than we did in the cottage. It was so romantic and cozy!
Our hosts were warm and extremely accommodating. Although they weren’t there when we arrived, they left us fresh duck eggs, cupcakes, and a cute welcoming note inside the cottage. Their home is located nearby and they were more than eager to answer any questions we had and recommend places for us to visit.
The cottage is located on the forest edge and has plenty of gorgeous land to explore. We spent one of our days hiking around the property and enjoying the nature that was right next to us. 10/10 would recommend.
First, I want to throw something out into the world. I was born and raised in the south. I firmly believe in southern hospitality and I’ve always known it to be a genuine trait of many southerners. I’m sorry, y’all. The Scots have us beat. People were so welcoming, chatty, and eager to get to know us. We met a woman on the train who wrote down her phone number and address, offering to show us around and cook us a meal. When a guy saw us walking around in the same area and found out we’d missed the bus, he offered us a ride to where we needed to go. Although we didn’t take up either offer, because we’re too American and imagined a ‘Taken’ scenario, the thought was sweet. We walked into the Exchange Bar and a guy who overheard our accents told us how much he loved Americans and played pool with us for the rest of the night. P.S. Can I also mention that every person besides him that heard our southern accents automatically assumed we were Canadian? I thought this was kind of weird, but Hollywood really does exaggerate what southerners sound like so most couldn’t pinpoint where we were from.
Many people asked us why we were in Hawick out of all the places to visit in Scotland. We wanted to stay in a cute little cottage out of the way, but that was also close enough to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Despite their surprise and thinking they didn’t have much to offer, they were so wrong! What I love about Scotland is that even the smaller places have so much history and beautiful architecture.
My number one food recommendation is The Pickled Orange. Here is where we tried Cullen Skink soup (a must have) and haggis. You guys. People warned us that haggis is an acquired taste, but my husband and I thought it was delicious immediately. In my opinion, grits are more of an acquired taste and something that I, even as a southerner, still hate. Whatever you do, try Cullen Skink soup. Ever since we left Scotland, I’ve been thinking about attempting to make it at home, because I miss it THAT much.
Our time in Jedburgh was short, with only time to eat and check out the Jedburgh Castle and Jail Museum. It was an interesting experience with plenty to see as the museum introduces visitors to the living conditions of inmates in the 1820s. We walked through the jail cells and read about prisoners and the kinds of things they experienced.
As for food, we ate at Simply Scottish where we had some of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever tried with hearty portion sizes. This was also where I first tried Scottish shortbread cookies. Are you sensing a pattern yet? I still dream about the food I ate in Scotland.
Before beginning our day in Melrose, we stopped at the Greenhouse Cafe for coffee and treats. Put anything caffeinated in front of me along with chocolate and caramel goodness and I’m a happy camper.
While I enjoyed my time in the bigger cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, visiting the Melrose Abbey was hands down my favorite part of the whole trip. If you ever get the chance to go, YOU HAVE TO. While my husband and I walked around, we listened to the stories of the monks who used to live in the cathedral and soaked in sights that took our breath away. I know that’s a cliche, but there’s no other way to describe the feeling of awe and bliss that overcame me from the beauty of it all. We stayed at the Melrose Abbey for hours attempting to to embed enough of it into our minds to last us a lifetime. This is also where we got to see the resting place for the heart of Robert the Bruce. They also have a nice little gift shop where I purchased some keepsakes as well as presents to bring back home for family.
We ended that day with a trip to Marmions Brasserie where we had the best tomato soup that has ever graced my taste-buds. I can’t even tell you what we ate as the main course, because the tomato soup was that delicious. I almost regretted ordering my main meal instead of asking them if they could keep the soup coming.
After shopping around and then taking a bus to Galashiels, it was almost time for dinner. We came specifically for this restaurant I wanted to visit called Herges on the Loch. While we waited for them to open for dinner, we walked around the trail leading to the restaurant to gush at the cute dogs being walked by their owners and to admire the pretty swans.
As soon as they opened, we chose our seats right next to the big window so we could wine and dine while appreciating the scenery and stare at the swans. Our waitresses were also out of this world! When they found out it was our honeymoon and that we were from out of the country, they made us cute heart cappuccinos on the house.
Edinburgh was a day full of kilts, bagpipes, and the Edinburgh castle. My husband may or may not have bought a kilt complete with the belts, socks, sporran, and shirt (and by may have, I mean he definitely did.) While we were there, I decided to snag myself a cute little lady kilt and sporran as well, which I adore.
Edinburgh Castle was a cool and phenominal experience. Out of all the places we visited, it was obviously the most crowded, with it being a famous icon and major tourist attraction. Unfortunately, there were several experiences we didn’t have while there simply because we didn’t want to wait in long lines, but if you have more patience than I do, see the Crown Jewels.
With that being said, it’s obviously a tourist attraction for a reason. It has such a rich history and you can wander around for hours with still more to see. The castle itself is astounding and, like I said before, I was more than happy taking pleasure in the marvelous architecture.
Our time in Glasgow was pretty short since it was the day before we had to take a flight back home. Since our flight was early and we wouldn’t be able to catch a train in time, we spent our last day at the Holiday Inn hotel right next to the Glasgow airport. Before we retired to our room, we decided to walk around, shop, hop around a few different pubs, and see the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
For anyone who’s seeking some cheap/free fun in Scotland, head to the Kelingrove Art Gallery, because admission is completely free. There were many different areas to wander and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the paintings they had by Salvador Dali, my husband’s favorite artist. Anyone who meets my husband can probably tell this instantly since he has the painting “City of Drawers” tattooed on his arm. The trip ended with a tasty steak dinner back at the hotel and drinking wine while discussing Doctor Who. Check me out in my lady kilt!
First and foremost, let me say that I’m holding out hope I can move to Scotland one day. Anyone want to fund my moving expenses? The food was delicious, the architecture was stunning, and the people were beyond accommodating. We didn’t bump into a single rude person. Everyone was sweet and extremely accommodating!
Here are few final tips in case anyone’s booking a last minute trip right now:
- Don’t fear not being able to rent a vehicle. Most places wouldn’t rent to us since we’re under 25 years old and neither of us knows how to a drive stick shift, meaning our choices were slim and the prices were high. The public transportation is fantastic and you can get anywhere you need to go.
- Research months before your trip. I had a list of places for us to visit, places to eat, things to buy, and food I wanted to try. We were never out of ideas and there were many things we didn’t get to do, but it was great to have options.
- Make plans, but don’t be afraid of spontaneity. It’s important to plan, have places researched and know where you can go next, but some of your best memories can happen from unplanned activities!
- Packing lists are essential. When it’s a 15 hour flight back home, it’s crucial you have everything that you need.
- Always always alwayyyssss have a neck pillow and pain reliever for flights. Long flights are difficult, to put it lightly. Try to make it as painless as possible.
Have you ever been to Scotland before? What were your favorite places to visit? Is there anything I mentioned that you’d love to see? Let me know in the comments!