After an exciting weekend trip, I had just two days to rest and recharge before another big event… my parents’ arrival! They arrived early on Wednesday morning, and I met up with them immediately after my class. I met them at their flat and we wasted no time before exploring the city together!
Our first stop was St. Giles Cathedral – photos were not allowed here without a photo pass, but it was beautiful. My favorite part was the huge organ – there was a light switch that allowed us to see the inside, which was incredible. It was mind-blowing how complex the interior of the instrument was, and I only saw a small section. I hope to make it to St. Giles for a Sunday service before I leave so that I can hear the organ!
We also walked through Grassmarket, where I took photos with each of my parents (notice the castle in the background!):
And we walked to the castle, but decided to come back for a tour on Thursday when we would have more time.
We got lunch at Tupiniquim Brasil, a crêpe stand by school that I had been wanting to try – it was delicious! Then, I showed my parents around central campus and introduced them to my friends from the CSU (Catholic Students Union) and the ISC (International Student Centre)!!
We parted ways for a bit so that I could go to bible study, but we reconvened at their flat before heading to Fiddlers’ Arms, a pub on Grassmarket, for our first Scottish dinner together. We ordered haggis, neeps, and tatties – a very Scottish meal, and the same meal I had on my first night in Scotland. Haggis is Scotland’s national dish and quite delicious, but I would advise against looking up what is in it… the description is pretty off-putting. Neeps are mashed turnips, and tatties are mashed potatoes. My dad loved haggis, and had it twice more during his stay! My mom liked it, and compared it to scrapple.
On Thursday, we went to the castle! It was my first time going inside, and we spent a significant amount of time there. We rented audioguides, which had far more information than we could possibly listen to or remember! There had to have been several hours of audio on the guide.
Here is a photo of us at the door of the castle:
Finally, here is one view of Edinburgh from the castle:
After spending hours at the castle, I had to get to class! So we parted ways again for a bit. While I was in class my parents explored the city. After my class, we met up for a Living Faith talk on the Year of Mercy hosted by the Catholic Students Union. The speaker was Father Gero McLoughlin – a Jesuit priest! After the talk, we got a late dinner at Mother India’s Cafe, which serves Indian food in the Spanish style of tapas!
On Friday morning, we took off for our weekend trip! We followed essentially the same path I had taken on my trip the prior weekend with the International Student Centre, plus a couple other destinations.
Our first stop was Pitlochry – this is one of the places I had not visited on the ISC trip, so it was new all around. The town was adorable, and we were lucky to see a rainbow!
Next, we headed to Inverness, where we spent the night. We stayed in the Glen Mohr Hotel, a beautiful bed and breakfast right on the river – we got the last room, and at an incredible price. Great start to the weekend! We checked in and dropped our bags off, then headed into town for a bit.
We ate dinner then walked around… we passed by a pub advertising Live Scottish Folk music so we decided to stop in. I am so glad we did, because we spent the next two hours listening to the extremely talented musician named Davy Holt. It was actually my first experience of Scottish folk music, and I loved it so much. In addition to being a remarkable musician, Davy is also so kind and humble. I wish he were based in Edinburgh, because I would definitely go out to listen to him all the time! Regardless, I am incredibly grateful we were able to hear him perform. Plus, it turns out that the pub (The Gellions) was the oldest in Inverness, which was pretty cool! After Davy’s first set, we headed back to go to bed – if I weren’t so tired, I would have gladly stayed for the next one too!
On Saturday morning, we enjoyed Glen Mohr’s delicious full Scottish breakfast buffet and explored the area briefly before heading on our way. Here is a photo we took together:
On Saturday we followed the same exact itinerary as I had the week before: Inverness, Loch Ness photo stop, Drumnadochit, Urquhart Castle, Fort Augustus, Loch Garry, Eilean Donan Castle, Kyleakin. I loved seeing all these places again, even just a week later. They were all just as breathtaking a second time around and as I write this I am already wishing I could go back again!
Here are some photos from Fort Augustus:
At the Eilean Donan castle, two very exciting things happened!! First, my mom and I saw otters in the water right by the shore! Then, we saw three tour buses pull up… the same tour buses that had been on my trip the prior weekend. We approached a couple people to ask them, and my suspicions were correct … they were on an ISTours trip (the tour company which led the ISC tour that I went on)! That meant that my friend Hoji, who leads the tours, was there!! So, I found him and we took a picture and he recommended a place for us to visit on Sunday. Here I am with Hoji:
We went to Kyleakin, where we climbed the Castle Moil – my parents were hilarious the whole way up. (“I’m too old for this”, etc)
Finally, we drove to Portree, where we spent the night. And we were two for two – this hotel was also great and at a good price. My dad was pretty excited about his Kojak parking spot.
I had to take them to the fish and chips shop, of course. We got one order to share then went to a sit-down restaurant for dinner. We were all very tired, so we went to sleep after dinner. I woke up early to watch the sunrise:
It was cloudy, but still a magnificent sight… and so serene! I cannot even fathom living in Portree.
We took off to do our final day of exploring the Highlands. Again, we hit all the same sites I had visited on my tour the previous weekend, but in a slightly different order and with one special addition.
We went to Storr, where we climbed up a bit:
Then we made our way along the Trotternish Peninsula. First stop: Lealt
Then, we proceeded to the new destination: Quiraing. The road was pretty treacherous getting there, which is why the coach buses cannot take a tour there, but it was easily the most breathtaking and overwhelmingly beautiful place I have seen in my life.
Pictures do not even begin to do it justice. Honestly, these photos do not even hold a candle to even a half of a percent of how astounding it truly is. Nevertheless, I will share them, but trust me: this is something you really have to see in person.
Finally, we began our journey back to Edinburgh. We stopped at the Sligachan River Bridge along the way, where I told my parents the legend of the MacLeod and MacDonald clans and we stuck our face in the water for seven seconds. I did it twice – once with each of them. With the week before, that’s a total of three times! So, it’s about time the magic starts working… 😆
Before, with Mom
After, with Mom
During, with Dad
After, with Dad
We had one more quick stop along the way – at the Three Sisters in Glencoe. And at long last, we made it back to Edinburgh!!
On Monday, we climbed Arthur’s Seat. The weather could not have been more perfect for it! It was my second time climbing it and I was just as, if not more, excited about the hike and the views.
Not too shabby!
In someone’s seat on Arthur’s seat 😀
Then, we climbed to Calton Hill. It was my first time going up there, and I could not have asked for better company to have my first Calton Hill experience with! The sun was beginning to set, and it was just so beautiful.
On Tuesday, my parents went to St. Andrews and I went to class, went for a run, did some work, and went to a prayer service. The CSU held evening prayer in the style of Taizé, led by Brother Paolo, a monk from the Taizé community. It was my first time ever doing Taizé-style prayer – in fact, I had not even heard of Taizé until hearing the announcement about the prayer service. It was wonderful, and I hope to be able to visit Taizé in the future.
My parents and I met up after the prayer service for a pub quiz!! We had a grand time, though I was not a very useful team member 😳
Wednesday was our last day together 🙁 We made it count, though! We went to the National Museum of Scotland, where we watched the Millennium Clock Tower twice (every hour, it strikes and all of its parts move and light up… it’s so fascinating) and explored for a bit. We walked the entirety of the Royal Mile, and took this picture at the Holyrood end:
Then, I ran back to my flat to get ready for bible study. After bible study, I met up with my parents at the Fiddlers’ Arms (where we went their first night… full circle!!) and then we went back to their flat. We woke up early to say our final goodbyes before they caught their 6 AM cab to the airport 🙁 Our week together flew by, but it was so much fun and I am so glad I got to show them around the city and share some great experiences here together.
Thanks for reading!