Pull up “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper for the proper light-hearted tone.
The patriarch of the Birchmier clan set out for his first ever European adventure equipped with a closed-mouth grin and an almost unhealthy amount of ISU gear. Eat your heart out, ISU Study Abroad Center 😉
Beginning in my beautiful city for a couple of days, I had plenty of items on the itinerary for good ole Sean.
Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace- he looked his jet lag in the face and said “Not today, sir.”
By the time we set out for Arthur’s Seat, I knew that it was a make or break moment. Bringing their A-game, the savage Edinburgh winds were determined to impress as we mounted the side of the hill.
Watching the battle of wills between my father and nature, it was apparent that he wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Despite the tears streaming down his face, he planted his feet on the rock and dared the wind to topple him over.
In that moment we became masters of our own destinies. We conquered the elements and deserved a reward.
By the time we sat down for a pint, it was evident that his many hours of travel had begun to take a toll. I sent him back to his accommodation for a night of rest before we set out in search of Scotland’s hidden beauty.
STIRLING/ ST. ANDREWS
Setting out for the seaside town of St. Andrews, we made time to stop at Stirling Castle. Standing in front of the gate, we stared at the admission prices and battled our inner penny-pinching characteristics.
“Is it worth it to pay or should we stare at the walls a bit longer and call it good?” I wondered aloud. I’d heard great things but was unsure if it was really worth parting with our precious pounds. Eventually, Pa reminded me that it was vacation and we owed it to ourselves.
Dad always knows best.
After spending two hours ogling over the architecture and intricacies of the castle’s artwork, we hit the open road (on the left side, mind you) with St. Andrews in our sights.
The seaside town didn’t have a lot to offer besides the ancient golf course, historic university, and castle ruins. But oh boy, was it beautiful. We spent time scanning the beach for seashells and taking in the city’s quaint charm.
Serving as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness offered us a base to eat, drink, and sleep when we weren’t out exploring all that nature had to offer.
The River Ness Islands allowed for a peaceful walk through lush trees strung with fairy lights and the sound of the water rushing past as we wound deeper into the island. Intricately carved wooden benches were strewn throughout, providing us with a chance to sit and reflect on the beauty of our surroundings.
Making our way along the Loch Ness, we stopped to find the Falls of Foyers. Rain and muddy paths threatened to trip us up but we forged ahead and were not disappointed when we finally arrived at the roaring waterfall. Bright greens, burnt oranges, and deep burgundies dotted the landscape all around us.
Amongst all of the natural beauty, we made time to stop along at battlefield of Culloden, Urquart Castle, Inverness Castle, and Brodie Castle. Each provided us with different perspectives on Scottish history.
ISLE OF SKYE
Our first stop on the INCREDIBLE drive to the Isle of Skye was at the Eilean Donan Castle. We took the time to stretch our legs and gawk at the sights. Luckily, the sun made an appearance just as we arrived.
Continuing on, we managed to stop far too many times before our destination to basically fall to our knees and happy-cry at the views. Eventually we made it into Portree and it was my moment to shine.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Gaelic- the language I have been studying for the last semester. Everything has built up to this moment. Ten weeks of immersive language learning has prepared me for reading and understanding Scottish road signage. Thrilled, I read the sign aloud for my father only to have him point to the opposite side of the street.
I can see how this might seem embarrassing or discouraging but I would bet good money they don’t have signs saying “How are you? I am tired” anywhere.
My skills are not useless 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Spending our time driving around the island and climbing mountains, we were never disappointed with what the Isle of Skye had to offer. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
The sky was painted blues, purples, and pinks as the sun set every night. We never wanted to leave.
GLENCOE & OBAN
With time dwindling down, we left Skye for Edinburgh, stopping along the way to take in all that the scenic drive had to offer.
This man dared to crack a half smile in this photo. For those that don’t know him, half-smiling without any prompting means that he is REALLY floored by his surroundings. It’s a thing of beauty.
Winding our way through the Scottish landscape, we finally found ourselves in an adorable B&B in a small town near Oban.
Run by George and Sandra, an Irish/Scottish couple,the Bed & Breakfast was quaintly decorated and filled with friendly spirits. We were greeted immediately with warm smiles and constant banter. George and my pa took a liking to each other, chatting on and on like young school children about travels and their interests.
Setting us up with hearty meals and cider, we enjoyed our last night in the Highlands in the company of friendly locals.
Eventually, we arrived in Edinburgh no worse for the wear.
I’ve always been an avid supporter of traveling the world, but I’d especially advocate for traveling with your family. Spending a week with my old man, making him listen to my music, laughing at his dad jokes, and really investing myself in his anecdotes made for the type of heartwarming road trip that would be featured on ABC Family.
We may be getting old but we’re still pretty dang fun.
Cheers to you, dad!
Edi and I send our love ❤