My sister and brother-in-law left for a two week holiday in Scotland shortly after my move. We were hoping that we would be able to drive up north to see them for a few days while they were in the UK, but we weren't sure it was going to work out until the last minute. They had messed up their hotel bookings and accidentally double booked on 25th, so they had no where to stay the 24th. We (kind of) scrambled to find somewhere to stay for the weekend and were able to find an Airbnb in Paisley, just outside of Glasgow after our hearts were broken by the perfect Airbnb in Glasgow's West End not being available.
Luke worked from home on Friday morning, so we left around mid-day to make the 4.5 hour drive. It ultimately became a 6 hour drive thanks to weekend traffic, but it was (unsurprisingly) a beautiful drive. We got settled in our Airbnb then searched online for somewhere nearby for dinner. We ultimately decided on Japan Street Food for sushi. Once we got there, we discovered it was a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that seated no more than 10 people, so they had no room for us. Instead, we got take out and went back to our place to finish Orange is the New Black and turn in early so we could get an early start the next day to explore.
Rachel and Travis had spent Friday night in Ayr watching the horse races, so the plan was to meet up with them around mid-day in Glasgow. Luke and I drove into town early, found parking, and stumbled upon Glasgow Green, a gorgeous park with an adjacent museum in the People's Palace. We killed quite a bit of time walking around the grounds and the museum before finding a cafe for a late breakfast and a place to meet up with them.
Once their heavy backpacks were stowed away in our car, we set out to explore, starting with the cathedral. Necropolis, a cemetery nearby the cathedral, was at the top of Rachel's must-see list in Glasgow. We spent a long time wandering around the cemetery atop a hill and later the aged cathedral when the wind and threat of rain became unbearable.
We went to a pub they had stumbled upon earlier in their trip for a drink and an afternoon snack. The reason they were in Glasgow that weekend was for their friend's 50th birthday party, so we went back to the house to clean up for the evening before heading out to dinner before the party. They had wanted to go to Mother India, a Anthony Bourdain approved spot in the city, but we weren't able to get a table until 9:30, so we went to The Wee Curry Shop on Ashton Lane for dinner instead. Ashton Lane was hands down my favorite! We all went over to their friend Murray's birthday party at his home rugby club afterward. Luke and I only stayed for a drink, but Rachel and Travis said it was a great party.
The next day, we got a slow start before heading back into the city for breakfast. While on our way to the pub on Saturday, we walked by a little bakery that smelled incredible, so we tried there first. Sadly, it was a tiny spot with limited seating and they really only had pastries and coffee. Instead, we went across the street for the Large Scottish Breakfast, complete with sausage, bacon, haggis, black pudding, potato scones, eggs, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast.
Rachel and Travis were headed into Edinburgh for the last leg of their trip that afternoon and Luke and I wanted to get back to Birmingham with enough time to enjoy our first night our new place. We said our goodbyes (see-you-in-Mays, really) and parted ways.
On the way back, Luke and I stopped at Hadrian's Wall. According to Wikipedia:
Hadrian's Wall is a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of the emperor Hadrian. It ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea, and was the northern limit of the Roman Empire, immediately north of which were the lands of the northern Ancient Britons, including the Picts. It had a stone base and a stone wall. There were milecastles with two turrets in between. There was a fort about every five Roman miles. From north to south, the wall comprised a ditch, wall, military way and vallum, another ditch with adjoining mounds. It is thought the milecastles were staffed with static garrisons, whereas the forts had fighting garrisons of infantry and cavalry. In addition to the wall's defensive military role, its gates may have been customs posts.
We had to drive off the beaten path a bit to find the ruins of a turret, but it was worth it. We had sweeping views of the English countryside and passed quaint little homes and bed and breakfasts with creeping vines up the stone walls. Thankfully Luke indulged me in the detour and even stopping at a B&B near a 100+ year old bridge. (Yes, that doesn't sound very old for England, but previous bridges had been washed away by the river. This particular bridge has since closed to vehicle traffic after a new bridge was built next to it.)
Rachel and Travis texted us the next day saying Edinburgh was a much cooler place to explore. They also happened to be there on the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone being published. Rachel said they say the "birthplace of Harry Potter" and Travis sent us a picture of Tom Riddle's headstone. They said there was a long line to see a first edition of the book, so they didn't see it, but instead explored the street that inspired Diagon Alley.
I'm definitely adding Edinburgh to our ever-growing list of European cities to explore. (Luke has already been, though.) I also want to visit the Highlands. I had serious FOMO seeing all the pictures from Rachel and Travis' full trip.