Can you say Outlander?!? Day 5 in Scotland.

I had really been looking forward to this day for a while and it did not disappoint, we were even greeted with beautiful, sunny weather for the day.

We had pre-planned where we would have breakfast this morning, in addition to travel, good food is one of my biggest obsessions.  I used Yelp and Trip Advisor to find a place close to the hotel, with an appealing menu and good reviews, Ivy on the square ticked all the boxes.  It had a really nice atmosphere and the food and service were both great. If you are staying in the area around Princess street, this is a solid choice.

After my coffee and eggs benedict fix, it was time to go check out our ride for the rest of the trip, a giant Volvo station wagon we nicknamed the shagginwagon (just a little Dumb and Dumber humor.)   We loaded up and headed west out of Edinburgh, our first stop was to see the Firth of Forth bridges at South Queensferry.   We spent just a few minutes for photo opportunities at this stop, before heading off to the stars of the show for today, Hopetoun House and Midhope Castle (Lallybroch!!!!)

I could barely contain my excitement driving up to Hopetoun House,  where some Outlander filming has taken place.  You can buy your admission to Midhope Castle at Hopetoun even though it is located a car ride down the road.  We didn’t tour the interior of Hopetoun, just the grounds, which have beautiful walking trails through the woods and along the Firth of Forth.  With the perfect weather, walking the grounds of Hopetoun made for a really nice way to spend an hour or two, I would highly recommend it.  We were able to see the area used in Outlander filming,  where Jamie and Captain Randall dual in Paris as well as the exterior of the Edinburgh brothel and a street scene from the show, all part of Hopetoun.

When we finished at Hopetoun my excitement went up yet another level, we were headed to Midhope (Lallybroch!)   We parked in the small lot for visitors and then, after showing our tickets, began the walk up the short road leading to the castle.  A few people were there but it wasn’t super busy and by the time we left it was just us four and two others.  You really understand the magic of movie/TV show production when you first see it, there was a house, that was being lived in to one side and a sawmill behind it.  Also, walking up to the front door and peaking through the cracks, you will see a dusty room, derelict and empty.  It still looked very much like the Lallybroch you see on the show and I still cannot believe I got to sit on the steps.  It would be nice if they would do some restoration work so that the interior could be toured.

It was now lunchtime and we had pre-planned our lunch stop at The Park Bistro in Linlithgow.  We decided to sit outside because the weather was so amazingly perfect.  The food here was good and I can recommend it as a convenient stop, when visiting Hopetoun house and Midhope castle.  Since I never got tired of beef and ale pie with chips, that is what I had.

Our last stop before heading back to Edinburgh was Blackness castle.  Blackness castle was used as the filming location for Ft. William in Outlander.  We opted to pay and tour the interior. It is pretty well preserved and has been given the nickname “the ship that never sailed” due to its’s shape and the fact that it juts out into the Firth of Forth.

From Blackness castle, we headed back to Edinburgh to get a little break before heading out to dinner and a ghost tour.

We had reservations for dinner at a place called The Chop House, it had fairly good reviews, offered dry age Scottish beef steaks and the atmosphere looked great.  It could have been great but service was lackluster and they overcooked everyone’s steaks, my friend’s steak was also a tough, fatty mess.  This was not a cheap place by any means so we were all a bit disappointed.

To finish out the day, we had booked a ghost tour, we chose the highly rated City of the Dead tour company.  I will say, just based on the look of our guide compared with the guides of other tour companies meeting up at the same place, I am very glad we chose the one we did.  He was just dressed in a long black coat, the other tour company guides were wearing hokey vampire capes and makeup and other equally ridiculous costumes.   I did enjoy the tour but I never find ghost tours scary or in any way supernatural (this one included,) they are just a bit of fun and entertainment.

It was time to head back and pack, we were leaving to go back to Glasgow tomorrow morning and we wanted to get off early because we had plans to visit some more exciting Outlander filming locations (Castle Leoch!!!!) as well as the Kelpies before checking into our hotel in Glasgow and meeting our friends for dinner.

 

 

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Scotland Day 4, Edinburgh, a day that didn’t go as planned.

This was the first day of our trip that didn’t quite live up to expectations, all because we booked the wrong tour.   This is the first time in my travels that reviews for a guide/tour have been misleading….. I guess it happens, not everything can go perfectly every time.  The good news is, it won’t be my last visit and I’ll do things differently next time.

We started the day off in Glasgow and our friends in London, we were ambitious in our planning for the day with our friends catching an early flight and then picking up the rental car we would be using the remainder of the trip and us dropping one of our bags at the second hotel we would be staying at in Glasgow (to save space in the rental car) before catching an early train.  We had plans to meet at the hotel, the Indigo Princess street,  just in time to be picked up by our guide.  After taking a cab to the Hotel Indigo Glasgow and dropping our bags, we walked to the Queen street train station, had a quick breakfast there while waiting for our train.  We booked first class and found it to be not crowded and a very pleasant experience.   Everything mostly went to plan with only a small hiccup with road construction and unclear GPS guidance for the hotel garage, thanks to the helpful front desk staff at the hotel getting on the phone and talking my friends in to the garage, it was only a short delay.  It was okay, this was one of the points with our guide, lets call him McBS, that was satisfactory, he was patient and stayed in contact  by phone to pick us up at the proper time.

 

So only a few minutes behind we started our half day tour by car, where we were supposed to do some stopping and looking around along the way, which didn’t happen as much as we were lead to believe it would.  We did stop at Bakehouse close to see the famous scene from Outlander, where Claire returns after 20 years, to Jamie.  The only other stops we made were to Rosslyn Chapel (a filming location for The DaVinci Code,) some stop in the road on the way to Arthur’s seat (we didn’t actually get to go to Arthur’s seat) and a campground to see some Highland coos that the guide told us he “used to ride as a kid.”  We felt like he was, lets say embellishing, a lot of what he told us on the tour so we spent quite a bit of time fact checking during the remainder of our vacation and our suspicions were confirmed.  He did provide quite a bit of entertainment for us during the rest of our holiday, any time the fellas stepped out of line, they were called McBS in his honor.  He did recommend the Sheeps Heid Inn, the oldest pub in Scotland and a place visited by Mary Queen of Scots. He also informed us about Queen Elizabeth II having ate there, he booked her table for us, the problem was he didn’t tell us he would be leaving us there and that it was a substantial distance from our hotel, shame on you McBS!  I suppose it was worth it to experience this bit of history.

 

As for getting out on foot, my friend and I did get out for a some shopping on the royal mile after finding our way back to the hotel, with thanks to Uber.  This is a really lovely area to stroll but can get pretty crowded.

 

Our other misstep in planning, was doing our pub crawl this night, we were all so exhausted we only made a few of the stops we had planned ( I suppose we will just have to give it another try next time.)  We did get to The White Hart, the oldest pub in the city of Edinburgh (yes, that’s how far the Sheeps Heid Inn was from our hotel, it isn’t even considered to be in Edinburgh!)  and to Panda and Sons, which you must visit if ever in Edinburgh, such a funky and fun atmosphere!

 

The next day we had plans to visit some Outlander filming locations outside of the city followed by a dinner of dry aged Scottish beef and a ghost tour!  Day 5 was amazing so stay tuned!