The second annual #Blogmanay, during which this day occurred, is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, EventScotland, Homecoming Scotland, VisitScotland, Edinburgh Festivals, Marketing Edinburgh, Historic Scotland, Haggis Adventures and Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
I’ve never actually made a Bucket List. I don’t have a written list of all the countries I want to go to and when it comes to experiences related to travel, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants rather than do too much planning. That’s changing a bit now that I have someone in my life I want to plan to travel with….but that’s beside the point for this story!
When I found myself in Scotland on a tour with Rabbie’s, I had no idea that some of the things we would do on our last day would make me feel like I was checking things off a bucket list. It was as if they’d reached into my consciousness and pulled out the things I am curious about or have thought of doing but have never made a concerted effort — to actually, do
It started on the banks of Loch Lomond, where Adam and I took photos in the dusky morning of the watery depths immortalized in this beloved Scottish song that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since my first visit in 2012:
And then continued when our whole group boarded the bus for a stop in a small village, also on the banks of the loch, by a beautiful old stone church.
Ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond
Then, the drive to Gleneagles made my heart glad because the beautiful countryside provided some of the kind of natural beauty that inspired me to write this post last year. It was both new, and familiar, and very inspiring.
Though I couldn’t have imagined what fun awaited us when we arrived at Gleneagles. First, we had a Falconry lesson. It’s something I’ve always yearned to do yet believed wasn’t possible unless I visited the middle east, maybe a country like Jordan. I also had my doubts about the treatment of the birds but my mind was settled when I saw firsthand, and learned about, what great lengths they go to in order to take care of and fairly treat their hawks.
Then we met some of the golf pros who will be on staff during the Ryder Cup and after one-on-one lessons with them, had some time to practice before having our technique critiqued in a group through a video system. It was both terrifying and yet really exhilarating to think we were playing where famous golfers will soon be competing. My mother is an avid golfer who I wish could travel with me, in that moment, I felt like she was there with me. We spent a few moments on the first green, where the real competition will begin during the Ryder, in silence enjoying the pristine view.
Before leaving Gleneagles, we then proceeded to the chef’s demonstration kitchen where we met with one of Scotland’s top butchers and learned about where Gleneagles sources its beef from: small family farms where the animals roam wild, feeding naturally and being treated humanely. The antithesis of the horrible slaughter houses that are so pervasive in the USA 🙁
A short cooking lesson, a few oooohhhss and ahhhhss later and our bellies were so so full that I wasn’t sure how I was gonna get off my chair and walk to our waiting van. It was decadent, luxurious and a meal I will not forget easily.
Little did I know I should have saved room for upon returning to Edinburgh, we found ourselves attending a private reception in the National Gallery of Scotland with more decadent, and local, dishes by The Scottish Cafe alongside Italian wines. It was then I learned how strong the Italian and Scottish connection is. BUT it was the art that made me want to cry tears of joy. Museums are always a place I feel so happy and inspired and to have one open only to our intimate group, to be privately invited after hours….. I was speechless. And still am in trying to describe the night better.
There was one last surprise, ANOTHER decadent meal at One Square where again the Chef personally welcomed us and gave us a tour of the kitchen. Edinburgh Castle was lit up outside our window, and a last tour caused me to finally start a written bucket list: during my next trip to Edinburgh, I want to spend a whole day in the One Spa where a rooftop pool is just one of a dozen amenities that wild horses would probably need to drag me away from.
So many sweet moments, so many luxurious moments, so much fun and such incredible food…in only one day!