The second annual #Blogmanay 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.
This is my second time ending a year by visiting the country of Scotland. It’s significant because, for the most part, I am not a person who needs to return to places over and over again. The thrill of the new is what normally drives me and I don’t generally love to look back. But there was something about Scotland which really grabbed me upon the occasion of my first visit. Perhaps you might say, it got under my skin. The Scots would tell you I fell prey to the DSL: Deep Scottish Love. And why not, that’s the perfect way to describe my feelings.
Just what is it that makes it so special? I’m not sure there are words for it. I’d rather just try and show you for this post. Though if you are looking for some words, I made quite an effort in this post which you might enjoy.
These are the things I did on my final days of 2013, in Edinburgh, Leith and Stirling, Scotland.Visiting The Royal Yacht Britannia – Built for the Royal family, apparently the Queen once said it was the only place in the world she could truly relax. It’s a grand ship, retired in 1997, that’s truly outfitted for royalty and has hosted many of the most famous personalities on the planet, at events with the Queen while she was in ports around the world. I love boats, sailing and maritime history so for me, it was a fun afternoon. I’d recommend if you’re going to go, leave time for afternoon tea. The Darjeeling with a slice of lemon cake was delightful and the parlor on the top deck has great views, enclosed from the weather.
Lunch at Earthy – During the last trip to Scotland, we had a lot of really classic fare from pubs and chips shops. Our lunch at Earthy was a really unusual peek into the organic, farm-to-table movement that’s happening in Scotland I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Their salads were some of the best I’ve had anywhere and a nice local cider paired well with the side of soup I also had. On a cold day, it’s the perfect place for a really hearty but healthy meal. I bet it’s a gem in the summer as well.
Torchlight Processional – By far my favorite part about the overall Hogmanay festival is the Torchlight. Led by Vikings with torches twice the size of what I carried and accompanied by bagpipes and other music through old Edinburgh, ending on the top of Calton Hill, it’s just unlike anything else I’ve ever done anywhere in the world. I laughingly joked my first time that I couldn’t believe they were letting me play with fire at all….let alone also letting thousands of other people do so at the same time! Grand grand fun and so many photo-worthy moments too.
Dinner at Howies – We escaped the cold for dinner at Howie’s after Torchlight and the meal was really truly lovely, one of my favorite meals in Scotland. A bit dark for food photos but I loved that that made the inside of the restaurant so cozy and inviting after all the hours outside in the cold. If I am back in Edinburgh again, it is definitely a place I’d return to.
Touring Stirling Castle – One of the most fascinating castles I’ve ever been in, if not the most fascinating, it’s recently completed a really thorough renovation project that began back in 1999. The Queen came and formally opened it just in 2011. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Royal Apartments furnished as they would have been during the life of Mary Queen of Scots and I also liked seeing the weavers at work who are currently completing the last of the panels which are a reproduction of the famed “Unicorn Tapestries.”
NYE Concert and Fireworks at Stirling Castle – There’s something about being in the shadow of a centuries-old castle that really sets a grand tone for New Year’s Eve and it turned out to be the perfect place to sport a Stewart tartan kilt. I enjoyed the live music, loved meeting the boys of the band “Bags of Rock” and Dougie MacLean’s acoustic version of ‘Caledonia’ actually made me tear up. The fireworks were the icing on a very nice cake.
Loony Dook – More on this in a future post but I want to tease it with this image…
Maybe you wouldn’t catch the same DSL I came down with but if any of what I did interests you, I highly recommend 2014 being the year you finally decide to visit Scotland yourself. It’s a big year for them, large enough to warrant its own hashtag: #Homecoming2014. Be a spectator at The Ryder Cup, arrive in time for the commemoration of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, watch the MTV Europe Music awards ceremony in Glasgow, or even attend Hogmanay 2014/15. The latter is something I’m certainly not opposed to, a third time might be a charm. But only if I can finally introduce Danté to one of my most beloved countries. I wouldn’t want to do another NYE without him, and they do affectionately refer to NYE ‘round these parts as a good time for snogging. (That’s kissing if you don’t know.)
I hope wherever you travel, or even if you don’t, that 2014 is a cracker (a really good one). I hope you get everything you wish for. And then some.
Cheers from Scotland where I’ve many more stories yet to tell,