Ok so I know I have not been doing a very good job of keeping everyone back home up to date on everything (mom has already scolded me). Promise I'll be better from now on!
We got back from Edinburgh, Scotland yesterday around 7:30am. We rode the Megabus, which was definitely an experience. 9ish hours stuck on a bus is not necessarily ideal, but I'm sure it could have been worse so I won't complain. 18 or 19 of us from the AIFS London program planned the trip together, and we headed out on Thursday night. We got there Friday morning and fortunately were able to lock up our stuff in the hostel before we could check in. Some of us split off and went touring around the city. We did a walking tour of Edinburgh that lasted about 3 hours. It was pretty cold, but the tour was interesting and considering I know next to nothing about Scotland, I learned a lot!
Edinburgh Castle, in Old Town Edinburgh
View of New Town Edinburgh
We headed back to our hostel afterwards to take a little break. If you ever go to Edinburgh and are looking for a hostel, definitely stay in the Caledonian Backpackers Hostel, it was super nice. We stayed in a room of 6, all from our program. There was also a room of 8 from the program and then some others scattered in rooms with other people. So I guess we might not have gotten the complete hostel experience by living with random people, but it was sooo much fun!
Five of us headed to a pub to eat dinner that night. It was super tiny and filled with pretty much all locals, not a touristy place. Gracie and I decided to split Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, which is pretty much sheep heart, lung, and liver all minced. I was expecting the worst but surprisingly it was actually really good! Definitely had to do it while in Scotland, as well as drink a beer brewed in Edinburgh.
That night all of us went on a guided pub crawl around Edinburgh, which was a lot of fun and helped us decide where we wanted to go the next night.
On Saturday, Gracie, Katie and I went to Edinburgh Castle to do some sight seeing. It was gorgeous, but I definitely liked Stirling Castle better (we visited it on Sunday). That night we went to one of the local pubs we had visited the night before. With a mix of live music, some dj'ing and a lot of Scottish natives, it made for an extremely entertaining night!
View from Edinburgh Castle
The next day, I think it was about 12 of us, took a bus tour up to the Highlands. We visited Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle and some other areas around. Literally one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. It was so picturesque, I can only describe it as looking like a postcard. Overall just one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. That tour lasted from 9am to 6pm, so it was a full day of sightseeing. We headed back to the hostel (they let us hang out in the common room even though we had already checked out). Katie, Gracie, Paige and I went to a little Italian restaurant where everything was half off...one of the best meals I've had here! We headed to the bus station around 9:30pm, and headed back to London at 10:30pm. It had snowed in London that weekend, but it didn't cause any delays driving back. We were on the bus during the Super Bowl, so I missed being able to bask in the glory of Tom Brady's defeat, but that's ok, watching the highlights and knowing the money that will be coming my way from Mr. Gardner back at home was enough for me.
Doune Castle, where part of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed (thought you would appreciate this Dad)
Overall, it was an amazing experience and such a gorgeous country, I absolutely loved it. We're headed to Paris this weekend, and we're planning on scheduling our Spring Break trip sometime in the next couple of days. The plan is a Villa in Portugal with 10 of us from the program. WOOOWOOO!! Like I said, promise to keep more up to date on the blog from now on!