scotland 2015 part i | edinburgh

We went to Scotland this summer to celebrate Brian getting his dream job. A trip nine years in the making, it was everything I could have hoped for and so much more. We first visited this magical country during our backpacking trip through the UK and Europe in 2006, and always promised ourselves we would return to Scotland and spend more time there when we had a chance. Once we decided the moment had arrived, we booked a return flight to Edinburgh (on points!) and began planning from there. We had two whole weeks to explore, and making the itinerary was a pure joy. We called the trip our "Tea & Whisky Tour," since we planned to spend as much time as possible lounging in tea rooms and visiting whisky distilleries.

Brian and I have never been on a tropical vacation together because A) I burn almost instantly, B) We both prefer temperate locales and C) We gravitate towards city getaways or at least trips that are heavy on walking and exploring. I last about 15 minutes on a beach before I want to avoid the sun and get extremely restless sitting still. For us, an ideal vacation is eating and drinking our way through interesting cities and towns, and stopping to take photos along the way. Scotland couldn't have been a more perfect destination in this regard.

I'd like to tell you about our trip, so I thought we might as well start at the beginning, in Edinburgh.

After a red eye flight, the first thing I felt like was a caffeine re-up, so we visited Lovecrumbs Cake Shop and Cafe. I had violet tea and lavender gooseberry cake and both were glorious.

We wandered through the city, through Princes Street Gardens and up Calton Hill.

We stopped in at Pilgrim, a bar constructed of 98% reclaimed and salvaged materials, for a beer. We finished the evening with a late dinner at Blonde, a restaurant near our AirBnB serving new Scottish cuisine.

The next morning, we rose early and decided to hike Arthur's seat, an extinct volcano that towers over the city. Since it too was only a few steps from our AirBnB in Newington, it was a perfect way to begin the day.

After our hike, we walked to New Town, and wandered around the streets admiring the Georgian architecture.

We stopped in Stockbridge for afternoon tea at PekoeTea.

Then visited Joseph Pearce's, a cozy spot serving Scandinavian snacks. I wanted to steal all their fringed lampshades.

We took the Leith Walk down to The Lioness of Leith for a fantastic meal, then popped into Woodland Creatures.

We had our nightcap and first proper whisky at The Queen's Arms, a pub I wish I could hang out at every weekend.

On our third day, we walked to the Botanical Gardens with coffee and tea in hand.

After lunch at Peter's Yard (another Scandinavian-Scottish spot serving Swedish treats) an afternoon tea at Eteaket, we headed to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a private club that our host and recommended. We were able to visit as guests and I'm so glad we went because it was a really neat experience sampling mystery whiskies and guessing at their origins.

For the rest of our third day, we walked until my feet went numb and then continued to hobble around until well after dark.

We finished our day with dinner at The Southern, and then packed our bags to head to Glasgow, a city we'd not visited before and were about to find very charming.