For my Mom's 60th Birthday I took her to Scotland. Her birthday was in November, but we booked our trip for March. We knew it would be cold, but apparently they were having unseasonably cold weather (January temps at the end of March). We just bundled up, I bought a silly but warm hat and we enjoyed the cold weather and snowflakes every day!
We arrived in Edinburgh and checked into the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. We took it easy our first day - we walked to the Royal Mile, shopped a little (for my warm hat!) and then had dinner at The Beehive Pub.
The next day we walked to Edinburgh Castle. We joined a short tour and then walked around the various areas, buildings and Prisoner of War rooms...which were pretty creepy, but cool. We stuck around until 1pm so we could see the One O'Clock Gun go off. After that we grabbed some lunch and then walked around for a couple hours along the Royal Mile and the New Town area. That night we ate at a small family run Italian restaurant - Bar Frizzante. It was delicious food and the owners were so friendly. Great place!
On the following day we walked down to Holyrood Palace and did the audio tour. Then we walked over to the Scottish Parliament Building to look at the neat exterior architecture. It started snowing pretty hard on us, so we ducked under some cover to not get too wet. We found a little cafe for lunch - Serenity, and each had a sandwich. Next we took a tour of Mary King's Close...which was pretty awesome. Then one of my favorite parts of the day - the Whiskey Experience tour! The best part was probably seeing my mom's reaction to tasting a sip of whiskey. Ha! I did a tasting flight after the tour. Drank a little of it - some were ok, some (like the one that taste of burnt wood) was just horrible! We made our way back to the hotel after that, enjoyed the spa services at the hotel that evening and then had a late dinner at Nando's just across the street.
Our next day we got picked up by Timberbrush Tours for a day tour the concierge had recommended for us. It turned out to be one of our favorite days! They picked us up in the morning and we first stopped at the Forth Bridge for a photo op. Then we stopped at Dunfermline Abbey to take some pictures around the grounds...it was just beautiful, especially with the snow on the ground. Next we stopped at Glenturret Distillery for a tour and a taste of the Famous Grouse Whiskey. Another great part to the day was driving to the The Hermitage for a nature walk through the trees and along the falls. It definitely fulfilled my need for outdoors on the trip! Beautiful scenery - and such great contrast of snow, green and water! Our last stop of the day before returning to Edinburgh was the Dunkfeld Cathedral, from 1318.
March 29th was my birthday! I've never been out of the country on my actual birthday...I kind of enjoyed it!! We decided to take a bus to Leith to tour the Royal Yacht Britannia. We grabbed some lunch in Leith and took the bus back to the Royal Mile. We walked up the stairs to Calton Hill to enjoy the view, and I climbed up Nelson's Monument for an even better view. We did some more souvenir shopping on our walk back to the hotel and that evening we had a special birthday dinner at Wedgewood. Yum!!
On our last day we were running out of things to see, but we managed to visit the National Museum of Scotland and the John Knox House. We indulged in some more shopping and then headed back to the hotel in the late afternoon. We relaxed in the spa one more time and then grabbed dinner at the same place we went the first night - The Beehive Pub. And that ended a really great trip with my Mom!