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Being in Edinburgh for the holidays was magical.

It was a stark contrast to our week-long sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands, but the wintery vibes, old architectural charm, and abundance of cute pubs captured our hearts.

I was really able to lose myself…literally once, out after dark (3:30pmish) running errands by myself. GPS would only route me ONE way which was completely blocked off. Eventually I found a way around (through a very old and unlit cemetery). This is actually one of my favorite memories from the trip.

Technically we “missed” Christmas this year. There was no tree, no friends, no family, no gifts…yet it still felt so festive.

We made several trips down to the very charming holiday market (amazing hot dogs), and the whole city just FELT like Christmas.

We strolled past carolers, last minute shoppers, and brightly lit buildings.

On Christmas Day, we had lunch at “the last drop,” the site of the last public execution in Edinburgh, and I tried haggis, neeps and tatties without knowing what any of those 3 things were.

Turns out:

“tatties” are just potatoes.

“Neeps” are just mashed turnips.

“Haggis” is “a type of pudding composed of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep (or other animal), minced and mixed with beef or mutton suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices.”

Highly recommend.

On New Years Eve, we watched the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle from the roof terrace of our building.

It was hands-down the best fireworks I’ve ever seen, and we were able to video chat Lo’s dad so he could watch it with us, which made it even better.

As the “holidays” came to a close, we started settling back into a work routine.

I signed up for an all access WeWork pass so that I can access different coworking spaces while we are traveling and the one here in Edinburgh is SO NICE. There’s beautiful views of the city and Edinburgh Castle, and free coffee, espresso and beer on tap.

We learned how important VPNs are when traveling internationally – not just because of security – but because you cannot access Hulu, Netflix etc. without your computer thinking it’s located in America.

It took about a week for us to get that sorted….and in the meantime we discovered a few really funny UK TV shows.

There’s also a chain of gyms called PureGym with really affordable monthly memberships (about $30), so we signed up for that and found one just a 10 minute walk from the house. Getting motivated to go to the gym is a mental feat on it’s own…doing so when you’ve got to walk through the cold, windy rain takes that to the next level. But I’m proud to say we averaged about 3 days/week during our stay in Scotland.

So this is going to make us sound a little alcoholic-y, but we really drank our way through Scotland (with no regrets).

I did expect the amazing whiskeys (at shockingly low prices compared to the U.S.), but I was surprised by how amazing the cocktail scene was.

3 standout cocktail bars we visited:

Panda & Sons
Hey Palu
The Alchemist

For about 10 pounds per cocktail, these places really know how to put on a show.

Back to whiskey:

One of the first tours we did was the Scotch Whiskey Experience.

It started with an interactive ride through a tunnel with various clips on how whiskey is made in Scotland and lots of cool facts (hosted by a “ghost” which made it even more entertaining).

Then we learned about different regions and how different properties / tastes come from different places (which was also a great mini geography lesson about Scotland).

We got to taste several different whiskeys at the end, and I decided my favorites are the smokier ones from the Isle of Skye.

We also discovered a chill local bar called the Blue Blazer, where we met a lovely gal named Martha who introduced us to a ton of other amazing whiskeys.

Bus trip to the Highlands

We took a 12-hour round trip bus tour (longest day tour in all of Europe!) through the Highlands up to Loch Ness.

Loch Ness is actually really interesting: it’s over 20 miles long and 750 feet deep and the devices used to measure the depth can’t even accurately capture  it so WHO KNOWS what is actually down there. (The Loch Ness monster, obviously.) There’s more water in Loch Ness than the North Sea, and if you drained it, the entire population of the world could fit in it multiple times.

The bus tour also included lots of Scottish history, which, similar to most historical facts can be summarized as “a bunch of white men trying to take other people’s land and doing wars and lots of death, because, men.”

The National Museum of Scotland

First of all: this museum is free, as I believe all museums should be.

And the interior is STUNNING.

Lo and I instantly gravitate towards and spend the most time in ancient egyptian exhibits, but the show-stopper here was the massive collection of taxidermied wildlife (some of which are extinct), AND the actual Dolly the sheep (the first clone).

Here’s a link to my Edinburgh reel on Instagram for some of our favorite moments and highlights of the trip (including the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Edinburgh Castle)!

Next up: London!