I can’t believe this was over a year ago already! It was such an amazing trip. We both had had stressful years before going on the trip, so it was almost hard to finally relax and wind down. After the trip was over, everyone would ask me what my favorite part was, and I honestly couldn’t even remember most of the trip. My mind was just that gone I guess? I took a lot of photos thankfully, so now I can look back and remember those moments my memory has failed me with. Of course we experienced things in the moment, and I fully enjoyed those experiences, which is really important as a photographer to do. To just enjoy the moment, instead of living though my camera.
It was really really nice to get out and explore, have some time together as a couple with no work on the go. Looking back now, I think a big highlight of the trip for me was checking out Ashford castle, and staying at a few other castles later on in the trip. We tend to “treat” ourselves to one or two things per trip that we would otherwise not chose to do because it’s expensive. Staying in those castles was so worth it! So so nice.
On our trips, we usually keep a journal of what we did each day as well, which I’ve found really helps with blogging later, and generally just remembering what we did each day. I highly recommend doing it if you’re going on a trip soon, it’s really nice to sit down at the end of the day and reflect on the things you’ve seen and experienced.
Throughout the blog post I’ll have links to the places we recommend staying at, eating at, and some of our experiences/activities. Hope this blog post inspires you to take that big trip, or just inspires in general. If you have any questions about what we did and saw, just shoot me a message through the website! Happy traveling all!
April 21st, 2018 – Leaving Edmonton International airport for Ireland!
Day 1 April 22nd
We arrived in Dublin. Got a rental and learned how to drive on the other side of the road driving up to Belfast. (we watched a lot of videos before going, and it wasn’t all that bad. The biggest change was getting used to using your left hand for shifting). Went to Titanic Belfast, then grabbed lunch on the way towards the AirBNB. We got to the AirBNB in Portrush, checked out our amazing beach sea view and then took off to go to the Giant’s Causeway. We took some pictures there and then hiked back up the hill and drove back to our AirBNB and crashed for the night. Note: recommend Giant’s Causeway after they close and then you avoid paying 12 pound per person.
Day 2 April 23rd
We woke up and had breakfast at the AirBNB. Seriously, what an amazing view and clean room! You also can’t beat the price of $62CAD/night. Here’s the link to that Airbnb: Whiterocks Beach House 2 Causeway Coast
We got in the car and drove to the Dark Hedges to get there earlier in the day to beat the crowds. After taking some photos and exploring, we headed back to Dunluce Castle (the biggest reason I wanted to travel back to Ireland, what a stunning castle!). When we arrived I was pretty disappointed because there was not one, but TWO fences (one of them being 8 ft tall) blocking the view that I had specifically wanted to use for photos. So I thought on my feet and figured I could try to do a composite image. I had my husband take one of the castle from above the fence and then I took one of us from high up on a tripod in kind of the same location. Later I liquified my skirt to be more flowy as well. It actually turned out! I’m so glad. Before all that, we first took some pictures in the field by the castle after asking a custodian how to get to a certain spot. He told us of a place only locals knew about to get to, which was really cool! After taking some photos, we explored the castle. From there we got Starbucks because we were exhausted and drove to Ashford Castle, which was used to film the show Reign. In the show, it was where “French Court” was based. We took some photos there, then continued on to our AirBNB for the night. We ended up getting in really late and driving on narrow winding roads in the dark, but we made it. What a terrifying night, the roads are SO narrow and windy, and not much light anywhere. At any second a big truck would come flying at us and somehow would get past us. It was a white knuckle kind of night that’s for sure. Once we got to our Airbnb we crashed for the night.
Day 3 April 24th
After some coffee and cleaning up, we checked out of our bnb (also such an amazing place! Here’s the link to that place: Ballyshanny Lodge . It was only $76 for the night!) After grabbing food in town, we went to Cliffs of Moher. On the way there, we passed by Doonagore Castle. There isn’t really anywhere to stop since the roads are pretty narrow, and you’d be holding people up if you stopped, but I grabbed a few photos from the passenger side of the car on our way. It’s such a pretty view! I highly recommend driving by if you’re in the area. And the cows were pretty funny.
After checking out the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre, we walked along the cliffs for about an hour. It rained on and off but was still so beautiful, and a great experience. If you’re planning on visiting, I suggest a rain jacket, umbrella, and rubber boots. There were a lot of puddles that were hard to get around in regular footwear.
On our way out we stopped in a little cafe south of the cliffs and got coffee and fudge. We then drove up towards Ballyvaughan, stopping at the Poulnabrone Dolmen to snap a few pictures. We stopped to get fish and chips at a seafood restaurant called Monks in Ballyvaughan. From there we drove to Roscrea, where my husbands family is from. We traced his family back to 1754 and they owned land that Monaincha Abbey is located on. We also checked out Birchgrove House to take some pictures. From there we drove to the AirBNB. We then went to a pub down the street to get supper and then called it a night.
Day 4 April 25th
We woke up at 4:40am to get showered, packed, and ready for our flight to Glasgow. Once we got to Glasgow, our rental car wasn’t ready yet (we waited an hour because their car wash was broken, but we ended up getting a brand new Ford Fiesta). We drove to Rosslyn Chapel, then had lunch before heading to our AirBNB in Edinburgh. We checked in to our awesome Airbnb (here’s the link to that one: Edinburgh Airbnb), then parked the car in a parking lot since we wouldn’t need it in Edinburgh. We headed to St. Giles Cathedral, then walked back to the AirBNB. We had a nap, then went to get ice cream. We then reheated some leftovers from lunch for supper and then headed to the Real Mary King’s Close Tour. We were scheduled for the 8:45pm tour, but they bumped us to the 9pm tour since it was only us scheduled for it. We got a free photo from the tour for the rescheduling. We then went back to the AirBNB and crashed for the night.
Day 5, April 26th
We slept in a bit until about 10:40am, then headed out to try to take some photos with the cherry blossoms in the field nearby called the Meadows. We didn’t take many because it was very windy. After that, we walked to a cafe called Lovecrumbs where we ate some carrot cake and had coffee and lemonade. After walking a little further down the street we took some photos with Edinburgh Castle in the background.
We then went to Starbucks on Prince Street to recreate a photo I took in 2012. We then wandered around the Prince Street Gardens taking some more photos. We kept walking along Prince Street and looked at the Scott Monument before heading to Bella Italia for lunch. From there, we walked back to the Royal Mile, got ice cream, then went into Camera Obscura. From Camera Obscura we walked back to the AirBNB, grabbing some snacks at a grocery store on the way.
Day 6 April 27th.
We started the day by having breakfast at the AirBNB. We walked to the National Museum of Scotland and took in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. It was AMAZING. And so cool to see each photo, and be able to translate why each photographer chose their settings for each image. It really was such an amazing experience, and I highly recommend checking it out.
From there we walked to the National Gallery of Scotland to see what it had to offer. After that, lunch was needed so we went to Indigo Yard, a place recommended by our host. We ate, then went to Dean Village, an area of town also recommended by our host. There was a beautiful garden along the river there that we walked down and took pictures in. We wanted a photo from the other side of the river, but it was a private gated garden. There was a kind Scottish man that used to live in Calgary in the 70’s that let us in and toured us around. We weren’t able to get a self portrait, but we did get some pictures. After the little tour, we were back at the beginning of the public garden, so we went into Dean Village and took pictures in there. We walked back through the garden and headed towards Calton Hill. The hill gave us beautiful sights of Edinburgh as the sun was setting. From there we took an Uber back to our AirBNB and ordered food from the Deliveroo service, which uses bicycle drivers.
Day 7, April 28th.
After having breakfast at our Airbnb, we packed the car up and headed to Dundee. We had lunch at a place called The White Goose, and it was so good! After grabbing some coffee at a cafe called Tea and Cake, we headed to a game of football. No. 3 DUFC beat no. 2 Livingston 2-0. Ryan’s name was announced on the loudspeaker as being from Canada at his first game during halftime. After the game we made our way to Ryan’s cousins place just outside of St. Andrews. They made us a delicious supper (potato soup and brownies for dessert). At sunset we went to the west sands with Scott and Sarah to try and catch a sunset, but it was a bit too cloudy. When I traveled to Scotland 2012 after graduation, my favorite part of that whole trip was St. Andrews, and the beach. It was really cool to go back to it!
Day 8, April 29th.
We woke up at 4:30am to go take pictures with the sunrise on the beach at St. Andrews. After getting some amazing pictures, we went back to the house and fell asleep until about 11am. We got ready for the day, then went into St Andrews hitting up the castle and the Cathedral. Ryan climbed St Rule’s Tower. On Scott’s recommendation, we went to Blackhorn for a burger for lunch, where we split a bacon cheeseburger and fries. We then went around the corner to Jannetta’s for ice cream (apparently world famous). It was delicious. We went back to the house after taking some more pictures in St Andrews and did laundry, before heading back into St Andrews to do some photos on the beach before dinner. For dinner we went up the street to a tavern called the Tavern at Strathkinness with Scott and Sarah, where we paid for them as they were gracious hosts for us. We went back to the house, said our goodbyes, hung up our laundry, and went to bed.
Day 9, April 30th.
In the morning we went to St. Andrews Waffle Company for breakfast. I had a waffle with whipped cream and Ryan had a banana waffle with caramel and whipped cream. This was probably the best waffle I’ve ever eaten. From there we drove to Culloden Battlefield and went through the exhibit, Ryan took a picture of me with the Clan Fraser stone. We tracked my family lineage to be from the Fraser clan, and we are thinking it was the northern parts. After checking out the field, we had some soup at the cafe there, then made our way to Castle Urquhart. We had to rush through because we got there a half hour before the castle closed. On the way to Inverness we stopped so I could take some photos of some highland cows. We went to a pub in Inverness for supper, then headed to Mansfield Castle to check in. We took some photos outside then crawled into bed for a good night’s rest.
Day 10, May 1st.
We had breakfast at the hotel, then started driving towards the Torridon Hills. We took some pictures on the way, and stopped at The Torridon to take some photos since they had highland cows, then headed towards Eilean Donan Castle. We took some photos at the castle, then grabbed a few snacks. We drove to our AirBNB in Sconser on Isle of Skye, then headed in to a town nearby for supper at Halta Restaurant inside the Sligachan Hotel. It was raining extremely hard so we went back to the AirBNB, had some hot chocolate, then headed to bed.
Day 11, May 2nd.
We started the day with a full (veggie) Scottish breakfast, made by our AirBNB host. After breakfast, we took some photos of highland cows that were close to the AirBNB. We proceeded to drive up the east coast of the Isle of Skye, turning around when we made it to the top to go to the Old Man of Storr. We started the hike up the mountain at about 1pm, and it took us about 1.5 hours to hike up. We took some photos, then hiked back down. It really is true what the locals said. Isle of Skye weather changes every 10 minutes! During the hike up, we had hail, snow, rain, wind, sun, and clouds. In total we were there about 4 hours. From there we went to The Granary in Protree for supper. We then drove to the Fairy Glen (which was meh honestly. But some people really liked it so it’s worth checking out) and then went chasing waterfall pictures. We had used all the available sunlight, so we went back to the AirBNB, had some hot chocolate and went to bed.
Day 12, May 3rd.
We started the day with a smaller version of the full (veggie) Scottish breakfast made by our AirBNB host. After checking out a herd of coo, we drove to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by Harry Potter, getting interrupted on the road by some wide loads and construction. We were stuck behind the blades for a wind turbine for a while. We happened to be at the viaduct when the train was scheduled to pass through, so we waited a bit and got some photos with the train on the viaduct. From there we drove towards Oban, stopping a few times along the way to grab some photos. We had lunch in Oban at the Olive Garden (not the same chain as the North American one), then drove to Stonefield Castle where we are staying for the night.
Day 13, May 4th.
We had breakfast overlooking the forest at the hotel, then took some photos on the grounds of the castle. On the way to Stirling, we drive through the Glencoe valley taking pictures along the way. Once we got to Stirling, and checked into our AirBnb then checked out Stirling Castle.
Day 14, May 5th
Got up and had breakfast, the waffles were pure sugar, made my teeth hurt! Then we headed to Glasgow, and checked into this amazing airbnb. It was so nice! In a garage in the backyard. Here’s a link: Glasgow Airbnb Then we checked out early the next morning to catch our flight back to Canada!