**My apologies for the lack of format and the different fonts in this post. I did all of it using the Blogger app and there aren't many options for formating**
As you can imagine, when we have visitors we have to repeat a lot of the same things. For the most part, I love this, because usually the things you take every visitor to see are worth seeing over and over again. For example, Dunnottar Castle never gets old nor does the drive to and the day spent in St. Andrews. St. Andrews instantly became my favorite little Scottish town the first time I went and other than Dunnottar, it's my favorite place to take guests. Even if you don't love golf you will love this quaint coastal town that just happens to be the home of golf. Of course both of these were a part of Mere and Ryan's trip along with some other repeats....Crathes Castle, Edinburgh, and Balmoral Estate, Bay Fish&Chips. But instead of telling you all about them AGAIN, I want to highlight the new things we were able to do during Meredith and Ryan's visit. A definite advantage to having visitors is the chance to see new things.
Their first full day we visited Crathes Castle in the early afternoon while we waited on Ryan to sneak away from work a little early so the boys could go fishing. While the boys went fishing, Mere and I headed off to high tea at Banchory Lodge along the River Dee. I have done high tea at a few different places since living in Scotland and I can honestly say this was the best I've experienced. The view and the delicious treats will be hard to beat.
We decided to spend a weekend in Edinburgh since there is so much to do and Mere and Ryan had several things they were interested in seeing.
Along with Edinburgh Castle
We also did an underground tour of Mary King's Close. A close is an alley type street that is off of the Main Street, in this case, the famous Royal mile in Edinburgh. They are often named after a significant person of that time. In the 1600s this close as well as the neighboring ones were the heart of Edinburgh's busiest part of the city. Under the Royal Exchange, the closes were used as a foundation for the 'new' part of the city. People continued to live in their homes in the close blocked from sunlight and stricken with plague. There are lots of myths and legends associated with the closes and with the tour you get an up close picture and history. I really enjoyed this as I like learning a little history of how the people lived back in the day. Yes there are cheesy parts but that can only be expected.
We also headed to Ocean Terminal for a self guided tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. The Britannia was the royals home on the sea from 1953-1997. It's traveled over one million miles to become the most famous ship in the world. It is now berthed in Edinburgh and can not only be toured but can be rented for special events.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is located on the harbor in the area of Leith which houses some of the best seafood restaurants. We made a reservation at Fisher's Bistro and it did not disappoint. Probably one
of the best meals I've ever had.
of the best meals I've ever had.
Before heading over to St Andrews on Sunday, we stopped by the National Museum of Scotland. It's a great museum and best of all it's free! There is a whole section on the history of Scotland, a great roof top terrace view (which alone is worth a visit to the museum, see pic above of the castle), and a huge room dedicated to animals from all eras. Ryan and I spent most of our time in there as my husband was of course in awe of all the big horns.
We also stopped by the technology room and watched this robot spell out my name.
We made our way to St Andrews after the museum and of course it didn't disappoint. We did the usual (Cathedral and 18th hole) but also stopped by Dunvegan Hotel but instead of just a browse around at all the cool golf memorabilia we had a few drinks to the let the rain move off. The Dunvegan is a hotel, bar and restaurant owned by a fellow Texan (not to mention an Aggie) so we all felt right at home (especially Ryan J since he is an Aggie).
Monday, Meredith and Ryan enjoyed the 3 hour estate tour of Balmoral (same one we did with Toby and Becky) while Angus and I went on a leisurely 3 hour walk around the estate. We saw beautiful views of the castle and got up close with the Heilin coo. And to rest our legs before the long drive home, we relaxed on the Queen's lawn and enjoyed the sunshine. One of my favorite things this summer has been reading outside on the grass so I was in heaven and could have stayed there all day!
We had such a fun week with Meredith and Ryan and I only wish they could have stayed longer. How blessed we are to have friends that will take a week away from their family to come all the way to Scotland to see us! Can't wait to see them again!