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Ain't No Mountain High Enough... Except This One || Scotland, Part II

{ the most modern Parliament building I've ever seen }

Originally, I was giddy with excitement to get to share my second day - perhaps, one of my favorite days this year, thus far - in the beautiful city of Edinburgh with you on Friday.

But something tragic happened early on Friday. And while I won't go into specifics except to let you know that it wasn't anything directly affecting me or anyone close to me, I'll say that it was just as sad and upsetting and terrible, and that the only conclusion I had after a day's worth of half-hearted rumination was that life is fleeting. It really, really is.

That realization has since made all of my recent memories all the more... memorable. Isn't this what life's about? Traveling far and wide with friends, laughter, seeing all the wonders left behind by those who've come before us, and being thankful and appreciative of all the experiences we're fortunate enough to have?

So here I am, sharing this day full of laughter and joy and some tribulations, too. 
{Holyrood Palace - the Queen's official residence in Scotland }
{ on the right is Mary Queen of Scots's tower }
Our first stop on Saturday morning was Holyrood Palace. The Queen stays here for a week every year on her official visit. It's also where a number of kings and queens resided, including Mary Queen of Scots. After a really interesting audio guide led us through official rooms and bedrooms and gardens and old abbeys, I felt like I had traveled back in time and was merely traipsing around my own home for a couple of hours.

Obviously upon returning to the hotel later, I went on a Wikipedia frenzy, learning all the things (all the things!) about Mary Queen of Scots I possibly could. And now, I want to watch the CW show about her because that's the most historically accurate depiction out there. (.........said no one ever.) (But I actually do want to see it.)
SO THEN, we decided to hike Arthur's Seat. 

Everyone told us that it was an easy peasy 45 minutes and that we would be treated to amazing panoramic views.

...I'm not trusting "everyone" ever again.

Because my group took more or less two hours there and back. It was muddy and slippery and a certain someone who shall not be named (Lauren) fell twice. Lightly. And somehow, we ventured off the beaten path to scale the side of the steepest part. It was literally like, oh look! A path! It won't take us anywhere, let's ignore it and pull ourselves up on a steep, vertical rock formation instead. 

I comforted myself by telling myself that I was building character. Of course I was.
The whole time Soon, this was me... 
By the time we were actually climbing boulders and "going in zig-zag formation," I was red in the face, barely breathing, and sat down to take a breather multiple times. I hate that I seem like a pansy right now because all of these pictures show a nice, paved path. But just know that there was a treacherous 30 minutes when I was scared I was going to tumble down the jagged side of this (extinct) volcano.
The top! I will admit that once I heaved my way to the top (we also somehow decided to get to the tippy top point instead of the flat part of Arthur's Seat... clearly, I was not a part of the vote), the views were more than worth the trek.
Get this. At the top, as we're taking picture after picture of ourselves, we look over and see that a couple is getting engaged! Cue the tears and the whisper-shrieks. We sneakily snapped a bunch of photos, tracked them down afterwards, and offered to e-mail them. Good deed of the day, done!
Another engagement?! There must be something in the water!

I will say this. Although I did think I was going to pass out at regular intervals, I would've done it all over again, and not only for the views. My friends, most of whom I've only known since mid-January, were champions. Yes, they did seem to be able to speedily make their way up the mountain without much trouble (is being in shape a thing now?), but they were brilliant at coaching me through despair and hopelessness. And they're really funny, guys. Really funny.

On our way down, we somehow found a really easy path to take (of course.), except that we followed it all the way down and somehow ended on the wrong side of the mountain. Only us. So then, it took us an extra thirty or forty minutes to get back into city center, but it was fine because I was promised lunch and coffee here...
The Elephant House! It's the cafe where JK Rowling (allegedly) (proven through security cameras) started writing Harry Potter on napkins. It's elephant-themed and really adorable, actually, with really decent food and mochas. 

But the kicker is the bathroom, the "Harry Potty." Look -
Cool, right? I spent like thirty minutes in there reading all the notes. And I was dumb enough not to bring a pen, or else I would've added my own blurb.

At night, we were signed up for a ghost tour (against my will). If you know me, you know I'm the biggest scaredy-cat there ever was. Pretty Little Liars scares me. My roommate had to talk me through the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland... that 5-year-olds were taking in stride. I just can't do scary.

Three seconds into the tour, I was clinging onto my friend Nick for dear life. Twenty minutes into the two hour ghost tour, I'd had enough. I was hyperventilating, had goosebumps all over, and was jumping at every windblown piece of litter. And then when the tour guide stole my best friend away from me to show how people were hung back in the day, I was out. Nope. No more. 

Instead, I kidnapped my best friend back and when everyone turned the corner to go down into the Vaults (absolutely not), we peaced out to get food. David Bann was a restaurant that I really wanted to visit, but our friend had called earlier and they were fully booked. Lauren and I decided to stop by and try our luck and lo and behold, they had a table available for just under two hours!
Can you see the fear still in my eyes? Lauren ordered champagne so that I could settle my nerves.
Is this a risotto, or is this a plate of divinity? You tell me.
We shared dessert, like everyone else did in the restaurant. But not because we were on our Valentine's Day date like they were, but because we are partners in all gastronomic activity.
Later, we joined our friends Nick, Victoria, and Matt for a whiskey tasting (which essentially involved me watching my friends taste whiskey) and a last walk down the Royal Mile, before returning to our hotel for a view like the one above and a night's sleep before departing for the Highlands and Glasgow the next day!


  1. those photos are fabulous! and an extra cute engagement. too presh

  2. These photos are so beautiful, Caroline! I am incredibly jealous of your skills!

  3. Makes me want to grab my hunters and go to Scotland

  4. I am literally so jealous that you get to travel to all these cool places! (:

  5. Wow--man, you guys are getting the chance to see and learn so much history!! And that climbing adventure sounds like it gave you all a good work out!!

  6. I've been waiting for part 2 of this. And how fun that you were able to snap pictures of an engagement and offered to send them pictures. Definitely a good deed for the day ;)
    xo TJ

  7. i just adore your travel photos!! your photos ooze passion and excitement!!! so much joy and happiness! um that is so awesome. harry potter is EVERYTHING!.. ok that and downton abbey lol!!

    omgosh risotto looks amaze!!

  8. Life is all about the fun memories we make :) That hike but it really looks like it was worth and you got to see two engagements?? So awesome

  9. Great photos! I love how you seemed to be having so much fun despite the rain, rain, rain, rain! X Jane

  10. This is seriously awesome! and life really is fleeting - so, it's so great you were able to do something so enjoyable with people you love!

  11. such lovely photos!!! Oh this makes me want to travel so bad!
    Kristin xx

  12. Gorgeous photos!! Looks like fun.

  13. omg. these pictures... I'm dying! so so so pretty. I've never been, but I so want to!

    Lady à la Mode

  14. so many things to comment on..
    glad you made the hike up.. the views look great.. and all the shortness of breath and thinking why the hell am I doing this is kinda the fun part..
    the food looks amazeballs!
    i too wikipedia the hell out of things and get all wrapped up into it and the details..

  15. Okay I am obsessed. This makes me miss Scotland! Looks like a great day and how adorable is thwas that engagement! Perfection :) Looks like a great restaurant too.

  16. If you are talking about the show Reign, I love it! I'm a huge history buff (that was my major) and I specialized in medieval Britain and the Tudor age is my favorite! Reign is definitely NOT historically accurate with Mary, Queen of Scots, but it definitely takes a more mystical view point to it without adding in any supernatural or magical properties. I love it!


your comments truly make my day! :)
thank you!

xx Caroline