Andrew and I are actually going on two honeymoon trips. I know, I know, but are you really surprised? After all, travel has been very important to our relationship—we even included it in our wedding design by naming each table after a destination we had visited together. We were married in October and decided to wait until the next calendar year to go on our long honeymoon so we would have enough vacation time to spend a full two weeks away. I’ll keep that destination a surprise for now, but I want to share the shorter trip that we took right after the wedding.
During our wedding planning process, deciding where to go on our honeymoon was definitely something we were both excited about. We started throwing out all kinds of destinations—Thailand, Fiji, Costa Rica…it honestly became a little overwhelming. We just weren’t sure where to go! Finally, I suggested that we each choose the place we most wanted to check off our list. I think we were a little too hung up on the idea of picking somewhere grand and exotic for our honeymoon. When we sat down and really thought about the place we did not want to miss, it wasn’t Thailand or Costa Rica. We’ll be visiting my place for two weeks in May. Andrew’s place was Scotland.
The first step in any trip we take involves me going down a rabbit hole of research. Once I started researching Scotland I just got more and more excited by all the possibilities this beautiful country had to offer. I did a deep dive into the different regions, mapped out how long it would take to travel between each and narrowed it down to the most spectacular areas I thought we could do in our allotted time. In the seven years Andrew and I have been together, I’ve learned a little bit (OK, a lot) about the kind of traveling we like to do. Rule 1: We like to have a car. Andrew and I like to have the freedom to be on our own timetable and be able to get off the beaten path. Having your own car means you never have to worry about catching your train or skip a destination because there’s no easy way to get there. Of course, we knew that driving in Scotland would mean being on the wrong side of the road and the wrong driver’s side, but we decided we were up for the challenge.
We started our trip with two days in Edinburgh. This city has medieval charm, a pub on every corner and a castle at its heart. My favorite dinner was at Whiski Rooms, where we also tried a flight of whiskeys that included samples from all four whiskey-producing regions. We quickly realized that Andrew and I have opposite tastes in whiskey. While I liked the smooth lowlands best, Andrew loves the peaty highland and islays. We also were introduced to the classic Scottish breakfast, which we would eat over and over again throughout our trip. It includes smoked back bacon, pork sausage, baked beans, eggs, haggis, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes and a potato scone. Amazingly, we both loved haggis! Definitely give it a try when you are there.
Glencoe and Loch Lomond
After our days in Edinburgh, we drove north into the highlands. We decided to stay in Glencoe, but I wanted to make a stop in the Loch Lomond region to hike. This region is known for its spectacular lochs (or lakes, as we say) and beautiful green rolling hills. We parked at a trailhead in the village of Balmaha and did a short hike to the top of Conic Hill.
P.S. This is the best website I found for hiking in Scotland. So many helpful guides, plus pictures of each trail to give you an idea of what to expect.
After our hike, we continued our drive to Glencoe. This was Andrew’s least favorite part of our journey, as he described the drive as “hurtling along a cliffside on the wrong side of the road.” That being said, Glencoe turned out to be his favorite location on the trip, so I think he’s glad we did the hurtling in the long run! He just made me promise we didn’t have to drive back that way.
In Glencoe, we stayed at the Clachaig Inn, which is a popular stop for backpackers and hikers. Scotland is famous for its hiking (they just call it “walking”) and many people walk the length of the whole country, stopping at small inns like this along the way. The quaint inn included two restaurants/bars, as well as rooms above. We were impressed with how cozy and clean the rooms were and enjoyed the hearty fare in the pub, like venison stew and chicken tikka curry. We spent each night relaxing in front of the roaring fire and sampling a few glasses of their house whiskey blends.
During the day, we hiked. The area is so gorgeous, we literally just had to walk out the front door of the inn and start walking to see amazing vistas in all directions. We ended up unknowingly hiking up a portion of The Three Sisters that day.
Isle of Skye
Our last stop was two days in the Isle of Skye. This island has an otherworldly charm and so many natural wonders to explore. On our way there, we stopped at Eilean Donan castle.
We splurged a bit and decided to stay at the Kinloch Lodge on Skye. The hotel reminded me of a classic English hunting lodge and they maintain some traditions that might seem straight out of Downton Abbey. For example, before dinner at their Michelin-starred restaurant each night, we would gather in the parlor for pre-dinner drinks and canapés (how civilized) and then proceed into the dining room for a five-course tasting menu. This is honestly so out of the norm for Andrew and I—our usual dining preference is two seats at the bar or small plates at a tiny hole-in-the-wall. But through the generous wedding gifts of our family and friends, we were able to try out a little bit of elegance. My favorite part of our meals at Kinloch were the soups! I’m still dreaming about the soup from the first night, a creamy, frothy blend of parsnip and pernod.
Kinloch sits right on the water, so we took a little walk along the rocky shoreline. The next day, we drove to the Talisker Distillery for some whiskey tasting and got to see a bit more of Skye.