Eight years ago, in 2009, I visited Scotland for six weeks. It was not the first time I had stepped foot upon the enigmatic land, I had visited when I was ten years old and even then I knew this country was special. When I left in the winter of 2010 I cried (a lot) and I vowed I would be back as soon as I was able. Life got in the way and prevented my earlier return as I explored countries closer to my home, Australia. After living in South Korea, travelling South America and Europe I finally made it back.
Early in 2017 my brother and his girlfriend suggested we book an Air B N B in Edinburgh for Christmas and New Years and meet up there to celebrate together. They were living in the UK at the time so it made sense, we would be on the road so we thought it would give us a good benchmark to shoot for. We invited my Mum and Sister, who both live in Australia and was not sure if they would indeed commit to the journey but they did.
On Christmas Eve we met, some for the first time in over two years. It was bittersweet. I had made the same trip eight years prior to be with my Mum and Sister for Christmas, and my Sister had lived in Edinburgh for a few years a lifetime ago.
This time was different. I had Dean in tow and I really wanted to make sure that Edinburgh made the impression upon him that it had on me. For years I had harbored a secret desire to move to Scotland and of course I hoped he would agree to it too.
After Christmas we went on a mini roadtrip of the Highlands. There is a lot of snow up north and this can interfere with driving, and after a particularly hairy partial spin out we were happy to make it to our accommodation for the night in Kinloss. It was freezing, in fact we could see our breath inside the demountable and could feel the cold air seeping in through the paper thin walls but it was an adventure.
We stopped at the usual spots: Inverness, Loch Ness and Stirling, and also one I had never been to before - Urquhart Castle. We had purchased the Scotland Explorer Pass, which was discounted for winter to a crazy low £25.00. If you visit Edinburgh Castle and one other property it is worth it. We used it for Edinburgh, Urquhart and Stirling Castle and saved a lot of money - but it is only available in the Winter.
Urquhart Castle overlooks Loch Ness and because of that has some of the most unique and beautiful outlooks. It certainly gives the famous lake a new sense of scale.
Once back in Edinburgh we set about embracing the traditions of the season. Last time I was there I really wanted to do the torchlight procession but missed out on tickets, plus it was really cold and I thought it was freezing in comparison to Australia. This time I wiser and after South Korea it felt positively balmy.
My sister and I decided to do it together and we purchased tickets in advance. One thing I will say is when the organisers tell you wax will fall on you, it will, maybe don't wear your best/most expensive coat. That's exactly what I did and it got everywhere despite my best efforts to avoid it. The atmosphere was amazing, and in the dark it was amazing to be part of something so BRAW!