Scotland

By Dorothy

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The Lodge at Loch Goil is super charming. The outside grounds include an adorable tree house, a large willowy tree with a rubber tire swing, and a gazebo-like lookout -- all along a beautifully serene lake. The house is decorated in traditional Scottish style, with a greenhouse in the back for the reception. We explored the venue and chatted with guests before the ceremony began.

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Confusingly, in Scotland, a wedding breakfast is actually dinner served after the ceremony. We dined on lamb chops and sticky toffee pudding in the rear greenhouse, which had amazing light. Mel’s speech was entertaining and touching at the same time, while Simon gave us all a good laugh at Stewart’s expense.

Ming and Stewart kicked off the dancing portion of the night with the best first dance ever. They made their complicated swing routine look easy -- these two clearly make a great team. The quality of dancing quickly dropped off once everyone joined in for some traditional Gaelic dancing. We might not have looked good, but we all had a great time!

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On our way to Oban, we passed by this oyster place that Stewart’s uncle spoke highly of. The space is lovely -- bright and open, with a charming private room and patio seating in the back. We ordered a half dozen oysters at first (it was morning time after all), but they were so good we got another round. I had smoked kippers, which were very tasty as well. This place proves that it’s never too early to have oysters.

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I enjoy drinking whisky from Oban, so it was a treat to visit the distillery. The tour guide showed us how they make their whisky, and at the end we got to try their special cask-strength whisky. I was surprised to see how small the distillery and its operation is -- they only produce one million bottles ever year in a space about the size of my childhood house.

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After passing through the quaint town of Fort William, we headed towards the bridge entrance of Isle of Skye. We were enjoying our drive, stopping every so often to take photos, when we approached a police car blocking the highway. Due to an accident, we had to turn around and take an alternate route that added over an hour to our trip. Upon arriving at our hotel, we were told that road closings are fairly common. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised, given the windy, single-lane roads and unpredictable weather.

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Since the hotel kitchen was closed, we went into the main part of town for a late dinner. Our options were few -- we ended up at a nondescript Indian restaurant because we thought it would be nice to eat something ethnic-y for a change. After dinner, we went back to the hotel for some last minute trip planning, which was challenging due to the painfully intermittent wifi.

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We woke up fairly early, in hopes of catching some nice morning light on the eastern coast of Skye. Instead, we were greeted with cold and heavy fog as we hiked toward the Old Man of Storr. The fog was so thick that I could only see at most 50 yards in front of me -- just light gray everywhere, and the occasional sounds of sheep. After almost an hour of blindy hiking, I could see a faint, steeple-like structure in front of me as the fog momentarily cleared. It was an amazingly huge pinnacle. We were surrounded by them and had no idea! It was the most dramatic landscape reveal I have ever witnessed.

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We drove down a small road across the highway from Kilt Rock to Ellishadder Art Cafe. This cute little cafe serves light fare made from fresh and local produce. Since they do not serve lunch until 11:00, we ordered a potato scone with rhubarb ginger jam and curd, and a slice of lemon cheesecake with some tea and coffee. The lunch menu looked pretty good, though. Everything was tasty here.

We decided to work at the cafe for a bit, to see if the fog would burn off. It didn’t -- but we headed out for Quiraing anyway.

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Paul and Suz stayed here for their honeymoon, and had good things to say about the lodge’s Michelin-starred restaurant, so we made sure to stop by. We had the entire dining room and staff to ourselves, as we were the only ones at lunch today.

We both ordered the set lunch menu -- every dish was nicely prepared and presented, with delicate sauces. Highlights included the sea bass and the panna cotta.

We ended our meal with tea in the drawing room. There, we spoke to the manager for a while, who told us that the house was formerly a hunting lodge over 400 years ago for the nearby castle of the Donald Clan.

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It was a long day of driving back from Isle of Skye in the rain. We dropped off the rental car at Waverley train station, checked into our hotel, then wandered around the area to find something to eat.

Mums seemed like the most decent place that was still open. Our waitress was extremely friendly and picked out a selection of sausages, mash and gravy for us. The food was okay -- we were just happy to eat and have a drink after a long day.

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Took a short walk over to Broughton Street for breakfast at Urbanangel. Ever since visiting Melbourne, I always order avocado toast if it’s on the menu. This one came out on thick slices of bread, and topped with a light salsa. It was pretty good, though it was missing a little bit of acidity. Jon ordered a smokie topped with a poached egg. The pastries and post-noon menu looked yummy.

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We walked along Broughton Street, and checked out some shops. Highlights along the street:

Life Story
A well curated shop offering designy lifestyle goods.
www.lifestoryshop.com/

Moleta Munro
Modern, Scandinavian-inspired furniture and lighting from several European brands.
www.moletamunro.com/

Concrete Wardrobe
Quality crafts handmade by Scottish artists and designers. We struck up conversation with the friendly owner, Michael, and found that he used to live in San Francisco. We had a nice, long chat with him about living in Scotland, SF and NY. He sweetly gave us each cute pins, as souvenirs for our trip. Thanks, Michael!
www.concretewardrobe.com/

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We explored the shops and alleyways of Princes, George and Rose Streets, before heading over to Edinburgh Castle. Since we were castled and toured out, we went to a neighboring whisky bar and shop instead.

Although it’s a total tourist trap, the shop has a great collection of single malt scotches. After telling the salesman that we liked Talisker 57 North, he recommend a few others:

Abelour A’bunadh
Bunnahabhain Toiteach
Dailuaine 16yo
Glenglassaugh Torfa
Linkwood 12yo

Then we proceeded downstairs to the bar, and tried the Abelour A’bunadh, another cask-strength whisky. It was strong and delicious.

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Warmed up by our scotch, we ventured out to the drizzly cold and walked around Grassmarket and Victoria Streets. Once a site for medieval markets and public executions, the Grassmarket area is now lined with eateries, pubs and shops.

Analogue
A tiny bookshop selling art and design books.
www.analoguebooks.co.uk/

Hannah Zakari
A crafty store offering handmade jewelry, accessories and stationery.
www.hannahzakari.co.uk/

Red Door Gallery
A charming art space and boutique.
www.edinburghart.com/

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