08 November 2014

Falkirk, Stirling, and Queensferry

We have our first visitors here in Scotland! My mom and sister, Sarah, are visitng for a few weeks (squeeee!) and we've had a lot of fun revisiting some favorite spots and of course visiting lots of new places as well. 

Today, we had a grand adventure! We rented a car and drove in the left side of the road for the first time. Well, Dallin drove (and did beautifully) and I navigated (somewhat poorly).

First we drove out to Falkirk, Scotland to see the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Kelpies. 

The Falkirk Kelpies were designed by Andy Scott and stand 30 meters (98.5 feet) high. They were breathtaking. 

I mean, seriously. Are you even kidding me with the sun just shining off of them and that blue sky?!

And then Deaun killed it in the cuteness department. 

The Kelpies are one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I was seriously just blown away with them. I would move to Falkirk for the sole reason of seeing them every day. Amazing. They were just amazing. 

Okay. Enough with the Kelpies. I'll stop. Even though I could go on.

After Falkirk, we continued west to Stirling, Scotland. Home of Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. 

Stirling Castle is set up on top of this huge hill, and from it, you can see for miles and miles and miles (strategic, eh?) and the views and beautiful. 

We went on a guided tour, and although I didn't hear much, what with chasing three girls around, I think I remember hearing that because of its location and how strategically it was placed (see, I told you) it changed hands 8 times between the Scots and the English. There was so much of the castle compound that we didn't get to see on this visit, but we will for sure be visiting again. 


Stirling Castle also has this incredibly creepy collection of wooden carvings. They were commissioned by King James V because was pretty obsessed with making sure that everyone knew he was the rightful king. 

You're welcome for that. 

After we ate lunch, we also decided to drive over to see the Wallace Monument since we were so close. 

We only saw it from a distance, but it was pretty cool looking. It's set on the top of a hill, so you can see it from miles away. You can climb up to the top of the monument as well, and I'm sure the views from there are stunning. 

Then pretty much everyone fell asleep as we drove back towards home. 

Finally, we drove to Queensferry to see the Forth Bridge, which crosses over the Firth of Forth. It spans 8,297 feet (1.57 miles) and has the second-longest cantilever bridge span in the world! 

You can see the Forth Road Bridge on the left (which we drove over) and the Forth Bridge (only rail travel) on the right in this picture. There is a third bridge currently under construction to the left of the Forth Road Bridge, which will be the Queensferry Crossing when it is completed in 2016. 

Also, I might have fallen in love with Queensferry and if my plans to move to Falkirk fall through, then I'll move here instead. It was the quintessential seaside Scottish town. Tiny streets, B&B's, fish'n'chip shops, coloured houses. It had it all. Just beautiful. 

And then we drove home and got stuck in Edinburgh traffic in the rain and everyone was tired of being in the car so we made BLT's for dinner and vegged for the rest of the night. It was wonderful. Totally wonderful. 

So come visit already! If this extremely long blog post that no one reads doesn't convince you then I don't know what will!

*Visited November 8, 2014

04 November 2014

Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace

Back in October, while Dallin was on his fall break from school, we took the train out to Linlithgow one day to see both Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace. By train, it's about 20 minutes outside of the city. Because of the Historic Scotland pass we bought, we get into these venues for free, and it has totally been worth having the membership. We've been to quite a few places that I don't know we would have visited otherwise. Both places were quite amazing.

Blackness Castle- built in the 15th century right on the Firth of Forth. This was such a fun castle to explore. There were spiral staircases and many levels of rooms to investigate. All three girls had a great time. The day was overcast, but it didn't ever rain on us, and we practically had the place to ourselves.  They even had picnic benches outside so we could take a break and eat our lunch while we waited for the bus to take us back into town. One of my favorite parts of the castle was pier that went right out into the firth, it gave a really unique vantage point to see the castle from a different angle.

Linlithgow Palace- built in the 14th century, it was one of the primary residences of Scottish monarchs for a few hundred years. By the time we got back into town, the girls were getting quite worn out and Deaun was napping in her stroller, so while I stayed with Deaun, the twins and Dallin went to explore, and then we switched places so I could look around. There was an amazing courtyard with a large fountain in the very center and all the spiral staircases your heart could ever desire. There were kitchens down a few stories underground and a huge grand hall. It was amazing, and situated right on the Linlithgow Loch. Because we had reached the saturation point of the girls though, we had to cut the visit short and didn't get to do all the exploring we wanted to. We will definitely be back for another visit.

After we finished, we went back to the train station and caught the train back into Edinburgh. Let it be known, that this fights for favorite part of the trip every time we head out of the city. All three girls LOVE the train!