This April, my husband Austin and I finally had the opportunity to travel to the UK. It was a trip we had been dreaming about taking since we were married five years ago. At the time, finances were tight and we had other shorter trips and things going on, then we had a baby, and well, life happens. Like many people, it took us a while to finally make that jump across the pond. Our plans looked something like this…One full day and night in London, then a flight to Cork, Ireland where we rented a car and toured around the western side of the country. We then bussed to Dublin where we spent two days, then flew to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we met up with some friends of ours from back home. The four of us rented an AirBnb together and spent two days in the city and then took the train to Mallaig, from which we ferried over to the Isle of Skye.
As you can tell, this trip was a bit of a whirlwind and not really intended to be a relaxing vacation. Flying from Alaska to the United Kingdom is long and expensive, so early on in the planning we made the decision to see as many different places as possible during our short time overseas. In London, we had a brief stay at a place called the Artist Residence. The hotel itself has only ten rooms and is built right into a neighborhood near Victoria Station. The whole place is beautifully styled and at the bar below, cocktails are created based off of famous paintings.
The true highlight of our travels came about halfway through, when we met up with our friends Anna and Levi in Edinburgh. There is something so wonderful about exploring new places with dear friends. Sharing the experience seems to make it all that much more exciting, even if it is something that would normally be pretty mundane, like a five hour train ride.
Something you should know about Alaskans, if you don’t already, is that we love our coffee. Not the big box guys, but the small batch local roasters. There is basically a coffee shack on every street corner selling quality brew. Not even kidding. I love experiencing different cultures, but no matter where you are, lousy coffee just won’t cut it. That’s why we were so thankful to find Brew Lab Coffee in Edinburgh. While tea is delightful, we needed the heavy stuff to power our adventures, and I am happy to say these guys pour an excellent cup of coffee.
Edinburgh is everything you might imagine the royal city to be. Old cobblestone roads, mysterious buildings and majestic castles. You could spend a week walking its streets and be continuously enthralled. We spent a day meandering around with no real plans, waltzing in and out of small shops, hidden hole in the wall eateries, and at the end, visited Edinburgh castle. It was a day well spent.
After a couple days in spectacular Edinburgh, we opted for some time in the Scottish Highlands. The four of us twisted our way through the hills by train and eventually caught a ferry to the remote Isle of Skye. The thing I loved most about this place was how simple it was, and how easy it was just to be, and rest, without an agenda. There are so many incredible things to see and places to explore, but very few people in comparison to the larger cities. All of the homes on the island are little old style white washed buildings with two chimneys. We rented one of these on AirBnb in Broadford, cooked our own meals, and spent the days wandering the highlands and driving around the peninsulas. Even the little beach in Broadford was spectacular, and an excellent place for beachcombing.
A few of our favorite stops included a hike up to the Old Man of Storr, driving north to Uig, and a visit to the Fairy Pools. All the while, the weather was unpredictable…changing from sun, to snow, to rain, then hail, all in a matter of a few minutes. The unpredictability of the weather, matched with the ever changing landscape gave the entire island an otherworldly type of feel.
You would think that these places would be crowded with tourists, but they weren’t at all. Visiting in April is definitely ideal if you don’t mind chilly weather. Though the landscape was not yet green, daffodils were blooming and we spotted many little lambs and baby highland cows among the herds. It was absolutely idyllic. Definitely the perfect place to relax after a marathon of travel adventures.
My name is Grace. I am Alaskan, born and raised, a photographer by trade and artist at heart. More than that, I am a wife, a new mother and a follower of Jesus Christ. I also have a fondness for road trips, locally roasted coffee, and vintage children's books. My desire in art is to capture authentic emotions, thoughts, and the many details that make people and the lives they live so beautiful. Specializing in intimate weddings and portraits. I am currently based out of Anchorage, Alaska and available for travel worldwide.
To view more of Grace's work, visit her here.