Monthly Archive: July 2015

The Most Expensive Walk

My in-laws visit has come to a conclusion. Well, it actually came to a conclusion early Sunday morning but ya know, had to return to normal life. I, of course, recap visitor’s trips, but going forward they’re going to be a little more condensed. Since we’re getting more guests (only 2 more in 2015, but 2016 slots are filling fast) we often do a repeat of some of the essential Aberdeenshire hot spots. And I can only type Dunnottar castle so many times…

But with each guest, I try and schedule some trip away from Aberdeenshire and do something unique for that visitor if time allows. My mother and I went to the west coast to see puffins, my aunt and I toured the highlands, Megan and I did Edinburgh and went off to Lisbon. For my in-laws….they are BIG into golf- so they’re Aberdeen add-on was centered around golf. And what better place to golf than Scotland where it originated in the 15th century…

So the in-laws arrived on Thursday morning to jetlag and lost golf clubs. Luckily, said clubs were delivered at about 8pm- it was iffy for awhile since w were originally set out to leave on Friday morning at about 6:30 am and they couldn’t find where the clubs were….but they made it. And for once, the rain worked in our favor because it was pouring on Friday morning (to such a degree my now 3rd house in a row had a leak) and golf was delayed, as was our departure time until about 8:30 am.

When we got down to St. Andrews it was a bit overcast and windy, but we didn’t get rained on all day. It was a pretty perfect day and we all really enjoyed it. There is a strict no camera policy but ya know, me and rules…

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

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Tiger and the ole’ bridge.

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Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

Rainbow over the 1st Tee and 18th Hole

Boys in front of the bridge

Boys in front of the bridge

One rule The Open didn’t have was no booze…so great. And I mean, they didn’t just sell alcohol on site…you could walk in carrying your own. BYOB! We left the course to have a picnic lunch we had packed on one of the closed courses. And of course we had wine and I even grabbed some cans of Pimm’s (not so good in a can) that we then brought back in with us.IMG_0412

Love me a picnic.

Love me a picnic.

At the open

At the open

When we left St. Andrews (later than anticipated) we started a long, cramped, most driving rain journey across the country to the Loch Lomond area, specifically in Helensburgh. It wasn’t an ideal location as it was a little further away from everything than we wanted to me…but it really was like a 20 min drive to E’s race on Saturday and a 10 min drive to dinner- so not bad at all. And the B&B we stayed at- Lethamhill B&B was really lovely. E and I’s room had an incredible lake view, the grounds were gorgeous, and I got salmon and eggs for brekkie. Everybody wins!IMG_0620 (1) IMG_0616

Getting some pre-dinner sherry at the B&B

Getting some pre-dinner sherry at the B&B

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As mentioned E had a race on Saturday morning…I mean who wouldn’t want to start their 30’s with an ungodly swim in choppy, freezing Loch Lomond?! It was his first Duathlon and he did great.

Happy 30 E!

Happy 30 E!

After the race we took the Bcock Srs. to a highlands games (naturally) at Loch Lomond. We got piped in by the band, which was pretty great. And they had wrestling! What?! Hadn’t seen that one before. The downfall of the games was a lack of seats and muddy, muddy ground. I cannot stand for hours watching grown men throw heavy stuff…we were in luck, because we just acquired 2 picnic blankets with waterproof undersides so we hunkered down. I have to say, the games didn’t disappoint and I think E’s parents really enjoyed them.IMG_0490 IMG_0505

We went back to the B&B for a nap, then went out to E’s birthday dinner. Which I didn’t grab a picture of but we were at Cameron house and I got sweet breads and lamb! And actually a decent martini which if you follow, know is as easy to get your hands on as a freaking unicorn in this country. And don’t think just because it’s the national animal that it’s easy to find…

Post dinner drinks

Post dinner drinks

The next day we started a rainy drive down through Glasgow and to Trump’s Turnberry Golf Club. The course was made in 1902 and has a pretty interesting history…Trump bought it out in 2014 and now it makes him oodles of money. See here.

And well…. I googled “golf quotes” and came across this:

“Golf is a good walk spoiled.” – Mark Twain

Well that was the most expensive spoiled walk I’ve ever had! I am so mad at how I played….I even had two emergency lessons right before the trip and was crushing it at the range and even the weekend before at a local golf course. Gaaaaah. I was just so nervous. Much better on the back 9 and I even parred a hole- booyah! But still…I was awful. E’s mom actually played the best I think- good memories for her all around. So many golf balls lost…. Anyway…it was at least was a BEAUTIFUL, spoiled, expensive walk.  And ya know, everyone got some time with the sun and sand…

Greg sizing up that bunker

Greg sizing up that bunker

 

E's turn in the bunker

E’s turn in the bunker

Coming up to the first tee box.

Coming up to the first tee box.

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Seriously…could it be more gorgeous? Not my form…the view.

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After 18 long holes.

After 18 long holes.

Monday we headed back to St. Andrews- originally to check out the course without The Open going on, but it was extended to Monday due to rain delays. We were going to head in but after walking about the Castle and Cathedral were pretty tired and wanted to get home. But I have to say, E and I will be heading back to St. Andrews for a weekend sometime to enjoy the quaint little town, and because, I need to spread my hack skills around ALL the super nice, famous, and expensive courses…because hey, I really love expensive, spoiled walks.

The rest of the week had us: dining outside a few nights (hurrah nice weather), checking out Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle, eating fish n chips, eating haggis, having afternoon tea, having drinks at Trump’s local course, eating cullen skink, some more golf for the men-folk, the in-laws went down to Edinburgh for a day, seeing seals, castles, and going on hikes, exploring Aberdeen, and drinking lots of wine. Ya know…the usual.  Odd there’s so much eating when I constantly complain about how awful the eating is here.

Man, I love Stonehaven

Man, I love Stonehaven

Banchory Lodge Afternoon Tea

Banchory Lodge Afternoon Tea

Our view from afternoon tea.

Our view from afternoon tea.

Cullen Skink!

Cullen Skink!

Greg tackling some haggis balls...or bon-bons.

Greg tackling some haggis balls…or bon-bons.

Fish, Chips, and wine at my fav Stonehaven pub

Fish, Chips, and wine at my fav Stonehaven pub

Dining al fresco in Scotland at ours.

Dining al fresco in Scotland at ours.

Overall the weather was great, I think my in-laws had a great trip, and we had a great time with family!

 

 

House Hunters International Post Airing

I miss our home!

I miss our home!

Well I have to say….after watching the episode live {with very poor streaming quality at 6:30am} as well as a couple times now with our official DVD copy…I have to say it turned out as good as I could have hoped.

Good looking couple there...

Good looking couple there…

I totally called that they would include the bit of me jumping up and down yelling, “Sheep! Sheep!” I mean, how could they not? Despite the fact that NONE of those houses were by sheep…. I’m a little sad that there’s so much in each house {well, not the first one. That one sucked. You missed nothing in that flat} that you didn’t get a chance to see- like an awesome chicken coup and office rooms and additional bedrooms. And they had no shots of our great “going away” party other than my mother chewing E’s ass out about making sure she has an en suite {I smell a spinoff}. But I guess you have 22 minutes to fit in 5+ days of filming…I also feel a bit sorry for them as we are terribly awkward it seems when we are forced to repeat lines and make really long, awkward pauses in the middle of our sentences. Well, what can you do?

This is right when I told E to get a helmet....

This is right when I told E to get a helmet….

But really, I’m pretty pleased. Well, could have been more pleased if the world didn’t see angsty teenage lb.

l + e circa 2001

l + e circa 2001

I don’t think we looked terrible {although the pieces from the last 2 days of filming, our noses are definitely red, we’re definitely exhausted, and we’re definitely sick as hell!} I don’t think it was edited in a way where people at home had a lot of fuel to hate us on. E wasn’t an awful bad guy and I didn’t come off as an entitled bitch {at least I don’t think}. We were actually pretty boring to watch I’m assuming…no big disagreement or confrontation. But I can only assume we had more viewers than the NBA finals that night even though I didn’t stop my feet and demand more closet space for my shoes.

Naturally, we make big decisions standing in front of epic coastline and castle ruins.

Naturally, we make big decisions standing in front of epic coastline and castle ruins.

Would I do it again? Sure! And I just might on our next move. I have on good word that they love having repeat offenders…if we’re lucky and get assigned somewhere else abroad I would love to do another HHI. Especially now that I know the ropes. I would actually love to do it again now in our new old house church. It would make for a much more exciting episode. Not only are there sheep but ghosts too!

What did you think about our episode? Would you ever do a show like House Hunters?

Did you miss our fabulous first airing? It’s okay, there’s always repeats! Our show will be replaying on Tuesday, August 4th at 9:30pm Central and Wednesday, August 5th at 12:30 Central on HGTV – in case you want to hear me yelling about sheep some more.   You can check for other airings right HERE.

 

Sheep!  Sheep!  At least they got a shot of my big, ole american chompers.

Sheep! Sheep! At least they got a shot of my big, ole american chompers.

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Cake

I have not posted a recipe in months! I cook so much {almost nightly} but get caught up and forget to take pictures or document my recipes. It doesn’t help that traveling to Turkey, Lisbon and moving took me out of the kitchen quite a bit the last 2 months. But I’m back at it until we head to Croatia in August.

I came across THIS recipe when a friend posted it on facebook. What led me to click on it was E had just brought home 2 huge cartons of fresh, organic strawberries from his run club. A woman there was helping sell them for her kid. In Scotland, they don’t sell packaged cookies….they sell organic strawberries. Take note America.

Anyway, I haven’t baked for ages. And have been jonsing to really break in my new, super huge {conducive to my style of baking and mess-making} kitchen with wonky green double oven that uses gas marks instead of degrees. I mean really jonsing because in one day I not only made this cake, but also chocolate chip cookies and homemade waffles. The other two recipes aren’t perfected but I was pretty pleased with this one that I changed just slightly from the original recipe on Food.

I will say I looked for a bundt pan at a couple of different places in Aberdeen but couldn’t find one.  And I’m going to say that

a) The bundt pan would make much better presentation

b) I’m assuming the bundt pan is magical and wouldn’t stick as much to the pan

This is the professional picture, obviously.

This is the professional picture, obviously.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 lemon, zested
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces strawberry-rhubarb yogurt
12 ounces fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup powdered sugar

 

Preheat oven to gas mark 3 {or 325 F for you Americaners}. Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan.  Like really, really grease and flour because my first attempt ended up with half the cake stuck to the pan…and even the second attempt wasn’t perfect.

Sift together 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in lemon zest and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt.

Toss strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour and then gently mix into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then let cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cooled, mix remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with powdered sugar and drizzle over the cake.

The frosting I think is optional, because this cake was sweet enough.  But it does help make the cake more presentable if yours gets stuck to the pan.

My picture....when I remembered to take a picture after eating had commenced.

My picture….when I remembered to take a picture after eating had commenced.

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Is it as pretty as the first picture?  No.  Definitely not.  But it really did taste good and I love the addition of a subtle rhubarb flavor with the yogurt.

LifesCycle Edinburgh

I have now been to LifesCycle Edinburgh twice and I can’t wait to go again. It’s definitely review worthy and worthy of spreading the news to Scottish expats and Scottish people alike.20150221_103529 (2)

The first time I went to LifesCycle, it was the week after Valentine’s Day. E and I went to Edinburgh for the night for some good food and a good sweat the next morning. I was beyond excited for a proper spin class. So excited, I was doing it the day before my 16 mile run {my furthest then and was uninjured at the time- I swear they aren’t related.} We woke up and had some breakfast {porridge, always porridge for me before working out} and checked out of the Hotel Indigo and drove to LifesCycle. Must admit, we drove past it twice and decided to park knowing it was somewhere around there. Then we walked past it once! Definitely a discreet and underassuming doorway.

We were early because they advised every first timer {with previous spin experience or not} to attend the intro session.   An earlier class was just letting out and loads of people were milling about, talking, having coffee and sweets. And there were a few dogs hanging out- that always makes my day.

We met the owners, a super cool couple, Andy and Jeannie. They were welcoming and kind, and seriously, just gnarley. That’s the adjective I would most like to use for them. Especially for Andy. We did the intro with a couple other first timers. I wouldn’t say it’s totally necessary if you’re familiar with spinning – but hey, it can’t hurt. A nice little warm up and I got to ask Jeannie a few form questions I had always pondered.20150221_105310

Soon the rest of the class was pouring in. Not an open bike in the house. Including the 4 bikes they managed to scrunch in on the top podium with Andy leading as instructor. There were all walks of life. Some in full cycling kits, some {like myself} in a t-shirt and capris. Big and little, male and female, young and old. And I mean, some really old.20150221_105713

The ride itself was fantastic and strives to feel like a ride on the open road and not just a ride on a stationary bike. And that’s a big deal hear because most spin classes don’t do that- they are just a spin class and generally a pretty shitty one as far as spin classes go. The music is in line perfectly with your climbs, your coasts, your headwinds….and it’s not music you’ll grow tired of…these aren’t top of the pops or the latest charts, but they keep you energized and excited about what’s next. That along with the utterly weird shit playing on the projector- if you’re pushing your ride and need a distraction from the work and pain in your legs- there’s plenty to distract you. Totally. Weird. Shit. But that just adds to the charm.20150221_110233

The entire studio is in to it and a believer- you can tell. There’s a lot of talk about riding together as a pack. And times when Andy yells out who’s with me and everyone cheers or when he says “One Life” and everyone answers with “One Life Cycle”….this is some meta stuff people. And when asked if we wanted to do one more song before we cooled down- it was an overwhelming yes.

When Megan was in town, we went in on a mid-week, mid-day ride led by Jeannie. And it was a really good, difficult ride- even though it was 15 minutes shorter and there were only 5 of us in the room. If you can have a good ride with 5 people in the room- I think that’s amazing! Though I am still baffled at the fact that they can’t get more people on a mid-day ride. They just started offering these classes in the summer and they aren’t well attended. Where are the yuppy stay-at-home moms in this country?! All day, every day, Shred415 classes are PACKED in Chicago….waiting list packed.   And there’s only 5 people in this spin class at the ONLY designated spin studio in Scotland, in the biggest city….what is the cultural difference here…are there no ladies of leisure looking to get svelt? I digress…

The place itself- it might throw you for a loop. It certainly did me. As I mentioned, it’s unassuming and you’ll probably walk by it- I even did the second time with Megan. There are a couple toilets and then a men and women’s room that has 2 showers each…but these are pretty barebones showers and I wouldn’t really recommend planning on getting dolled up after. There are some cubbies along the wall, or you can leave your stuff on a sofa. It’s a very laid back atmosphere in general, but everyone is there for a solid workout.

So whether you are a spin fanatic or never tried it before- you should check this place out next time your in Edinburgh. You’re going to have a good ride. You’re going to smile a lot of the time. And you’re going to feel totally welcome regardless of your ability.IMG_0018

Baby Steps to Interval Training

Remember when I used to run all the time {and spin and lift}?! Yeah, me neither. Sad face….

I’ve gone on some occasional runs {sadly, my goal of recording all of my running miles for 2015 is a failure as I haven’t recorded any of my runs post marathon since they’ve been so erratic}, a handful when Megan was in town since she’s marathon training, 1 or 2 run clubs, a couple trail runs to explore my new hood….nothing really concrete or with any goal in mind despite declaring I was going to run a trail run {turns out now I’ll be in Croatia} and a half marathon in October {really don’t see that happening but….}.

So it’s time to start getting my shit together. Trying not to overload myself especially since there are plenty of things/guests/trips fighting for my time. But let it be known- I ran 2 days in a row! Baby steps, I know.

But maybe you’re like me and looking for some baby steps as well?

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Despite getting through the Paris Marathon without stopping to walk, I am having a hard time running without stopping. A lot of times it’s at the top of the hill, but sometimes I just burn myself out and want to stop. And that’s outside. On a treadmill if I run more than 15 solid minutes it’s a miracle. I don’t know what it is but it’s just so damn boring. But sometimes you have to run on a treadmill! Due to weather, or time commitments, or location. So I decided I needed to start doing some intervals to:

  1. Burn some more fat
  2. Keep me amused on a treadmill
  3. Stop me from taking mid-run breaks

And so, here is my first crack at an interval workout. My active recovery is really slow, which is nice and what I need to keep moving. It might feel a little too easy in the beginning, but you should feel it by the end if you’re at my fitness level….which is not totally out of shape, but pretty far from in shape. So if you’re taking baby steps, I recommend this one.

 

Minutes MPH KPH Incline Notes
0:00-5:00 4.0 6.4 3 Warm up
5:00-6:00 6.0 9.7 1
6:00-7:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
7:00-9:00 6.5 10.6 1
9:00-10:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
10:00-13:00 6.5 10.6 1
13:00-14:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
14:00-16:00 7.0 11.3 1
16:00-17:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
17:00-18:00 8.0 12.9 1
18:00-19:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
19:00-20:00 9.0 14.5 3
20:00-21:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
21:00-23:00 6.5 10.6 3
23:00-24:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
24:00-27:00 6.0 9.7 3
27:00-30:00 4.0 6.4 1 Cool down

Tour de Highlands & ‘Shire w. Family

Good thing we have 4 bedrooms now because my Aunt and 2 cousins came to visit {3 full bathrooms don’t hurt either}. My Aunt had been to Scotland before and really wanted to explore some more of the highlands, while my cousins haven’t been to the UK and decided to spend some time in London before coming up north. So the first 3 days were dedicated to pursuing the beauty of Scotland in the highlands with just my aunt and I while E stayed home and puppy-sat.  When my cousins got up to Scotland we stuck around the ‘shire.

My Aunt got in on Friday afternoon and after dinner pretty much headed straight to bed. We had an early morning on Saturday! It was a rainy day but that never stops anything in Scotland. We took a scenic route and headed up to the Moray coast, stopping along some cute fishing towns: Portsoy, Portknockie, and Lossiemouth. Then headed west to the Inverness area to check out the Culloden Battlefield. I’m not a huge war history/battlefield person but I really enjoyed this. I really just enjoy Scotland’s history and secretly wish I was Scottish {Irish will have to do….}. If you’re in the area- definitely check it out. And it’s part of the National Trust of Scotland so my membership paid for my ticket- score!

We then went on to Loch Ness and did the 2-hour cruise, which went to Urquhart Castle where we got off the boat for an hour and then headed back. It was really interesting and quite pretty as by this time the sun was out.DSC_0025 DSC_0034DSC_0049 DSC_0041

We then took a recommendation and swung by Invermoriston. I’m not sure if we missed whatever everyone was recommending, but we were underwhelmed and I wouldn’t recommend the trip. Especially as it was an extra 30 minutes out of the way. We went on to Dalrachney Lodge where we were having dinner and staying for the night. It wasn’t my top B&B experience, but it was nice and worked out just fine.

On Sunday morning we had breakfast and then headed to the Cairn Gorm Mountain ski range to take the Funicular railway up to the {almost} top and then do the guided walking tour to the very top.   We bought the tickets in advance and in the beginning it was just going to be the two of us and Sammy our Scottish Trail Blazer…but we ended up getting 6 other people to join us. The reason why you need tickets is that you’re not allowed to hike to the top from the Funicular railway without the guide and it only runs at 10:30 and 1pm and can ONLY take 10 people most. I guess I didn’t need to get the tickets in advance for this day, but I imagine a weekend you would. So up we went. Munro {kinda, sorta} bagged.IMG_0329 DSC_0102

We then walked around a little of Loch an Eilean and got some pics of Eilean Donan Castle before heading back to Aberdeen.DSC_0124

On Monday we headed out to Glen Cova for a 5k walk out to Corrie Fee, which is described as, “Like a giant stone armchair, Corrie Fee is a wild amphitheatre of rocky landscape sculpted by the power of ice and water.” It was pretty impressive and we were happy that the 5k walk back was all downhill.DSC_0186 DSC_0193 DSC_0197 DSC_0200 DSC_0176

After we headed over to Queen’s View in Aberfeldy to take in what claims to be one of the most photographed sites in Scotland. Yes, it was beautiful…but I wouldn’t say worth the trip unless it’s on the way.

Generally believed to be named after Queen Victoria who took tea here in 1866, the viewpoint actually commemorates Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce who ruled Scotland between 1306 and 1329.DSC_0234

On Tuesday my two cousins arrived. As soon as they got off the plane we set off for some proper afternoon tea. We headed for a new venue that I haven’t been to before, but heard it was very male friendly. It did not disappoint that’s for sure. Rich wood paneling and tartan. Really nice time.IMG_0385

I'm really good at afternoon tea.

I’m really good at afternoon tea.

Wednesday with the typical sites around Aberdeenshire: Slains Castle and Bullers of Buchan followed by a lovely lunch at Cock and Bull complete with Haggis Balls, Scotch Eggs, Cullen Skink, and Sticky Toffee Pudding. BOOM.

Cousins with {new} slains Castle in the background

Cousins with {new} slains Castle in the background

When we returned home E was off work and we set off to Lawn Bowl. The cousins wanted to go curling but alas, it’s not curling season. So we settled for Lawn Bowling where they didn’t take credit card and of course then allowed us to play for free. Where we then mocked their sport and made up our own rules yelling things like, “He’s going for the two-fer” and “That’s a walk-off!” while generally taunting across the court.xLawnBowling2LaurenIMG_0351 xLawnBowling6KevLauren

After such an adventure filled day, the proper ending could only be Scotch and watching Braveheart.IMG_0357

Thursday was the last day and my clan and I went downtown for tartan cufflinks and pictures in front of Willy Boy. IMG_9504
Then when E got off work we headed down to Stonehaven. The crew walked to Dunnottar castle while I met them on the other side. After we headed to our favorite pub for some snacks and drinks, before getting in a ridiculously long line for Scotland’s Best Fish and Chips. These really might be the best fish and chips in the UK….IMG_9519
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Afterward the cousins went out for Big E’s Scotch Tour at Casc where a lot of Scotch was tried and sampled while I made awful faces anytime I smelled one. Overall, I think every one had a pretty damn good Scotland trip. I got to see family and hear some new and hilarious stories, see some new parts of Scotland, and share some of my favorite Scottish bits with my guests. Everyone wins…and now onto the next guests- the in-laws!

Handsome men!

Handsome men!

Big E's Scotch Tour Round 1

Big E’s Scotch Tour Round 1

 

 

Megan in Scotland

So our next guest this summer was Megan, as mentioned in the Lisbon recap. I wanted to give a brief recap of her trip.  But in writing this, I realized she is my only FRIEND coming this summer…everyone else is family.  Family is great, but what the hell friends?!  2 slots are already taken next summer, so you better get on it.  And if you think you’ll ignore me in Scotland but then when we get relocated to the Maldives or some place fantastic then you’ll come crash…you got another thing coming.

Megan flew direct from Chicago to Edinburgh on United {only offered in the summer} which had her land at about 8:30 am. That’s definitely the worst part of the flight; you get in right in the morning when you haven’t slept because you take off at such an awkward time of day. But she was a trooper and stayed awake the whole day! We checked out Edinburgh Castle and then decided we hadn’t walked vertically enough for the day and pursued King Arthur’s seat. This is made out to be an easy walk from everything I saw online. I’m not saying you need to train for…but I’m saying my mom or mother-in-law wouldn’t make it…and we were sweating our butts off. If you’re not in trainers there’s no way you can do it. And I haven’t wished for a sport bra and tank more in my life.

We look a little "special"  at Edinburgh Castle

We look a little “special” at Edinburgh Castle

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But the views were gorgeous and we did think ahead and bring some iced alcoholic beverages to the top, which were well deserved.

Top of King Arthurs Seat

Top of King Arthurs Seat

 

The next day we went to a spin class at Life Cycle in Edinburgh. I’ve been here before and I love it. Don’t worry, they’ll get their own review soon enough…because I am a Fitfluental ambassador and should be talking a little bit more about working out…We got some sweet treats for the drive home from Mimi’s Café and made it back up to Aberdeen where we picked up Stella and E and went to Stonehaven for a little stroll around Dunnotar castle.IMG_0024

 

On Thursday Megan and I saw Slains Castle and then did the walk along Bullers of Buchan. We even saw a Puffin but the sneaky little bia flew off before we could grab a pic.IMG_0027 IMG_0261

Friday was the House Hunters International viewing and a ride to the country for a good lunch and some light shopping. We then had a good time out with a group of friends on Friday, which led to sleeping in on Saturday and severely scaling back on the hike we had planned. Not only that, but it was overcast as hell. We still made a valiant effort and hiked up a smaller hill in Braemar…which was still difficult and unfortunately we were freezing when we made it to the top and couldn’t see a damn thing.

That start of our hike when we had some more visibility and fire swatters.

That start of our hike when we had some more visibility and fire swatters.

Freezing at the top but we have digestive biscuits!

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On Sunday Megan got to experience her first Highland Games at Glamis Castle. E & I had been to one last year and this summer we’re going to 3 different ones with all of our guests. Megan, my in-laws, and my mum & friend are all leading us to Highland Games. Which is just fine by me, because this never gets old.

Megan <3 dudes in kilts

Megan loves dudes in kilts.

When's the last time we saw a Stella shot?

When’s the last time we saw a Stella shot?

Taking in all the joys of her first Highland Games.  Note: That used to be my safari hat and is now my Scotland hat.

Taking in all the joys of her first Highland Games. Note: That used to be my safari hat and is now my Scotland hat.

Then Monday-Friday was Lisbon. We had plans to go out Friday night but due to our all night rager the night before, ordered Chinese food and stayed in. On Saturday there was a beer festival in Stonehaven that we attended- it was actually pretty good and I don’t even drink beer. Even better, Stella got to come. Then in the evening E & I had Elton John tickets {amazing} while Megan explored Aberdeen until we were done and could meet up.

Sunday morning we all went to ASDA to stock Megan up with Scottish treats and then drove all over the place getting Butteries/Rowies for Megan to try. Note to self: don’t wait until people’s Sunday flight out for Butteries as all bakeries are closed. All in all, a pretty good trip.

Megan <3 dudes in kilts  even if they're fake

Megan

10 Tips for Traveling Turkey

I promised a post on tips and lessons learning on traveling in Turkey because there are a few things I thought you should know that didn’t exactly fit into the ABC’s or the deep, deep look inside a Hamam. Though you should read both if you’re vacation planning. Some of these I learned before I went {as I had been warned in advance} and others were learned from experience.

 

  1. The infamous rug guy. If you really do not want to be led into a rug shop (I did for the full Turkish experience), don’t talk to anyone. Okay, not really. But if you are standing outside a Mosque or tourist destination and a Turkish man with great English starts offering you up historical information, telling you he’s, “not an official guide” – he is rug shop man and he’s going to try and lead you back to his shop. You don’t need to be fearful, but I assume you don’t have time to go and see every rug shop in the land.card4_1
  2. When in a shop, whether that be a rug shop or just a stall at a bazaar, the merchants will try and get you to sit down. They could be packaging up what you do intend to buy, but they still want you to sit down so they can offer you tea and show you EVERYTHING else they think you might, maybe, possibly like and buy. It gets rather annoying.
  3. Cover up.  Have some respect, this is a conservative culture. Unless you’re at a beach town/resort {even then I wouldn’t walk about the lobby in your bathing suit} you shouldn’t be showing much skin.  You’ll make every uncomfortable and most likely, you’re going to feel damn uncomfortable.
  4. In touristy areas, the waiters will place a bunch of meze on the table. If you do not want to pay for the meze, do not touch it. These aren’t free like bread in America- they’ll charge you for it.
  5. Booze is pretty expensive in Turkey. Turkish wine is not expensive and not too bad. Drink the wine.
  6. If flying into Istanbul either as your general arrival in Turkey or to do domestic Turkish flights, there are two airports. Ataturk and Sabiha Gocken. NEVER FLY IN OR OUT OF SABIHA GOCKEN. Only us Ataturk. You’ve been warned.
  7. If going to Pamukkale to see the natural hot springs and UNESCO World Heritage site…well I’d say don’t go. If you do go, expect to be majorly disappointed as they’ve closed down 90% of the springs and now manually control which ones they have open. Not so natural. And while Cleopatra’s pool was cool…it also has algae and old gross dudes in Speedos floating all around it. You can skip this.
    If you're expecting this, you're in for some heartbreak.

    If you’re expecting this, you’re in for some heartbreak.

    This is what you get.  Dingy brown and and not full springs.  Wah.

    This is what you get. Dingy brown and and not full springs. Wah.

  8. Turkish Toilets. They are the euro toilet 99% of the time. That being said, I always got a real toilet. If you are in a restaurant they have real toilets. And if you pay to use a bathroom, I always found one {or two} real toilets at the very end. Test every stall door. Most are euro but you have a chance. If there’s a public restroom that you don’t have to pay for, they probably won’t have an actual toilet and just the porcelain hole in the ground. And places like gas stations, be ready with 1 TL because you’ll have to pay to use the restroom.url
  9. Using Public Transit. Get a card from a machine {avoid guys pressuring you to just give them cash and they’ll swipe through}. It costs maybe 1 TL for the card but it’s refillable and you only need one because you can pass back. But here’s the thing- you must have cash for the machines to top up your card. Not even 1 or 2 TL coins, cash only. If you end up having one person go through and not enough for the second person, we found random people are always being super nice and will swipe their card to get you through. Told ya, the Turks are best.
  10. Guided Tours: as I mentioned outside every attraction are dudes offering guided tours. They are legit and if you want to really know the history of the place you’re seeing, it’s totally worth it. Or if you want to skip a line. But be skeptical or as clear as humanly possible when negotiating these tours. Here’s what happened to me: We only got a tour for Kaymakli {underground city in Cappadocia} and it was actually really nice. But we had agreed to a tour at the Hagia Sophia when we were standing in an endless line realizing we wouldn’t be able to go in because we had a flight to catch. A man approached and said {rough translation}, “oh, come take a tour, it’s cheaper than you’d pay for the ticket.” I asked how much his tour cost, he said 25TL a person…and I said, “oh, how much is the ticket?” and he said it was 30TL, “See it’s cheaper than you’d pay for the ticket even and you get to pass the line.”   So I’m trying not to get scammed and say, “Okay so for the two of us, 50TL, and that’s everything- that’s the ticket as well.” He says yes, yes. We cut the line; he goes up and gets our tickets. I am assuming he has some special deal where he pays 5TL for tickets at wholesale or something like that {I am pretty sure Rome was like this in that paying for a tour at the Coliseum that gave you entrance inside was cheaper than tickets alone and you got to cut the line.) He is saying to us as we’re walking up, “Oh yes, you walk through and I will meet you on the other side” of the turnstile. An American behind us mutters, “Oh yeah, I’m sure he’ll meet you there. They all will meet you there.” But in my head I think- I don’t care if he doesn’t meet us on the other side, I just needed to skip that line. Well he hands us our tickets and he asks to be paid, and I give him 50TL. He says he also needs 60TL for the tickets. I’m like, “What? No. You said 50TL total.” He then becomes irate and I give him another 10 {to make it 60 TL} to pay for the tickets and apologize for the miscommunication. He gives us the tickets all the while saying I tricked him, he should make me go all the way to the back of the line, and what a clever girl I must think I am using him. I did feel awful, but it was just a miscommunication {or the fact that he was trying to pull one over on me}! Regardless, we got through that line so I’m going to count it as a win. But be ready for that.