Next to Loch Ness, Edinburgh was the place that I wanted to visit most in Scotland. I had even begun reading Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street, set in Edinburgh, as a way to theme my trip. I highly recommend picking your literature to theme around your vacation. It gave me a glimpse of the city before we arrived.
Unfortunately, Edinburgh is expensive and we were not able to find a reasonably priced hotel. We booked our night-stop in Lockerbie, but planned on having dinner in Edinburgh and visiting the castle.
We left John O'Groats early in the morning, to give ourselves ample time for stops on the road.
Our first stop was for a snack at ASDA.
ASDA is another UK supermarket chain that I can add to my list. ASDA has a little cafe that offers a cheap, quick and decent meal. We had a pot of tea and scones.
After a long stretch of driving, we encountered a pretty town that reminded me of our local mountain communities back home. There were camp grounds,hotels and a main street with boutique stores and restaurants. We saw a sign for a funicular and took a detour.
A ride on the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular is just over ten pounds and is Scotland's only funicular railway. We bought our tickets and waited in line.
The waiting area had many sculptures made out of wood.
We waited thirty minutes and even saw a funicular go up empty. Since it was cutting into our time for Edinburgh, we ended up skipping the funicular ride and the staff kindly gave us a refund. It's a good thing too, because when we returned to the parking lot, clouds had rolled in and the visibility was low.
It was lunch time. so we headed back to the cute village of Aviemore and picked an Italian restaurant. There is something about cold, rainy days that make me crave tomato sauce.
La Traverna Ristorante was excellent. We shared a large pizza and left completely stuffed. If this restaurant was in my home town, I would be eating here frequently. It was a food highlight of our trip. Beyond the food, the restaurant was really warm and cozy, which was perfect as we sat by the window and watched the rain pour down outside.
We got back into our car and drove the last leg to Edinburgh.
We didn't stop there, but the award for "Best Palace Name" goes to the Scone Palace!
Near the city we drove by a Smart Car Center and took this picture for the members of our So. Cal Smarties car group!
And finally, we crossed a giant bridge and entered Edinburgh!