Spent 7 days in Scotland visiting family, then broke off with my husband to explore Amsterdam for the next 4 days!
EuropeUnited Kingdom, Netherlands11 days / September 2019
Highs & Lows
Edinburgh history and the humbling Anne Frank experience
Bad AirBnB, last minute accommodation scramble
We flew in to Glasgow (GLA) around 11:15 and met family at the airport, who took us back to their little town of Dunoon, which is about 45 mins west (and a ferry ride) of Glasgow. The next morning we headed to Edinburgh (2 hr 25min) by car, and checked in to our AirBnB. Explored Edinburgh and met up with more family over the next two days. From there we packed up and headed to Glasgow (58 min) by car, and explored the city (and got tattoos!) in two days. We packed up and moved on from Glasgow back to Dunoon where we would carry out the last leg of our Scotland trip, stopping at a few awesome castles along the way. We spent two more nights in Dunoon, then my husband and I broke off from our family and headed to Amsterdam (1 hour 35 min GLA -> AMS) by plane. We spent three whole days in Amsterdam adventuring around the city.
Edinburgh was our favorite stop of all the cities in Scotland! So beautiful with some much history. The people were friendly and welcoming. Definitely a bustling city, with locals and tourists. Incredible to see Edinburgh Castle in the middle of the city - definitely worth a visit. Walk up Victoria Street and have lunch in one of the restaurants patios. Great little farmer's market just below Victoria Street with vendors. We also did the Hop On/Hop Off tour which was fabulous to see everything in such a short amount of time! Super fun night life at Brewhemia, and amazing dinner at The Scran and Scallie.
Glasgow was a whirlwind! We were dodging rain storms left and right, so we spent a lot of time inside shopping centers and in pubs. We walked to George Square and visited the Duke of Wellington, who is known for always sporting a fancy orange cone. We shopped and got lunch in Princess Square. Amazing mojitos at Chaophraya (also great thai food!). We had about 10 sausage rolls from Greggs (think UK's version of 7/11), perfect for when you've had too many mojitos! The Park Bar was the highlight of the trip - live music, old school taps, traditional Scottish pub. We all got tattoos at The Studio by Emily of delicate thistles to symbolize our Scottish heritage! Glasgow was a bit more dirty and gritty then Edinburgh, but still a great city for 2-3 days!
If you can get out of the city - do it! About 45 mins out of Glasgow is a cool little vacation village called Dunoon! On our way out there we stopped at Doune Castle which was a shooting location for the Winterfell Castle in Game Of Thrones, also in Outlander and Monty Python! We stopped at Deanston Distillery and did whisky tasting, with a tour of the distillery (also a shooting location for Outlander!). We spent a day in Cairndow to visit my cousin's restaurant, Loch Fyne for amazing seafood and oysters, and then over to Fyne Ales for a brewery tour, tasting, and highland coo spotting! Inveraray is a cute little town outside of that with shops that have really great local Scottish trinkets.
We LOVED Amsterdam! The culture, the city, the people - everything was so beautiful and fun! We got in a little late, but made sure to get some bitterballin right away, which is a fried meat ball you dip in mustard, amazing! Our first day we booked a bike tour through Mike's Bike Tours, which took about half a day and took us ALL around the city! We learned about history, culture and politics. It was an amazing fun (and sort of crazy!) way to see Amsterdam. Perfect adventure for your first full day. One of our favorite experiences from the trip was Anne Frank's house (which requires a ticket and reservation beforehand, so make sure to book this in advance). It is so eye opening and the tour is very well done and respectful. We tried our first Airbnb experience, which was a canal cruise (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/356307). Captain Dave is a local and it was fun to cruise around with snacks and wine and learn more about the canals and the city (better then a tourist boat!). We also went to the Sex Museum which was totally gross and cheesy, and the Cheese Inn Museum which was yummy and cheesy! We are huge cat lovers, and heard about a cat shelter boat, De Poezenboot! It was AMAZING! Also requires a reservation through their website. Favorite foods were bitterballin, street frites with mayo, dutch pancakse from De Vier Pilaren, and stroopwaffles! Regular meals are a bit strange in Amsterdam, lots of chains because there really isn't a Dutch delicacy. Of course you have to visit the Red Light District!
Q & A
What would you have changed?I would have skipped Glasgow (and gotten tattoos in Edinburgh). I wish we would have spent more time in Edinburgh!
Anything go wrong during the trip?Bad Airbnb experience. The apartment was dirty from guests before, and the owner could not come clean it. We ended up sleeping in it one night (ick) and then moving to a hotel. We only got half of our refund back :(
Restaurant recommendations?I never had a bad meal in Scotland. Lots of meatpies, Scran & Scallie was my favorite for that! Also Greggs was great for a quick bite/junk food. Fish and chips everywhere, so make sure to try some in UK! Amsterdam was quite different, hard to find a great restaurant for an actual sit down meal. We more went to bars and had appetizers or street food, which was delicious!
Tips you would give a friend?Break away from your family earlier if you can ;-)
Packing tips?Pack LIGHT! So much walking and crazy steep stairs in Amsterdam! My rain booties came in very handy, as well as Allbirds sneakers were super comfortable. Bring a light rain jacket that is actually waterproof. As much as I wanted to look cute, I definitely needed more practical things!
Transportation Tips?We discovered Amsterdam's tram system a day late. Buy a pass and use that sucker to your advantage! Amsterdam is quite large and it's very spread out. We were so exhausted after all of the walking the first day, and were so happy to have figured out the tram for the remainder of the trip! For Scotland, you definitely need a car if you plan to venture out of the cities (which I highly recommend!)
Any surprises?English is definitely not the first language in Amsterdam. The menus are all in Dutch. If you ask to speak English to the Dutch, they are very friendly and do their best to speak English. Menus and signs are the hardest part!
Booking details?Airbnb was great (except for our one downfall), for the accommodation and the one experience we took. Book the touristy stuff in advance directly through the company's website. We loved flying Delta!