Posts filed under scotland

Pack Your Bags | Dunnottar Castle

If you travel up towards Aberdeen, along Scotland’s eastern coast, you’ll have the chance to view one of the most postcard-perfect castles in Great Britain: Dunnottar Castle. While the castle now lies in ruins, it’s easy to see that it’s dramatic location along the rocky coast was once the home to a really special place.

The medieval castle, which was once captured by William Wallace, now lies in ruins. The history of this site runs deep- all the way back to the 3rd century- but today, the only things happening there are casual exploring of old stones and photos being taken along the way.

unnamed-8.jpg

Throughout the centuries, Dunnottar Castle has hosted many famous historical heroes- William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, and the future King Charles II… but it may be most famous for the 8-month stay of a small band of men that held out from Cromwell and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Not only will you get the chance to peek in the partially standing castle rooms to give a glimpse at medieval castle life, but you’ll also be able to get some dramatic views of the coast below. 

The castle opens (in the summer season) at 9am and stays open until 18:00. (Last entry is a 17:30, so make sure you’ve given yourself enough time.) 

I’d give yourself at least 1.5 hours to visit Dunnottar, because the walk down and back up does take a bit longer than you may expect. As you can see, the walk to and from the castle isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires climbing 136 stairs each way… and while you may think that sounds miserable, I can tell you that if I could do it 8 months pregnant alongside a group of German senior citizens, you’ll be fine, too.

While this may be close to Aberdeen, it also makes for an easy day trip from St. Andrews, too. There aren’t many places to eat nearby, by there is a tiny food truck selling decent quality food items (fish & chips, Angus burgers, homemade fishcakes, etc). I’d recommend either packing a picnic, eating there… or heading on to the tiny town of Stonehaven for a picnic on the beach.


Looking for more places to see and stay in Scotland?

 

Find my previous posts here, or look in my Scotland travel guide.


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Outlander + My 5 Favourite Castles in Scotland

I had planned to get my nails done before having Edie, but, alas, she came early and so me and my overgrown hooves had to deal with not looking their best during her first few weeks of life. Fast-forward one month and I managed to sneak away for a trip to the cheapest nail salon in our neighbourhood to finally get my nails done. Since I was wedging this between a trip to the fabric shop and Tyler taking the kids to the park, I didn’t have an appointment. When I walked in, they told me it would be 20 minutes before they could help me, and I gladly parked it until it was my turn.

With my phone dead and nothing else to do, I glanced around to find something to read. All of the magazines were at least a year old- literally, the newest featuring Princess Charlotte’s first birthday, but I found a copy of a DEPARTURES magazine that wasn’t entirely from another century. I grabbed it and spent the next hour absorbing every single letter within that tattered and faded issue. I skimmed ads for luxury cruises, read about trends in Shanghai’s food scene… and, eventually, landed on an article where an editor journeys around Scotland to trace the steps of the scenes from the show, Outlander. A show that I had previously assumed to be included motorcycles and ponytailed men in chunky metal-toed boots. (Why you ask? I honestly have no clue. Was there some old TNT series that had a similar name and premise? I digress.)

To my surprise, the editor’s description of Outlander totally captivated me (historical fiction + art-like costumes) and I can’t wait to submerse myself in it as soon as possible. On top of the fact that the plot sounds incredible, I have to say: I was mostly excited to read about all the Scottish settings that the show features…. Many of which I have been this summer.

One of the places the editor talks about is the town of Falkland- where I just so happened to spend the morning a few weeks ago. It’s one of the cutest little towns that I’ve been to in Scotland, complete with a palace, an antique shop full of affordable treasures and a small handful of cafes and pubs to keep you fed during your day there. It’s charming, and after being quite taken with Falkland after my day there, I included it on my list of “5 Scottish Castles to See.” 

Take a quick look at my latest video where I walk through (literally) the 5 castles that I recommend to see when you’re in Scotland. You’ll also get a glimpse of some pretty scenery and an abandoned castle below. The great news for you is that, if you do find yourself in another castle in Scotland, chances are it’s going to be pretty great, too.

Now, can any of you that have seen Outlander weigh in below on whether or not I should watch this show? Win me over, please. I’m really hoping this can be a new favourite. And do guys like it, too?. Hopefully, I can get Tyler interested, too!



Find more of my favourite places in Scotland here in my travel guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 10, 2017 and filed under scotland, get out of town.

St. Andrews | Balgove Larder

Hello from baby land! I'm sharing a few posts that I wrote this summer, but thought I'd save for a rainy day... and by "rainy day," I obviously meant a day where I'm hanging out with little kids and family rather than blogging. So while we do our newly-expanded-family-thing, here's a taste of a great day from earlier this summer.


I was walking through St. Andrews today and came to the realisation that, since we first started coming here seven years ago, either I've become more refined or the town has become a bit more posh.

The places we always used to go are still around but look a bit (cough) dated. And now, there are new spots that have captured my attention... luckily, these spots are bit more polished than my first round of picks and, if I'm honest, make a much higher grade of food.

For example, Balgove Larder. This farmshop + Cafe + Steak Barn make for a great foodie destination throughout the day. 


BALGOVE LARDER

While the evening and lunch are popular for the tasty Steak Barn, the morning has a bright breakfast being served in the farmshop cafe.  

This morning, I headed to Balgove (located a bit down the road from the Old Course Hotel) for breakfast. I got there around 10, and snagged a table along the counter by the window.

What makes Balgove a special stop is that the food is either grown on-site or sourced locally. And while it's perfectly pure in many respects, it's not obscenely priced.

A FEW THINGS TO TRY...

One of their (four types of!) homemade scones. These are served fresh and warm from the oven when ordered. Choose from plain, fruit, cheddar or cherry. These are one of the most popular items coming out of the kitchen, and they're worth trying!

The homemade granola served with local yoghurt and fresh fruit.

A bunch of flowers from their flower stand to take home with you when your tummy can't fit anymore in it.


To be honest, everything is pretty great at Balgove. I'm not sure you'll go wrong with anything off their well-groomed menu, so feel confident that what you're ordering is going to taste great... and treat your body kindly.

BALGOVE LARDER | Balgove Farmhouse, Strathtyrum Farm, St Andrews KY16 9SF, UK | Open 9AM-5PM


Looking for more of my favourite places in Scotland? Check out my posts here and my Scotland travel guide for more.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on July 24, 2017 and filed under eat, scotland, get out of town.

St. Andrews | Afternoon Tea at The Old Course Hotel

On my last work trip before this baby arrives, I headed up the East Coast of Scotland for a long weekend trip to St. Andrews and beyond. While we were headed to some lovely sites outside of St. Andrews, I have to be honest; I was the most excited about this portion of the trip. I absolutely love St. Andrews, and have gone through silly trains of thought that have nearly made me relocate there just for the sheer pleasure of residing in that sweet coastal town in Scotland. (Okay, Tyler wouldn’t really ever let this happen… but if I weren’t married to him, who knows where I’d be.)

Since the group that I’m with is all females, we opted to have afternoon tea at the Old Course Hotel with them. At £20 per person, this is one of the most reasonably priced teas that I know of… and it’s setting in the airy conservatory along the golf course with the sea alongside it is just, well, perfect.

The conservatory is slightly ethereal and the crisp design of the space makes it feel extra special. The actual afternoon tea is really yummy, too. Warm scones, fresh jam, homemade cakes and pastries crowning the plates of little sandwiches just feels perfect. The hotel also boasts some great teas to choose from, too. 

After the tea, my colleague and I tucked into the hotel’s incredible Kohler Spa. Ever since staying at the hotel when I was first pregnant with the twins, I’ve been dreaming of trying out the spa. (It was fully booked when we stayed at the hotel!) So a week in advance, I called in and got us treatments booked for after our afternoon tea. 

The spa experience there was all I hoped it would be- with Kohler owning the hotel, the water fixtures are impeccable. Every aspect is perfectly done- because they have such great water fixtures. Expect fantastic showers, expansive pools and steam rooms, a rooftop hot tub overlooking the golf course and relaxation rooms to sit in all along the way

I had the NEOM pregnancy treatment.  It was a massage + body scrub for 80 minutes. It was only £90, which felt like a steal compared to the prices for luxury hotels in London. The treatment was lovely, and is something I’d definitely recommend to all my pregnant friends. (Find their complete listing of services and treatments here).

After my session, they brought me into the Deep Relaxation Room and tucked me in (literally) on a little reclining chair with a cosy blanket, got me a drink and some nibbles and left me to it. I spent another two hours in the spa- relaxing there, taking a long shower and lingering doing extraneous grooming that I never have time to do at home (like shape my eyebrows and shave above my knee). It was glorious and I felt entirely unrushed. It was how all spa treatments should be, in my opinion.

So while the spa at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews is one that is a bit too far away for me to enjoy on a regular basis, I can definitely say that it is completely worth visiting when you make it to St. Andrews. Not only was it one of the best pregnancy massages I’ve had, the entire spa experience made it feel even more enjoyable.


A FEW TIPS 

Book in advance of your stay to avoid disappointment. You can email to book at reservations@oldcoursehotel.co.uk

.

Bring a swimsuit. The spa has so many great rooms, pools, sauna/steamroom- you really miss out if you don’t have a swimsuit to enjoy them.

 

Give yourself a good buffer of time before and after your treatment. You’re going to want to enjoy the spa for all it has to offer.


Pregnant and feeling like you need a spa break? (You probably do!) Find my reviews of other great UK spas here:

FOUR SEASONS  |  BAGLIONI HOTEL  |  COWSHED SPA  |  ROSEWOOD LONDON


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Overnight Train to Scotland (A Vlog!)

It’s been a long time since I did a vlog… like maybe 3 years, but for some reason, I’ve been in the mood lately to switch gears a bit and add this format to my site. I think because I’m starting to love the idea of falling down the rabbit hole of Youtube channels, it feels right to join the fun.

And besides, I thought for certain things/topics- well, it’s really just a more effective format of communicating.

So a few weeks back, I headed up to Scotland on the Caledonian Sleeper train. It runs nightly from Euston Station to Scotland. It leaves late (like midnight!) and gets in early (like 7am!), so you really have full days wherever you are coming/going from to enjoy without loosing much to travel.

I’ve taken it a few times before, and I’ve always liked it…. And I thought, since so many people seem to want to know what the easiest way to get to Scotland is from London, it may help to just show you what way I prefer. While I’ve done the others (drive, fly, train) many times before… and, to be honest, will continue to do in the future, I can’t help but prefer the sleeper train over the rest. It feels nostalgic and efficient to me… and when I’m not with my tiny kids, it’s the best way for me to get to Scotland.

So without further adieu, my vlog of my overnight sleeper over-party-for-one on the Caledonian Sleeper train. Enjoy!

And make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss any of my upcoming adventures. (Hmmm… maybe my “nesting” phase involves creating new blog projects, because I’ve been lining up so many of these for the weeks to come. Don’t miss out on what’s in store!)

Have you traveled between Scotland and London? How did you get there? Weigh in with your experience below and share what you liked/disliked about how you traveled. It’s always so helpful to share your experience, so please do!


Find more of my posts on traveling to Scotland here, and check out my full travel guides to Scotland & Edinburgh.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags | Isle of Skye

Back in the day, you’d often find the two of us on the Isle of Skye each summer. In the days before kids, we would find ourselves enjoying the long summer days up on the Western coast of Scotland… and, to be honest, we made some really sweet memories. It’s been a few years since we made it up there- but this summer, we came back up for a few days to help with one of our student groups and we got to see just how special this place is with fresh eyes again.

The Isle of Skye isn’t the easiest place to get to if you visit Great Britain. For example. It’s not an easy day-trip from a major city… you’d need at least 4-5 days, in my opinion, to get up there and really make it worth your time. It may not be the best trip for a first-time visitor to the UK, but if you’re a repeat visitor looking for a way to experience this gorgeous country a bit deeper- this may be the perfect spot.


HOW TO GET THERE?

INVERNESS TO KYLE OF LOCHALSH |  The easiest city to use as your base for a trip to the Isle of Skye is Inverness. You could fly easily from London or take the cool Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness. From there, you’ll want to rent a car. (Luckily, there is a Hertz just outside the main train station or rental agencies at the airport to make this breezy.) Now, I don’t normally recommend renting a car if you visit Britain- as trains/public transport are so good- but this is area of the country that just can’t be done without one. The good news is: the roads are so empty, you’ll not feel overly stressed if you are used to US driving.

This route will take you by the famous Eilean Donan Castle that sprawls out over the gorgeous loch. You’ll be able to stop here and see the famous castle that has been pinned over and over again on Pinterest in person. Along the way, you’ll also get to enjoy the scenic lochs. Stop by Fort Augustus for a ride on Loch Ness to spot Nessie, too. If you take this way to Skye, you’ll be able to cross the bridge from the mainland to the southern part of Skye and then drive up.

 -  or  -

FORT WILLIAM & THE JACOBITE TRAIN | If you have a Harry Potter fan in your house, this is the option for you. First, take the overnight train to Fort William… or you can go during the daytime via a bit of a longer route. This tiny town has a cute high street tucked with small eateries and charity shops, but the main draw is the Jacobite steam train that departs every morning. This train, often referred to as the “Harry Potter” train, will chug you up along a scenic route to the coastal town of Mailleg. You’ll cross over the Glenfinnan Aquaduct (from the HP series), and land in Mailleg where you can eat lunch before hopping the short ferry to Armadale, Isle of Skye. 

Once you arrive, you’ll need to coordinate getting a rental car to meet you in Armadale. There are local “car hire agencies” that offer this service, and make it easy for you to arrive by ferry and leave with a newly rented car.


Once you arrive, you’ll have one of the most stunning landscapes to explore. (Find ideas on where to go on my previous Skye posts or my travel guide.) When you’ve had your fill of roaming in the wilderness, taking photos of hairy coos and cuddly lambs along the roadside, and stopping to climb along waterfalls- you can either relax at a country hotel (like the Flodigarry Hotel, where we stayed) or head into the main town of Portree for some socialising. 

The summers on Skye are magical, but be sure that you book early if you plan to visit. (Seriously, at least six months or you’ll find yourself scrambling for something decent.) 


If you're looking for more posts on the Isle of Skye, look here, or find more in my travel guides to the Isle of Skye and Scotland. Or take a trip through our Instagrams under my hashtag #KnightsSkye


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags | Luss on Loch Lomond

Well, here we are- up in Scotland for the week! On our way up to the west coast, we stopped at the famous Loch Lomond for a few hours in the tiny town of Luss.

When we arrived, Viola informed me that she was going to let our coach driver know that "in English, we call a 'loch' a 'pond.'" Luckily, as most Scots seem to be, he is a good sport and thought it was pretty funny. (And to be honest, I kinda did, too.)


LUSS, SCOTLAND

This small lakeside (or "lochside?") town offers travelers heading to the West Coast and Isle of Skye a scenic stop on their journey. While the parish church may have an original baptismal font dating back to the 5th century, the truth is- there's not a huge historical drive to see the town. What makes it worth the time then?

Well, to put it plainly: she's a looker. With tiny cottages lining the street covered in bright flower boxes and huge bushes of fluffy flowers lining the path- Luss merges a stunning lakeside view with a perfect little town.

If you go, expect to spend 1-2 hours walking to the pier, grabbing a coffee (I like St. Mocha on the pier, personally), visiting the picturesque village church and chatting the kind man who welcomes visitors there daily, and getting a baked treat from the Luss Village Shop before you leave. Try one of their various homemade cakes or treats with a cup of tea before you go, like their homemade Gypsy Cream. (It's cookie sandwich comprised of oat & ginger cookies smoothing together a massive hunk of vanilla icing in the middle.) 

homemadegypsycreamlochlomond

Should the day allow for time for a meal in Luss, head to the town's Loch Lomond Pub. It's a cosy in spot to settle in and enjoy an afternoon.

lochlomondluss.jpeg

 

(Also... when did I get SO pregnant. I saw the picture Tyler took below and couldn't believe I actually look that big. Third times a.... whale of a time?)

aspiringkennedypregnant
violaknightscotland.jpeg

 

CONTINUING ON...

From there, you can continue on your trek West. Soon after, you'll pass by the unexpectedly grand Inveraray Castle settled beside the quaint seaside town of Inveraray. (This town could be a good lunch option, too.) 

And further on, make sure you make time to stop by St. Conan's Kirk- a tiny jewelry box of a church perched along a gigantic Loch. The church is one of Scotland's smallest, but boasts big character. It has gorgeous (but small) gardens that surround the property that make the visit even better.

Then from there? Keep going. Stops liken Oban and Fort William await. If it were me, I'd go all the way to Fort William to get to the Jacobite Train for a Harry Potter-esque journey up towards Skye.

 


Looking for more posts on Scotland? Check out my travel guides to Scotland & Edinburgh here, or find my last posts on Scotland here.

You can also search some of the best spots to stop in Skye with my Instagram hashtag, #KnightsSkye.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on June 6, 2017 and filed under scotland, eat, drink, pack your bags.

Edinburrrrrrrgh & St. Andrews

With the way my fall terms are set up, it typically lands us in the Northern UK at the start of the Christmas season and the chilly winter weather that accompanies the holiday.

I love visiting these places in the sunshine of the long summer days when daylight stretches across the day from 3am until midnight... but the dark months here are alluring, too. Dark, windy streets that are void of chatter and whistling windy cries for only you to hear. Cuddling in small family-run cafes over warm drinks and filling treats like crumbly shortbread and warm mince pies. 

Not every moment of our wintery visits are magical (some are just fussy windblown and soggy)... but hey, the pictures could fool you. 

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And no trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a day in St. Andrews. And no rainy winter' day in St. Andrews would be complete without a warm afternoon tea at the Old Course Hotel. I prefer tea time to tee time.

A quick walk on the beach to collect some seashells and... result in our socks being completely gritty for the train ride home. Ha! Worth it though.

The best family pics/selfies are going to be for a few years. :) (You should see the others!)


Also, we found a fantastic pizza place in Hunter Square, just off the Royal Mile, called Civerinos. Huge slices of pizza (£4), hot bowls of pasta (£7 at lunch) and a small mountain freshly made Italian donuts complete with Nutella and homemade vanilla whipped cream (£5) were just the right type of food after getting drenched that morning.

 

Check out my Edinburgh travel page for all our favorites in this special city. Find my St. Andrews suggestions in my Scotland page

 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy



Posted on November 21, 2015 and filed under travel, scotland, edinburgh.

Over The Rivers and Through The Woods.

This morning, we are leaving for our annual twelve day tour around the UK & Ireland. It's the standard end-of-semester trip that we take my students on, and it's always so much fun. (How could it not be though, right?) While it's a lot of work, I'll have Tyler there to be an extra set of hands... thus confirming that if he ever gets an office job, I'll be devastated.

We'll be going up through the Lake District, York, Edinburgh, Stirling, St. Andrews and over to Belfast, Giants Causeway (see gorgeous image below!), Dublin, and the Cliffs of Moher. Oh man. It's going to be a busy two weeks!

giants causeway northern ireland

I've never been to Belfast- or Northern Ireland, for that matter- and I'm so excited. First to see this place that I've heard so much about from Megan and Stephen, and second because... well it's another country to add to my list!

We've got big plans for the Christmas Market and the Titanic Museum... but let's get serious: I'm gonna need some good recommendations for where to eat. Go ahead and drop your favorites down below. Much appreciated, love.

 

 

*image via

Write It Down.

I enjoy writing.

(Obviously?)

I can think clearer and articulate how I feel

by writing my thoughts down.

Journaling has always been a huge part

of all of my travels.

If you looked in my closet

at my parents house,

you would find endless journals

half-filled with pages of my travels.

School trips, mission trips, family trips...

They would become immortalized by pen.

It seemed an injustice to the experience (and expense!)

to do anything but that...

As if it was wasteful to forget one day.

And I guess I still feel that way...

I love taking notes, pictures, 

writing favorite spots

we discovered down along the way

to show an odd form of thankfulness for the experience...

That's why this blog is so full of things, I suppose.

If someone can benefit from the experience I had,

it makes it live on and have a deeper worth.

But beyond the journaling & blogging,

I also love writing postcards.

I send them to the littles in my life that are special to us...

And, now that they've received them for a few years and the excitement has worn off a bit,

I get to write them to a new friend who needs them.

And that just makes the experience of going places,

even amazing places,

all the better.

Postcards? Pictures? Videos?

How do you savor your travel experiences?

* * *

I just walked in the door from two weeks

moving around England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland...

capped off by a weekend in Barcelona.

(If that's new news, jump on the

Aspiring Kennedy Instagram

train for immediate gratification.)

More on those later

-as my immediate priority after a 4am taxi is a nap-

but for now,

check out two other places (on-line) 

that you can find me at recently.

NEXT Home Blog | Designs By Katy

The Hills Are Alive!

The hills are 

alive.

with the sound 

of an airplane landing at Heathrow...

Tyler lands this morning 

after being apart for 16 days.

That's a long time, guys.

She's so beary excited.

That's, like, 17% of Viola's life.

I'm already doing a happy dance

about him being back...

Special thanks for my mother-in-law

for being the wind beneath my wings for the past two weeks

helping with le bebe while I worked,

doing endless loads of laundry,

and never judging me for sleeping in

until 11:20 yesterday & today.

{Or 

at least, not letting on if you did!}

Today's going to be great for me.

I hope it's awesome for you, too!

How do you function on when you're on your own?

Better Off 

or Better Not?

*All images original to Aspiring Kennedy. Taken in Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye.

Pack Your Bags: Edinburgh's Elephant House

If you go to Edinburgh,

you're bound to visit

the

main historical sites

of the town...

The Edinburgh Castle.

Holyrood Palace.

John Knox's House.

The Royal Mile.

But these days,

most people visiting the city

also stop by a place of more recent

historical importance...

You know, where JK Rowling famously penned

the first of the Harry Potter stories on napkins

while she would nurse a single cup of coffee all day

instead of sitting around in her flat

that she couldn't afford to heat.

It's a bit dorky to want to go there, 

but hey-

if you do want to go,

just know that you're in good company.

{I've been loads of times.}

Plus, it's so close to the historical sites

that you won't be putting yourself

too far off track

 from the "respectable tourist site list."

The room is really pretty and has great lighting...

with a killer view of the castle.

It's the perfect place to come for a light lunch....

.... or to relax with a book

at tea time.

{Sidenote: they have such good desserts.}

So make sure you add a quick visit to

The Elephant House

to your trip to Edinburgh!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 30, 2013 and filed under "books", "edinburgh", "scotland", "travel", edinburgh, scotland, eat.

Pack Your Bags | Edinburgh, Scotland

I know I've posted about Edinburgh several times in the past. At least, this time & this time

that I can remember.

But since I have get to go up there so often for work, I find new things each time I'm there that I think you might want to

know about. I got to see the usual haunts like the Royal Mile....

John Knox's House....

& the funny street performers that may or may not have the same name as my daughter....

...but I wanted to jot down a few new places that might make your trip to Edinburgh better. The King James Thistle Hotel

This place is located really close the train station {right across from the Balmoral, if that helps give you context?}, has

affordable room rates, and has a staff that is super friendly...especially in the case that your reservation is accidentally

cancelled. Not that I would know anything about that though.

LE MONDE | This restaurant is located in the heart of New Town. It's got delicious food {I'll go ahead and recommend the

leek & parmesan risotto and the sticky toffee pudding}, great decor that will make you feel like you're fancy, affordable

prices that won't make you feel like you're broke, and a staff that is super friendly...especially in the case that your baby

poops through her outfit TWICE. Not that I would know anything about that though. 

CALTON HILL | I've always seen the gorgeous stone monuments sitting on the far edge of new town but have never really

know what they were and how you would get up to see them...or if you even could? Well, this time, after leaving an

indulgent afternoon at Clarinda's Tea Room, we found the path up there and it was so easy to do. {About a 5 minute climb

up while holding a baby. Easy peasy.}

not so sure about that bright sun....The gorgeous view of the city makes this a must-do...plus, it's proximity to New Town

makes it too easy not to do on a pretty day.

MIU MIU Glitter Slippers

I also got to break in the new shoes that I found on clearance at Off 5th while I was in the States. I couldn't find them

online for you, but I did find some similar ones that are pretty darn cute & sparkly, too. {You know, just in case you have

an inner-Dorothy complex that needs to be satisfied, too.}

* * *

Any new places in Edinburgh that you love

that I should try on my next visit?

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 27, 2013 and filed under "edinburgh", "scotland", "travel", scotland, travel.

Pack Your Bags | The Isle of Skye

Remember in September when I was parading around Scotland with my parents and Tyler? I thought that it was chilly then.

Apparently, I forgot just how crisp autumn can be here in the UK.

Its even chillier now...but the coziness that the Isle of Skye offers with it's tiny cafes serving big steaming bowls full of

homemade 'cullen skink' and pots of tea served with Scottish cakes and shortbread makes Skye the perfect place to find

yourself hiding out.

STAY | 

THE BOSVILLE HOTEL | Located in the main part of Skye's largest city, Portree ('Port Ree' meaning in Gallic, "The King's Port), the Bosville is one of the "fancier" hotels in town. While it is nice and clean accommodation, don't compare the luxury outfitting of these rooms to the findings of a luxury hotel in Manhattan or Paris. But there is free shortbread & tea in your room which makes for a good replacement for me. Both the hotel pub & restaurant serve really good food...if you're the eating type. :)

MARMALADEThis sister hotel to the Bosville is also situated in Portree, though about a 5 minute walk up the hill out of town. The position of the hotel gives it a stunning view of the port below. Accommodation here is a grade down than at the Bosville, but rooms are clean and the staff is above & beyond friendly. The restaurant downstairs is also a popular location for locals.

THE MACKINNON COUNTRY HOUSE | If you're looking for a quaint & affordable place out in the country, the MacKinnon Country House is a sweet option. Sat near Kyle of Lochalsh on some quiet and pretty land, this country hotel is a quiet escape from most normal life as you may know it. The food is good (like, really good) and the staff is friendly and welcoming. You'll feel like part of the family when you leave. {Bring books... no great internet or tv options here!}

DO:

It's hard to say what there is to do on Skye.

Having a good time is fairly intuitive and a hard objective to miss. It's kind of just a little place that you drive around,

hopping in and out of your car as you make your way around the enchanted island. You'll come across so many waterfalls

you'll start to feel like you are in a laundry detergent commercial...

Dad be nimble, Dad be quick, Dad walk over the walking stick.

You'll find yourself walking along lonely streams & bridges...

and, if you're lucky, you may come across some friendly highland coos!

The mysterious origins of my big hair is revealed: my mother. {Yes, "coos." Go on now, say it like a Scotsman!}

We always spend some time wandering around the tiny harbour town of Portree stopping in shops, eating ice cream, and

kicking rocks into the water by the port or we opt for the less social route: cuddled up under a mess of blankets, watching

movies on our computers, drinking lots of warm beverages, and spending way too much time huddled over hot food and

good conversation inside cozy pubs.

EAT:

THREE CHIMNEYS | Honestly, food isn't why you visit Skye...but if you insist on something gourmet while you are here,

the legendary Three Chimneys should suit your fancy.  I've never been, but apparently- it's quite the place to eat on Skye, if

the hefty price tags don't scare you off.

***

There you have it...a few little nuggets of advice that can help plan (or inspire) your trip to the gorgeous Scottish Isle of

Skye.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 1, 2012 and filed under "Isle of Skye", "scotland", "travel tips", "travel", travel, scotland.

Dreaming of St. Andrews

I'm back from our blogger weekend in Italy

and am already pulling 12 hour work days

as my new semester starts.

It feels good though.

I like being busy.

Before I get heavy on the Italy pictures

and trying to articulate all that happened during our trip,

here are the dreamy shots I promised

from our trip to St. Andrews.

Even though I lucked out with posh accommodation this time,

what I typically like the most about this town

is how

normal

 St. Andrews is.

There are just a few streets running through the town

lined with approachable restaurants, regular shops & charity shops....

it's just a sweet place for regular people to live and study.

{Or for Royals to fall in love... whichever.}

Regardless of the town being really tiny and secluded

and being, well, pretty much freezing most of the year, 

I actually think I could live there.

Isn't this place the cutest?

To get more information on visiting St. Andrews,

read

my post here

on things to do

and my review on staying at the famous

Old Course Hotel.

And if you wonder if the nut falls far from the tree,

this picture of my dad taking a picture

reminds me that my genetic predisposition is what it is.

No need to keep fighting it.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 26, 2012 and filed under "Jet Setting", "St. Andrews", "scotland", "travel", scotland, travel.

Pack Your Bags: {Classy} St. Andrews

If you've read this blog for a little while,

you might have learned that there are certain places

that I kinda get obsessed with after visiting.

And when that happens,

 I visit them again...

and again...

and again.

St. Andrews in Scotland is one of those special places.

This famous town was listed on the first itinerary I ever had,

so, site unseen, I showed up and spent the day exploring the tiny coastal town.

And ever since that random day,

 it's become one of my favorite spots in the UK.

Since I'm typically there with students, 

I experience the town through the eyes (& budget) of a student....

but last week, I went with my parents

and got to experience the town through their eyes.... and budget.

All of that lead up to say:

we stayed at the

St Andrews Old Course Hotel

and it was freakin' awesome.

{Oh yeah, I'm classy and belong in luxury hotels, y'all.}

A few things to know about the famous hotel:

It's owned by Kohler.

Yeah, like the water faucets.

While this seems weird, it results in the hotel having

amazing tubs and showers in every room

and one of

the most amazing spas

I have ever been to in my life.

{Use of the thermal spa is free for hotel guests.}

I lierally sat in one of the whirlpools and thought:

I feel like a Roman at the baths.

And when we sat in the rooftop hot tub

as the sun set over the coast

drinking my chamomile,

I felt exceptionally fancy.

The breakfast served at the hotel is amazing.

Order some waffles

and tell me if you've ever had better.

You can't. 

It's impossible...

because they are actually, believe it or not, Belgian

and have the yummy sugar pearls in the batter.

Oh my.

Regardless of if you are staying in the hotel or not,

you can come eat at the resort's pub, 

The Jigger Inn.

It's

the cute little white house

 tucked between the golf course & the hotel.

It's well-priced, 

the service is really great,

and the freshly caught haddock, for the fish & chips, is completely legit.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly,

free on-demand movies in your room.

I totally veg'ed out after dinner

watching movie after movie

in our enormous, American-sized bed

cradled by an obscene amount of fluffy pillows.

So this is my instagram-level tour

and review of our stay at The Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews.

Overall, it's a great hotel that would make the perfect setting

for a trip to St. Andrews... if you can make the splurge.

{It would be hard to imagine being disappointed if you did.}

Wait for tomorrow when I take you on a drool fest

throughout the rest of town and our stay

with the pictures I took on my "real" camera.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

**follow me on Instagram. Username: aspiringkennedy

Posted on September 18, 2012 and filed under "Hotels", "St. Andrews", "scotland", "travel", scotland, travel.

Pack Your Bags: Edinburgh (Family Style)

My parents came to visit

and we decided to take them to see

a few places that they have never seen.

Ok, well one place really: Scotland,

with a lot of little stops along the way.

The first stop was Edinburgh for two nights

until Tyler could wrap up work and join us.

While I typically run around the town

with college students

or with our awesomely low-budget.

But this time around,

oh friends,

I came with mama & papa.

I may or may not have persuaded them into the ways of Barbour upon arrival in the rain.

And traveling with mama & papa

can always make things a bit more fun.

We had such a good time.

We saw all the sites

like the

Edinburgh Castle

and the Queen's Edinburgh palace,

Holyrood...

we ate tons of food

at cozy places like

Under The Stairs

and lunch at the famous

Elephant House,

ok, actually haven't eaten one yet... but will work up the nerve to soon.

& we slept like kings

while staying at

The Balmoral.

Enormous rooms, cozy robes & REN bath products. Oh, yes.

Fun fact:

JK Rowling finished Book 7 of HP

in a suite at the Balmoral

as a way to enjoy her success as an author.

From her starting point over a single cup of coffee at The Elephant House

to a suite at Edinburgh's grandest hotel-

I like her style!

So do I recommend the splurge for a stay at

The Balmoral?

If you can swing it, of course!

Or if you want to go for something more modern,

the

Hotel Missoni

draws me in big time!

Edinburgh + Missoni = Awesome doormen in kilts.

Though if you can't swing it,

which is the camp I most often fall into,

I also highly recommend an apartment through

Advocate Apartments

or

The Fraser Suites...

either will give you great rooms at a great price in fantastic locations.

More soon as our journey continues...

the next stop is one of my favorites:

St. Andrews!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy via my instagram. Username: aspiringkennedy

Isle of Skye | Jacobite Steam Train

 

Does a "Jacobite Steam Train" not sound completely dorky? The answer is to the above question is: Obviously. 

It sounds like train carrying freight in librarians, bearded men wearing cargo shorts and socks with sandals & young snotty-children clutching to obscure toys like rock collections.

I guess if you notice all the grey-hairs sitting around you on the train, you'll realize your aging social life will sooner find you on an Alaskan cruise than any bikini-clad summer pool parties reminiscent of MTV Spring Break in Panama City. Then again, if I'm honest with the person I really am, I probably feel much more comfortable over there anyway...

So it was no surprise that I was more than giddy to spend a morning on this train working my way up through the hills of Scotland a few weeks ago. Because while it may sound lamer than girl scouts without any cookies,a trip on this old steam train is, actually, totally awesome.

While this train isn't actually on the Isle of Skye, it does run from Fort William to the tiny port town of Maillaig. From Maillaig, you can take the ferry to Skye and start your trip there in fabulous style.

Recognize this view?

It's the bridge that the Hogwarts Express goes over in Harry Potter.

All aboard!

PS. Scotland is really pretty.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on June 27, 2012 and filed under "scotland", "travel", isle of skye, scotland, travel.