England and Scotland: Backpacking Europe

I am back from a whirlwind 6 weeks in Europe carrying a backpack around. I’m going to be recapping my trip in chunks because there are a lot of parts and places to it.

After a red eye flight to London, we hit the ground running. This was my second visit to London and if I am being honest, it didn’t have the same allure as the first time. The first trip I took to London was about a month after I moved to Rome. It was my first trip outside of Italy, so being in a place where they spoke English felt incredibly welcoming and homey. Italy is not per say the most welcoming to Americans. Plus London has all of the things Italy doesn’t- coffee shops, breakfast, Anthropologie- basically all the familiar things I love about the US. So you can imagine my captivation when I experienced London for the first time.

But this time I wasn’t quite as madly in love. I am not hating on London, it’s just a little less exciting when you have seen it before. We revisited some places I visited before and tried to squeeze as much as possible into about 2.5 days. This time around I did get to see Notting Hill. I hadn’t watched the movie prior to visiting, but I did after and now I have all the more appreciation for the charming little neighborhood. I mean who wouldn’t want to fall in love with Hugh Grant?

The best parts of London include: the history, ROYALTY (team Meghan and Harry), afternoon tea, the accents, vintage shops in Shoreditch, and the markets (Borough and Camden)

If you haven’t been to London, it really is worth visiting. But now after going twice, I am ready to explore other cities.

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After London, we flew to Inverness, Scotland.

Scotland has been at the top of my list for years. I have ancestors from Scotland and have dreamt of visiting my homeland. Since I didn’t make it there last year, I knew I had to go.

And between the two, I have to say I err on the side of Scotland.

We stayed in Inverness one night, which was a charming town. We ate fish and chips from the tavern next to our hostel, walked along River Ness, saw the Castle, and listened to live traditional music at a pub.

And if you are in Inverness, you must go to Velocity cafe! They had amazing homemade food, salads, sandwiches, croissants, and oat milk lattes!

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From Inverness, you can easily get to the highlands and the Isle of Skye. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan far enough ahead to book a tour, but we still did get to go to Loch Ness and look for Nesse.

I can never get enough of all the green in Scotland. Rolling green hills everywhere. And sheep, or cows. Plus there were bushes of these yellow flowers all over. And there was another Castle we visited (there are lots of castles in Scotland).

loch ness loch ness loch ness loch ness loch ness loch ness loch ness loch ness loch ness loch nessOur last stop in the U.K. was Edinburgh.

The bus ride from Inverness to Edinburgh was unreal. I knew Scotland was pretty but I didn’t know it was that pretty. I spent the whole time looking out the window wishing we could stop and take pictures.

But much to my dismay I only got to pass through. Although I may or may not be returning to Scotland next year for something really exciting.

and Edinburgh. Yes Edinburgh. If you are a Harry Potter fanatic, then it is imperative to visit. I am not a diehard fan but I still felt the magic in the city. It’s incredible to walk the streets and see where J.K. drew her inspiration from.

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We walked by The Elephant House, where she wrote the first few books. It’s crowded with tourists but still worth seeing.

Then there is Victoria Lane, which is said to have inspired Diagon Alley. There’s even a Harry Potter store on the street.

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Another must do when in Edinburgh is to hike Arthur’s Seat. I didn’t realize how much of an actual hike it was. I thought it was going to be a walk in the park but let me tell you- it is a hike! If you are an avid hiker than it might be a stroll for you, but if you live in the flattest part of America, then expect to be a little sweaty. The views of the city are great and it”s nice to have fresh air within a city.

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And after hiking Arthur’s Seat, it is necessary to refuel with scones and tea.

For more greenery in the city, head to the Royal Botanical Gardens. These flower bushes smelled amazing and make for perfect picture opportunities.

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Edinburgh also has a plethora of cafes and coffeeshops. I could have spent all day inside some of the cafes. I like posting up there, enjoying the ambience, watching people, and pretending on a local.

My favorite that we went to was the Bearded Baker. They had homemade bagels, coffee, vegan cinnamon rolls, awesome minimal design, and really friendly baristas.

I often fantasize about living in Scotland in another life. Or this life. I love how I am still able to communicate with people there but also how they have their own distinct culture.

4 days in Scotland wasn’t nearly enough, so I guess I’ll have to go back.

 

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