First Day in Scotland!

Believe it or not, we made it to our third country today!  Early this morning, we hopped on the bus for a long day of traveling, and we stopped every couple of hours to explore little towns along the way.  Our first stop was Windermere in England, which was the home of Beatrix Potter!  So, we saw plenty of references to Peter Rabbit and had a chance to do a little shopping before heading toward the Scottish border.

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I think I mentioned a couple days ago how they’re really into potatoes over here, but as it turns out, they’re into potatoes in almost every form.  I think we’ve had French fries (or chips, as they’re called here) available at almost every meal!

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Once we crossed the border into Scotland (the home country of our tour director, Austin), we stopped in Gretna for some lunch and shopping at Gretna Green.  This particular spot actually has a two-year waiting list for weddings, because Scotland used to have a legal marriage age of 16.  So, teenagers would hop the border from surrounding countries to elope!

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Between Gretna and Edinburgh, we saw SO MANY SHEEP.  We even saw some being sheepdogged across the road by some really rambunctious shepherd dogs!  But the countryside was beautiful, and before we knew it, we were in the lovely city of Edinburgh!  We first drove through the Morningside neighborhood, which is known for being very posh and was where J.K. Rowling spent quite a bit of time writing her Harry Potter series.

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Greyfriars Bobby is a little pub dedicated to a small Scottish Terrier who worked with an Edinburgh police officer about 200 years ago.  When his owner died of pneumonia, he stayed by his graveside for 14 straight years, only leaving once a day to eat at the local police station.  When he passed away, the city honored him as a symbol of loyalty and friendship and gave him his own gravesite, where people still leave twigs, dog food, and stuffed toys.  Once a week, those items are donated to the local animal shelter.

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There’s even a statue of Greyfriars Bobby outside the pub!  People believe you can rub his nose for good luck, which is why it’s a little discolored these days.

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After dinner, some of us had free time, but most of us went on a ghost tour with our awesome local tour guide, Esther!  She took us through a graveyard where J.K. Rowling spent a lot of time gathering inspiration.  Many of the names in the book are actually found in the graveyard!  We even went down into the underground vaults where many of the homeless lived several hundred years ago, and it was especially creepy.  But, Esther definitely knew her stuff and we learned a lot!

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On the way to our hotel, we were treated to a beautiful sunset over the river where a brand new bridge is located.  Tomorrow, we’re looking forward to a local bus tour and some time exploring Edinburgh before we head out!

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