Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Six Reasons To Escape To Scotland and Iceland


With rain falling on the roof, it's good to be indoors, dreaming of Scottish castles and Icelandic vistas. Thanks for popping in last week for some tea and shortbread - the winner of the "Sharing Scotland" giveaway is the lovely and talented Patricia from PVE Design. Congratulations, Patricia!


And there's more to share. Elizabeth from Pretty Pink Tulips mentioned she'd love to know how we chose Scotland and Iceland as our destination. I think I've mentioned that we tend to go back and forth between my desire for arts and culture, and Mr. H.'s love of outdoors and adventure. I struggle with wanting to return to favorite spots (ahem, Paris) year after year, he is always craving something new. With a direct flight to Iceland (Iceland Air offers a free stopover) and a quick jump to the U.K., a Scotland/Iceland jaunt seemed like it might cover all those points (although the well-traveled Mr. H. had been to both spots).

But there are many, many reasons to escape to these dreamy places - here are my top six:



Spectacular Scenery: There is a rugged and compelling beauty to both Scotland and Iceland, where evidence of volcanic drama contrasts with verdant greens and sparkling blue seas.



History Lessons: We trod in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Price Charlie. It seemed as if a chapter of Scottish history had been written wherever we went -- and with the vote for Independence being debated during our stay, a gripping story continues.



Arts and Culture: Just walk down the streets of the Scottish and Icelandic capitals to find evidence of a lively cultural scene. From Edinburgh's galleries and theaters (not to mention the Fringe Festival) to Reykjavik's indie music masters (Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Ros), these are cities where art is alive and well, not just something to see in a museum.



Chic Sleeps: Want to check into a urbane Grand Hotel? Fancy an elegant country house or perhaps a luxury resort? Or maybe a hip hotel is more your style. Edinburgh's beautiful Balmoral, Inverlochy Castle in the Highlands, Isle of Eriska on the coast, gorgeous Gleneagles in Perthshire and the super chic 101 Hotel and Ion in Iceland all exceeded expectations.



Good Eats: Pack your stretchy pants. From fish and chips to Andrew Fairlie's Michelin-starred extravaganza, Scotland cooks up some amazing meals. After the 2008 crash, Iceland restauranteurs returned to their roots and traditional foods. I'll pass on the reindeer burgers, but the bread and butter alone were worth traveling for. One of our best meals of the trip was at Dill, where chef Gunar Karl Gislason puts a fresh take on New Nordic cuisine with a different menu every night.


Fun and Games: Deer stalking, shooting, fly fishing, falconry - if it's something the Downton Abbey clan might have got up to while visiting Cousin Shrimpy, you'll be able to pursue it in Scotland. In Iceland it was soaking in geo-thermal pools, riding ponies through the lava fields and hikes across a surreal lunar-like landscape.


Both Scotland and Iceland are now firmly on the list list of well-loved places we'd return to again and again. Want to pull on the wellies and join me? Or pack the heels for a stroll down the streets of Edinburgh?


What do you look for in the perfect vacation spot?

Happy Wednesday! XOXO


22 comments:

  1. GORGEOUS! I am dying to go...my grandmother and aunt went and ever since their travels I have been dying to go and then my husband knows the Honorable Desmond Guinness and hosted a fundraiser for him about six years ago and he was so charming and gave me a most beautiful book on Irelands beautiful castles and I have been charmed ever since! The scenery is just so captivating! It is high high on my list of places to go......I will definitely consult you when I do:)

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    1. Hi Tina, I think you would love Scotland - from gorgeous vistas to beautiful interiors, and a few lovely bits of blue and white at the country house hotels we stayed at, there's so much that is just your style.

      Hope you are having a lovely week! XOXO

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  2. Oh, Jeanne, I love THIS post even more than the last...I wonder if anyone would care if I had you in my Friday round up two weeks in a row! Heck - I could probably put you in there EVERY week - your posts are always my faves. I have been to Scotland (years and years ago) and would love to go to Iceland, but my husband doesn't like "rustic"...I tried to explain that it isn't ALL rustic! Our upcoming Asia trip is his "bucket list" trip with the added benefit of visiting our son in Hong Kong. We leave in a month and I am starting to get very excited for our "urban adventure". Hope you are having a lovely week, my dear! xoxo

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    1. Sandy, you are so sweet. You know I am always honored to be part of your fantastic round up posts! Tell your husband that Iceland doesn't have to be rustic (I don't do well with rustic unless it's rustic-luxe!) Your trip sounds incredible. Can't wait to live vicariously.

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  3. Jeanne,
    "I won" - and am so excited! Thank-you for sharing and of course, I would love to travel there. I think travel is so good for the soul and the heart and I always feel so inspired after a trip. Just time away and a change of pace can be so invigorating.
    Thanks again and I do hope to see you soon.
    xoxo
    pve

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    1. Patricia, I'm so glad you won. Fitting since you are one of my very first "blog friends"! I agree, travel is good for the heart and soul. It's such an amazing world! XOXO

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  4. Jeanne, wow.. gorgeous, great photos! My Mom is planning a trip to Iceland at the first of the year. I will forward this post to her:) History, scenery, chic hotels .. good food and fun, sounds like the perfect vacation. I would love to go! xxL

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    1. Thanks, Leslie. I hope your mom has a great time in Iceland, I just loved it. Our hotels were fantastic and there is so much to see!

      Hope you are staying dry in this soggy weather! XOXO

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  5. Jeanne you certainly have me more than ever convinced of the beauty and history of both Scotland and now Iceland!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Haute Couture Ateliers

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    1. Thanks, Karena. They are truly beautiful places to go.

      Have a lovely rest of the week! XOXO

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  6. Hooray! This was just beautifully photographed and written Jeanne. I do believe that sales on airfares to Iceland and Scotland just went up... :)
    Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Bisous
    H

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  7. SOLD! I am wondering what has taken me so long, especially because I am part Scottish {Burns is my maiden name, but you know that!:)}. Coincidently, another friend of mine was over there around the same time touring, she came back with a book of intriguing chapters as well. I love that last photo of you, my bonnie lass! xo, ebb

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  8. Jeanne,
    Iceland has always intrigued me and I've heard many good things from a few friends that have visited. I didn't need an excuse to visit Scotland as I'm a total U.K. fan. I do want to go and hope to in the not too distant future.
    Wonderful post and thanks for sharing some details of your trip.
    Karen

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  9. We look for fresh air, fun and games and of course, great food when we're on vacation and we love not having to cook and clean! Your guide to Scotland is so enticing - we may have to hop over after our trip to Ireland next summer.
    xxoo
    C + C

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  10. Jeanne,
    I will gladly accept the cookies for my in house cookie monsters. I have a cookie jar and must say my will power has been incredibly strong. I do love a good spot of tea especially as the temps drop.....all your images are so beautiful.
    pve

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  11. Hello Jeanne

    What an interesting combination of Iceland and Scotland. Like you, I also like to returning to familiar places and love the familiarity of such.
    Great images and descriptions

    Helen

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  12. You make Scotland appealing - have not been but would love to go! I usually look for something less rugged when on holiday, but this looks magical!

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  13. the chic sleeps and scenery are callin my name, girlfriend. this is a whole lotta lovely. have been watching snippets of a tv series my husband follows called 'outlander' which is set in 1700s scotland. beautiful country and engaging personalities!

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  14. Oh dear....I really must go there, and this is the second blog tonight I've encountered Ireland! Maybe it's a "sign" and I should just go! Lovely photos!

    What a delight to see your comment tonight! Many thanks for your visit and words. And I too must take my own words these days for back to school for me is a challenge since I spent my entire summer enjoying peace and quiet, reading and writing at my leisure, but now? No time!

    Have a sensational weekend! Anita

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  15. Completely sold!!! Especially after having the Ryder Cup on in the background all weekend ( I live with golfers!) I'm thinking that Scotland would via Iceland would be the perfect escape!

    Congrats to Patricia!!!!!
    xoxo Elizabeth

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