Week 3 of our 2018 Summer Travel covers the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens, Vienna, Austria, the West Scottish Highlands, and more! Find more highlights of our summer travels on Instagram as well as previous travelogue weeks:
- Week 1: From San Francisco to Edinburgh via Plane and Train
- Week 2: Edinburgh Castles and Museums for Kids
- Week 4: Edinburgh and St Andrews
Read also: What to See in Scotland with Kids
Our Summer 2018 Travelogue: Week 3 in Edinburgh
This week was different from most, because I spent 48 hours meeting up with old friends from high school in Vienna, Austria (where I went to high school). I missed our official high school reunion (it started Thursday night), but I got to meet up with all of my closest friends. It was also wonderful to be back in this city I loved so much as a teenager. I had to miss the actual reunion because we had plans to visit the West Highlands of Scotland starting Friday morning. It would have been fun to attend the reunion, but the West Highlands were absolutely stunning.
2 July: The Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden
We started off our week with a beautifully quiet day at the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden. We loved exploring the Glass Houses. The kids also enjoyed running around the gardens in general. The duck pond was popular, too.
3 July: Vienna!
I left early this morning for Vienna – before even my early riser children were awake! I took the City Airport Train (CAT) from the airport to the city, and then walked to my hotel. I could have taken public – I bought a 48 hour public transport pass as well as my CAT ticket via the Wiener Linien site before leaving – but the weather was beautiful and I wanted to explore the city. It was every bit as beautiful as I imagined.
I had booked a room at Hotel Stefanie, which is near Schwedenplatz. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is the oldest hotel in all of Vienna! I enjoyed my stay in this elegant and quiet hotel.
I met up with a friend for dinner, and then we went to a Mozart concert at the Musikverein. It was a fun concert, with the musicians dressed in period clothing.
4 July: My Birthday!
I enjoyed the hotel’s amazing included breakfast first thing, then went off to meet up with friends. We wandered the city. I was amazed at the quality of the vegan food at the Simply Raw Bakery. I’m not vegan, but everything in that restaurant is. I went there with a friend because I can’t eat gluten and all of their food is gluten free. This place had the best vegan food I have ever head – absolutely delicious, and healthy.
In the evening we all went to a film festival that is held every summer, free outside the Rathaus. The Rathaus is the City Hall, where longtime readers may remember I took my kids to an Austrian Christmas Market when we visited my family in Vienna in 2009. The Rathaus hosts a free open air film festival every summer. I didn’t love the selections this particular evening, but it made a nice place to spend some time with friends.
The hotel left me a lovely birthday gift of champagne and petits fours when I returned to my room. That was a delightful surprise! I don’t drink and I can’t eat cake (gluten), but the thought was lovely. I passed the champagne on to a friend, so it was still appreciated.
This trip was really great in helping me realize how much I can do without four children attached. I get out a lot with my kids, but it’s exhausting, and I was wondering if something was wrong with me for feeling so exhausted after a day out. It turns out that the exhaustion has a lot more to do with watching four children in a public place than anything actually wrong with me. I was perfectly fine after a much longer day out on my own and with friends.
5 July: Back to Edinburgh!
I took the U-bahn and then the CAT train to the airport this morning. Then I flew to Edinburgh, caught the airport to city bus, and walked from the bus stop to our flat. The kids had made me all sorts of wonderful cards and gifts for my birthday, and that was a delight to come home to!
We ate dinner and I unpacked my suitcase. Then I packed myself and all the kids up to join Mike and the students in the morning for our West Highlands Trip.
6 July: Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace, and Glasgow Cathedral
We made a lot of stops on our bus journey to the West Highlands! The first stop was at Blackness Castle, which is very much a fortress castle. The kids enjoyed running all over the place, climbing up to tower and down into the dungeons.
From Linlithgow we went to Glasgow. We stopped for lunch, then went on to Glasgow Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful.
The bus we were on had no air conditioning, and the fan wasn’t even working. By the time we got to the cathedral we were all quite miserable! Mike and the students went on a walking tour. We started to join them, but the kids were exhausted at this point so I found out the end point and took them off on their own walking tour.
We got back on the stifling hot bus. Thankfully we only had to ride in it for another hour or so before switching over to a bus with air conditioning.
We rode the new bus up to Fort William. Mike and the students went to a restaurant for lunch. I opted to feed the kids quickly at the hotel – a good call as Mike got in a good two hours after I had put the kids to bed.
7 July: Jacobite Steam Train and Wildlife Cruise
We spent a quiet morning in Fort William. We enjoyed exploring the West Highland Museum, particularly the secret painting of Bonny Prince Charlie you can see in the museum.
After lunch we caught what was meant to be a steam train. Because it was so hot we were given a diesel engine instead. Not quite as special, but much less hot on an already hot day. Steam engine also create a lot of condensation that can make it hard to get good photos. This way it was easy to get clear photos of our surroundings. We thoroughly enjoyed the ride, particularly crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. We went all the way to Mallaigh, where we went on an hour long wildlife cruise. We saw some seals and birds, but no dolphins as I had hoped.
It was late by the time the train returned to Fort William. The kids could barely stay awake for dinner at the hotel!
8 July: Steall Falls and Stirling Castle
We hiked into Steall Falls this morning, and it was absolutely stunning. This is the second tallest waterfall in all of the United Kingdom, and the entire area is gorgeous. Photos don’t do it justice.
We drove to Stirling after our hike, and used our Historic Scotland passes to tour Stirling Castle. Then it was on to home, getting back just in time to put the kids to bed at their usual bedtimes. They were exhausted, and fell asleep quickly!
I hope you enjoyed week 3 of our summer travelogue! We only have a week and a half left in Scotland. What should we be sure to see before we move on? Share recommendations on my Facebook page, or by tagging me on Instagram. Sign up for my newsletter to receive book recommendations, crafts, activities, and parenting tips in your inbox every week.