Let’s Go Exploring! The Scots, My Kind of People

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Kristy Shen (aka "FIRECracker") is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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This is part of a Travel Series called “Let’s go Exploring!” Click here for Part 1:London. So Jolly, So Dark, Part 2: Bristol and Bath.



Okay, so we’re going to take a break from all the Britain bashing and whining about the Brexit, and go back to our travel series to talk about Scotland. Scotland, of course, is the country that is about to become independent because of the GODDAMN Brexit!

Ahem. *pats self on back for the OUTSTANDING segue* Whispers self-congratulatory “nice, nice.”

Anyway, so after Bristol, we took a flight on EasyJet to Glasgow, Scotland. Home of, Krystal, our AirBnB host extraordinaire and owner of the world’s fluffiest cat, Sammie, who was basically a giant fur ball with eyes.

Krystal also has a super cool Mom, who after learning that she hadn’t drank anything for the past two weeks, insisted “You’ve got to get back on the drink, lass! I’m sending over some Brewdog STAT!”

Man, Scottish parents are SO unlike Asian parents.

Krystal lived in this awesome neighborhood, close to all the museums, as well as grocery stores. Coming back from museum hopping one day, we walked into this gorgeous little park. There was this neat little exercise area, filled with outdoor weight benches, chin-up bars, and exercise bikes.

And it was around here that I met…my arch nemesis.

The Agility Bench.

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The Agility Bench, is this gymnastic bench that you’re supposed to jump over. But try as I might, I couldn’t do it. Mostly because of my useless, short stubby legs. So instead, I just stood there, arms crossed, griping to Wanderer about how dumb the bench was and why anyone would design something so “stupidly tall and impossible to jump over.”

“You’d have to be like 8 feet tall! I’m not Kobe Bryant!”

Wanderer didn’t respond. Instead, he just walked over to the bench, grabbed the sides, and jumped over it like it was nothing.

“WHAT?!” I said, flabbergasted. “HOW?”

Wanderer shrugged. “Just lift your knees.”

But try as I might, I couldn’t get over the bench. I tried having a running start. I tried leaping into the bench. I tried flinging myself over it. Nope. Nope. And Nope.

Wanderer looked at his watch. “Can we go please? We’ve been here for almost an HOUR. Why do you even care?!”

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m kind of competitive. Like STUPIDLY competitive.

So I made Wanderer wait, rolling his eyes and checking his watch over and over again, while I pondered how to defeat my arch nemesis. And then finally, FINALLY after 25 failed tries, I figured it out.

This was the result:

“I DID IT! I DID IT!” I said, jumping up and down. The eight-year-old kid next to me who figured it out in 5 mins flat didn’t look impressed, but I didn’t care.

I had beaten the Agility Bench. “I AM YOUR MASTER!” I yelled, jabbing my finger at it.

Wanderer dragged me out of there, exasperated, while the locals gave us weird stares.


So after that day, we rode a giant blue Megabus to Edinburgh…the birthplace of Harry Potter! And yeah sure, some famous king or queen probably lived there at some point too… but let’s get back to Harry Potter!

Our first stop was Edinburgh castle, J.K, Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts! Located at the top of a hill overlooking the entire city, the castle was breathtaking as well as SPRAWLING. We spent over 4 hours there, and we still didn’t see the entire thing.


What we did get to see though, was the “One O’Clock Gun”. Which is a tradition at the castle where a soldier fires a canon everyday at 1pm, allowing visitors to synch up their watches. Apparently the tradition came from the 1860s, to help sailors check their chronometers, before watches were invented.

My favorite thing about this ritual is that normally 12 Noon is used as the baseline. So really, they should be firing 12 shots. But the thrifty Scots decided “hey, why fire 12 shots and waste a whole lot of ammo, when you only need to fire 1?”

Right away I knew I’d get along with them. The Scots are mine kind of people.



So, after traipsing around the castle, and looking at a lot of medieval military equipment and the Scottish royal jewels, we headed for the “Elephant House” café. Known as the “birthplace of Harry Potter”, this is the cafe where J.K.Rowling famously penned the best children’s fantasy series of all time. And so as children’s authors, we HAD to pay homage to our idol.



As expected, the place was PACKED. I suspect if J.K. Rowling were to come here and write another novel, she’d never get past the first page.

Nevertheless, we had to take the obligatory touristy picture, and then sit there, drinking a cup of coffee, while pretending to pen our next great masterpiece.



Cost Breakdown (in CAD dollars, per couple):


  • $69/night


  • $40/day
  • We mostly cooked. Luckily we found an awesome grocery chain called “Morrisons”, selling such delicious abominations as: Black Pudding (blood sausage) and Scotch Egg (an egg wrapped with sausage). Nom nom!
  • More high tea! Perfect for the Scottish weather since it rained A LOT.


  • $28/day
  • Edinburgh castle was 16.50 pounds (or $30.50 CAD) per person. Not bad considering it’s massive enough to spend a whole day there.
  • We took 1 guided tour to the Scottish highlands (because we’re in Scotland how could we not?), and man was it expensive (45 pounds or $83 each) and so NOT worth it. We were allowed a STINGY 15 mins to gawk at the highlands, but were FORCED to blow a whole HOUR at a touristy fishing village that bored me to tears. I highly recommend the highlands, but rent a car and drive there instead. It’s WAY better.
  • Museums were free! YAY! If you’re ever in Glasgow, check out the Hunterian museum at the University of Glasgow. It’s amazing. The university is pretty insane too since, and like Edinburgh castle it looks just like Hogwarts.


  • $27/day
  • The flight from Bristol to Glasgow was 41 pounds or $75 CAD each, including taxes.
  • The bus ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh was only 10 pounds each ($18.5 CAD). In the UK, Megabus is your best friend.
  • Edinburgh was pretty walkable so transportation around the city was free. In Glasgow, we took the bus and subway.

Total cost: $164/day/couple

Rating: 4/5 scotch eggs.

Gotta love the Scots. We had NO IDEA what they were saying most of the time, but our communication mostly consisted of clinking glasses and drunken slurs, so…yeah. You ROCK, Scots!

Click here for the next post in the series: “Ireland: Please Don’t Scream into a Traffic Cone.”

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! The Scots, My Kind of People”

  1. We did a two week road trip of Scotland a few years ago and loved it!
    Did a dumb thing and went to see Loch Ness but it was still very pretty and Inverness was very quaint as well.
    Isle of Skye was mystical and very Scottish…hadn’t a clue what people were saying but they were nice. lol…
    Hope we can go back one day.

    1. We also checked out Inverness…very pretty. Did Nessy make an appearance at Loch Ness? I think that was one of the most popular tours.

      Glad you enjoyed Scotland! We hope to go back one day too..especially now that the pound is decimated…stupid Brexit. There I go again…

  2. Scotland. Yes, I’ve had to ask people to repeat themselves 3 times. Pretty sure they were speaking English, and yet.

    I have a good friend from university who lives in Edinburgh, so for brief visits it’s even better than an AirBnB. Wouldn’t want to impose by staying for a week though.

    Have walked from the city centre to Leith, which has a couple of things going on. I like walking in cities.

    1. I’ve never been to Leith, but it looks really nice from the google pictures. Awesome that you were able to walk there. That’s my favorrite thing about Europe…lots of walking cities. I kind of miss that in Asia, but the food more than makes up for it! 🙂

      So what did you think of Leith?

      1. I had a friend from Baltimore who was studying in Montreal once. He said “The amazing thing about Montreal is that if you are at point A and you want to get to point B, you can just walk there and you won’t get killed along the way!” But, walking from Toronto to Mississauga, for instance, is in principle feasible, but just so far.

        Also just had a bunch of food in Turkey, which was nice and so much more affordable than Switzerland!

        Leith was scenic enough, as was the walk. Not as many “highlights” as, say, Edinburgh Castle. But enjoyable in its own way. The shoreline is nice. One could visit the yacht (but I didn’t). Walking in cities in itself is usually worthwhile.

        1. I would probably have a hard time walking from Toronto to Mississauga. Plus, there wouldn’t be a lot of great scenery to look at.

          I was in Turkey a few years ago. Loved the blue mosque and the Turkish baths.

          I’ll have to check out Leith next time we’re in Edinburgh!

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