Scotland: Edinburgh and St. Andrews

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Well hello there, it sure has been a while since I've posted here. We recently went on an amazing journey to Scotland and the whole time I was planning I could never really find a good list of what to pack. I wanted to share our trip as well as what I found useful on our trip .

We started out in Edinburgh which was a delightlful city to see. As a Potterhead there are so many cool places to see that inspired J.K. Rowling as she wrote one of my favorite series. Well within a short train ride away we also visited St. Andrews which was also spectacular. We actually spent our first full day out in St. Andrews seeing the golf course and exploring the town. We were signed up to play the Jubilee course, but unfortunately had to cancel the following day as the abnormally gorgeous weather we had changed and became the typical Scottish weather. Naturally Jared was disappointed, but I was able to really spend some time seeing the city of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: We spent the first evening exploring the city thanks to recommendations from our hotel bartender and concierge.

Angel's Share was definitely one of our favorite meals of our trip. They had a fantastic whiskey menu, naturally; and the food did not disappoint. 

We walked up and down Rose Street admiring the shops and bars several times. Rose street is filled with too many bars and pubs to name. Our bartender at our hotel said that some people will start on one end and attempt to drink a pint at every one. With over 30 bars and pubs we did not try to participate in that but we did get to try different Scotches from all parts of Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle is also well within view from Rose Street and our hotel.

Rose Street Views
St. Andrews: We woke up a wee bit later than expected on our first full day and set out almost immediately to see the Old Course at St. Andrews. On our way to the train station we found some coffee with a pretty awesome view.

While we didn't have time to see the actual Kelpies, I was so ecstatic to find a miniaturized version in St. Andrews. They were so beautiful! The originals are 30 feet tall!

When we returned to Edinburgh that evening we found a nice little spot to dine on Rose Street. The whiskey was fantastic and so incredibly cheap! I think I ate salmon 75% of the meals over there but it was too good. I also tried a traditional scotch dessert called Cranachan and boy was it good!

The next day was spent wandering Edinburgh and finding all the little Harry Potter stops. While wandering along Victoria Street, the street credited for inspiring Diagon Alley, I stopped by this lovely little pulled pork shop called Oink. I was delighted to try their pulled pork sandwich and was not disappointed. I didn't venture far enough to get it with haggis but it was delicious nonetheless.

I also stopped by Greyfriar's Kirkyard and searched for Thomas Riddel's gravestone. I looked high and low for McGonagal but never did find it

Our last partial day in Edinburgh was spent seeing the Edinburgh Castle. It sets high on atop Castle Rock in the heart of the city with beautiful gardens surrounding the base. I won't bore you with a history lesson but there has been a castle on that rock since at least the 12th century. The castle also separates the Old Town from the relatively newer 18th century side of the city.

Our train to Inverness left around 2 so we grabbed our bags and set off for the train station. Right outside of the main entrance to the Waverly station lies this gorgeous gem. I ordered a green tea latte and potato and leek soup to take aboard the train and they did no disappoint. This trip was our first time ever using trains as major transportation and we were both pretty sad that we don't have more railways near use to take advantage of.

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Princess Half Marathon Recap

So I know it's been a long while since I've posted. Between the holidays, training and procrastinating training, and working I just haven't felt very motivated. However after getting back from my big race yesterday I felt more inspired than I have in a long while. So, I'm happy to report for a recap of my experience at the Disney Princess Half Marathon race. Keep in mind I have never run a half marathon ever before. Up until race day I hadn't even ran 13.1 miles all at once (I know, I'm crazy). 

| Hotel |
First off, I booked our hotel very late as some plans fell through, and I wavered on whether I was going to do the race in the end. We ended up staying at the Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek Resort. I stayed there a few years ago for a conference for the American Heart Association when it first opened. The hotel was fabulous, if a bit overpriced, but I found a great deal and decided to give it a go again. The hotel is just gorgeous, but I still have reservations about the whole resort fee and parking fees ($20 resort fee daily and $20-24 per day to park!). They have several restaurants and treats to keep you full, although we didn't spend a whole lot of time at the hotel. We went straight to the Expo to pick up my race packet since we planned on spending all of Saturday at Magic Kingdom. Thankfully we arrived with enough time to snag a pair of the Ariel Disney New Balances! Afterwards we wanted to go out for dinner, but traffic was terrible so we opted for one of the restaurants at our hotel. It was alright but nothing to write home about. The ice cream afterwards was pretty yummy though!

| A day at Magic Kingdom |
The one thing I did plan way ahead was our dining reservations and fastpasses for our day at the park. I happily took the earliest reservations available for Be Our Guest which happened to be 8:10. That meant we could get into the park over an hour before it opened! There is something even more magical about the happiest place on earth when it is empty and the sun is just rising in the sky. The photo ops are perfect without anyone behind you and the lighting? Oh boy, it's gorgeous.


| Race Day |
Race day for Disney starts very early. How early you ask? They recommend you be on race shuttles by 4AM to make it to the 5:30AM start. I didn't stay at a Disney resort so I was very concerned about the commute time. There are several roads that are closed making transportation a bit tricky. I planned on driving myself until I met two very friendly fellow runners at the valet. They were taking a cab and were nice enough to share with me! I was a bit concerned about a cab that early in morning (absolutely small town girl here) but it turned out great. I actually learned many runners use cabs for transportation.

I arrived around 3:50AM and checked my race bag. I actually left my whole purse, wallet and all, in the gear bag provided. I did not have any problems with pick up. Disney is nothing if not well prepared. I would gladly leave all my things in the gear drop off again. Seeing as I was over an hour early for even the fastest runners to start, I hung around the music and tents for a bit then headed over to my corral as soon as they allowed. I was one of the first 5 people in my corral meaning I could take a place at the front tape. It was nice because I actually have a great picture the race photographers took of me pre-run/sweat/despair.

Being someone who cares about photos quite a bit, I'm always one to jump in to a group of people taking a selfie and offer to take the photo for them. It often ends up with the kind people taking your photo too! This was true again during this race and thankfully I got several of my favorite pictures from the weekend by fellow runners. It's also WAY cheaper than paying $30 per photo from the event photographers.

The one tip I can offer about running your first half marathon, especially at Disney, is to SMILE! Don't get me wrong, I was sore from mile 8 but the only thing to keep in mind is that it's supposed to be fun. You are at Disney after all!  I also don't hate looking through my race photos and not looking completely miserable! One thing I might change next time would be stepping my costume game up. I really wish I had some better photos of the other ladies' and gentlemen's costumes!

I haven't made a decision on what other races I'll run, but the more I look back the more I really enjoyed the whole race weekend. Even my ankle that is screaming in pain at me hasn't completely deterred me from future races. Congratulations on all the other runners who completed the journey this weekend!