Schwetzingen is approximately thirty minutes away from Heidelberg and is best known for its spargel (asparagus), especially weisse spargel (white asparagas). Our friends were leaving in a week (June), and none of us had made it to the palace at Schwetzingen, so we took the opportunity to go together. It also happened to be during spargel season.
Schwetzingen is an interesting reproduction of Versailles. We did not walk through the building itself – it was a rather humorous hodgepodge of eras stitched into one – but we spent many hours walking the gardens. Ken was quite pregnant, so we took our time. It was perfect weather for the leisurely walk, and there was quite a lot to see. We came across a mosque in the southern gardens with a beautiful pond behind it and a wedding taking place.
We took lunch at a cafe built into a beautiful carriage house (or guest suite wing, we couldn’t figure it out), and I had spargelcremesuppe (asparagas cream suppe), made with the white asparagas. It was delicious! I don’t know if I really like white asparagas any other way though. Great with bread.
It is really worth the visit, especially during spargel season.
For our last day in Scotland, we had a marvelous trip planned up north. We walked a mile to a car rental office, and Herr got his first experience driving on the left side of the street, and with a manual shift no less! He did remarkably well, but there were many times on the way north that he overcompensated and had us driving on the shoulder and nearly into some bushes! I almost had a heart attack.
The first thing we did was cross the Firth of Forth. Once on the other side, we pulled over so he could take photos of the rail bridge and road bridge. We saw beautiful Scottish countryside and lots of sheep before we came to the next bridge across the Firth of Tay. The Tay rail bridge is infamous for having collapsed a hundred years ago, so the reconstructed bridge is super fortified beyond what was really necessary. Herr took many photos. The town of Dundee is just north of the Firth of Tay, where we stopped at the information center along the bay before going north to Glamis Castle. I really cannot explain how we got through Dundee, just that Herr seemed to know what he was doing. The directions weren’t any help!
Glamis Castle is about thirty minutes north of Dundee. It has one of the longest driveways I have seen, but what a view as you near the castle! It also has many highland cows roaming around its peaceful countryside lands. The Queen Mother lived there in her younger years. It kind of smelled like an old lady house too… but it was interesting to see. There were other castles I would have preferred to see, but they were much farther north. Another trip back to the Scottish highlands, woohoo!
After Glamis we rode yet farther north to Dunnottar Ruins. Now that was incredible! Luckily, I had decided to put pants on under my dress (it was chilly) because wow, the wind! Dunnottar is situated on the cliffs of the North Sea, and one can only imagine how magnificent it was when still intact. It really felt like a magical place, and very beautiful. When it closed up, I took a detour around to a nearby outcrop, where we ran into a rabbit colony dug right in the soft cliffside. Rabbit holes everywhere! It was a little scary walking the narrow path with such a steep cliff into cold vericious waters below, but wow, what a view. Dunnottar was definitely the highlight of the day!
On the way back, we took the old scenic road along the North Sea. We stopped in a small town for ice cream and took some photos of a lighthouse across the street from the restaurant. I wanted to see so much more, but really we’ll just have to go back. A few times. What a place! My brother and sister-in-law enjoyed the bus tour they took to the south of Edinburgh, but poor Rie had her allergies acting up. There is so much to see there!
We split from my brother and sister-in-law for the rest of our trip since they had seen a lot of the sites during a previous visit. Herr made sure to eat Scottish breakfasts at the bed and breakfast every morning while I stuck to toast. Our first stop was Edinburgh Castle. Before we started the ascent to the castle, we came upon an adorable farmers’ market. We took our time perusing the booths and had some hot chocolate while taking in the view of the castle.
It was terribly windy and chilly once we got inside the castle, but it was still quite enjoyable. The castle is steeped in intriguing history, especially when the crown jewels were stored in a privy for one hundred years. We saw the gun salute or whatever it was. Really they shot something out of a huge cannon-like gun. A special service was being held in the chapel, so we couldn’t see that, but we saw the crown jewels, prisons, living apartments, etc. I had the most delicious tea at one of the castle cafes (which I still have to buy for myself!) with lunch.
Our next stop was Saint Giles’ Cathedral. We paid to take photos, which was worth it. Then from there we started walking towards the Royal Botanic Garden. We stopped by the Scott Monument (as in Sir Walter Scott, the author) and had some ice cream. We had a pretty good view of the city from the castle, so paying to walk up the monument was not a priority.
At the corner were bus stops of the standard double decker buses that would take us right to the gardens. We, of course, sat up top to get a better view. The royal gardens are free, and boy was I in heaven! Herr took the opportunity to slow down and at one point took a nap as I took photo after photo of all the rhododendrons and other flowers in bloom. The greenhouse was lovely, but in the end we decided not to pay to walk inside. We spent many hours in the gardens before heading back. We stopped at a quaint restaurant a few blocks from the gardens, but I was still full from all the other food and could barely eat my fish and chips. At least we walked off all the calories, since we went nearly everywhere on foot!
We did get a little lost walking back to the bed and breakfast, but not terribly so. We got in a bit more distance, and it was nearly dark by the time we got back. We were both happy to take off our shoes and crash.
If you could go anywhere in Europe, Scotland should be it. It’s absolutely beautiful and full of fun loving people who speak English. We very barely caught our plane, but once there, I didn’t want to leave. Our first stop after finding our lovely bed and breakfast was for lunch at the Whiskey Heritage Center’s Amber Restauarant. Haggis! Very tasty. Mmmmm.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse resides at the other end of the royal mile, so we walked it, taking our time checking out the shops. The Queen stays there every summer; she wasn’t in residence yet, so we could still tour it. The palace was nice enough, but I really enjoyed the abbey ruins with the gardens framing the back of the palace.
We mozied back up the royal mile and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, almost a ritual now while traveling. We have commemorative glasses from most of the Hard Rocks we have visited. We finished up the day by taking one of the many ghost tours. Cheezy but amusing, we walked through a graveyard at night and stood inside an old mausoleum after dark. Still don’t believe in ghosts, but maybe someday.