November 2013

Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

This is not a photo of Scotland. Sometimes I find myself looking at it in between spurts of editing and rewriting the zero draft of my novel. I’ve found there’s very little flow in my editing process – when you hack away half of the original form you start to forget the beauty of the inspiration.

So I flick through the photos from my trip to Switzerland this past summer. These are shots of the Lauterbrunnen valley, a beguiling green gash in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Seventy-two waterfalls cascade off the towering limestone cliffs on either side of the narrow cleft, their tops fuzzed by mixed deciduous and coniferous forest and spotted here and there with tiny alpine towns. Read more...

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The peat fire at Stein Inn, Isle of Skye

There are few things finer than a good Scottish pub. Happily, Scotland’s littered with them. Just about every town has at least one cozy watering hole for locals and travelers alike and often a handful to choose from. Even the forlorn and unpeopled glens and hills often have, as their sole outpost of civilization, a fine institution of the dram and pint, places like the Grouse Inn and the Old Forge. Indeed, finding a fine Scottish pub is not hard.

Finding a pub that beguiles you for a lifetime, that draws you back across oceans and seas to step through that doorway to a tin-ceilinged, peat-smoky memory of old, where a healthy dose of camaraderie is doled out to every patron, well, that is a bit harder. Those pubs are the rare pubs. Read more...

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Shetland Beach

Scotland is not the first place that comes to mind when one considers a beach vacation, but the quantity of pristine, largely empty beaches scattered across the breadth of Scotland will blow your mind. From white sand wonders to pebbly quilts littered with hunks of sea glass to entire shores composed of tiny shells, Scotland’s beaches cover the style gamut. In this week’s round-up of the best of Scotland, I’ve collected a handful of my favorite beaches.

Many of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches are in incredibly out-of-the-way regions, but there are a huge number of gorgeous swaths within easy reach. Fair warning: While these beaches are awesome places, it’s best to keep your dreams of tropical drinks and skimpy swimwear in check. Read more...

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Edinburgh Castle

Few things define the mysterious and romantic atmosphere of Scotland the way that castles do. These hilltop fortresses with their distinctive crenelations, Cyclopean curtain walls, and sky-flung towers have always captured my imagination. Today my Best of Scotland series rolls on with a hat tip to all the castle hunters out there.

But where to begin the hunt? Read more...

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