Crichton Castle and Castle Douglas

After a lovely stay with our friends in the beautiful Backies area of Northern Scotland, we drove to Edinburgh where we met up with some friends who had just arrived from the US. From there we drove to Castle Douglas, and made a stop at Crichton Castle along the way. This 14th century castle sits above the River Tyne and is a beautiful place to explore.

The castle has a rich history, and passed through the hands of several families before it fell into ruins when a resident was accused of witchcraft. It’s a beautiful place to explore, and its elevated location offers nice views of the surrounding area.

A wee thistle.

From Crichton Castle we drove to Castle Douglas, in the Dumfries and Galloway area in the lowlands of Scotland. Castle Douglas is a market town that was founded in the 18th century. The area offers many activities and sights to see, including castles, lochs, beaches, and quaint villages to explore.

Our Airbnb was the gate house of a manor house. We had access to the manor house grounds and gardens, which were immaculately kept.

While in the area we visited Annandale Distillery, which is set in a pretty location. The distillery offers tours, and also has a nice restaurant.

The Douglas Arms Hotel is a good place to stop for lunch or dinner; the food is excellent.

Scotland is filled with a vibrant and rich history, rustic, wild scenery, and welcoming people. It is an amazing place to visit. What are your favorite things about visiting Scotland? As always, I look forward to receiving comments.

The Backies

The Backies is a region in the Highlands of Scotland where you will find charming villages, castles, distilleries and the crazy, fickle weather that is typical of Scotland. A colleague said to me “people don’t go to Scotland for the weather!” The locals say, “just wait 10 minutes, and the weather will change.” We certainly found this to be true; rain, wind, sun, repeat.

We went to the Backies in October, 2017 to visit some dear friends who live there. Scotland was our first stop on our five week European adventure. We had a delightful three days with them, and enjoyed many activities. One of our first stops was a hike to Loch Brora. Luckily, it didn’t rain while we were hiking, but the wind was fierce!

The next day we toured Clynelish Distillery. If you enjoy Scottish whiskey, I highly recommend this tour. It’s informative, educational and really interesting as well.

In the afternoon we visited a broch. Brochs are ancient, stone-walled structures, found in northern Scotland, that provided shelter and safety for people and livestock during invasions. As you can tell from the photo below, the weather was quite intense. The wind was so strong, I thought I was going to topple over!

The next day we visited Dunrobin Castle, the home of the Sutherlands. It’s a beautiful place where you can tour much of the castle, and the gardens as well.

The weather was sunny that day, and the wind wasn’t quite as strong as it had been, so it was a perfect day to stroll through the gardens.

My husband and our friend even played a quick game of croquet.

Dunrobin Castle is growing in popularity, and is experiencing greater numbers of tourists each year. We visited on a weekday in October, and the place was pretty much empty. However, summer months bring large crowds.

Have you been to the Backies? If so, I would love to hear about your time there.

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, also referred to as RTBG, is located in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and was a highlight of my time there. The Red Decker Sightseeing bus tour includes a stop at the gardens. This is the second oldest garden in Australia and dates to the early 1800s. The gardens include 35 acres of beautiful plants, so be sure to allow plenty of time. I visited in April, 2011, which is autumn there, and the colors were spectacular.

There are several restaurants there as well, where you can recharge after wandering through the gardens.

Have you visited the RTBG? If so, I would love to hear about your time there.

Moustiers-Saint-Marie

Moustiers-Saint-Marie, also referred to as Moustiers, has the distinction of being one of the most beautiful villages in France. Les Plus Beaux Villages de France is an independent association founded in the early 1980s to promote tourism in rural France. They determined the 100 most beautiful villages in France, and Moustiers, located in southeastern France, in the Provence-Alpes-Cotes d’Azur region, is on the list.

My husband and I first visited Moustiers in 1998, we hadn’t planned on visiting, but stumbled upon it while we were looking for a place for lunch. We fell in love with it and vowed to return someday. The next time we visited was in October 2013, and we stayed for 3 days.

Notre Dame de Beauvoir is located part way up the hillside behind the village, and is an interesting place to visit. A steep trail leads to this 14th century church, and you will pass the 14 stations of the cross along the way.

At the top you will find stunning views of the village and valley below.

There is a gold star hanging between the cliff walls that, according to legend, was hung in the 14th century. But no one knows exactly how it was hung. C’est un mystere, n’est pas?

The Adou river flows through the village.

The village is a lovely place to wander and take photos.

The Travel Sketcher, busy sketching.

We stayed in room 14 at Le Relais. The room has a magnificent view of the valley.

You’ll need a rental car to get to the village, but once you arrive, you can leave the car parked since the village is so small.

Have you visited Moustiers? If so, leave a comment with your experience there.

Galiano Island

Last week I wrote about a recent trip we had taken to Orcas Island, this week I will continue on that theme and write about Galiano Island, which is one of the Gulf Islands located at the southern end of the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. This large archipelago includes the San Juan Islands in Washington State, where Orcas Island is located. The stunning scenery and slow pace of the islands will draw you in, and you will not want to leave.

We visited Galiano Island in May 2017. Once you cross the border at Blaine, WA, it is an approximately 20 minute drive to the Tsawwassen Ferry Landing. The crossing takes about 50 minutes. Be sure to make a ferry reservation.

Galiano Island offers a range of accommodations including cabins, resorts, and bed and breakfasts. We stayed at the CliffHouse Cottages, which is run by a delightful couple who are warm and welcoming. The property is peaceful and quiet, and has a wood fired sauna that looks like a hobbit house.

We stayed at the Treehouse which is cozy and comfortable, and has a nice view of the water. The Cliffhouse which, as the name indicates, is perched right on the cliff and has a beautiful view of the water.

We were invited into the Cliffhouse by some delightful ladies, all in their 80s who were visiting Galiano to do some hiking. We shared a bottle (or two) of wine, and they told us how they escaped Eastern Europe before WWII for Vancouver, BC. They met shortly after arriving in Vancouver, and formed a lifelong friendship. Meeting people and hearing their stories is one of the things I love about travel.

During our stay on the island, we hiked to the top of Mt. Galiano, a 5.6 kilometer moderately difficult hike, that offers spectacular views at the top. There are many eagles to be seen and photographed as well.

The ladies we had met the night before had hiked the trail and encouraged us to do the same. I hope I’m that spry when I’m in my 80s!

Speaking of eagles, we came upon an eagle’s nest while strolling along the beach, and I was able to get a photo of her feeding her eaglet.

There are just a few restaurants on the island, and some are open only seasonally, so be sure to check availability before you go. There are three grocery stores on the island, so don’t worry, you won’t go hungry.

There are art galleries, beaches to explore, hiking trails and many other activities.

Have you been to Galiano Island? If so, please leave a comment below.

Kangaroos!

My husband took many business trips to Australia over a fifteen year period before the opportunity finally arose for me to meet him there, and it was well worth the wait. The people are amazingly friendly and helpful, the country is varied with breathtaking beauty, and the animals are incredibly interesting! I fell in love with it the moment I stepped off the plane. In all of his time there, however, he had never seen a kangaroo.

It was April, 2011 when I met him there, spring for us above the equator, autumn for those below. Since autumn is my favorite season, I was thrilled to experience it twice in one year. We arrived in Melbourne after visiting Cairns and Hobart. We have good friends there, and while my husband was working, MaryAnne was my tour guide and took me to many sites around Melbourne and the surrounding area.

One of our stops included the William Rickets Sanctuary at Mount Dandenong. It was a misty, rainy day, so we had the place mostly to ourselves. Willam Rickets was an Australian artist who focused his art on the Aboriginal People. The park is gorgeous, and filled with beautiful birds, as well as Rickets’ art which can be found tucked away in quiet grottos throughout the park, where one can contemplate his thought provoking creations.

The quality of this photo is poor, but I included it since I was amazed at the colors of the many birds we saw in the park.

We visited many other sites as well, including Yering Station Winery, Arthur’s Seat on the Mornington Peninsula, Sorrento, where we had a delicious lunch, and of course, we drove along the Great Ocean Road.

The view of Port Phillip Bay.

We were scheduled to leave the next day for Sydney, then on to New Zealand, and we still hadn’t seen any kangaroos. Rather than flying to Sydney, we took the train. It was a long ride, but the scenery was beautiful. The train made nineteen stops between Melbourne and Sydney Central, WHEW! Finally, between Galong and Yass Junction, we spotted some kangaroos hopping along in the distance. Unfortunately, we were unable to get a good photo, but it is clear memory for us both. This was my husband’s last trip to Australia. Better late than never!