Sunday, May 13, 2018

Lovely Inverness ~ Music, Fabulous Food and Staying in a Highland City

We look to Scotland 
for all our ideas of civilization.

City in the Highlands

I was aware that it was not like the small town that they portrayed in Outlander (which was filmed in the town of Falkland) but I knew I'd love Inverness. At least, I hoped I would.

Our awesome AirBnB!

This little outdoor space was so cute but sadly we never got the chance to use it! These blue skies were on our first morning but after that there was good amount of rain, especially when we were back there in the evenings. The last two weeks of August is the beginning of fall in Scotland!

Here's the cute little enclosed patio in the entry!

There was a nice big kitchen and dining space. We were able to pick up provisions so we had all our breakfasts in Inverness at our place.

To the left of the stairs was the bathroom. It was a nice size but the bedrooms are upstairs so drinking a big glass of water before bed wouldn't be advisable, unless you are in the master bedroom (which had it's own bathroom and tub).

There were three bedrooms in all so it would be great for a family with a couple of kids.

Here's the cute little sitting room (below) which had a TV.

Every place we stayed in in Scotland had Wifi. We stayed in AirBnBs our entire trip, until we got to Verona and my last night of the trip, in Milan. This was definitely one of the most comfortable for all three of us.

Right around the corner is Inverness Cathedral!

And we were a block from the River Ness!! 

The big structure (above) is Inverness Castle and below was a cute little cafe across from it on the river! The plants must love the rain because the flowers were gorgeous!

The Inverness Castle was destroyed during the last Jacobite uprising in the mid 18th Century and was rebuilt in the 19th. So, by Scottish standards it's pretty new!

Apparently, you can walk around the grounds and I'm sure the view is lovely looking out over the river. It's a government building now, with offices, and they don't allow tours so we never made it up there.

The light on the castle was pretty at magic hour though, right?

Standing on the bridge over the River Ness, a famous silhouette of the city, with a beautiful view of its churches.

I hoped I'd love it and I did. I think I could live in Inverness!

It's the largest city in the Highlands with a population of just over 60,000 and the seventh most populous in Scotland. It's charming, close to many attractions, the food is fabulous and there is a great live music scene. AND it's a short drive to some of the most beautiful places on the planet!

Our first sunset in the city ...

After our first full day in Inverness we tried to get dinner reservations and nearly everything was booked up! On a Wednesday! 

We'd spent the day on and around Loch Ness and we were so hungry! One of the places that we couldn't get in to suggested that we try this Mediterranean place, below, since it was fairly new and didn't have a following yet. 

It was a good meal considering it was kind of on the fly. We had salad and hummus and some sort of grilled chicken I think? It was also maybe only a half mile from our place, just across the river.

We didn't get much of a chance to shop around Inverness, though the shops were plentiful and looked fantastic. There were several clothing shops where I could have gotten into serious debt but with so much to do we only made one stop!

Leaky's Book Shop
Inside the old Grey Friars Church, rebuilt in 1792. 

We ran out of time to hit the cute bookstores in Edinburgh so I was bound and determined (get it? bound? Bookstore?) to go to this one! I'd seen it on Instagram or Facebook and it looked completely charming.

You can definitely tell that it is in an old church!

Way to repurpose an old building! That's my mom and dad below discovering that Leaky's has a huge collection of antique prints! My parents have quite a nice collection of etchings and this was a treasure trove.

They had a huge variety of old prints. There were maps of old Scotland, birds, flowers, castles and Shakespeare Illustrations!

My mom found a wonderful Midsummer Night's Dream etching, which felt so perfect to buy in the Highlands, since there is quite a lot of fairy lore in Scotland. They also found a map of the Scottish Borders where we'd just visited (and where many ancestors had lived)!

And, I found a lovely etching of Kilchurn Castle, which was on our "to do" list later on in the trip! 

What a beautiful used bookstore. I am so happy we were able to make it part of our visit to Inverness!

I took the following photo photo out the car window. Love the purple doors! No idea as to the significance of this old church. There are so many!

After the trip to Leaky's we headed East to Grantown-on-Spey and then Glenlivit for our first Scotch distillery tour (I'll get to that in another post).

That night we had a reservation for Hootananny! (My computer keeps trying to auto correct but apparently they use a different spelling!)

I thought a hootananny was an "all American "thing, but like many things in America it was a term and tradition brought in by immigrants. In this case, it was Scottish immigrants that came to Appalachia in the east.


OK, I loved this place!!! We walked across the river and a few more blocks to this great place and I'm telling you that if I lived in Inverness I would make this my regular pub. Not that I have a regular pub in L.A. but I'm pretty sure that if I lived in Scotland I would have one. And, that if it happened to be in Inverness it would be Hootananny.

Again, thank you Trip Advisor! Definitely get a dinner reservation, especially if there is going to be music (and I think there usually is).

As you might have guessed, this was by far one of my favorite places to eat on the the whole trip! The food was fabulous, the crowd was lively and the live music was toe-tappingly terrific. 

And, I kind of tried haggis. OK, it was not traditional haggis but a step farther than my breakfast veggie version that I had in Edinburgh! It was haggis meatballs with whiskey sauce. 

I was still a little nervous (if you don't know why then you can google how they make haggis)! Anyway, I needn't have been. We all split it as an appetizer and devoured it. The sauce though ... mmmm.

The place looks how you'd imagine an old pub to look but the food was much more gourmet. We found that to be the case in many instances. These days, there is much more to choose from and many places have moved on from fish n' chips. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

My dad ordered the loin of venison served on an onion polenta cake, seasonal vegetables, with beetroot jelly and a blackberry jus.

I ordered salmon ... again. It was cooked to perfection with a delicious peppered spinach béchamel sauce. I'm big into sauces. The salmon fillet was on a bed of crushed potatoes and curly kale.

Being in a pub, I ordered beer instead of scotch. I don't remember what kind but it was a Scottish ale on draft and it was also delicious.

The two gentlemen on stage, below, were great! One was a last minute replacement but they'd played together years before. I wish I had their names. The music was so much fun!

Here are a few different video clips I took on my iPhone of the music the played! The best is at 1:50! He's so into it!


Quite possibly the best meal we had in Scotland was at Rocpool. It's a tough call because we had so much good food but this was definitely a culinary highlight of the whole entire trip, including Italy. And, it was right around the corner from where we were staying!!!

My suggestion is to get a reservation way ahead and then confirm it. We got our reservation on our first night for the 4th night at 9:30pm. That was the first available. It's possible that it was the time of year but I would definitely plan ahead. It's worth it!

We actually asked where they'd gotten the peaches because they were so good but now I can't even tell you. The combination of peaches, arugula and prosciutto were lovely but I'm not sure what they dressed it with. Fairy dust?

(Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there! Close your eyes and scroll past!)

Okay, THIS was ... ambrosia! Roast rump of lamb with rose harissa, spiced pilaf rice with almond, apricot and coriander, fresh spinach and cucumber tzatsziki ... oh my word.

Not to over sell it but I will never forget that meal.

Beautiful Inverness ... sigh! 

Found this very quick 1:15 video on YouTube ...


Next up, Loch Ness and the beautiful Urquart Castle!

Sorry again for any typos and creative punctuation. I edited at 2 am!

Happy Mother's Day,
To all the mothers 
and to all those
who mother others!

Blessing and light!


donna baker said...

Gorgeous sights. Love learning about Scotland.

electricwave said...

Scotland is wonderful! ew

Candy said...

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this! It's almost as good as being there. Thank you so much for sharing these memories with us, Lucinda.

Loree said...

Thanks for the tour. I'm really enjoying your write-ups especially since we're visiting Edinburgh and Inverness in late summer.

Jade said...

What breath-taking photos and such fun commentary! Scotland looks like such a charming place to visit, especially that bookstore!
:-D I could get happily lost in there!

Haddock said...

Wow.... that collection of antique prints must a real treasure.