Enchanting Bucket List Travels: Ireland and Scotland


By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva” talks about her adventures and detours in Scotland and England. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.


Ireland and Scotland have been a “bucket list” item for me for years. You know what I mean, it’s the list where you close your eyes and complete this sentence: “Before I die, I want to….”

Creating and updating a list of what you hope to see or do keeps us in touch with what we find moving and inspiring. The list keeps us dreaming and staying excited about life, giving us a purpose to work hard and get up in the morning.

Our scheduled 10-day bucket list tour of Ireland and Scotland began in Edinburgh at the lovely boutique hotel Mercure Edinburgh Haymarket. Soon after we arrived we were to meet the tour group at the welcome dinner. But first, all participants needed to provide a negative COVID test to the tour guide. Unfortunately, just coming off a ton of plane connections and a two-week cruise, both my husband and I tested positive resulting in a five-day quarantine in the hotel.

Luckily, our travel insurance and Go Ahead Tours covered the cost of the quarantine.  Queen Elizabeth II had just passed away, so we watched non-stop coverage of that event. Hotel staff member Peter Davidson fussed over us bringing breakfast and dinner to us, always inquiring about our health and watching that we had everything necessary.

This delay knocked out much of our tourist time. We were on our own trying to fit in 1 day touring Edinburgh and two days in Ireland, while cognizant that we needed a fly-in day to England to return home on our scheduled airline departure.

My husband and I are world travelers. We learned long ago to go with the flow of a “broken” itinerary. We did test negative on day six. Since we had little time and decreased energy, we decided to use the Hop On -Hop Off Bus. One of the pickup stops was just four blocks away from our hotel. We took the bus around one full loop making notes of where we wanted to go on the next loop, hopping on and off to see the sites that appealed to us. Several of the Royal family attractions were shut down due to the Queen’s death.

We did get off to immerse ourselves in the very popular farmers market, St Andrew Square (a city park) the Scottish Parliament, and the Royal Mile.  The Royal Mile is based in the Old Town and within a World Heritage site, the area is culturally and historically important to the city and jam-packed with things to see and do like a shopping walking tour of fun and serious shops, restaurants, cafes, and pubs. Just a few blocks off the “Mile” we found an extraordinary afternoon tea at the Palm Court at the Balmoral in the City Centre.

No stranger to the top hotels in Edinburgh, an afternoon tea at The Balmoral’s Palm Court is a big foodie bucket list. We decided to splurge and celebrate our milestone anniversary. The airy room has its huge glass dome to thank for its glitzy – but elegant ambiance and palm trees for its name. A chandelier hangs from the roof and champagne afternoon tea. There is a harp on the balcony. The menu consists of a variety of teas including loose-leaf and infusions and the meal kicks off with a fresh, cold soup. Fresh scones, cakes, and classic and contemporary sandwiches are also included. This is an award-winning Edinburgh afternoon tea experience. It was my favorite experience on our land trip.

Just a short airline hop and we were ready to explore Dublin, Ireland.  Dublin is a city where the most part is walkable depending on where you decide to stay. We stayed at the Hilton Garden and on day one of two, we took the Hop On- Hop Off Bus. Again, we stayed on the bus for the full tour and then went back to a few of our favorites.


  • Gendaloug



The Guinness Storehouse and the Irish Whiskey Museum and Teelings Distillery provided countless sipping experiences but it was very busy. After waiting in a slow-moving line for a very long time, we hopped back on the bus.

The Temple Bar is an area full of funky shops, eclectic cafes, and hordes of stylish locals and tourists making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. I had a grand time here.

Phoenix Park claims to be the largest enclosed public park in a capital city in Europe. There are many small green oases scattered throughout the park. At 1,752 acres, Phoenix Park is twice as big as New York’s Central Park. Phoenix Park is an important “green lung” for Dublin, as well as an enjoyable space to wander around. It has a diverse community with various species of animals including deer. This place is mind-blowing.

On day two we took a nine-hour Collins Bus Tour to Glendalough, Wicklow, and Kilkenny. I must tell you that this scenic bus tour was amazing. You always hear how green Ireland is, but this is one of these destinations you need to experience for yourself.

Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most iconic regions. We went on a walking tour of the 6th-century monastic settlement, including a graveyard. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. The Round Tower is about 100 feet above the ground and was built almost 1000 years ago by the monks of St. Kevin’s monastery. A short walk from the settlement lies the stunning Glendalough Lake.

We were fortunate to ride through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Known locally as the Dublin Mountains, the 25-mile journey from Dublin along the spine of the Wicklow Mountains is an awe-inspiring sight that stretches over most of County Wicklow on Ireland’s east coast. The winding mountain roads, natural ruggedness, and fast-flowing rivers were inspiring.

Kilkenny City is Ireland’s medieval capital and was the last stop on our tour. With its narrow winding streets, interesting shops, and ancient castles and ruins, it’s as picturesque as it is full of rich, intriguing history.

The good thing about a bucket list is it can be changed or edited at any time. No judgment follows. So, I am putting Ireland and Scotland back in my bucket. There was so much we did not get a chance to explore. I know there are many more adventures there for us.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info

All in Good Taste

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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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