Scottish Diary | 18 May 2017

Scotland’s nature and architecture is stunning. It was great idea that we rented a car so we can drive around Scotland and explore it. With moving our staying point to the east, we went to visit more Scotland beauties. The first on our list was magical Balmoral Castle which lies in the Cairngorms National Park and has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. The castle is still the summer residence of Royal Family and is open to the public from April to July. We were lucky to visit Scotland in this time. You can go around the whole wonderful 18,000 hectares estate. There is just one room opened to the public inside the castle – the ballroom which is the biggest room in the whole castle. Maybe it doesn’t sound much but it’s more than you need. There’s an exhibition of Royal life at Balmoral: you can see Scotland’s keys which are handed to the Queen at the start of her stay to be the guardian of Scotland, you can admire dinner silver, dining settings, royal guard uniforms, and different gifts of Royal Family. During our four hour visit of the estate we were in the company of a great audio guide and we could stay even longer.

Since Marko’s leg is not doing very well, he visited the place with the help of a wheelchair which felt very good not to be in pain soo much for the whole day. You can get the wheelchair at the estate: a regular one or an electric one. The whole place is sorted out very nicely for disabled people. You can park in the estate, not outside where the car park is. The staff makes sure you have everything you need. They are very polite. And I must stress at this point: all the Scottish people we came across with are very polite. Not in a forced way but in a genuinely warm. Looks like this is in their culture.

Let’s go back to the castle. Balmoral is a working estate. Deer stalking, grouse shooting, forestry, and farming are the main land uses. It has its own fire department, road repair department, vegetable gardens, and big staff which are working hard particularly at the end of June and at the beginning of July when the Queen visits the estate. When Her Majesty is there, the bagpipes are played every morning at 9:00. There are fresh flowers in the castle which are growing in greenhouses and are moved to the castle during the Queen’s stay. After she leaves the castle’s chandeliers are covered, pictures on the wall are turned around facing the wall so the sun is not damaging the paintings, and carpets are rolled. There is a saying that the castle is put to rest.

It’s a beautiful castle with even more beautiful surroundings. Definitely one of the highlights so far on our fantastic trip. We ended the day with a visit to the near town called Ballater where we got our supplies for the next few days and went to our magical cottage in the middle of nowhere which will be presented in the next post.