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Just decided to go to ...Edinburgh in the fall! Advice, please?

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I’d like to ask Edinburgh experts for a bit of advice. Of course I have done and will do much research (that’s sooo much fun for me), but I’d appreciate some pointers.

Bit of prelim:

DH and I, after much debate and hesitation and internet-searching, have decided to go to Edinburgh Oct. 2 (arrive 7 am) to Oct. 9. We’d about decided we couldn’t do an inexpensive trip to Europe this year, not wanting to use up his AA miles yet, but then we found that by going during my Fall Break and by going to Edinburgh (instead of London or Frankfurt or Paris or many other places we considered as places to start from), we could save $1500-1800 for round trip tickets. Then when he found he had enough Hilton points to cover 7 nights there, we decided to go.

There are a few things already decided and are unchangeable:

• The Hilton points make our stay at the Hilton Grosvenor in Haymarket free, so even if it’s not luxurious or in the very center, it will be fine!
• Going in October means we will have to deal with cooler and rainier weather, probably, but we know that; it was the only break other than summer that would make sense (and prices were way higher in June and July).
• We decided to not rent a car, so we will use feet, public transport, and probably 2-3 day trips with tours like Rabbies and/or Timberbush.

A bit more about us for context:

• I’ve been to Edinburgh for one long and glorious day as the teacher chaperone for students on a tour. Everything we did I want to show DH again, especially some things like the castle and the Royal Mile at a more leisurely pace.
• We are about 60, pretty fit, love history, and take tons of photos.
• We aren’t foodies much, and we don’t shop much, although we do browse and window shop.
• I have Scotts and Campbells and Edgeworths and other Scottish family names in my ancestry. Not sure what that means for planning, but….!

So what advice am I seeking now?

About the tours—Rabbies vs. Timberbush:

1. We will probably take one long one to the Glencoe and Loch Ness area; Timberbush seems to provide time to go into Urquhart castle. Any comment on which of these tours is better?

https://www.rabbies.com/tours_scotland_edinburgh/loch_ness_glencoe_1_day_tour.asp?lng=en

http://www.timberbush-tours.co.uk/our-tours/from-edinburgh/one-day/loch-ness-glencoe-the-highlands/

2. I want to see Stirling Castle. I’d like to also “see” (drive through) the Trossachs area. There are tours from both companies that include both in a 9 hour day. But I think we could do Stirling by ourselves in half a day or so via a pretty cheap train ticket. If we take a tour toward Loch Ness/Glencoe, are we missing something by not taking a tour of the Trossachs area and Stirling?

3. I think I’d like to see Alnwick Castle; any comment on which company does a better tour in that area?


https://www.rabbies.com/tours_scotland_edinburgh/alnwick_castle_berwick_borders.asp?lng=en

http://www.timberbush-tours.co.uk/our-tours/from-edinburgh/one-day/holy-island-alnwick-castle-northumbria/

About Edinburgh:

1. Is the tram an easy way to get from the airport to our Hilton, or should we plan on a taxi? (We will travel light, small roller and a backpack each)
2. We will definitely see the Castle, St. Giles, some gardens and parks and monuments, the Royal Mile, Calton Hill, the Writers Museum, and the Museum of Scotland, spreading these out over about 3 days. What else would you highly recommend for first time visitor?
3. For public transport around the city, is the DayTicket the way to go? I don’t see a weekly pass or some sort of PAYG thing?
4. Whisky tour/walk in Edinburgh—there seem to be a bunch of options (and it would be for DH, not me, although I’d go for the walking part). Which one would you recommend?
5. Is there a favorite walking tour, especially one with a literary theme? I found The Edinburgh Book Lovers’ Tour http://www.edinburghbooktour.com/#!tourtimes/cee5 Anyone been on that?

I know I’ll be back with more questions; it’s almost 8 months away, so plenty of time, but since we made the reservations today, I’m excited to start the planning!

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