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Trip Report Lochs, Lox, Locks, and Rocks: Nikki's trip to Scotland

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It is arguable that I have taken more vacations over a period of 44 years with my friend Ellen than I have with my husband Alan. But we had not traveled to Europe together since the summer of 1972. When the time finally came, we decided to go to Scotland. Ellen and her husband Alan (no, they are not the same man) would meet us in Edinburgh; we would rent a car for ten days, travel around Scotland, and then return to Edinburgh for six days during the festival season.

Alan and I were in Scotland five years ago during August, and I loved the Edinburgh Festival Fringe so much that I said I would return in a heartbeat. It's been a long heartbeat, but we were getting back to it. Ellen and Alan were in Scotland for a couple of days thirty years ago and were looking forward to seeing what they missed the first time around.

Six months before the trip, I secured a two bedroom apartment in Edinburgh's New Town and bought tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I knew it would be mobbed in Edinburgh in August so it was important to get our housing tied down. And tickets to the tattoo sell out early. We took a break from planning until June, when Ellen and I traveled to our fortieth college reunion and started putting together a tentative itinerary.

We ended up with a trip that took us to St. Andrews, Aberdeenshire, Nairn, the Isle of Skye, the Lake of Menteith, and Edinburgh. Along the way we saw castles in all stages of repair and disrepair; rocky and sandy shores; stone circles and ancient burial mounds; mountains and glens; battlefields and sites of legendary massacres. We gathered enough information to write a dissertation or two on single malt whisky and another on sticky toffee pudding, with a minor in Scottish cheese, porridge, and smoked salmon.

We saw thought-provoking new plays and a strip-tease show in an Edinburgh pub. We spent an incomparable weekend at the home of friends I never would have met without the internet message board to which I am addicted, learning more about Scottish history and culture from them and from their friends than I could have learned in a lifetime of reading books.

We did not end up in the ditch on the left hand side of the road, not for long anyway. We did not lose any members of our party for more than an hour or two, even though the police refused to tell Ellen (and that nice young woman who took her in, we must remember to send her some flowers) the phone number of our hosts. We did not have to call the alpine rescue to come and get me down after I climbed a hill (that ancient broch at the top looked so appealing!) a bit too steep for me to walk down unaided. It only seemed to rain while we were indoors and cleared whenever we went out.

And we are all still friends. So a success through and through.

Photos can be seen at

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