14 days in Scotland in May 2010

Old Aug 1st, 2010, 09:02 AM
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14 days in Scotland in May 2010

Better late than never! I had great plans to post this within a week of returning and in fact started writing right away but then real life interrupted. Naughty how it does that sometimes. Anyway, here is the first part.


I watched the volcano closures with trepidation as my trip start date came closer and closer. The airports were closed a couple of days before I was scheduled to leave so I was on pins and needles. I even went so far as to 'plan' what I would do if I couldn't leave as planned. Then, the day before I was leaving I woke up sick with what appeared to be a cold. After staying home sick that day and getting a lot of great rest I woke up on departure day feeling great and with the airports open.

Day 1 - Traveling

I took a shuttle bus to the airport to catch my flight. There is only one non-stop flight from Portland, OR to Europe and it goes to Amsterdam. From there I was scheduled to catch a flight to Glasgow. Last year I didn't allow enough time to go through customs (and I still don't know why I had to as I was just changing flights) and I missed my next flight. This year no customs and an easy transfer.

Day 2 - Glasgow

I arrived at the airport around 10 am. As I had read, it was easy to find a cash machine and catch the bus to Glasgow. Not as easy to find my hotel when the bus dropped me off but I prevailed eventually. By noon I was checked in, partially unpacked and off to catch the on/off bus for a quick run-through the town. The one place I wanted to see was the Glasgow Cathedral with a walk up the cemetery for views of the city. So when the bus reached there, off I hopped.

The Cathedral was wonderful. So beautiful and full of history. I was amazed that we seemed to be allow to go just about everywhere in the cathedral. As a special treat there was a musical group (perhaps a local orchestra?) practicing for a performance. I was able to sit and listen to the music for quite a while. Truly a magical start to my trip.

I then wandered over to the cemetery and found it was more than 'just' a cemetery. It was magnificent just by itself. It's called the Pantheon and if you are in Glasgow you must wander around, not only are the views of the city tremendous, being surrounded by all the history of the people who are buried there is amazing.

I headed down to catch the bus and saw one just leaving so I detoured to the museum across the street instead. The museum of religion. Very interesting. I then caught the last bus and complete the tour of Glasgow. Back to the hotel to eat dinner and get some sleep. I stayed at the Millennium right on George Square. A nice place but too hot and the room was a bit run-down. Still, the location was perfect so I can't complain. Dinner was nice but I couldn't get a table until 7 so I was very tired. I'd been up since 5 am on Friday morning so I was ready for bed. Naturally, my husband called me when he got home from work which was something like 11 pm my time as he forgot about the time difference! Ah well. It was good to talk to him.

Day 3 - Glasgow

I made up my lack of sleep and slept in until 10:30ish. I took my time getting going and by the time I was ready to go it was close to noon. I had lunch at the hotel before heading out. I first did some shopping at the mall around the corner. I'd packed for cooler weather and was dying in the warm temps so I grabbed a couple of cheap tops at H&M and some toiletries I needed.

Once done I spent a bit of time in George Square people watching and taking pictures of the buildings. Being Sunday it was pretty quiet actually. Later I took the bus to the People's Palace and went through that. It was interesting to learn more about the history of Glasgow. I then took the bus back to the hotel and had to walk a couple of blocks due to road works. This was a blessing as I passed a restaurant that looked good. After a bit of a rest as I was still a bit tired I headed back to the restaurant and had a fabulous dinner. The highlight of the previous nights dinner had been the soup. I had soup again this night and it was perfect as well. Thus started my love affair with soups in Scotland.

Day 4 - Heading to Ballanchulish

I picked up my car in Glasgow and headed towards Loch Lommond. About an hour later I was finally pointed in the right direction after a few experiences with round-abouts. Gotta love them! I figured it was all good as I had a Sat-Nav and every time I took the wrong exit it just re-figured my route. I wasn't comfortable trying to execute a U-turn in a strange car on roads I wasn't familiar with and I had plenty of time to get to my stop so I decided it was an adventure and chose to just relax and not stress about getting lost.

I made it to Balloch safely and I took advantage of a car park to walk down to the Loch and enjoy the scenery. I decided against the boat ride as it was too long of a wait. It was about noon but I decided to wait to eat until I got to Luss as I'd been told it was worth a stop. Loch Lommond was very pretty but as I was getting hungry and there's only so long I can stand and look out at the Lock I headed up to Luss.

Luss was a bit of a disappointment for me. It didn't strike me as particularly pretty or scenic, not at all what I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I stopped but I wouldn't stop there again. The food was okay, once again the soup was outstanding!

Once I left Luss I took my time driving up to Ballanchulish. The B&B I was staying at (The Strathassynt Guest House) couldn't have been easier to find. I got settled in, followed the directions to a little walk by the water and spent a pleasant hour enjoying the walk and the scenery. I then headed over to the local pub for my first (and best) pub dinner. The steak & kidney pie was my first choice but it wasn't ready yet so I had their steak. It was good but the soup was the highlight of the meal.

My room was very nice and quiet and I was especially glad that Mike explained how the shower worked as I had not seen a shower quite like that before. By the end of my trip I was an expert but that first morning I was glad I'd gotten some instructions the night before.

I was very happy to have my first ever experience at a B&B/Guest House be at Strathassynt as it couldn't have been nicer. The breakfast was fantastic and the other guests were very friendly and chatted with me. Traveling alone I really came to value the mornings and chatting with other travelers. I was given some great tips and warnings and did my best to share my experiences with others as well.

Day 5 - Road to the Isles

I left Ballanchulish with the strong wish I could have stayed longer. I think I would have enjoyed puttering around the area but I needed to keep going if I was going to be able to see the parts of Scotland I planned.

The drive north to Maillag was a lovely drive. I'd read in some places that the road wasn't in such good shape and in others that it had recently been re-done. I'm not sure if it had been re-done (or done for the first time) or not but it was in great shape. Such a pleasant easy drive. I stopped several times just to gawk at the scenery and at several of the sights along the way. I had thought it would be fun if I actually saw a train on the viaduct (I was too early for the steam train) but no such luck. It was still fun to see it.

I arrived in Maillag a bit before noon and was able to catch the next ferry to Skye. Since it was only about a 20 minute wait I decided to wait to eat in Armadale. I'll admit here to a bit of trepidation when driving onto the ferry, remember this was only my second day driving from the 'wrong' side of the car on the 'wrong' side of the road and I really, really, really didn't want to do something stupid. Of course my concern was for nothing, it was super easy to drive on and off the ferry and I did so with no mishaps.

I got a bit confused when driving off the ferry and was out of the town of Armadale before I realized it. I had planned to wander around a bit and eat there but I decided to keep going. The Clan Donald Skye center was right outside town and since it was on my list of places I wanted to see I stopped there.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the lunch I had there. Very tasty and not super expensive. A major improvement over the food I've had at 'tourist' places I've visited in the US. After lunch I had a nice wander around the grounds and saw my first castle (yes, it counts even if it is a ruin). They have a very nice little museum there that I found to be very interesting. The gardens are rather large and very beautiful, I might have wandered around more but it was getting a bit late, starting to rain off and on and I needed to get to my B&B for the night.

The drive up to Portree was fairly easy and didn't take too long. As I had been doing so far, whenever possible I pulled over to let the cars behind me pass. Since I was poking along in tourist mode I didn't want to slow anyone else down if at all possible.

My cell phone had stopped charging the night before and as that was how I was letting my husband know each day that I was fine and where I was I needed to find a place with Internet access so I could email my brother and have him call and leave the message for me (my DH refuses to use the computer). So I drove to the TIC in Portree and sent my emails off before I headed back to the B&B.

I stayed at the Peinmore House based on a recommendation from a trip report I'd read. What a lovely place! My room was huge with a very large bath including a tub. The breakfasts were the best I had the entire trip. The B&B is about a five minute drive south of town in a rural area. Very quiet and restful.
Ann_50 is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2010, 10:30 AM
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Thanks. I'll be looking forward to reading more.

We always have to fly from Anchorage, and I just assumed switching in Seattle to BA to Heathrow, then another flight to Glasgow.

Since we have a son in Portland, we're familiar with flying into PDX. Who was your carrier to Amsterdam? How many hours? And were they a travel partner with Alaska Air?

The early part of your trip sounds a bit like what I have planned. If one stopped to see the gardens in Armedale, would you still have time for a reasonably easy drive on to Portree--given the same ferry schedule you used?
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 12:53 PM
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Oh - looking forward to the rest. I remember your planning threads.

"was out of the town of Armadale before I realized it."

That isn't hard - it is a TINY wee place and the Clan Donald Centre is the best thing there so you did good . . .
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 01:06 PM
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Ann, thank you. Enjoying your report and looking forward to the next instalment. I'm especially pleased you enjoyed Glasgow.

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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 07:34 PM
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hopingtotravel: I flew on Delta which partners with KLM. They're the only ones who fly nonstop from Portland to Europe so you always end up in Amsterdam. The flight is about 10 hours. I've flown that route twice now and won't take it again. Not because I don't like the airline but because the flight it too long for me and my legs swell up. I think a stop in the US somewhere to split the flight up more evenly will help with that.

You absolutely have time to do more in Armadale before going to Portree. It's only about an hours' drive. If you mean the gardens at the Clan Donald center I saw those, very much worth the stop.

janisj: I was thanking you several times during the trip as your advice was spot on for me. So again, thank-you for all your help.

billbarr: Glasgow is a lovely, lovely city. Even someone like me who isn't into the nightlife can appreciate what it has to offer.

And here's the rest of the trip report. Sorry it's so long, I find myself going on and on about the trip! Oh and please forgive any miss-spellings, I've done my best to catch them all but I may have missed a couple.

Day 6 - Skye

I woke up to an absolutely beautiful day - sunny and warm. After a lovely breakfast I headed off to spend the day touring. My original plans had been to spend one day on the Trotternish Penninsula and the next day doing the loop to Dunvegan.

I stopped at the trail to the Old Man of Storr and walked partway along. I wasn't prepared for a hike and I really can't handle it physically so I was thrilled to do as well as I did for as far as I got. I made it to the gate in the small field before you head up into the next hilly area - I guess about half-way? The scenery was beautiful, especially the views coming back down. Many, many photos were taken on this walk.

I then headed to Kilt Rock and beyond. I found myself stopping quite often for photo opportunities and once to wait for a newly born lamb to get his 'legs'. I missed the actual birth but it must have been very recent as he was still very wet. The entire drive was wonderful and several times I found myself wishing I could live there.

I stopped by the crofters cottages exhibit and was very impressed by how they lived. Although as I've said to many as I shared my pictures, if you had to live with such beautiful scenery outside your front door it wouldn't be so bad!

I found throughout the trip that I was spending less time at places than I would if I had someone else with me. When it's just me, I see what I'm interested in and then move on. With someone else you spend time seeing what they'd like and also chatting about what you're seeing. So I made better time than I had originally expected at places.

Which leads me to the fact that I headed over to Dunvegan Castle that same day as I was done with Trotternish around noon. The drives were nice and slow but I didn't want to get back to the B&B in the early afternoon with nothing to do. Plus, at this point I was thinking that perhaps I'd head out a day early so I could pick up a new cell phone (apparently you can't get on Skye).

I headed down to the coral sands first but once again the distance of the walk prevented me reaching my goal. Once I started to be in pain and limping I knew I needed to turn around and head back.

Dunvegan was a bit disappointing as they are doing a lot of renovation so the outside is covered in scaffolding. No pictures for me! But I did pick up a couple of books on the castle and gardens to take home with me. The gardens were beautiful and I spent quite a bit of time walking around and sitting on the benches placed here and there.

The drive back was just as scenic as the drive in, I took the long way as was recommended and drove through Sligachan and then back up to Portree. I got back just in time to email family that I was still safe and alive and then make my dinner reservations. Another wonderful dinner and then back to the B&B and bed.

Day 7 - Drive to Nairn

I woke to the weather I expected to find in Skye. Wet, blustery and cold. This was fine as I'd decided to head on a day early so I could get a cell phone as I wasn't sure I'd have Internet access the rest of the trip. So, after breakfast I sadly took my leave and left the lovely Isle of Skye. Leaving I drove over the bridge and then up to Eilean Doone Castle.

The weather was exactly what I think everyone should experience as you visit at least one castle. With the rain and wind it really made me appreciate the conditions the Scottish people lived in and what they went through on a daily basis.

From there I drove up towards Inverness along Loch Ness. I had no idea how long it was! The Loch, not the drive. I only stopped once at Urquhart Castle and I absolutely loved it. The Loch itself was very pretty, I'm sure there are nicer ones but I quite enjoyed it. The castle however, was my favorite ruin of the trip. I loved that you could really get a sense of the immense size of the castle and the buildings. Being able to climb all over it and have such great views was a huge bonus. I left there reluctantly as I really needed to get to Inverness.

I am so, so, so glad I didn't plan on staying in Inverness. I got lost so many times just trying to get to the shopping area and finding parking! My sat nav was no help and I just ended up relying on instinct. After about an hour of driving around - I think I was pretty much all over the city at one point - I found a parking place and off I went. The phone was easy to get as was finding an ATM. At the TIC I was able to get help finding a hotel in the town of Nairn. I really wanted to see Cawdor Castle and so I figured I would take advantage of the unexpected overnight to do so.

I ended up in a little hotel that catered to golfers. What a wonderful place! I had a lovely room, the lady at the front desk who checked me in was so friendly and we chatted then, at dinner (she also served part of the dinner, and the next morning at breakfast! I didn't have the time or energy to wander around Nairn but the little I saw looked lovely.

Day 8 - Down to Perth

After breakfast I headed off to Cawdor Castle via the route the lovely lady at the hotel gave me. Wonderful back roads (although there aren't a lot of main roads like we have in the US in Scotland) with fantastic scenery. You really can't drive too fast but who would want to? You might miss something wonderful.

Cawdor Castle and the grounds were amazing. I arrived shortly before the Castle opened so I had time to wander around the gardens before I went in. I fell in love with the large sphere made from sheets of slate that was a water feature. It was magnificent and huge! I can't even imagine how much it must weigh.

I was a bit surprised by how much 'stuff' was in the castles I saw. It seems as those they decorate with the idea that 'more is more'. After a while of seeing all these fantastic items it becomes a bit much though. Or at least for me it did.

After Cawdor I was back on the road headed to Blair Castle. I stopped just outside the castle and had a lovely lunch in a pub there and then headed to the castle. It's very different looking as it's white and not natural stone like the other castles. Loved the exhibits inside especially all the weapons. I saw the peacocks but didn't wander the grounds as it was starting to rain and I was ready to move on.

I arrived in Perth and found my B&B - Dunallan Guest House - very easily. Another wonderful place to stay. It was an easy walk downtown to find dinner and I considered walking along the river on my way back but I was dead tired so I just stopped on the bridge and admired the view for a bit before I headed the rest of the way back.

Day 9 - Perth to Stirling

After another wonderful breakfast (is there such a thing as a bad breakfast in Scotland? I doubt it.) I headed off to Scone Palace. The host at the B&B said it was possible to spend an entire day there but I'm not sure how. I suppose if you brought a picnic and just sat around and relaxed you could do it.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Scone Palace and I wandered around the grounds which are quite extensive, I just don't think I could spend half of a day there much less all day. Hearing the history of the Palace and seeing the replica of the stone of destiny was fun but I really like the inside of the chapel the best.

This was my last day of driving and I'd planned on taking my time and going down to Culross and having a good wander. I was extremely disappointed with the town. To be fair, by then I was pretty burned out and that certainly influenced my take but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I think I spent all of fifteen minutes there and I regretted going out of my way to see it. But, if you don't go you won't know so it's all good.

I then headed to Duone Castle stopping at the statue of David Stirling on the way and learned he had founded the SAS. Duone Castle was noteworthy for me as they were getting ready to hold a wedding there so I caught glimpses of some of the wedding party including the men in their kilts, as they got ready for the wedding.

The other noteworthy moment was the couple in the car next to me at the car park having a really row about which of them left their camera charger at the place they stayed the night before! It made me very glad I was traveling alone as there were no such dramatics with me being by myself!

I then drove down over to Stirling and spent the late afternoon at the castle. Everyone who had posted anything about Scotland had raved about this castle I agree wholeheartedly. Hands down this was my favorite castle. I think I spent close to two hours wandering around and taking pictures. When I couldn't do anymore, I drove to my B&B where I happily parked my car knowing I was done driving!

I stayed at the Old Tram House which was not too far from the Wallace Monument. The street itself seemed a bit busy but I never heard any noise so it was perfect. The host, Alison was the most friendly and helpful host I had on my trip. She totally made the time in Stirling wonderful. She recommended the best restaurant for dinner that I could walk to - The Birds and the Bees, and was a fountain of helpful information.

Day 10 - Stirling

Alison assured me that Stirling wasn't as large as it looked and that I could walk everywhere so I very happily left the car parked and off I set.

First I headed to the Wallace Monument. It was about a 20 minute walk uphill from the B&B to get to the office and catch the shuttle bus up the hill. I headed in and about 7 steps up started to panic and had to head back down. I've never had that happen before but I was so nervous that I just had to leave. Something about that winding, narrow staircase just got to me. I looked around outside and took some pictures before I headed back down the hill.

I then walked down into the main area of Stirling and wandered around for a bit. Did a bit of window shopping and got lost several times but had a lovely time. Eventually I got back to the main area and stopped for a nice lunch. I can't remember the name of the place but I figured out later it was a chain restaurant. Still, I enjoyed it very much.

I took off again and wandered around the cemeteries below Stirling Castle. I hadn't had the time or energy to do so the afternoon before so I really wanted to do it that afternoon. I'm not normally someone who likes to browse cemeteries but the ones in Scotland were so fascinating that I found myself time and time again stopping at one.

From there I walked back to the B&B, it took about 40 minutes so not too bad. Took a bit of a rest and then forced myself to go out and grab some food. I ended up getting a hamburger and taking it back to the room as I was just exhausted. Although, this was a fresh made hamburger and not some fast food junk!

After eating I pretty much collapsed on the bed and was out like a light.

Day 11 - Heading to Edinburgh

I was very excited this morning, I was dropping the car off and then traveling to Edinburgh for the last few days of my trip. Driving in Scotland wasn't difficult at all. I had to keep remembering to drive on the right but that wasn't too bad. I was smart enough to get an automatic, the price difference wasn't too much and apart from the physical issues I have which preclude me from driving a manual any longer, trying to learn to shift with my left hand would have been problematic!

I used Enterprise and would recommend them to anyone renting in Scotland. Very nice and helpful folks at both ends (picked up in Glasgow and dropped off in Stirling). They gave me a ride to the train station where after a short wait I caught my train to Edinburgh.

I was a bit turned around when I arrived, what had looked pretty straight forward on the map didn't seem that way in person so I caught a cab to my B&B. I stayed at 14 Hart Street, a lovely place in a little neighborhood in New Town. It is only about a 15 minute walk from the train station if you know where you're going, and aren't lugging a suitcase!

I got settled in as I'd arranged to come by around noon and then took off for the afternoon. A quick lunch later I headed up to Edinburgh Castle via the On/Off bus. The Castle is huge and crowded. Edinburgh Castle was the only place on my entire trip in Scotland that was crowded. It was very interesting and parts were amazing but overall, it wasn't my favorite castle.

I then walked down the Royal Mile a bit and wandered around here and there. I had an early dinner at a pub and then headed to the B&B for rest.

Day 12 - Edinburgh

By now I was getting tired of traveling. And walking. And seeing 'sights'. I'd always planned to take a tour to Roslyn Chapel and since I'd decided to not drive to St. Andrews I thought I'd take a tour to there also. I walked back up to the Castle (which is a 30 minute walk uphill from my accommodation) to the Timberbush Tours office and signed up for both tours.

I did a bit more sightseeing and spent some time sitting on the edge of Princes Garden just enjoying the beautiful day and people watching. A bit of lunch at one of the department stores and I headed to the B&B for a little nap. My little nap turned into a couple of hours and I woke up in time for dinner. After that, back to the room and back to bed. My traveling was catching up with me.

Day 13 - St. Andrews.

If you are in Scotland and want to take a tour I would strongly recommend the folks with Timberbush. The gentleman who took us to St. Andrews did a fantastic job of telling us about the area we were passing through without resorting to non-stop chatter. We saw the Firth of Forth bridge and had a lovely drive to St. Andrews stopping at a small village (Anstruther) along the way for a bit of a walk and a break. We also had an unscheduled stop at another spot our guide was familiar with and he even detoured to a village one of our group's grandfather was from. I had no idea how many volcanoes were in Scotland until that tour.

St. Andrews was terrific. I didn't care too much for the ruin of St. Andrews, had a lovely walk through town and promptly got lost, a nice little lunch and then a walk along the St. Andrews golf course and along the beach. I ended up my time at the golf museum, I'm not a golfer but I have several friends who are so I though it would be interesting. It was actually. Then we boarded the bus for the ride back to Edinburgh.

I'm not normally someone who takes tours when traveling but this was just what I needed. Not too much walking and no need to figure out what to do next. At this point on the trip that's what I needed.

Day 14 - Roslyn Chapel, Melrose Abby and the Borders

Another day, another great Timberbush tour. This time we headed south to Roslyn Chapel. There is a lot of renovation going on so you really can't see the outside. Inside is a bit crowded as well but very interesting to see. I walked down to the Roslyn Castle but that was very uninteresting compared to the other ruins I'd seen so far. If I hadn't seen the others it would have been neat, but there wasn't much there to see. A nice walk down and back though.

Next we headed to Melrose for lunch and time to explore. I absolutely loved Melrose Abby. It wasn't a place I was terribly excited about seeing but I am so glad I did. I climbed every staircase I could find to see the views. Even the bits that are left of the Abby are architecturally beautiful. I could have spent longer there but I needed to eat lunch and meet the bus.

My lunch at a small place just by the Abby was terrific! It was one of those little restaurants that wasn't terribly busy but the food was perfection. I wish I could remember the name, I probably wrote it down in my notes somewhere.

We then drove through the Borders area which was spectacular. There were several stops along the way and it just kept getting more and more beautiful. Very different from the Highlands but every bit as wonderful. We then had a tour of the Glenkinchie Distillery which was interesting but too long for me. I headed outside and sat in the garden area and enjoyed the fresh air.

Back to Edinburg, dinner and to bed.

Day 15 - Edinburgh

This was my last day of being a tourist. To be honest, I was burned out by now and really just wanted to lie around and rest. However, I didn't feel like I should hang around the B&B all day so out I trooped.

I spent the day at museums. The National Museum of Scotland is amazing. Such wonderful exhibits. I especially like the one that covered the history of Scotland from the earliest time through the present.

I then headed over to the National Gallery of Scotland that was right next door. Some of the best art I've seen in such a small place. And both places are free!!! I wanted to see another of the galleries but when I walked over there (I can't remember which one it was) I found out it was closed due to renovations. Still, a lovely way to spend a day.

I had been disappointed with the food in Edinburgh. I seemed to keep hitting places that were okay at best. However, my last night there I went to a little place just at the end of Hart Street that was the best place I'd eaten my entire time! If I'd found them first I would have eaten there every night. They had organic food that was out of this world. Alas, I only found them on my last night.

I made it an early night as my flight out was leaving at 6am the next morning. Angela, my host, had been kind enough to order a cab for me so I wouldn't have to drag my luggage around early in the morning and she let me use their computer to print out my boarding pass so I headed off to bed with the knowledge that I was ready to head home.

Day 16 - Traveling home

The cab was right on time, my flight to leave Edinburgh to Amsterdam was on schedule and I ignored the fact that a flight had just crashed that morning elsewhere. A nice, easy flight and I was in Amsterdam. Thankfully I didn't have customs again and I headed to the gate thinking I had plenty of time. So naturally they were already starting the boarding process.

I had forgotten that they have you go through a boarding area to another waiting area before you board the flight. This time, unlike last year however, I had my boarding pass already so I did not get bumped from the flight! After an uneventful flight I was home in Portland waiting for the shuttle and my final drive home.


I loved Scotland. So, so, so glad I finally made the trip. If you saw any of my planning posts you know this was a lifelong dream of mine. I do wish I'd had company, traveling alone is fine but after a while I wanted someone to share my experiences with. Everyone I met in Scotland was friendly and helpful and my fellow travelers were also very friendly and helpful.

If I had it to do over again I would make some changes. I'd only go for ten days. Right around the ten day mark I was ready to go home. I would only plan one day for Glasgow, it's a lovely city but I like the country better. I would only take two days in Edinburgh for the same reason. Both are fabulous places and if you are a city person, spend more time. And to be fair, if I hadn't been alone I might have wanted more time in both places. I would also plan a day to just laze around and relax. There was a bit too much go, go, go for me. Not that I was rushed, I had enough help planning that my travel times were just about as planned but it was a bit too busy for me.

And if I do go back to Scotland I will pick one area and stay there for a while rather than traveling around like I did. Since I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to go back I needed to make the most of this trip which I did.

The only question I still have to answer is: Where to go next year?
Ann_50 is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:15 AM
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Your report was great. i wish you could post the name of the organic restaurant in Edinburgh and the one described here:

After a bit of a rest as I was still a bit tired I headed back to the restaurant and had a fabulous dinner. The highlight of the previous nights dinner had been the soup. I had soup again this night and it was perfect as well. Thus started my love affair with soups in Scotland.

If you haven't been to Spain, do go.
milliebest is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Ann, your report would make perfect reading for anyone planning (but fearful) to travel alone! My DH has more health issues than I, and frequently there are walks we cannot take, because he's gotten sunburn, food poisoning, or etc. Sounds like you had no major problem tackling those single track roads on Skye.

Thanks for the airplane info. AK Air flies to places like Boston. I should look into direct flights to Glasgow from there perhaps. We are both at an age where those 10 hour flights are getting a bit dangerous.

Too bad about the scaffolding at Dunvegan. Wonder if they'll be through by next year? When we went to Edinburgh in 1998, the castle there was covered in scaffolding. Same with the old church we visited one years south of Tucson.

I really enjoyed your report. Just the right amount of detail.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Ann, thank you so much for the trip report. My DH and I are leaving 9 Sept and visiting most of the same places. Was good to get first hand information on roads and what was particulary interesting to see.
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Grammy553 -- I'll be looking forward to your report too!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2010, 02:50 PM
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Hi Ann_50,

Loved your report! Scotland is my favorite travel location and I'm also a solo female traveler.

I'm fortunate to have made 3 trips to Scotland (trip reports on Fodor's; just click my name for my profile page), but I am still too chicken to try to drive. I've been sticking to public transport. So many write, "Just do it," but my driving is not so great on this side of the pond. I sure would not want to do a think-right-but-hand-turns-left reaction while over there.

Traveling alone I have found several feelings as you did: it's great to travel, but sometimes company would be lovely; it's easy to poop out by go-go-go; and tower stairs can be unnerving. I tried the tower at the St Andrew's Cathedral and withdrew quivering.

For a restful location, I definitely want to go back to Stonehaven. I had less than 2 days this trip and it just wasn't enough.

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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 04:06 AM
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milliebest: The restaurant in Glasgow that I loved was called The Urban Bar and Brassiere. It's just about a block from Georges Square. If I remember correctly if you stand in front of the TIC facing the front door, turn to your right and head up that street about 1 block and you find the restaurant. Wonderful place.

The restaurant in Edinburg is called the Urban Angel. They have two locations, I was at the one on Forth St at the foot of Hart St.
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Old Aug 5th, 2010, 05:56 PM
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What a great summary of a memorable trip! Did you plan all your hotel stays in advance? We are going to Scotland for 12 days next month (mid Sept)and hate to plan all the details now which may limit our flexibilty once there. Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.
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Old Aug 6th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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DeiveB: I did plan everything in advance. Since I was traveling alone I didn't want to have to rush around hoping to find a place at the last minute. However, having been there I would say you should be fine (depending on the time of year) taking your chances. And if you get to a TIC before they close at 5pm (I think most if not all are closed on Saturdays) they can help you find a place. They charge a slight fee but it was worth it the one time I used them.
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Old Aug 16th, 2010, 07:01 PM
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Bookmarking for my next trip (which includes Edinburgh). Thanks for all the detail, it will help with my planning.
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Old Aug 17th, 2010, 07:57 PM
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Thanks for the Urban Angel recommendation. We are staying at the Hart Street B&B also.
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Old Aug 17th, 2010, 08:22 PM
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Hi Ann,
I am just now finding and reading your wonderful report. I don't think I could ever travel alone like you did, but you did make me wonder if I could. So happy you got to go.
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Old Aug 18th, 2010, 03:28 PM
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THanks for sharing. I am dithering between renting a car (solo female traveller, competent driver) for 41/2 days or use the public transport. My plan is to arrive August 24th 7am, head north towards Isle of Skye. I need to be in Edinburgh the afternoon of August 28th. Do you think you got to see more driving versus taking the public transport? I do hate to be stuck waiting for a train or bus.
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Old Aug 19th, 2010, 05:19 AM
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Super report. Thanks for posting
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Old Aug 19th, 2010, 05:41 AM
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Glad that you enjoyed Glasgow and you didn't even make it to the West End which is a lovely place to wander around and explore (University, Botanic Gardens, Vintage shops, great baars and restaurants etc) and kinda more a tourist location. (it's just 10 mins on the Underground fromthe City Centre)
The last time I looked it's just Continental who fly to Glasgow from JFK
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