A Week in Scotland

Aug 9th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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A Week in Scotland

My husband and I went to Europe for the first time last month. Since we didn't know what we were doing, we figured we'd go to an English-speaking country our first time. The trip was a success and we'd recommend it for anyone else taking their first trip overseas from the US (or anywhere else for that matter).

We stayed at the Channings Hotel in Edinburgh. It's in a nice area and they had excellent service. It's not a budget hotel but we were treating ourselves since our trip had been postponed several years in a row due to home repairs and other expenses. Channings is not "downtown" but a quick bus trip or 10 minute walk to the Princes Street area.

Most shops and attraction close around 5 pm so it is advisable to get an early start. Pubs and restaurants are open late. There are many on Rose Street in the New Town area. Most are small and "boutique-y" feeling.

We bought the travel guide "Top 10 Scotland" by DK Eyewitness and found it very useful. We spent most of our time in Edinburgh but did take a one day tour of the Highlands. Here are some of the highlights and our recommendations for other travelers.

Edinburgh Castle - What a beautiful sight to see a castle perched high above the city and the Princes Street Gardens. Be prepared for long lines when it opens in the morning. We went in the mid-afternoon and had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. It was interesting to see the crown jewels - you will walk through corridors outlining the history. The Scottish National War Memorial was the highlight. It is beautiful and moving - especially the area dedicated to the unknown soldiers.

The Royal Mile - We enjoyed shopping for souvenirs but didn't spend a lot of time here. Deacon Brodie's Pub is working stopping in for a drink and a view of the highly decorated ceiling.

The National Gallery of Scotland - this was a free exhibit and worthy of a couple hours out of your day. It has a nice mixture works - Monet and Titian were two favorites of ours. They had lots of Dutch artists' works when we visited. Do not take out your camera - it wasn't posted but we found out quickly that photographing is a no-no.

The Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland are also free to visitors. If you want to see both in detail, plan on a full day. The Museum of Scotland has artifacts from ancient Scottish civilization through recent times. The Royal Museum has an eclectic mixture of artifacts and art works.

Greyfriars Kirk is also worth a visit. Be sure to see the statue of GreyFriars Bobby the dog who spent years at his masters grave. The story is quite touching for animal lovers. Also be sure to have lunch at the neighboring pub bearing his name. The meals were good, the menu is extensive, and dessert was out of this world. However, meals are not rushed in Scotland so plan on a 1.5 hours (or longer) meal.

Royal Botanic Garden They have a café but it was mobbed so dont plan on more than a snack there. The grounds are beautiful and the attraction is free to visitors. This is a wonderful place to spend a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon adjusting to the time difference.

Day tours We went with Grayline and did a one-day Highlands/Loch Ness tour. It was beautiful but rushed due to the driving distance. I would not recommend this tour in the future try a one-day tour including Stirling Castle and the Trossachs. It appears to be a much more reasonably paced tour. Also, Stirling Castle is a very important castle in terms of Scottish history. The Highlands and Loch Ness were worth seeing but Id recommend a couple days stationed in Inverness as a home base and then take day trips from there. Also, it is strongly advisable not to try to drive this yourself. I would still recommend Grayline as a tour company.

Food & Drink Jekyll & Hydes Bar was worth the experience to see the interior and try one of the seven deadly sins (drinks named after each). The Hard Rock Café, like any weve been to, had mediocre food and high prices but its fun if you enjoy the memorabilia. The bar at the Channings Hotel had good food but it is expensive. If youre staying at the hotel, Id recommend a bite there (mozzarella, tomato, and asparagus salad) but dont go out of your way for it. There are several very good Italian restaurants Id recommend Bella Italia and I think the other was called Bar Napoli. Both are in the Hanover Street/Dundas Street area. There are also a number of restaurants and pubs in the Grassmarket area (a couple blocks behind the castle).

All in all, Scotland was a very friendly and hospitable place to visit. There are many attractions to visit but also many options for a quiet and leisurely vacation.

TNKim is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I am glad that you enjoyed your visit - sounds like you got to see a good variety of things. Thanks for posting a trip report - the way you structured it is very clear and helpful. I was just in Edinburgh for a day trip yesterday (from our base in Glasgow) and enjoyed the National Gallery and the Museum of Scotland. The Royal Mile is really fun in August when the Fringe Festival is happening - lots of outdoor performances and street musicians and artists.
noe847 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 10:25 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Thanks for the nice trip report. I am glad you got to see the Museum of Scotland, as lots of visitors do not know about that wonderful museum.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 10:29 AM
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Very nice report TNKim. Sounds like you made good use of your time and saw a lot. Staying in one place for longer really helps to get to know a place. These 2 nights / 1 night / 1 night / 1 night itineraries make my head spin. I love the Botanic Gardens - something of interest any time of year.

one minor kvetch though . . . . "Also, it is strongly advisable not to try to drive this yourself" Strongly advised by whom, since you didn't drive yourselves? Did Grayline say it was too hard? Well they would, wouldn't they, since they want you to pay them to do the driving.

The drive north from Edinburgh to Inverness is quite easy - about the easiest in the whole country - a major road through great scenery and almost no way to get lost.
janisj is online now  
Aug 9th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Lovely report. Glad you liked it.
sheila is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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Thanks for your nice report of your trip! We were just there for 2 weeks in early July but only spent 2 full days in Edinburgh, which was a mistake. Needed at least 3. Missed the Museum of Scotland so we will have to return! We also stayed at the Channings in one of the top floor Shackleton suites. Loved it!! The walk to town got to me a little because it is slightly up hill all the way and it was very hot and humid when we were there. But it really isn't far at all!

Sounds like you had some great meals and good memories. We also ate lunch at Deacon Brodie's Pub on the corner. I have a pic of Jim there. Very good draught dark beers.

I did a trip report (in parts and I am not done yet) so if you want, do a search on my screen name to find them.

Thanks for the report.

gopack is offline  
Aug 17th, 2006, 02:32 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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You will have to return if you missed the Museum of Scotland!

For anyone interested in history, your trip should begin at the Museum and then do the Castle. Because the museum is relatively new, most people with limited time never get there--which is a shame.
FauxSteMarie is offline  

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