Edinburgh Itinerary Questions

Old Apr 19th, 2002, 08:38 PM
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Edinburgh Itinerary Questions

My family and I (wife, two 12yr. old girls and a 6 year old boy) will be in Edinburgh from Aug 7 (Wednesday) to August 14 (Wednesday). This is our first time in Scotland and we are quite excited about it. We plan to partake a few of the festival shows, but mostly think the festival atmosphere will be really fun. Our hotel (Castle View) is in the center of town and seems centrally located. Here are a few questions Iâ?™m hoping to get some help with:

1) We would like to take two to three car/day trips to see the countryside. First of all, with the Festival going on, which days should we plan for these car trips? If we go on the weekend, will we miss some prime festival event? The only reason we are planning so far in advance is that Iâ?™ve heard it gets pretty crowded and we want to make sure that we reserve an automatic rental car ahead of time.

2) We are planning on going out to the airport and renting a car in the morning and returning it that night to avoid having to park it somewhere which everyone says can be problematic. Is this wise? We would basically rent a car three separate days. Does it make any sense to drop everyone off at the hotel at night and return the car to airport by myself or is that just stupid?

3) Any suggestions for day car trips beginning and ending in Edinburgh?

4) Any Festival tips?

Thanks for any help.
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 09:11 PM
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Ron: It doesn't make too much difference which days you leave the city. The festival(s) and the Tattoo run every day and are just about as busy on weekdays as on weekends. You do not mention the Tattoo. it may be too late but do try to get tickets for a performance because if anything it is more memorable than the festival or fringe.

You are right about picking the cars up at the airport - You will LOVE the location of Castle View but it does not have dedicated parking. You would have to park on the street and that is just about impossible in August.

Here are my suggestions for 3 day trips - you might only have time for 2 but here are 3 if you can squeeze them in:

1) St Andrews and Fife. St Andrews is a wonderful town even if you are not into golf. There is the Cathedral, Castle, University bldgs and a gorgeous beach (where they filmed the famous running scenes from Charriots of Fire). if you go on a Sunday the Old Course is closed to golfing so it becomes a vast city park and you can walk in the footsteps of Bobby Jones, Arnold, Jack, Seve and Tiger. While in Fife you would also have time to visit a couple of the besutiful fishing villages -- Crail and Anstruther or possibly Pittenweem. Plus visit Falkland Palace and Garden. This would make a very full but very doable day.

2) Straight up the Motorway to Stirling for the Castle - then Doune Castle, The Lake of Menteith and Inchmahome Priory. Inchmahome is a beautiful place for a picnic - it is on an island in the middle of the only "lake" in Scotland (the rest are all "lochs") Again, a very doable itinerary.

3) Down into the borders - visit Melrose and Dryburgh Abbeys (Jedburgh is also worthwhile but you may not have time) Then east to St Abbes Head - a clifftop sea bird sanctuary with scenery rivaling Big Sur. Then up the coast to Tantallon Castle and back to Edinburgh.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me.
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 09:14 PM
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that should be "St Abbs Head".
Old Apr 20th, 2002, 07:11 AM
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Thanks Janis. I really appreciate your suggestions. We did reserve tickets for the Tatoo.
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 01:56 PM
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Ron, Sorry for delay. I was on my hols.
I wholly agree iwth Janis that the days don't matter. The Festival is choc-a-bloc with goodies all day and every day.

Given that you're staying in the city centre, you might want to arrange to pick up and drop off yor car at the station (Waverley) At least Hertz has a base there. Otherwise your plan will work fine.

I'll add a post with some per-prepared day trips from Edinburgh listed.

Tips-1. Buy the Scotsman newspaper and read the reviews and use it as a guide to the fringe shows. Bear in mind that lots of people do it, so if somewhere is reviewwed well it will almost instantly become hard to get tickets for.

2. Don't just dash from venue to venue. Build in time to sit and watch what's going on round about you. A lot of unintentional street theatre happens on the street.

Old Apr 29th, 2002, 02:00 PM
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1/A trip underneath the castle in St Andrews, Fife. It can be a bit of a squeeze so if you are claustrophobic then probably best to pass on this one. John Knox used to live in this castle - also get chance to see the bottle dungeon. St Andrews with its ancient university, its cathedral (we do have a lot of them, don't we?) and the home of golf, the Royal and Ancient is seriously worth a visit. It has one of the best beaches in the world- the west sands- shame about the weather and one of the best ice cream shops in the world (Jannetta's) apart from being a lovely little town.

2/ Dechmont Law near Livingston, West Lothian. Site of an attempted alien abduction of local forester Bob Taylor in 1979. This is the only UFO site in the world where the local authority have acknowledged what went on there and have erected a plaque accordingly.

3/Anstruther, Fife. Visit the fishing museum, Then have the best fish in the world for your lunch. After that drive along the coast to Largo, home of the 'original' Robinson Crusoe. When Daniel Defoe
wrote about Robinson Crusoe, he was writing about a real person. His name was Alexander Selkirk and he came from Largo in Fife. Defoe was an English spy up in Scotland in the 1700's and nicked the story. That area of Fife is well worth a visit

4. Go down into the Borders and do a couple of big houses and some scenery. Say Traquair Castle- which has its own brewery and some excellent history. Followed by Mellarstain House and maybe Melrose Abbey where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried. Other variations on this theme include Floors Castle, Abbotsford (home of Sir Walter Scott) Dryburgh Abbey; Hermitage Castle; Neidpath Castle- or there are lots more.

5.Go slightly further west and see New Lanark, a model community built by social philanthropist Robert Owen; and it's near the Falls of Clyde for scenery.

6. Whisper it not in Gath- go to Glasgow for shopping and culture (and you can do it by train)

7.Linlithgow Palace, followed by Bannockburn- battle site, where we beat the English- and Stirling. Linlithgow is one of my favorite castles and can be done in a quick afternoon visit along with St. Michael's Church.

8. Over the Forth Road Bridge to Fife, to Loch Leven castle where Mary Queen of Scots was locked up and escaped from; and Vane Farm Bird Reserve on the other side of the Loch.

9 Golf- pick any one of half a dozen gorgeous courses in superb scenery.

10. Drive eastward along the coast through East Lothian to North Berwick and Dunbar. North Berwick is a great seaside village featuring a beach, Bass Rock, and Tantallon Castle. Dunbar has a great seaside castle ruin. This drive is about 40 miles roundtrip from Edinburgh.
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 02:03 PM
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15 Go up the coast as far as Arbroath, which is a traditional fishing town, famous for its "smokies", and its cathedral which is where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320. "For so long as a hundred of us remain alive, we will yield in no least way to English dominion" and all that.

Stop ( if you want) at Carnoustie a coulpe of miles down the coast.. smaller and more of a 1920s tourist place, but famous for its golf, especially this week.

If you are rash enough to get off the train in Dundee ( armpit of the Universe; am I making myself plain?) there's not much of quality to see or do. There is a very good visitor centre (the Discovery Centre) near the station which interprets Captain Scott's voyages to the Antartic, and his ship, the Discovery is moored alongside so you can visit. Nearby is the Unicorn, a Dundee Whaler, which is also open to the public. There are people who actually like Dundee but they are few and far between.

Old Apr 30th, 2002, 12:24 PM
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What is Tattoo?
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 01:03 PM
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Hi Ana

It's sort of outdoor concert built around military bands. In the context of Edinburgh at the Festival, it a great pageant. Bit cheesey, but fun.

You can see more on
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 01:21 PM
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A fun, relaxing daytrip from Edinburgh is the little town of Peebles (I asked a Scottish friend of mine for a good daytrip and this is what he suggested). We took the bus (I won't drive on the left!) from Edinburgh and spent a day and night there, mostly walking in the country and eating fantastic shortbread! Have fun.
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 02:11 PM
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HAVE to differ w/ Sheila re the Edinburgh Tattoo being cheesy. It is an amazing thing - very moving in parts, exciting in others and just wonderful spectacle throughout.

From the beginning with the sun setting behind the castle to the finale with the lone piper spotlit at the top of the castle - you will love it. Afterwards - wander along the Royal Mile with all the others and see the buildings lit up.
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 02:28 PM
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Thank you Sheila and Janis for the information. Will teeneagers ,13 and 16 , like the Tattoo and where is the best sitting area?
Thank you
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 02:37 PM
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Ron: The seats are all reserved so if you've bought tickets you already have a specific section assigned. The grandstands are set up in a large U shape with the open end at the Castle. The very best seats (and most expensive) are the three sections along the "bottom" of the U. Next best are on in the center sections of the long north and south sides of the U.

But really tehere are no bad seats - but you definitely cannot move around from section to section. This year will be a special program and the Queen will attend on Aug 5.
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 02:43 PM
Uncle Sam
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The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is almost worth the trip to Scotland!

We ordered our tickets early and sat right underneath the Queen's box. Among the best seats in the house as we faced the castle at the end of the esplanade.

We were in Scotland for 17 days and wouldn't you know it..the night of the Tattoo was one of three days it rained while we were there.

We sat through about three hours of rain, not drizzle, but real honest to goodness rain. We got wet and we still had an incredible time. Had to keep wiping the rain from my movie camera the whole performance.

The thrifty Scots proved they were capitalists when they sold the very same rain slickers that sold earlier in the day for 1PS for 5PS to hundreds of folks while they stood in line to get in. (Hint...if you go, go early, because the line starts halfway down the Royal Mile and if you get in late, you miss some of the show...and do not stop at Deacon Brodies pub for an ale or two, you will regret standing in line having to #1)

The primary entertainment for the evening was Irish cloggers, the Russian Navy Band and Glee Club, a marimba band from Trinidad a great group of kids on motorcycles doing precision drills and darn near all the bag pipers in the entire world!

At the end, on their way out of the castle esplanade, about 350 pipers played Scotland the Brave and man was it awesome.

We're going again next uyear and will not miss the Tattoo!

Old Apr 30th, 2002, 03:37 PM
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Regarding the tattoo: Cheesy, no. Touristy? Absolutely. Corny? Sometimes, but sometimes eye-popping. Many moons ago I watched the Royal Ghurka Motorcycle Drill Team doing intricate manoeuvers on the esplanade. Ghurkas on bikes? Excuse me?

IMO, everybody should go at least once to the Edinburgh Tattoo, the Calgary Stampede, and the Pasadena Rose Parade. I missed May Day and Nov. 17th on Red Square when I had the chance, now they're just pathetic. Go and see if you can determine what's worn under the kilts. (All together now, "It's all in perfect working order.")
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 09:55 PM
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Wow, hadn't checked the boards for awhile since there wasn't too many responses to my query. Then all of a sudden, bang, ten more responses! Thanks everyone for all your suggestions!!
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 10:40 PM
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I should know better than carry on a pointless discussion, but here goes.......

I may be using the word "cheesey" wongly becuase it is an American expression and not much used in UK English, but what I'm trying to express is the view that 350 pipers playing "Scotland the Brave" is more likely to engender in me a "pass the sick bag, Alice" response than to warm the cockles of my heart.

I haven't been to the Tattoo since I was in my early teens. I wouldn't hesitate to send a tourist there, especially one from overseas, but it's got nothing to do with the real life (or culture) of Scotland. I have no problem accepting it in those terms, but, personally, I'd rather go to a ceilidh in a village hall in North Uist for a taste of where we come from.

What can I say? It's a bit like saying Disneyland is what America's like (now THERE'S an invitation some of you won't resist
Old May 12th, 2002, 10:51 AM
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You weren’t wrong in your usage of “cheesey”. For instance, on our walk down the Royal Mile after we had toured Edinburgh castle, there was a young man dressed as Braveheart. He was there for tourists to take their pictures with while he gave a brief history of Scotland. My mom wanted to have her picture taken with him and I thought it was too touristy and I initially refused. It could have also been described as “cheesey”. My mom pointed out that we had done everything that I wanted that morning and it was her turn to choose. So, we had our picture taken with Braveheart. Looking back it was as you mentioned above – “a bit cheesey, but fun”.


Have you driven on the left? If not, you might save yourself some frustration and stress by checking out the day trip tours. My mother and I were in Scotland in May of last year for two weeks and had intended to drive for 10 of the 14 days there. We picked up our rental car from the airport, drove South to Melrose Abbey and Abbottsford, spent the night at Borthwick Castle and then returned the car the next day because driving on the left was just too stressful. With 10 days left and no car we were forced to come up with an alternative itinerary. We used Rabbies Trail Burners for a day trip to St. Andrews which included the small fishing villages and Falkland Palace as mentioned in one of the above posts. I could have passed up St. Andrews but your children would like the passageway under the castle mentioned by Sheila. We also used them for a 3-day trip to the Isle of Skye which was wonderfully unforgettable. We took a day trip to the highlands (highly recommend) using another tour company but I would use Rabbies again because of the size. They have small touring vans versus a large bus. Another thing we did was to take the train to Stirling with a stop at Linlithgow Palace (my favorite place, your kids would love this). I actually liked taking the trains. Being from the Mid-west where they aren’t widely available this was sorta fun in itself and probably something kids would enjoy. I would have liked to spend more time in Stirling. Sheila can provide suggestions (or do a search) on day trips using trains/buses. Of course, if you have no problem driving on the left then that is definitely the way to go and much more flexible. Hope you have a great trip!
Old May 12th, 2002, 11:18 AM
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I thought of something else...I planned our trip for over a year before I went and read everything I could get my hands on about Scottish history so that by the time we got there I knew almost as much as the guides about the places we visited. But even so, that was one of the nice things about using a tour company for the day trips. They point out interesting things and give the history of places you pass that you wouldn't be aware of unless you've done a bit of homework first.
Old May 19th, 2002, 05:00 PM
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Do you have any particular tours you would recommend?

Thank you.

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