I Scotland

Sep 15th, 2017, 02:14 PM
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I Scotland

I just returned from a 10-day trip to Edinburgh, and I'm in love. Scotland was everything I imagined it would be, and more. I'm ready to renounce my citizenship and move to Scotland! I'm not into writing detailed trip reports, so I will just offer the highlights. Janisj and MaitaiTom are among the resident experts, and I did my homework here thoroughly while planning my trip.

At 52 years of age, I had never had the opportunity to visit Europe. I just exited a 29-year marriage, and international travel was not a part of our lives. So, when I turned 50 I got myself a passport for my birthday, and started dreaming. I really didn't have any reason for choosing Scotland other than wanting to see this beautiful country. I went alone, and could not have asked for anything more from this wonderful trip.

Here's the outline of my visit:

Tues 9/5: Nighttime flight to Dublin (airfare was significantly less than flying directly to Edinburgh, and this allowed me to visit another country as well).

Wed 9/6: Arrived in Dublin in the afternoon and explored a bit, winding up in Temple Bar for dinner at the Old Mill. Stayed at the Charles Stewart City Center.

Thurs 9/7: Morning flight to Edinburgh, checked into Cityroomz in the West End. As I went out to explore before dinner, I exited the hotel and walked to the corner. I looked up to cross the street, and surprise! there was Edinburgh Castle directly in my sight line, less than a mile away. I wandered through Princes Street Gardens, soaking it all in, and ended up - somewhere - for dinner. I honestly don't remember what or where I ate that first night.

Fri 9/8: I scheduled a walking tour with Sandemans at 1 pm in order to learn my way around the city. The guide, Adam, was excellent and I was impressed with his breadth of knowledge about Scotland in general and Edinburgh in particular. It was a great tour.

Sat 9/9: I headed out to Arthur's Seat around 9 am. I had downloaded the Edinburgh Transport app and easily grabbed a bus that took me within walking distance of the park. I have to add here that the weather the entire trip was gorgeous. The sun shone when I needed it to and it rained when it didn't matter. As I started up the path, it was a beautiful day but the steps were slick from rain the night before. Long story short, I slipped on the path coming back down and bruised myself pretty well. I think of my black and blue arm as a free souvenir of Scotland (as well as the thorns I was finally able to remove from my fingers yesterday)! Arthur's Seat was magnificent. Easily one of my favorite parts of the trip. Saturday night I joined a pub crawl and despite my fears, it was not just a bunch of drunken 20-somethings. I did ditch it after 2 pubs, though, because I was exhausted.

Sun 9/10: Explored the city, returning to some of the spots we visited during the walking tour. After having seen pictures of Dean Village and the Waters of Leith on Pinterest, I hunted it down and wandered the area before dinner. I took some beautiful pictures there. Sunday evening I joined a Meetup group that I had researched beforehand, Edinburgh International English Meetup Group, mainly for non-nationals wishing to get together and practice their English. We met at a pub, and I enjoyed this gathering more than the pub crawl. I chatted with some great people from all over the globe.

Mon 9/11: Rabbies West Highlands Lochs and Castles day tour. Another guide named Adam. Again, his knowledge of Scotland was impressive, especially considering he's from New Zealand. This was hands down the best day of my trip. My God, what beautiful country! We visited Kilchurn Castle, Doune Castle, Inverary, Loch Awe, Loch Lomond and the village of Luss, the Rest and Be Thankful Pass, and a roadside rest stop below Stirling Castle. Adam had stories for us all along the way and supplemented them with songs selected to compliment the tales. The whole day was just awesome.

Tues 9/12: This was the only day I didn't have anything scheduled. I used it to visit the Scottish National Gallery, finish my gift shopping, and pack.

Wed 9/13: Early morning flight back to Dublin. I arrived at the Charles Stewart at 10 am, 4 hours before check in. I stowed my bag and set off to see more of the city. To be honest, when I flew into Dublin on my way to Edinburgh, I was really just focused on getting to Scotland and didn't see much of the city. I walked to St. Stephen's Green and explored along the way and back. Dinner was at Murrays, touristy, yes, but close to the hotel.

Thurs 9/14: Flew home at 9 am with a 4-hour layover in Paris. Since the flight out of Dublin was delayed by almost an hour, that padding came in handy. I arrived home in Chicago tired and planning my next trip

As a newbie to international travel, I made my share of errors. Wear a belt through security, check. Get off one flight, go through security to connecting flight with my full water bottle, check. Get cash at an ATM at the airport, in Euros, only to take it to Scotland where they only take pounds, check. Oh well, live and learn, right?

Pictures are here (I don't know how to change the Key West designation from an older set of photos):
SusanM is online now  
Sep 15th, 2017, 02:29 PM
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Wow, I totally forgot my tour of Edinburgh castle, and not because it wasn't memorable! That was on Sunday as well. They were still taking down the stadium from the Tattoo in August.
SusanM is online now  
Sep 15th, 2017, 02:33 PM
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You go, girl! Hooked on the international travel now? Looks like you had a great trip. I was just in Edinburgh last October and loved it, too.
VolCrew is offline  
Sep 15th, 2017, 02:34 PM
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Hey, hi SusanM!

solo, female traveler .. check
50 just a bit in the rear view mirror .. check
use janisj as expert for trips .. check
Scotland .. big Check

want to co-plan/travel ;-) ?

I'm just about to plan a Dublin trip, so I'll look up your hotel .. do you recommend it?

scotlib is offline  
Sep 15th, 2017, 03:16 PM
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Hi scotlib, I liked my room at the Charles Stewart on the return visit much better than the first time around. They were both singles, at the same rate, but the second room was a little larger and just laid out better. I have no complaints about the location, about a block from the Aircoach bus stop. The bathrooms, though, wow were they small. I suppose that's not news to anyone who's been to Europe before!

Yep, VolCrew, I'm hooked
SusanM is online now  
Sep 15th, 2017, 04:55 PM
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Sounds like a great trip, love your enthusiasm as a new international traveler.
Nikki is online now  
Sep 15th, 2017, 05:22 PM
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Hmmm, Gardyloo perhaps?
xcountry is offline  
Sep 15th, 2017, 05:49 PM
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I your Scotland highlights.
nyse is offline  
Sep 15th, 2017, 05:52 PM
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Sounds like you squeezed in a really good variety into your short-ish trip. IMO you couldn't have picked a better place for your first venture.

The first of many trips in your future
janisj is online now  
Sep 15th, 2017, 05:52 PM
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. . . lots of other experts
janisj is online now  
Sep 15th, 2017, 11:05 PM
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Good to read your report- so filled with enthusiasm (made me smile)

We too are off to Scotland (next year) and I'm trying to work out an itinerary for two weeks
Taking advice from fodorites ( so many of them including janisj who has helped me so many times!)
Ill look into cityroomz...
Ive heard of arthurs seat and will now put it down as a must-see and I'm looking forward to the west highlands
Good to know it can be done as a daytrip...we will have a car so it seems like we can have Edinburgh as a base for a few days
Good luck for future travels!
lanejohann is offline  
Sep 16th, 2017, 05:30 AM
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Thanks for the kind replies, everyone. Lanejohann, if you're in need of route ideas, you can always check out the tours offered by Rabbies and mimic one of their itineraries.

Someone mentioned on another thread that Edinburgh is a city of hills, and it always seems as though you're walking uphill. So true! My legs were never so tired as this week.

I relied on Google maps to get around, and it served me well, especially when I used it to search on "cafes" or some other general category. What it doesn't tell you, though, is the terrain. I took several routes that had me going up and down unnecessary sets of stairs because I couldn't tell from the image that another route would have been more level. Of course, no I know the city for when I return
SusanM is online now  
Sep 16th, 2017, 05:33 AM
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SusanM is online now  
Sep 16th, 2017, 05:45 AM
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We were in Edinburgh for a week last summer and I just loved it. We'd just spent a week in London where all the buildings seem to be made out of white or light-coloured stone, then we got to Edinburgh with all its massive, looming dark-stone buildings -- such a difference and so atmospheric!

We were lucky enough to be there during the Fringe Festival and that was huge fun. I had some time to explore on my own while my SO was at a conference and one of the things I loved was the beautiful National Gallery's Museum of Modern Art:


Also, if you want an afternoon out of town, take the train south (about a 20 minute train ride) to North Berwick. It's a beautiful little town with a very charming main street of nice shops, galleries, restaurants and tea shops. The only chain store we saw was a Boots Pharmacy.

You can walk out to the seaside where there are also a few restaurants and other sights including the Scottish Seabird Centre -- it's not a long walk and so interesting to be out there on the Firth. Here's the link to the town:


(By the way, we were told it's pronounced North Barrick.)
goddesstogo is online now  
Sep 16th, 2017, 08:46 AM
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>>Also, if you want an afternoon out of town, take the train south (about a 20 minute train ride) to North Berwick.<<

Good suggestion -- (not south though, North Berwick is about 20 miles due east and actually a bit north of Edinburgh)
janisj is online now  
Sep 16th, 2017, 11:16 AM
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Oh, sorry. I thought we were traveling south.
goddesstogo is online now  

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