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> Scotland, Starter Kit
kathryn77
post Apr 7 2008, 12:23 PM
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SCOTLAND - Starter Kit
This starter kit is an informative collection of travel info on Scotland. The information given regarding Scotland has been sourced from various relevant websites. It's intended as a brief rundown to get you started. If you feel I have left something out feel free to contribute.

Getting Around
It is easy to get to and around Scotland. There are airports in Edinburgh; Glasgow; Glasgow Prestwick; Inverness and Aberdeen. The budget airline Ryanair has flights from all except Glasgow. (NB. Glasgow Prestwick airport is actually in Ayrshire, and is a 50 minute train journey from Glasgow city centre). Flights can be as cheap as £20 (including taxes) from all European destinations, when booked in advance. Other airlines include Easyjet; BMIbaby; Aer Arann; Zoom; Flyglobespan; BA; Aer Lingus plus many more. The skyscanner website is a good site to get the best deals for flights to get you here. There are also airports in Orkney and Shetland for those heading to the most northern points of Scotland.
Once here, try to travel by road, rail or car, as Scotland is small enough to do so, and you don’t want to miss the amazing scenery! The rail system is privatised, but you can search for all tickets from all companies (and buy them cheaper in advance) from www.thetrainline.com (NB. Sometimes it is also cheaper to buy two single tickets from this site instead of a return). Cheap bus tickets can also be bought for as little as £1 in advance from Megabus and National Express web-sites. Public transport is great for most major cities and towns, but to get to the Highlands and Islands, you are better off hiring a car, and obviously using ferry services where necessary. Calmac sail to 24 destinations on the West coast, and Northlink ferries service Orkney and Shetland from Aberdeen (NB. It can take up to 14 hours to reach Shetland by ferry)
Within towns and cities, buses or taxis can easily transport you, and the capital, Edinburgh, is currently installing a tram system (April 2008). All taxis are metered, and in some places you must buy your bus ticket before boarding local services from the machines at the bus stop. This will be easy to identify.

Visas
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, and is therefore part of the European Union, allowing all member countries entry without the need for a Visa. Visit www.ukvisas.gov.uk to find out if you are required to have a visa for entry to the United Kingdom. Once in a country of the United Kingdom, you will not pass through any border control points (e.g. when traveling from England to Scotland)

Currency
Our currency is the Great British Pound (GBP). We also accept American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, JCB and their affiliates. Currency exchange is available at banks, hotels, travel agents and airports.

Scotland’s currency comprises coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pence (p) and one and two pound (£) coins. 1p and 2p coins are copper coloured, while 5, 10, 20 and 50p are silver. The £1 coin is bronze in colour, and the £2 coin has a silver centre and gold border. Our notes are of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pound denominations. Scottish notes are issued by three banks: Bank of Scotland; Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. This means that you may have 3 very different £10 notes at any one time. In addition, Bank of England notes are accepted throughout Scotland. The money is of exactly the same value, and if you obtain your GBP outside of Scotland, you will be issued with Bank of England notes. You can use all Scottish money in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as it is all classed as ‘Sterling’, however you may get questioned in smaller shops, as they may not be familiar with the look of Scottish money. The only note that is not acceptable outside of Scotland, is the £1 note. It was withdrawn from circulation in England in 1984, but you will still see this in use in Scotland (although it is quite rare nowadays)

Health
Healthcare in Scotland is provided by the National Health Service (NHS) as well as private practices. You will receive a high standard of care in this country, but you should ensure you have adequate insurance to cover yourself should you fall ill or have an accident.

Tap water is safe to drink, and we have a large supply of this! You don’t need any immunisations to visit Scotland, but if you have come from somewhere with a high rate of diseases like yellow fever, typhoid or polio, you may need to have proof that you have been vaccinated against them.

Accommodation , Internet & Weather
There are many forms of accommodation available within Scotland. Types of accommodation range from Apartments, Hotels, Motels, Hostels, Bed & Breakfast, Tourist Parks and Caravans. Prices range from as little as £5 to the sky is the limit, depending on your budget.

Internet facilities are widely available throughout Scotland, in both libraries and cafes

It can be common to experience four seasons in one day in Scotland, but generally the seasons are as follows:
Summer is June to August
Autumn is September to November
Winter - is December to February
Spring - is March to May

The West Coast of Scotland experiences wetter weather than that of the East Coast, which tends to be colder. High winds can also occur, when you may hear the expression “it’s blowin’ a gale” by locals. Snow can bring secluded highland areas to a standstill in winter, but you can also experience relatively high temperatures if we have a good summer, with temperatures sometimes reaching 30C. (Yes really! And some towns even have outdoor swimming pools, open in the summer months! They are usually heated though!)



Time Zones
Scotland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This means we also put our clocks forward one hour in Spring, and back one hour in Autumn (“Spring Forward, Fall Back”) In the summer, the sun sets later and later each day, so it can still be a light sky at 10pm on occasion!

Communication
Our country code is 44. Mobile (cell) phones are commonplace. Post offices are usually open 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings (some in the afternoon as well). The electrical current here is 220-240 volts (50 cycles), and a standard three pin plug adapter may be required by visitors.
Scottish people are some of the friendliest you will meet, and most will go out of their way to help a visitor to the area. The only difficulty a visitor may have in Scotland, is the wide everyday use of Scottish slang. Even for native English speakers, it can be difficult, but if you ask a person to slow down, they will understand why you’re having difficulty! Regional slang is also evident, so for example, a young girl may be referred to as “wee lassie” or “hen” on the West Coast, but as “quine” in Aberdeen and the North! In the highlands, Scottish Gaelic is also spoken.

Accessible Travel
If you have a disability and are planning to explore Scotland, many places have excellent provisions. The Capability Scotland web-site offers a wealth of advice.

Popular Highlights/Destinations

Edinburgh – The Scottish Capital, and home to the stunning Edinburgh Castle, set high on the hill in the city centre, between the two train stations (Waverley and Haymarket). Prime location for spotting a traditionally kilt-clad Scot playing the bagpipes, but also great shopping and eating. Princes Street is the main shopping street, but running parallel to this is Rose Street where you can dine at a number of humorously named restaurants like “Filthy McNasties” or “The Cat and Bagpipes”. Get off the main shopping stretch and into the cobbled street areas for traditional shops filled with all the tartan style goodies your heart could desire. Oh, and try some ‘Edinburgh rock’! It’s soft, unlike normal rock candy – delicious!

Glasgow - Scotland’s biggest city, and the future host of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In 1990, Glasgow was named “European City of Culture” and then “UK City of Architecture and Design” in 1999. You won’t find it hard to see why, and won’t be stuck for things to do in Glasgow. Check out “The Merchant City” for eating, drinking and socialising.

Aberdeen - “The Granite City” is its nickname, due to the wide use of granite in most buildings. A prime location for the oil industry, with the offshore business a key asset to the city. It is also the jumping off point to reach Orkney or Shetland by ferry. The main street in this city is Union Street, where you will find an abundance of shops, bars, and places to eat both on this street, and the smaller ones off of it. Little Belmont Street is a good bet for a night out, and is often packed with students during term-time.

You’ve not visited Scotland unless you have….
• Been to a ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee). This is traditional Scottish dancing, where no-one is allowed to sit back in the audience! Not as scary as it sounds – there’s usually someone explaining the steps at the start of a dance, and you just copy those in front of you. It is really fun! With dances for two people like “The Gay Gordons” to groups of eight for “The Eightsome Reel” you will have a lot of fun, and you will make lots of new friends!
• Had a summer night out with the midges!! (This is the Scottish equivalent of the mosquito, and will be ever present if it’s warm enough to have a barbeque)
• Experienced Hogmanay (Scotland’s New Years Eve. From live music in Glasgow or Edinburgh, to fireball swinging in Stonehaven, the Scottish know how to party. So much so, the 2nd January is a public holiday for the Scots!
• Gone Nessie hunting! (Looking for the infamous Loch Ness Monster!)
• Visited Gretna Green (This is the first town you get to on the M74 in the Scottish borders, when you have just left England. It is famous for people eloping to get married here, because legally you can get married in Scotland at 16, rather than 18 like in the rest of the UK, without parental approval!)
• Tried some Scottish food/drink, for example
o Haggis, neeps and tatties (Haggis, turnips/swedes and potatoes)
o Deep fried mars bar (yes, they do exist, and no, I haven’t eaten one personally…but you are the visitor!)
o Tattie (potato) scone and black pudding (instrumental parts of a “Scottish breakfast”)
o Irn-Bru – orange in colour, but not in flavour. How would you describe it? (Traditional Scottish soft drink that regularly outsells Coke in Scotland!)
o Whisky – a “wee dram” will warm your tootsies on a cold winter night!!

Related Guide Books & Websites
I have only summarised 3 cities above, but this does not even begin to cover the vast number of attractions in Scotland. I have suggested some websites below, and if you have any queries, please feel free to ask me. I was brought up near Glasgow and also lived in Aberdeen, so I have friends all over (even in Orkney!), so if I don’t know the answer, there’s a high chance I will know someone who will!

www.travelpod.com/members/kathryn77 (see my Scotland folder for places I've been since March 2008)
www.visitscotland.com (excellent site for arranging your itinerary. Provides further internet links for all things Scottish)
www.skyscanner.net (to get you your cheap flight to Scotland in the first place!)
www.thetrainline.com (cheap rail travel in Scotland and the UK)
www.megabus.com (cheap bus travel in Scotland, the UK and America)
www.nationalexpress.com (cheap bus travel)
www.hogmanay.net (New Years Eve is a BIG event in Scotland. This site will tell you all, from the traditional concert in the capital, to the fireball swinging in Stonehaven!)


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starlagurl
post Apr 7 2008, 12:43 PM
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Thanks Kathryn, looks great!


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arealhighlander
post May 30 2008, 09:34 PM
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I think if anyone tried to flick the backside of my kilt to see what was underneath they would likely end up with a fist on their nose. Do you suggest we flick up womens skirts to see what they have on as well? tsk.

PS I'ts Hogmanay not Hogmonay.
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kathryn77
post Jun 1 2008, 11:44 AM
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QUOTE(arealhighlander @ May 31 2008, 03:34 AM) *

I think if anyone tried to flick the backside of my kilt to see what was underneath they would likely end up with a fist on their nose. Do you suggest we flick up womens skirts to see what they have on as well? tsk.

PS I'ts Hogmanay not Hogmonay.


Thanks for the feedback "arealhighlander". I have amended my minor (but important) spelling error there, given that one was a website link.

Apologies if you are offended by a bit of kilt flicking fun. I guess in todays politically correct society it's not a good idea to promote this idea, so I've removed it from the article. Most people I know would take it in the jest it was meant, but I guess there may be more than just yourself that would take offence to this which is why I have removed it. (Though you don't leave much to the imagination in your profile photo!)

No, I don't suggest we flick up womens skirts. It is a quite different reference - by this I mean how many women have you seen hitching up the back of her skirt and doing 'a mooney', in the same way as a guy in a kilt would participate in this activity. It is after all about the "air of mystery" that surrounds this typical Scottish attire, and there are some guys willing to share this with the world, and those, like yourself, who aren't.



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arealhighlander
post Jun 1 2008, 05:20 PM
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QUOTE(kathryn77 @ Jun 1 2008, 11:44 AM) *

QUOTE(arealhighlander @ May 31 2008, 03:34 AM) *

I think if anyone tried to flick the backside of my kilt to see what was underneath they would likely end up with a fist on their nose. Do you suggest we flick up womens skirts to see what they have on as well? tsk.

PS I'ts Hogmanay not Hogmonay.


Thanks for the feedback "arealhighlander". I have amended my minor (but important) spelling error there, given that one was a website link.

Apologies if you are offended by a bit of kilt flicking fun. I guess in todays politically correct society it's not a good idea to promote this idea, so I've removed it from the article. Most people I know would take it in the jest it was meant, but I guess there may be more than just yourself that would take offence to this which is why I have removed it. (Though you don't leave much to the imagination in your profile photo!)

No, I don't suggest we flick up womens skirts. It is a quite different reference - by this I mean how many women have you seen hitching up the back of her skirt and doing 'a mooney', in the same way as a guy in a kilt would participate in this activity. It is after all about the "air of mystery" that surrounds this typical Scottish attire, and there are some guys willing to share this with the world, and those, like yourself, who aren't.


I don't mean to be a killjoy, asking a Scotsman what is under his kilt is different to just flicking it up. You will maybe not be surprised at the number of times when I happen to be wearing a kilt (usually just at weddings) that complete strangers come up to you and feel they have the right just to lift the back of it up!

As I said, imagine if you were a women and that happened to you, it wouldn't feel very jesty either.

Go ahead and ask a Scotsman, they may show you they may not.

And the correct answer to the question "what is worn under a Scotsmans kilt" should always be "Nothing, its all in perferct working order"

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starlagurl
post Jun 2 2008, 08:17 AM
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Wow, I can't believe that people actually do that...mixing kilts and alcohol, probably not a good idea I guess.

For the record: I think kilts on guys are totally hot.


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kathryn77
post Jul 14 2008, 04:18 PM
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Hey there,

I've added some photos and internet links to some places I've been to in my Scotland Travelblog

I'll add to it whenever I go anywhere in Scotland from now on, or mail me if you've any general questions as normal...


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kathryn77
post Nov 1 2008, 11:13 AM
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Just added to my Scotland travelblog again...this time a Scottish road trip I recently did...covering Loch Ness; Isle of Skye and lots more...!

http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entri...53260/tpod.html
Start from the Stranraer entry to see the full trip!


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miffyanddougle
post May 26 2009, 02:47 PM
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As usual, the Scottish Borders have been left out! tongue.gif

Some very interesting things take place here, especially during Common Riding which takes place throughout most of the towns here (if not all) around end of May/beginning of June. Where I am currently living, Hawick (pronounced Hoik) I can hear the adults and children cheering on the Cornet riding on his horse, with several more riding with him and not to forget the accompanying band. I had the pleasant surprise last year of waking up at 6 in morning to hear the band going round and round the town with their incessant playing.

The Common Riding also comes hand in hand with getting drunk - and if you find it hard to understand what people are saying in their abscure ascents when sober, you'll find that it is much more of a challenge when they have a lot of alcohol in their stomachs.

There are also a few individual things to try in each of the towns - Hawick have sweets called Hawick balls, and in Selkirk you can get the Selkirk Bannock which is kind of like a fruit scone.

And yet there is so much more to discover here, in the lands of the Borders.


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kathryn77
post May 26 2009, 04:15 PM
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Thanks for the extra comments on the Borders miffyanddougle. I've never been, so these comments are great to be added by someone like you, who lives there.

In saying that, I have briefly been to Gretna Green when driving south, so mentioned that in the intro kit, but realise that's not everything there, so thanks for the adds!


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captain_sparrow
post Jul 15 2009, 04:51 PM
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My personal favorite in Edinburgh was the National Gallery. A must if you're into art.

Even though much smaller, it could well compete with the big boys like the Louvre or the Hermitage. We took a tour the other day with a company called Golden Feet - they're apparently the only people that do tours of the Gallery specifically, which was nice, as we didn't feel like taking a tour of the whole city. The guide knew his stuff - definately worth the money (L4), espescially worth paying as entrance to the gallery is free. The contact details below are from the leaflet he gave us at the end - check it out or look for guys in red t-shirts outside the Gallery.

ktelejko@goldenfeetart.co.uk
(+44) 787 647 1544
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kathryn77
post Jul 15 2009, 05:27 PM
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Thanks for this Captain Sparrow.

I agree that the National Gallery in Edinburgh is fab if you're into art, but it is free like you say, so what key things does having a guide add to the experience? I googled the tour name and couldn't see anything immediate? I'm sure other travellers would find it useful to know.

I noticed you said that you weren't interested in doing a tour of the whole city, but I'd tend to disagree with that if I was just visiting this city, as it has so much more to offer like the Castle and the surrounding cobblestone areas; witchery tours; quaint restaurants etc.

Were you visiting, or do you live there and had a day out and that's why the National Gallery appealed? If you were visiting, what else did you see & do, and why does this guided tour rank as your number one, given it's inspired you to write about it?

Cheers!
Kathryn


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