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> Scotland tips, What's good to see in Scotland?
jamesharbinson@rogers.com
post Jan 31 2006, 11:40 AM
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Does anyone have any suggestions for the best things to do in Scotland? Any hidden gems that most people miss? Any MUST sees? Anything to avoid? We're palnning on spending 2 weeks in August and are looking for great hostels, bed and breakfasts etc.

Jamie

BTW... Zoom airlines has fantastic airfares.
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Tristan
post Jan 31 2006, 01:42 PM
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QUOTE(jamesharbinson@rogers.com @ Jan 31 2006, 11:40 AM) *

Does anyone have any suggestions for the best things to do in Scotland? Any hidden gems that most people miss? Any MUST sees? Anything to avoid? We're palnning on spending 2 weeks in August and are looking for great hostels, bed and breakfasts etc.

Jamie

BTW... Zoom airlines has fantastic airfares.


A must do in Scotland is a drive through the highlands and the isle of skye. Either hire a car and go yourself otherwise I did a 3 day Haggis tour which was absolutely fantastic with a very fun and knowledgable guide. Also the Princes St East Backpackers hostel in Edinburgh is nice very laid back hostel right in the middle of town where I lived for 2 months last summer.
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whereshegoes
post Jan 31 2006, 01:48 PM
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Hi Jamie!

Oh you just touched a nerve. Scotland was one of my favorite places so I do indeed have some advice for you.

* Visit the Isle of Skye...there are fairies there wink.gif
* There is a wonderful backpacker bus tour called MacBackpackers that I thoroughly enjoyed
* The hostels affiliated with the above tour were excellent and I don't think that I had a bad time in any of them.
* Take a dip in Loch Ness if you get a chance...but have a few shots of whiskey from the distillery tour first
* Climb Ben Nevis - tho I didn't I heard nothing but good things

Good luck! Let us know how it goes smile.gif


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hdh
post Jan 31 2006, 03:17 PM
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Get as far up the highlands as you can and spnd some time in a village pub - the highlanders are standoffish at first but more friendly than the Irish once they get started.

Visit The Edradour distillery even if you do no others - Scotlands smallest distillery.

If you can afford the fare, the Hebrides are worth it (and certainly off the beaten path)

If you climb Ben Nevis (and do!), be properly prepared - it's a mountain, even if only a little one. I started up it one lovely clear sunny summer morning, and by the time I reached the top it was total whiteout. On the way back down I had to rescue some snow-covered moron who'd gone up with nothing but shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops, and been too dumb to turn back when the weather started to turn nasty.


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kevandsian
post Feb 1 2006, 01:47 PM
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Hi Jamie,

Well I barely know where to start! There are just so many places but I'll try and list some which I think are best.

Edinburgh is a great historic city with a fantastic castle, great museums, galleries, shops and nightlife. If you haven't been before then not surprisingly it's a 'must see'. August is a great time to visit as that's when the Edinburgh Festival is on and the Military Tattoo but it's also packed and accommodation prices can be very expensive. Check out this website: Edinburgh Festival

Ben Nevis is great and the one that most visitors climb (with good reason) but there are so many beautiful mountains to choose from whichever area you're in.

Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh has to be one of the most atmospheric castles in Scotland. On the subject of castles, Dunottar Castle (on the East Coast near Stonehaven) and Caerlaverlock Castle (On the South West Coast south of Dumfries) are also pretty amazing, with incredible settings but you can easily get 'castled out' in Scotland!!

Loch Ness is beautiful but the legend of Nessy makes it very touristy.

Glen Affric is a fantastic place for the scenery and for walks in the mountains. Take a look at Glenl Affric There's some fantastic photos on this website and it's a place that not that many tourists get to compared to some other places.

Culloden is definitely worth a visit to get an idea of Scottish history and culture.

Royal Deesside is great for walks and unspoilt beauty. Of particular mention is Linn of Dee near Braemar - a real hidden gem!

I would definitely recommend hiring a car to get the most out of your visit. If you plan to visit Aberdeen then drop us an email and we'd be happy to show you around if you'd like. smile.gif

Hope this helps and have a fantastic time! Feel free to drop me an email if you need help with anything specific.

Sian

By the way we've started a blog on some of our trips around Scotland, including pics from some of the places I've mentioned above. Scotland Pod
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jamesharbinson@rogers.com
post Feb 1 2006, 01:59 PM
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Firstly, I want to say that you guys all rock!! Thanks so much for all of the help. I got bitten by the travel bug 2 years ago when I drove down the west coast of Australia for a month and learned to Scuba dive. Since then I've gone to Cuba and Mexico and I promise that once I stop being so lazy I'll post my blogs here.

Now, here's my dilemma. My girlfriend is feeling a bit "uneasy" about staying in hostels and dorms. We're in our mid 30's so she's not really into the 19 year old "paaaaarty" scene and isn't that thrilled about common sleeping quarters and shared showers. Personally when I was in Cairns (Australia) the hostels seemed to be the best deals around. I know that the people there got a free dinner at the local pub and looked like they were having a blast, meanwhile my tight sphinctered best friend insisted that we stayed at a hotel which meant we paid 4 times as much as the backpackers and then had to fork over 10 bucks each morning for a plate of warm spaghetti, some fruit and cereal at the buffet.

I really like this girl and I don't want to have to surgically remove some bagpipes from my rectum if we get there and it's a disaster.

This is our first "adventure" vacation and we're going to rent a car. As much as the all inclusive resorts in Varadaro are fun, my favorite vacation moments in Australia were at Cape Tribulation and The Blue Mountains. She's a history buff so I'm thinking we're looking at a cross of fantastic vistas and castles etc.

I found the big cities in Australia to be pretty boring (Sydney is beautiful but a big city is just another big city to me). Once you've done the museums etc. I can't wait to get out of there.

So... hostels/dorms.... great idea or grounds for divorce?

Jamie
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kevandsian
post Feb 1 2006, 02:48 PM
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Jamie, I can sympathise here. Before I went travelling I was also unsure of hostels -we're in our early 30s and the hostel scene doesn't always appeal. As a suggestion how about a compromise? - most hostels have a few cheap private rooms, some even with a private bathroom and although they tend to be a bit more expensive than dorms, they're still a great deal compared to hotels. Or how about suggesting to your girlfriend that you try out a mixture of both hostels and hotels? Hostels are a great place to meet other people and pick up tips for things to see and do. I'd choose hostels over hotels 9 times out of 10 whether I'm on a budget or not. Like you say, you have a blast, meet great people and save cash.

Then again there's also the camping option....

Sian
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whereshegoes
post Feb 1 2006, 09:29 PM
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I agree with Sian. I would check out the private room option in the hostels because the atmosphere and experience you will get there is worth it. I would advise you to book far ahead as these rooms go quickly.

Good luck!!


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zzz_HunniB
post Feb 2 2006, 07:24 PM
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Jamie:

I really think you should consider B & B's instead of going the hostel route. You should be able to find some charming B & B's that won't break the bank. Your girlfriend has already expressed reservations about hostels, so why invite the potential trouble.

Staying in B & B's can be a wonderful experience, exposing you to natives who can point you in the direction of the best of the local scene, wherever it might be. The best little pub in Fort William, or the best trail for the best views of the local loch, directions to that little winery making wine from all types of fruit, etc.!

Do her the favor of the B & B route and you will be doing yourself an even bigger favor.
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stevejames
post Feb 2 2006, 07:56 PM
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Great call on the Bed and Breakfasts, HunniB!

I can just picture the scene... some quaint little stone cottage run by a wee old Scottish McLady supplying you with tea and shortbread... overlooking a loch with stark Highland beauty... a roaring open fire and a hot toddy in the evening... how romantic! Such a place must exist - anyone got any B&B recommendations for Jamie?


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zzz_HunniB
post Feb 3 2006, 03:01 PM
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Jamie could start his B & B search at Scotland's Best B & B's and for the "what to see and do" side of things, Undiscovered Scotland is an absolute treasure trove of information!! smile.gif
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Jamie
post Feb 8 2006, 09:50 AM
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Well I have good news and bad news.

I think we're going to put off Scotland to next year sad.gif because airfares jumped $300 per person (note to self, book the ticket in early January). As well, tickets for the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh were sold out except for something in the back corner at the very top. I think I read that tickets went on sale in December for the tattoo so I'll jump on them when the go on sale at the end of the year for 2007.

Everyone here has been awesome, and as long as I'm abusing you for information let me throw one more possibility out at ya (I know.. I know... I'm pushing it).

My girlfriend has suggested that a possible solution to our accomodations dilemma would be to rent an apartment for a week and then fan out into the Scottish countryside for day trips, using our last week to rent a car and then go see things like The Isle of Skye.

Does that sound practical? I have no idea what the scale of Scotland is and if this is a reasonable thing to do.

I live in Ottawa, Canada and it's possible to visit the 1000 islands and Montreal from here (1-2 hour drive) but you could never see Toronto from here because it takes 4-5 hours just to get there.

Is renting an apartment in Edinburgh a good idea if I wanted to use it as a base, or is there a better city/town to do that in?

Thanks again.

Jamie
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MM
post Feb 10 2006, 06:59 AM
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If you want to spend one night or more in an amazing haunted castle in the Highlands, with just 12 pounds I think.. go to the Youth Hostel "Carbisdale Castle" (you will find more information about the whereabouts on the website of the scottish youth hostel association (www.syha.org.uk) . It's really amazing place, if you want you can already see some pictures of it on the website too. It think it's opened from march or april until end of october (I once worked there for two months)
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kevandsian
post Feb 10 2006, 10:50 AM
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Hi Jamie,

I've been mulling over your question for the last few days and I'm not sure that staying in a city for a week would be the best option. Geographically Scotland is only 31,510 sq. miles in area, 274 miles long from North to South and varies in breadth between 24 and 154 miles. It's really not that big but it seems to take so long to get between places - it's mountainous, the infrastructure is not great in places, many of the roads are single lane and the public transport either doesn't go or goes very infrequently to some of the more remote places. Add to that the time it takes just to get out of the major cities due to the volume of traffic and you can see where I'm coming from....... on the other hand I can see why you would want to stay in one place for a little while and do day trips. If you do decide on this option then I think Perth might be a better base, smaller than Edinburgh and within easy reach of some key sights. On the whole though my advice to anyone coming to Scotland for a 2 week holiday would be to rent a car in say Edinburgh and then do a circuit taking in Stirling, Glasgow, the West Coast, Skye, Inverness, Aberdeenshire and back to Edinburgh taking in the key sights and the best of everything in between but this would be pretty much packing it in and you wouldn't get to stay very long in each place.

Hope this helps and all the best!

Sian
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Scarlet
post Feb 11 2006, 10:57 AM
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QUOTE(jamesharbinson@rogers.com @ Jan 31 2006, 11:40 AM) *

Does anyone have any suggestions for the best things to do in Scotland? Any hidden gems that most people miss? Any MUST sees? Anything to avoid? We're palnning on spending 2 weeks in August and are looking for great hostels, bed and breakfasts etc.

Jamie

BTW... Zoom airlines has fantastic airfares.


I have just stayed in a place called Braemar; its right on the edge of the cairngorms and is absolutely stunning. I stayed in a lovely B&B with fantastic huge breakfasts of your choice and really nice owners. If you fancy doing some walking in the hills this would be a great place to stay for a day or two as you can start your journey in the village and be on top of a mountain within a few hours. You can get there on the A93 either from Aberdeen or Perth.

The website of the B&B www.dalmorehouse.co.uk
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Jamie
post Feb 13 2006, 12:03 PM
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QUOTE(kevandsian @ Feb 10 2006, 10:50 AM) *

Hi Jamie,

I've been mulling over your question for the last few days and I'm not sure that staying in a city for a week would be the best option. Geographically Scotland is only 31,510 sq. miles in area, 274 miles long from North to South and varies in breadth between 24 and 154 miles. It's really not that big but it seems to take so long to get between places - it's mountainous, the infrastructure is not great in places, many of the roads are single lane and the public transport either doesn't go or goes very infrequently to some of the more remote places. Add to that the time it takes just to get out of the major cities due to the volume of traffic and you can see where I'm coming from....... on the other hand I can see why you would want to stay in one place for a little while and do day trips. If you do decide on this option then I think Perth might be a better base, smaller than Edinburgh and within easy reach of some key sights. On the whole though my advice to anyone coming to Scotland for a 2 week holiday would be to rent a car in say Edinburgh and then do a circuit taking in Stirling, Glasgow, the West Coast, Skye, Inverness, Aberdeenshire and back to Edinburgh taking in the key sights and the best of everything in between but this would be pretty much packing it in and you wouldn't get to stay very long in each place.

Hope this helps and all the best!

Sian


Thanks Sian. You've been a huge help
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lovevacations
post Aug 12 2006, 01:10 AM
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Hi, hope i am not too late to recommend some tips from Scotrail :

Day trip tickets - for the following attractions :
a. Our Dynamic Earth
b. Royal Yacht Britannia
c. Seabird Centre
d. Edinburgh Dungeon
e. Deep Sea World
f. Supersonic Seabird Saver





QUOTE(jamesharbinson@rogers.com @ Jan 31 2006, 11:40 AM) *

Does anyone have any suggestions for the best things to do in Scotland? Any hidden gems that most people miss? Any MUST sees? Anything to avoid? We're palnning on spending 2 weeks in August and are looking for great hostels, bed and breakfasts etc.

Jamie

BTW... Zoom airlines has fantastic airfares.
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clintonb
post Jan 1 2007, 09:52 PM
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Hey there,

Thats a bummer that you have to put off your trip, i know the feeling :o(

However, make sure you do see scotland, the air is so crisp, the atmosphere is so green - even if it does rain nearly every day :o) Really does give you a great feeling being in an environment like that. I went to 4 or 5 towns in scotland over a period of 2 - 3 weeks, (Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee, Perth, Edinburgh), and my favourites were Stirling and Edinburgh.

Edinburgh - well, two words... "Royale Mile" - you HAVE to take several wonders up this stretch of road and just marvel at how beautiful and gothic the buildings are. I'm not sure of the tour place, but half way up the Royale Mile, you can get a short little expedition to go below the city and check out several city blocks that once existed before the more modern style was built over top. Down there they tell you stories about the bubonic plague (spanish plague). Very interesting! Also check out the Edinburgh castle... If your walking towards it, chuck a left and go down to the next street block, there you'll find a hole in the side of this wall which has the best pies one could imagine! haha! (then on your full stomach, get yourself a ticket to the castle - really is worth it). - And dont forget the pub nightlife!

Stirling, is a little town nearly in the heart of scotland, its so small and characterstic. Its also home to the stirling castle which is very medievil looking and another great castle of its times to see. From here you can lay eyes on the Great William Wallis's tower in the distance... - and dont miss out on the yummy food, the dozens of bakery's have here :o)


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whereshegoes
post Jan 2 2007, 12:18 PM
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Definitely hit Skye and there is a little town called Oban that I thought was pretty cute. There are swans and seals in the harbour as well as some really great fresh seafood.


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rbisset
post Jan 2 2007, 04:49 PM
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You guys have got me thinking about a roadtrip for later in the year biggrin.gif Been about 10 years since I went to Scotland and it's about time I went back! Doubt the weather will be as good though as we had 2 weeks of 30C+ sunshine!


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