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Traveling Through Scotland

By Joy Ross
2nd September, 2009

A few years back, my husband and I took a trip to Scotland. We were lucky enough to get discounted rates on our airfare and hotels. We even got an additional discount on our car rental for booking the whole package together.

Our arrival city was Glasgow, and what a city it is! We picked up our car rental at the airport and headed to our hotel which had an excellent location for touring the city on foot. At around 9:00 p.m. after a short nap to knock off the jet lag, we headed out to explore Glasgow and we discovered it has a surprisingly lively night life.

We walked to Sauchiehall Street, famous for its many shops and bars. For someone with a late night hunger attack, Glasgow is ideal. At approximately 10:15 p.m. we were eating fresh and delicious fish and chips from a popular place that is open until the wee hours. We then headed to a pub for a few pints before going back to the hotel.

The next day, we headed on to the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, we did not rent a GPS along with our car rental and that was a big mistake. We drove around looking for our hotel for at least 4 hours. It was not entirely unpleasant, as Edinburgh is a lovely place, but I highly recommend you do your sightseeing at your leisure, not while looking for your hotel.

We took off early the next morning to see what Edinburgh had to offer. We walked to the Edinburgh Castle, and there is so much to see that it took up our whole morning. After that we walked down the street to a kiltmakers and weavers shop, where we watched the process of kilts being made, bought some souvenirs and got our pictures taken in full Scottish apparel. That was really fun, and the folks that ran the place were extremely friendly to all the tourists. After that, we had lunch and then just shopped in souvenir shops for the rest of the day.

After Edinburgh, we visited the Stirling Castle and the Smith Art Gallery and Museum. From Stirling, we went to Perth. Although we did not do much there, it was a nice town to walk around and enjoy the views of the River Tay.

After Perth came Aberdeen. We visited the Aberdeen Maritime Museum the Provost Ross's House, which is the second oldest dwelling house in Aberdeen. We also visited David Welch Winter Gardens, a beautiful covered garden with a stunning array of plants, flowers, pools and fish. They had so many rare and exotic plants on show from around the world, you could get lost in the beauty of it all.

From Aberdeen we started on our way to Dunkeld, where our next reservation was, or so we thought. We got our hotel reservation dates a little mixed up, and instead of having a room in Dunkeld on this night in particular, we had a reservation in a little town called Ballater.
We had to drive through the Grampian Mountains that night to get to Ballater. We stopped on the way at a small restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious dinner of Steak Diane, the beef being of the Highland Cow.

Although it is only about a 60 mile drive, it took a long time to get there, because wouldn't you know, it started to snow! We weren't even sure we were going in the right direction as it was snowing so hard that the signs were covered and all we had was an Atlas. Luckily we made it, but we got to our hotel in Ballater past midnight. Upon our arrival, the hotel staff was very welcoming and sympathetic with our situation and gave us a room upgrade and a small bottle of wine. When we got up the next day, we went to check out the area. The burgh of Ballater is very small with a lot of outdoor activities, skiing, hiking, biking, etc. As we are not very winter-sport oriented, we only stayed for the one night.

We headed back to Dunkeld for the next few days and stayed at the Hilton Dunkeld House hotel. It was amazing. On Saturday night, they had a wonderful dinner and a live band playing traditional Scottish dancing music. Even though the kitchen closed around 9:30, the band played on and the guests danced late into the evening. If you are ever in Dunkeld on a weekend, I highly recommend you stay at this property and have dinner in the lounge to experience this wonderful time.

After Dunkeld our next stop was Inverness. Inverness was by far my favorite city in Scotland. It is small enough that you don't feel overwhelmed, and you can't really get lost, but it is big enough to find plenty of things to do, day and night. We went shopping on High Street, visited Loch Ness and took many pictures. The locals were very friendly, kind and informative.

After Inverness, we drove up through the Highlands over the next few days, just took our time going from place to place, enjoying the scenery. I took many pictures of the sheep and sweet looking highland cows. We drove along the coast and ended up staying at a lighthouse (Rua Reidh) hotel just outside the burgh of Melvaig, on the west coast of Scotland. After we left Rua Reidh, we headed back toward Inverness for a few more days because we liked it so much. We spent a few more days sightseeing and touring around and buying local fare to take back home.

Finally, it was time to head back to the Glasgow Airport. On our last night, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport which is conveniently located on airport property, so we only had to walk across to the terminal.

Our time in Scotland seemed to go by too fast, I was sad to see it end. I hope that we get a chance to go back and do some things over again, and do some things we did not get to do the first time. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Scotland, jump at the chance. And don't forget to make sure when you reserve your rental car to say "YES" to the GPS!

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