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Kathryn's Scottish Holiday
Thanks to Kathryn Kaufman Seay for this holiday account

I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Our new summer homeWhat an amazing country Scotland is!  We both loved its incredible scenery and crisp fresh air and hundreds of shades of green and sheep everywhere and the people!!!  Everyone was so nice and friendly!  We stayed in B&B's the whole time and we really got to know the people that way - as well as meeting other travelors from Australia and Germany and England.  Great to talk to everyone.  We had a combination of rain - really just mist and some sun and cool temperatures which was just fine for us!  

We started in London which was fine for the short 2 days we were there - too big a city for our liking, but we did see some of the sights  - especially St. Paul's Cathedral which we spent a couple of hours in.  Really amazing architecture and structure, especially when you consider they had only brain power to design it with.  We saw "Noises Off" which was hilarious and had Lynn Redgrave in it.  Then we took a 4 hour train ride to Edinburgh which had great scenery to gawk at plus food and bevvies to partake of!  

We immediately fell in love with Edinburgh!!!!   A small city of about 1/2 million people built around the elevated Edinburgh castle (which started being built in 620!!!!!!!!!)  We loved all the old buildings and just walking through all that history!  Gorgeous.  We will definitely go back some day and spend more time there.  Dave played golf one day on a beautiful course right near our B&B (which he said was a combination of golfing and mountain climbing due to all the hills!) and I shopped in town and hung
out in the gardens looking up at the castle.  

Breakfast on Loch LomondOn day 4 we got our rent a car and a whole new adventure began - driving on the left!  YIKES!  Dave pulled out in the the city traffic and promptly went to the right side of the road.  Luckily we made it over the the left in time and got out into the country.  The roads are very narrow and once away from the cities turn into one lane each direction (and even further out are only one VERY narrow lane with passing places here and there)  

So we shakily made our way to St. Andrews which was very cool being the birth place of golf and all.  We walked all around - quite chilly winds off the ocean!! - and ate lunch in the clubhouse.  Then I decided I would try driving and although it was scary at times with high cliffs and tiny roads, I drove the rest of the trip with Dave being my constant guide dog and helping me with "TOO CLOSE - MOVE RIGHT" and "Turn right but get left!"

So off we went to Ballater for the night which is in the east near Balmoral, the Queen's summer castle.  A beautiful quaint town!  We tried haggis that night for dinner - well, Dave ordered it, and it wasn't too bad! (the famous scottish dish served in a lamb's stomach - although ours was just served as a stuffing in chicken - of ground up everything of lamb and spices and oats etc. etc. )   He really liked it and ordered it again another night.   

Eilean Donan CastleThe next morning at our B&B the kitchen door swung open and out came George, the proprietor, in full kilt regala with steaming bowls of porridge!!  I thought I was in a movie!  We walked around town and found a jumble sale!  They had taken the tiny town hall and it was a big garage sale PACKED with locals rumaging through it all!  What a hoot!  Of course we got a few treasures and then headed off
to Loch Ness/Inverness area to find the monster.  

So incredible driving through all the mountains and valleys and each bend was more beautiful than the one before.  Didn't see Nessie, but did see a Highland bagpiper alongside the road and stopped for a listen and got our pictures taken with him.  Then we climbed down the banks and sat by the Loch Ness for a while.  Beautiful.  Then on to Ft. Augustus for the night which is a little town with a canal and 5 lochs.  The next day we watched as they filled the loch and moved the boats one loch at a time.  It takes about 2 hours to travel up the 5 lochs.  The night before we met some really nice locals at the pub who insisted on buying us drinks and we enjoyed sharing tales of our home and theirs. 

Fairy Land on SkyeThen the next day we headed to the Isle of Skye which we loved!!!  Took the bridge over and the ferry back.  What a wonderful island Skye is!!!  We went hiking through an area called The Fairy Glen and although we didn't see any fairies, we knew they were there!  So beautiful and soft and green and mounds of hollow earth.  Enchanting!  We ate some good seafood visited the oldest inhabited castle - Dunvegan - and it's gardens and enjoyed our wee little village of Uig on the northern most tip of Skye! 

When we went to leave 2 days later, Pat, our inn keeper, didn't take credit cards and the only bank on the island was 45 minutes away.  So we offered up all our cash and were 20 pounds short.  We told him we'd go to Portree and cash some travelors checks and send him the money.  At first he said "Enjoy the rest of your holiday and send me the money when you get home."  but we felt bad about that so he said "You're going to Portree? Here, take my bank book and deposit the money into my account and tell them to put it on the van that comes round tomorrow."  So off we went with his entire bank book and in Portree they said "Oh, Pat.  Yes, we'll put it on the van tomorrow."  Evidently the van goes to all these little towns once a week for everyone to do their banking!  Now how's that for small town!!!!!  Restored our faith in humanity too!  

Main road in SkyeThen off we headed over the Quaraing which is an area of vast mountains and hills gloriously green and sheep every where and you are very high up and then it opens up to a breathtaking view of the ocean WAY below!! Of course all of this is on a one lane road.  We took the ferry to the mainland and then drove the famous "Road to the Isle" route (which was incredible!  We saw 3 rainbows!!!) down to the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond.  We were supposed to stay on a working farm B&B but it was kind of dirty and gave me the creeps so we drove around and LUCKILY found this incredible mansion on a hill overlooking the Loch!  It was built in 1820 and had huge ceilings and cathedral windows and that had an amazing double room available and we called the other place and canceled and felt like we were in a dream especially when the proprietor came into the lounge and asked if we'd like a wee dram!!!!!!!!   We knew we had found paradise.  

The Loch Ness monsterThe next day after  breakfast of porridge and fresh breads and cheeses and fruits and juices we went walking along the banks of Loch Lomond and then that afternoon went hiking on the forestry trails from Tarbet to the next town of Arrochar.  So beautiful and I know there were fairies and gnomes and sprites living in those woods too!  Our last dinner was at an oyster bar right on the water where we had raw oysters, steamed mussels, and langostines wrapped in Scottish smoked salmon along with a couple of pints and we wondered how we could possible leave the next day. 

So all in all we drove over 700 miles and really saw the country, but of course all good things must come to an end - including this VERY long email, but I just had to share in as much detail as I could our wonderful adventure to Scotland.  We had such a wonderful time and since we've been back each night both our dreams have been in, around, or about Scotland and we hope they will continue to be until we can get back there again someday - soon!

EdinburghAlso, we only came across one foot and mouth closer our whole time - near Ft. Augustus and it was just a precaution for that farm, not an infected farm.  In fact we hiked on Skye where there were posted signs that the paths were open from the foot and mouth ban and to just follow a few rules that were posted there.  Otherwise we would have never known there to be a problem at all!

As for the planning of our trip, I did the whole thing over the internet.  Booked all our B&Bs after looking at them on different sites, but mostly SmoothHound and then various links.  You could see pictures of the inns and some even had interior photos and the tourist board ratings.  We tried not to stay any where lower than 3 stars and were not disappointed!  The average cost, including a FULL breakfast, was 23 pounds per person!  A bargain!!!  And all our rooms were fully ensuite - meaning sink, toilet and shower.  (and you need to specify that you want ensuite when booking)  These rates go up a bit during July and August, but only a few pounds.  Only one place wanted our credit card number to hold the room, but didn't make a charge until we got there.  I also read a few guide books - I really like the Dorsling Kinderslay Eyewitness guide series - to help me narrow where we would go, as well as Jeanette's advice to read In Search of Scotland!

PortreeI booked our car with Hertz from here - about 210 pounds for the full seven days.  We did not need to take out extra insurance as we have a gold card credit card and they offer insurance as part of their perks!

DO NOT BOOK TRAIN TICKETS FROM LONDON TO EDINBURGH FROM HERE!!  A travel agency was going to charge us $120 each for the ticket.  We got our ticket at King's Cross Station in London and they were only 31 pounds each!!!

We were fortunate to have enough miles on our frequent flyer program so we flew for FREE!!  Otherwise it would have probably been a lot to fly into London and out of Glasgow, but there are always special rates.

Another bit of advice, we called our credit card company before we left to tell them we would be charging overseas and they made note of the days we'd be there and when we'd be back so no charges after that date would be accepted and they would know it was us charging abroad.



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