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A Scottish Holiday
Ted Vives and Paula Crawford

When it came time for deciding where to take our family vacation for 2009, there was only one choice -- Scotland. My wife and I had spent our honeymoon there in 2006, and it was time to introduce the rest of the family to this wonderful country. Our first visit had been only a week due to work schedules and baby-sitting (my son from a previous marriage was 4 at the time) so this time we spent 2 weeks touring around the country and seeing and doing as much as we could. With our children, (ages 7 and 2 now) we also tried to do things that they would enjoy, and so several of our activities centered around the "Harry Potter" stories.

Crawford Castle, South Lanarkshire
Crawford Castle, South Lanarkshire

The trip began with a train ride up the East Coast from London to Edinburgh. We caught the train at King's Cross Station and found "Platform 9 3/4" filling our then son with glee. After passing through Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, we arrived in Edinburgh in the late afternoon. After resting up overnight, we got up late and had lunch at our favorite Edinburgh restaurant, Deacon Brodie’s. We then went to Edinburgh Castle and spent the rest of the day in and around town.

The next couple of days saw trips to several places including Roslynn Chapel; Crawford, South Lanarkshire (Clan Crawford’s ancestral birthplace); and south back into England to Alnwick Castle where much of the first 2 "Harry Potter " movies were filmed.

Staffa (Fingal's Cave)
Staffa (Fingal's Cave)

We then traveled across the country to the west coast. After stopping at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Glasgow, we took the first of 2 ferry rides from Gourock to Dunoon. Back on the road, we then took a very picturesque drive across the Scottish countryside over the Tighnabruich Overlook and on to Portavadie where we caught the ferry to Tarbert, (where, incidentally, the best Cullen Skink in Scotland can be found at the Anchor Hotel.)

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct

After an evening in Tarbert it was off to Oban for 3 days. On the way we stopped at Dunadd and Kilmartin. In Oban, we took a day cruise out to Staffa, the Treshnish Isles, and the Iona Abbey amidst extremely rough seas (very stormy, 10-15 ft. waves) on a boat (the MV Ossian) that couldn’t have been much bigger than a school bus. It was a bit frightening and while fortunately none of us got seasick or injured (we were tossed about quite violently at times) we were all very happy to get our feet back on solid ground with an afternoon on Iona, before taking the ferry back to Oban.

Next, we travelled north to Inverness for 3 days. This portion of the trip saw visits to Urquhart Castle, Ft. George, and a day trip to Ft. William for a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct (another "Harry Potter" activity as this train and its course have been a staple of the movies.)

2009 Edinburgh Military Tattoo
2009 Edinburgh Military Tattoo

After Inverness, we headed back south to Edinburgh via Stirling and a stop at Stirling Castle and the Wallace National Monument.

The final portion of the trip was spent back in Edinburgh attending the opening ceremonies of the 2009 Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

We can't wait to go back!!

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