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  • First-Timer

    Hello All!

    I am hoping to go to Scotland this Summer (Spring, or Fall) and have really just got started on researching the what to do(s) and where to go!

    I don't want to follow along the usual tourist path though .... bus tours, travel guides, and following any kind of daily agenda sounds more like reform school! I am not looking for a typical vacation ... more like a hide away!

    But where do I start? I was hoping to find a inexpensive flat or studio to rent for a month or so, and stay somewhere between Inverness (I have a family clan castle to pay homage to there) and Edinburgh (which I hear is the best of the best, as far as destinations go!)

    What I really want to do is live the life a while, just be in the culture and get to know the people. I like sitting and visiting in pubs, cafes, or just wandering the streets to take in the air and atmosphere.

    In your journeys to Scotland, or as a local there, is there anyone on here that would share some muchly needed advice to a first-timer?

  • #2
    Bading yourself in one place for a month seems odd to me.

    I'm from Edinburgh, which means great public transport, access by rail to the West Coast and the Borders, as well as Fife and further north. But it means a lot of travel and expense.

    Perhaps a two base stay would make more sense?

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    • #3
      Haha! I know, I must sound totally nutty (delightfully so, if I may say) .... but I am looking forward to celebrating the fact that I am a human-BEing, and not a human-doing for once in my life!

      Two bases might be nice also, one in Edinburgh and one in Inverness? Is there something I would miss terribly if I stuck close to those two? Any idea of where I might start looking for a place to rent for that (relatively) short amount of time?

      You're the Local ... you can be my Yoda

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      • #4
        I suspect that I may be more Darth Vader than Yoda.

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        • #5
          Hi Peanutgallery

          Sitting in a pavement cafe is fine just as long as you don't expect to be surrounded by Scottish voices. (Scotland is very multicultural). Wandering the streets to take in the air and atmosphere is also what I like to do when I visit a new country, but it honestly isn't as much fun when it's pouring down with rain.

          My advice is to base yourself in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth and Inverness, but use our Youth Hostels rather than look for a rental (which could be fantastically expensive and limiting, not to mention almost impossible to find). Youth Hostels offer some fantastic accommodation, and you can stay in the most basic cabin in the wilderness to a what looks like a stately home, or even rooms next to Stirling Castle. And you can be as social or as private as you like there. The YHA notice boards can also be a great way of car sharing to the next venue. But book well in advance for the main cities. You can do a virtual tour here, www.syha.org.uk No idea about joining from outside the UK so keep us posted. Using these hostels is a great way to see Scotland independently. You can use the train to travel between each major city, thereby seeing the countryside in comfort. But if you want to save money go for the special buses such as Megabus. They can be megacheap too.

          As for where to visit? Your interests? Architecture? Ruins? Battlefields? Modern Architecture? Museums? Art? Small fishing villages? Villages steeped in history? Castles? Mythology? The Harry Potter Steam train or the Jacobite steam train journey? No way can you see everything even in two months so better to focus on what would be of most interest. Or what about a visit to a quaint highland village such as Inveraray where the local prison shows how we treated criminals in the old days.....(such as the tongue nailing post for women who gossiped).

          If you can be more specific as to your interests perhaps we can help.

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          • #6
            Ah! Some great leads to follow! Thank-you! Lostinnz

            Also, great questions to consider! I agree, and would rather take the bus over a train, unless it saved a great deal of time to take the train. Time is very valuable if you are only there for such a short period!

            I would be most interested in small towns, seeped with history and haunted ruins or castles, rather than anything to do with Harry Potter or modern attractions (at least, not this trip). I have some cousins to meet, some family ruins and castles to see, and a few odd things on my bucket list to scratch off while there ... but I think most of my time will be just letting the wind blow me where it may!

            It may sound positively crazy (delightfully quirky?), but I do like to see, and touch old bits of history. I think, "If stone could talk, what would it say?" I have had the chance to spend time with Mayan ruins and found myself just sitting and "listening" to the ancient stones ... wondering what stories they might have to share if they could speak.

            And rain, I LOVE! I don't mind walking, or dancing, in the rain My hair gets very curly and my skin just loves the moisture! Outside where I am at, it is -35 Celsius! So anything about freezing is bikini weather to me!

            Now I know, and I will have to be more careful! I have been known to gossip, once or twice ... so I should hope not to be nailed to the post for it!! Haha! Is gossip still considered a criminal offence? That would be tragic really... who hasn't gossiped? Really??? Haha!

            At least that is better than what they use to do to us (redheads) in other parts of the world, when they though us to be witches!!! I wonder if there is genetic memory there - I hate fire! And now that you mention it, I never felt right gossiping ... slight cramping of the tongue!

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            • #7
              Peanutgallery, you sound weirdly like myself. Letting the wind blow me wherever is what I am about to do this year as I completed my bucket list by emigrating. My new list is titled The f..k it list.

              And a favorite memory is sitting in a tent with my dog in the Scottish hills, listening to the rain pelt down on the roof of the tent and the smell of damp earth and bracken all around me. Absolute heaven.

              Done the Mayan ruins myself, and the pyramids, Israel, etc so fully understand your love of physical contact with history without the tourist trail rubbish.

              Now I am no tour guide or historian so can only tell you about the places I liked to go. Best to google these places first. Castles galore on this site maryqueenofscots.historic-scotland.gov.uk The William Wallace monument is near Stirling Castle (Braveheart). Oxygen needed for the climb up the stairs. Edinburgh has a very impressive cemetery just off the Royal Mile with the crypts of our Jacobites - very important. History plus atmosphere. It also has the grave of our famous wee Edinburgh dog Greyfriars Bobby. His grave is managed by our American friends..sincere thanks folks. Edinburgh also has Mary King's Close but now that it is open to the public it is too touristy for my liking. Its a place (reputedly haunted) under the city. Fife near Edinburgh has some fine towns like Falkland, complete with Palace. Ninian Stuart has a big terraced house across from the palace that still has a thatched roof. Falkland is very historical, as is the medieval village of Culross in West Fife. Both have medieval festivals worth seeing. Still in Fife there's the wee island at Kinross, Lochleven Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. You can get the boat over to it. And in a wee fishing village on the Fife coast is the place where the last witch of Scotland was burned. She too was a redhead.

              The list goes on and on.............too many things to mention, so I will stop there and message you with some ideas, one city or region at a time that might help you plan an itinary within a reasonable time frame.

              ps Have you read any of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon? Scotland has some fine standing stones. They say her fictional ones near Inverness are a myth. Or are they?

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              • #8
                Something to consider regarding getting around, and a kind of different idea. You can apparently hitch along with the Royal Mail when it's being delivered. I don't know how to hook up with that kind of thing but you can probably find it through a google search. You'd probably meet the 'locals' better through something like that anyway.


                Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

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                • #9
                  Good idea kathyv

                  It can be done but unfortunately due to cutbacks, many areas no longer offer this service. They still operate in the north highlands and around the Western Isles, but you must plan very carefully as they are not frequent and in the more remote parts the few seats available are already booked by the locals. It would be easy to get stranded unless you knew your way about.

                  But still worth a shot.

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                  • #10
                    It's an intriguing idea, something unheard of in the States!


                    Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

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                    • #11
                      Wow!

                      All fantastic ideas! Thank-you everyone!

                      I will have to go and pay homage to the place where the last redheaded witch was burned! For sure! I will be very happy to receive any and all suggestions you have Lostinnz Thank-you! You have already given me some great items for my revised, "F*ck it in the Bucket"-List

                      Kathyv - I thought for sure the idea of hitching rides with the postal service, you were just pulling my leg! That is fantastic ... I am going to try it for no other reason than to have done it!

                      I wouldn't mind getting lost, or stranded either! You say stranded, and I think "stories for the grandkids"!

                      I will have to find myself at least one good Pub with some dancing, singing, and general misbehaviour going on .... even if I have to get it all started myself!

                      Next thing you know, we will have a bunch of Scots wanting to come over to this side of the globe, because of that one delightfully quirky redheaded who got everyone up on the tables for a stopping good beerfest!

                      I will submit follow up pictures, if I find myself in such a place

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                      • #12
                        Some of the bars over in Oban used to be 'a good night out complete with scottish music'. There's a great camp site at the end of Oban (for tents), and the view over the sea towards the islands in magical first thing in the morning.

                        Just watch out for the midges. A hat similar to a bee keeper hat is necessary at times.

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                        • #13
                          Ah! They try to hide, but we will flush out the Good-Timers one way or another!

                          Maybe though, they weren't dancing? Maybe they were just trying to get rid of those damn midges!!!

                          Perhaps the midges are the good-timers after all ... getting people off their arses, shaking and gyrating! All you need is a keg and you have a party!!!

                          Marvellous idea; I must travel with a jar full of midges incase I come across a crowd of stubborn stool-holders at any of the local pubs I assault!

                          Mawhahaha (evil laugh)

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                          • #14
                            Avon's Skin So Soft product is supposed to be good to keep the midges at bay. I can't see a good time being had by all if they are included, they aren't known as the Defenders of the Highlands for nothing! LOL

                            Keep a journal as well, it's amazing how much you forget if you don't document it, and not just the things you've done and seen, but the tastes and smells all come flooding back when you write things down for later.


                            Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kathyv View Post
                              Avon's Skin So Soft product is supposed to be good to keep the midges at bay.
                              I can say from experience that it is by far the best midge repellant ever . . .

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