In a land where sheep outnumber humans, Scotland is as haunting as the strains of the bagpipe echoing through her rolling valleys and serpent roads. With the International Airport making Scotland a single hop away, it surely makes for a hotter getaway now, though not literally. So pull out your Wellington boots and get ready to discover the unpredictable Scottish landscapes!
Scotland celebrates its many castles, natural beauty and warm citizens with ease. Its narrow roads, lovely countryside and forts popping up in the middle of lochs (that’s Gaelic for a lake or sea inlet) may tempt you very much to move to Scotland permanently. The uniformity of the houses sprinkled along the landscape just adds to the magic of Scotland.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are good points to start. While Glasgow is the newer Scotland, Edinburgh is teeming with the richness of its history. Basing yourself in either of the two, its easy to get a flavor of the nearby sights, such as the Loch Lomond, Stirling Palace, as well as picturesque places at Fife and Borders.
Stay at Inverness to cover the northern highlights which mostly include distilleries and the rich countryside. Ferries get you across to the many islands, but you must check their timings beforehand because they’re not regular.
Northern Scotland also hosts a variety of ocean life such as seals, dolphins and whales. So make sure you grab the opportunity to see it.
If visiting soon, do not forget to check out the 2011 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh.
Do not even think of leaving without a whiskey tour to a nearby whiskey distillery which is easier to find than places to eat!
Scottish cuisine is probably one of the most open cultural experiences ever. Though traditional dishes are popular, Indian and Chinese dishes are even more popular in some places to the extent that you may end up hunting for a Scottish restaurant in smaller towns. A must-eat in Scotland is, of course, Haggis, the national dish made from sheep”s ”pluck” (heart, liver and lungs), served with neeps (yellow turnip) and tatties (mashed potatoes).
Seafood in Scotland is another brilliant food experience, particularly the quintessential Fish and Chips and Smoked Salmon.
There are plenty of charming cafes lined up on the lanes of Edinburgh and Glasgow. If at Portree, definitely check out Cafe Arriba, a tucked away family-run restaurant with quirky furniture and yummy food. Another must eat place is Cafe 1 at Inverness.
You can shop anywhere in Scotland. The smaller the town you pick, the more charming the product. But the downside also being that by 5pm, everything shuts. So hit the shops early! From woolens to handmade wooden products, Scotland is the epitome of tourist shopping.
For woolens, check out Johnston of Elgin for the softest scarves, shawls and sweaters. Of course, no trip is complete without one picking up the famous Harris Tweed products. A dying handmade art, better to pick yours now!
Another must buy is Scottish jewelry which is based on Celtic designs along with Edinburgh crystal and Caithness glass.
If you feel like picking up something truly unique, then pick up the Scottish kilt for more adventurous travelers and a bagpipe, if you are musically inclined.
And before the list ends, no trip, and we repeat no trip, is complete without picking up some of the most amazing single malt that Scotland is most famous for.
No dearth of places to stay. You can choose, depending on your budget, anything from gorgeous castles to homes. Now, while the bigger cities have choices which give you the freedom to book closer to travel dates, the smaller towns especially when traveling up in Scotland do not have many options. So, it is better to block early.
A recommendation: if you are a whiskey aficionado, the gorgeous Bowmore cottages at the distillery at Bowmore give you the opportunity to live on the property.
Another lovely town to sack out in is Inverness. A focal point for the lesser explored parts of Scotland, try Lynver Guest House run by a lovely couple Michelle and Brian. Located in a residential area, it is a quick downhill walk to the town’s centre. Scotland will offer you many places to stay but the welcoming hospitality is the same everywhere.
All year! Anytime is good if you’re visiting Scotland for what it is – for the castles and the places of history and the quenching of the curiosity that makes you wonder, standing in a shop, as to the difference between tartan and plaid.
But if you are a nature person, then autumn is your time. And yours would be the glorious colors of the Scottish autumn.
From mountains to oceans, from castles to modern domes, Scotland offers it all.
This destination, like Tom Hanks said in Forrest Gump, is a box of chocolates. You don’t know what you have till you take a big bite.
Slainght (cheers in Gaelic)!
Courtesy: The Travelling Sisterhood