I already wrote a kind of “emotional roundup” of my trip to Scotland. However, I have been doing official roundups in this format for every country I have traveled in depth since starting blogging two years ago. So I decided to keep the tradition alive and hopefully give a hint or two to those that may be visiting Scotland for the first time soon,
What I Did: 4 days in Glasgow, 3 days in Edinburgh, and 3 weeks based in Irvine exploring the West Coast
Overall: I already explained a lot about my Scotland trip in my confessional post about failing at Scottish tourism. The consensus in the comments (thanks guys!) was that I gained something even more valuable by doing things a little differently. I agree!
In a snapshot, Glasgow was energetic, Edinburgh was beautiful, and the coast was peaceful and ripe for exploring. My highlights include attending a Scottish wedding, hiking Ben Nevis, and exploring Glasgow, by day and by night.
Getting around: Scotland is well connected via a major network of trains and buses. We consistently found the best deals via Megabus though you sacrifice the comfort of trains for the cost. We went to London for only
Another option is to rent a car, especially for areas in the North less accessible by public transit. The rental itself is quite affordable, but it is the fuel cost that will add up. If you have a vague idea of your route, use Google Map’s embedded fuel calculator to estimate costs. Remember if you are visiting the isles via car to factor in the cost of ferries.
Food and Drink: I may have mentioned around these parts that my biggest fear before arriving in Scotland was being fed haggis. Lots and lots of haggis. I did give it the old college try once, and to be honest while it wasn’t the worst it wasn’t my favorite British dish either. Those honors go to steak pie, bacon butties, and Canterbury fudge bars. The stereotypes are true: the food is very stodgy and filling.
I was thrilled by the cheap prices of drinks out and about around Scotland, but soon realized that due to new laws the actual alcohol going into each drink was strictly measured, and therefore they seemed quite weak compared to the heavyhanded concoctions of New York bartenders! And for once in my life I didn’t feel like an outsider for shunning beer, but rather joined the masses in drinking the many different summer ciders available. Long live Strongbow!
People: What can I say? Many of you already know that I have quite the affinity for one Scotsman in particular. And I found all the people we encountered to be warm, friendly, proud of their country and happy to show it off.
There is tendency towards deprecating humor towards every subject (self, town, you). But if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
Money: Um, yes. If you haven’t caught on to my moaning about the high cost of everything United Kingdom, you haven’t been reading very closely. For a few examples, a cider is around £4; a bacon butty, £3; a hostel in Glasgow, £20; entry to the Edinburgh Castle, £14; cost of a highland cow hat, £9.
If you are on a tight budget, I would recommend couchsurfing or camping when possible, using Megabus or sharing a car rental to get around, and self catering from budget groceries like Asda and Tesco. Many activities, like hiking, walking and attending museums and galleries in Glasgow, are free!
Safety: I felt extremely secure in Scotland, both for my personal wellbeing and my belongings. This is a first world tourist hotspot and so you will see large cameras and cash being flaunted with no fear.
Good to know: If you have a student ID, it will quickly become one of your most precious possessions as your start raking in the discounts. Always, always ask for a “concession rate” and reap the rewards. Although I already graduated, my ID has no dates on it and I intend to use it until I start going gray (or my nose starts growing!)
The List is a great resource for finding what’s on in terms of nightlife, comedy, and entertainment in various cities across Scotland.
Gumtree is like the Craiglist of the UK and is great for finding rideshares, selling and buying large items and also for finding odd jobs.
Are you guys done reading about Scotland? Good, because I think I just exhausted my energy for writing about it. On to Ibiza, London, and beyond…
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Are you now officially craving a getaway that highland coos and regal castles?