My daughter will be in Scotland for a two-week dig in June. Her dad is traveling over with her the week before. Suggestions on itinerary/accomodations/travel? Neither of them is a seasoned traveler so looking for ways to maximize the experience and minimize the pain. Thanks!
Have you, or they, consulted a good guidebook just to get a feel for what they might like? Where is the dig? Will they want to bother with a car? Five days is not long in such a varied and rich country, so at the very least, they will need to restrict themselves to a small area of the country and at most stay overnight in two places.
Rick Steves’ guidebooks have excellent travel skills sections, perfect for the not-yet-seasoned traveler.
So is your daughter an archaeology student, and is the intent of the week before the dig to avoid anything archaeological, or to maybe seek out other Neolithic sites and sights? That could affect the itinerary.
As for accommodations, is there a price range in mind? A wide assortment of accommodations can be obtained, depending on the desired level of amenities and cost. Rick Steves' guidebook would be a good start with descriptions and suggestions. Depending on exactly where one is staying, hotels are an obvious option, but Bed and Breakfasts are worth considering. And if one is staying put in one place for the week, renting a flat thru HomeAway.com, where you get a kitchen and maybe also a clothes washer, but need to get your own groceries, is another possibility.
You'll find the Lonely Planet guide considerably more comprehensive than the RS guide. It covers all of Scotland, not just selected areas. If it's this June, then it's almost imperative to start looking for accommodation now. I'm assuming that the archeological dig site will have laid on accommodation for your daughter, but not for her dad.
You definitely do not have to be a seasoned traveler to enjoy Scotland! The only difference is that one drives on the left side of the road, not the right. Apart from that, the people will be friendlier than they may be used to, so they have to watch out for that! If someone, when talking to your daughter, calls her "hen" or "love," it's a compliment, not a come-on.
I have to ask - is the dig on St. Kilda? A lot of two week digs go on out there. It's a spectacularly remote place, but that would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Thanks for responses thus far. This is just a father/daughter trip. Dad's family is Scottish, so ideally more general and not specific to the dig as Daughter will have two weeks of that on her own. I've picked up a couple of guide books. Given the short stay, I'm thinking they stick to Edinburgh and do one or maybe two day trips? A couple of castles, highlands, and I'm sure a pub or two.
In Edinburgh, a pork sandwich at Oink is a must! You can even get haggis added to the sandwich.
Tour the Queen's yacht, The Britannia. There's even a Rolls Royce on board.
If they fancy a bit of a hike, summiting Arthur's Seat, a tall hill at the south end of Edinburgh, is worthwhile. Just be sure to have raingear, as Scotland gets some precipitation now and then!
If they're just going to Edinburgh, Rick's chapter on the city (same chapter in both the Scotland and Great Britain books) should have enough to keep them busy for their stay, including some organized trips out of town if they want a change of scene. There's also the option of a day trip to Glasgow; the two cities couldn't feel more different.
Both cities are quite easy for inexperienced travelers. In Edinburgh, they could start with Rick's Royal Mile walk, then supplement depending on their interests (I really loved the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is outside the center). As I said, there are companies that organize trips out of town to small town or rural destinations; Rabbies is the best known.
In Glasgow, the hop-on, hop-off (HOHO) buses work really well. They come every 10 minutes, alternating taped and live commentary. Your daughter and her father should do one complete circuit on a HOHO with live commentary, then can get on and off at the attractions that appeal to them. The HOHO also goes right near the bus and train stations, making it easy to get to and from Edinburgh.
One thing to warn them about. Yes, the language in Scotland is English, but that does not mean that they will be able to understand everything that is said to them! Between the extreme accents and the dialect words, they should expect to miss a bit of each sentence, particularly at first.
So you have 5 days for them to travel apart from the daughter's two-week stay on the dig? I think you have time to get out of Edinburgh. I pick someplace in the north or west. You don't need to drive. You can take the train to one of several smaller towns and explore the area. Or you could go to Inverness and do some day trips from there. Here are some ideas.
- Take the train to Dunkeld. Spend the day exploring the village. Stay in one of the local hotels or B&B's. After dinner go to the Taybank or one of the hotel that offers live music. There are nice restaurants in town. Also, there are some lovely walks in the area. Depending on your wishes you spend a couple of nights seeing what the countryside is like.
- Take the train further up to Pitlochry. Check to see if something interesting is playing at the Festival Theatre. You can tour a distillery and visit the Explorers Garden. You can take the train up the line to Blair Castle. It's a fun castle to visit. You could do this from Dunkeld as well.
- Take the train to Inverness. Here you can see historic Culloden Field and visit Fort George. Cawdor is another option. Some are possible by bus. Others might work better with a taxi. Check at the visitor center. The visitor center also great day trips to Urqhart Castle, Loch Ness, and even Skye or Orkney. Personally, I think Orkney deserves much more time. :)
Then there are trips to the west coast. The train goes to Oban which is a popular destination as you can take a tour of Mull. Fort William is interesting.
If we knew where the dig is located, we might be able to give suggestions around that location.
Pamela, the dig is near Pitlochry - or at least that's where the group will be staying. Thanks for your recommendations!
Pitlochery is great! From there you can get to lots of places. Rick Steves claims you can walk up to the Edradour Distillery from there. I didn't do that. You can also take the train a bit further toward Inverness to Aviemore and there you can ride the Strathspey Steam Railway. It's a ski resort there is also a funicular that can get you up into the Cairngorm mountains. And evidently, there is a bus that can take you to the Highland Folk Life Museum.