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Scotland: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Ugly

  • Lost my cell phone somewhere around Loch Lomond. Fortunately we had a backup (for the most part) on Mary's phone, and a paper copy too. What a dumbass. Every couple of years I lose something important, like my wallet, or my mind. I guess it's in my DNA. Any other "losers" out there so to speak? I did pat the pocket with my passport in it about 100 times.

  • Between flight delays at Toronto and Dulles, it was about 24 hours between leaving Dublin and getting back home to West Virginia. Sat on the tarmac at Dulles for 1.5 hours as the Air Canada pilot waited for a gate to open. Crying and screaming toddlers added to the fun. I felt bad for the parents who did the best they could. The kids were just exhausted I'm sure. I am looking forward to not flying for awhile.

The Bad

  • For the first time in 10 years I reaggravated a lower back injury. It was in our room at the B&B. I won't get into details so use your imagination. Hurt like hell but I soldiered on to our train day trip to Glasgow.

  • Plenty of rain. Our rain jackets did the job but our shoes and socks got soaked a couple of times, thus we were glad to have a backup pair of shoes. We must have taken our jackets off and then back on a dozen or more times. Thank goodness for a daypack to not only store jackets, but also water and snacks.

  • We confirmed our arrival time with the B&B host, but our hostess had health issues and her backup, a sister-in-law, did not expect us, so nobody was able to receive us upon arrival at 0900. After eating breakfast we went back and the SIL answered the door in a rather surly mood. She said, "I wasn't expecting you." Well, good morning to you, too. Good grief. No, I didn't show her the confirmation arrival time email, but it was a rather inauspicious beginning to our trip. She seemed quite annoyed at having to give us a room key and check us in.

  • We kept our hotel room window cracked open about one-third for fresh air at night. I don't know what the hell was going on but one night--sometime after midnight--there was a 15-minute period of children crying, doors being slammed, and adults talking loudly or yelling. It would have been quite funny if not for the time. I swear there was a door slammed shut a dozen or more times. How does that happen lol?

  • The B&B breakfast didn't start until 0800, so we missed it a few times.

The Good

  • Other than a grumpy B&B SIL everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. The idea that service workers can't show human warmth and also be professional is rubbish. At one restaurant we got ID'd due to ordering beer and wine. We're 62. The waitress then learned it was one day from my wife's birthday so she brought her a dessert with "Happy Birthday" spelled out in chocolate sauce. The lady was so charming and kind, as were just about all of the people we met in Scotland. I don't know what's in the water there, but it was amazing how great everyone was.

  • The people. As far as being friendly is concerned I'd rank the Scots right up there with Liverpudlians. The Irish are close behind.

  • The beauty of the highlands. The clouds and rain provided an exquisite and dramatic backdrop to the mountains.

  • Rabbie's Tours. In the past we usually rented cars, but what I liked about the tours was instead of driving by something and wondering what it was, we had a tour guide to explain it in some detail.

  • Edinburgh. We took the bus the first day and then walked everywhere afterwards. Why? It was often as fast as the bus and we like to exercise. Our average number of steps were about 20,000 with a peak of 26,000. This allowed us to eat pretty much whatever we wanted and still lose weight. My weight (on my 5' 11" frame) went from 166 to 161 pounds by the time I got home.

Posted by
3034 posts

We took a 45-minute nap upon checking into our B&B, and along with a shower that provided the energy to feel pretty good throughout the day. We slept from about 2300-0700.

What also helped on some days was returning to our room for a short nap (or something else wink-wink) before dinner. This allowed us to walk quite a bit more after dinner.

Posted by
1172 posts

Mike you’re unstoppable. B&Bs are so unsexy. Chintz, tupperwares full of cereal, dusty old tat and the rude SIL hanging around the place? No thanks.

Posted by
839 posts

Scotland. The Ugly?
What happened under that heading as ugly has nothing at all to do with Scotland. Lost cellphone and flight delays.

Posted by
4292 posts

Other than a grumpy B&B SIL everyone we encountered was friendly and

I guess somebody had to find the only unfriendly person in Scotland. It is by far the friendliest country I've been to.

Are there any sites you saw that blew you away?

Posted by
3994 posts

I now wear a phone lanyard, crossbody style like all the cool kids. it really helps cause I have misplaced my phone in the past. Also, It reads like your back got better quickly, wink-wink.
We also found the people to be friendly and the weather rainy. We’ve since purchased Vessi brand sneakers, they really are waterproof.

Posted by
3034 posts

Helen, you're right or course. I'm just goofing around, although when Rick talks about being more energized or whatever during travel it applies to more than one thing lol.

Cherie, July 3-11.

treemoss2, I'm dealing with limited cognitive abilities, so bear with me please.

Allan, yes. Taking the tram from the airport and seeing Edinburgh for the first time with the soaring chapels and of course the castle on the hill. I would also add the mountains in the Highlands. Edit: Hiking up to Calton Hill with a couple of mini-bottles of wine, and then drinking it with Mary as we looked over the city.

Posted by
2852 posts

Mike, you’re back!! For some reason I thought your trip was later this summer. Thanks for the report and it sounds like, overall, you and your wife had a great trip. Like Estimated Prophet, I’m curious about your Rabbie’s tours. Which was your favorite and least favorite? Sorry Nessie got your phone. 😊

treemoss2, I’m pretty sure mike is referring to the “ugly” of his Scotland trip. Not that he thought any part of Scotland was ugly.

Posted by
3034 posts

EP and Carrie, we took the tours to Hadrian's Wall, St. Andrews, Loch Lemond/Loch Ness/Highlands, and Stirling Castle. Four day trips plus the train day trip to Glasgow. If I had to do it again I would've spent an extra day just exploring Edinburgh. All of the tour guides were great. I felt bad for a couple of them as people sitting in front right behind the tour guide wouldn't leave the alone, while constantly commenting on everything. Once the tour guide asked for quiet as he navigated some twisty, turning roads. Maybe that was partially due to wanting a few minutes of peace and quiet.

We were burned out on the tours after the fourth and final one to Stirling.

Posted by
135 posts

I’m glad you posted about your phone. I got a phone lanyard to help while I geocaching (I had a bad habit of setting my phone down to sign the log and walking away from it). I will be SURE to use it when touring the lochs. It sounds like it didn’t stop you from having an enjoyable trip.

Posted by
3034 posts

Anne, yeah, it partially ruined one day as I was rather angry with myself. I mean, "C'mon, Mike!"

Smart move on your part.

edit: Air Canada in Toronto asked for volunteers to check carry-on bags due to "a full flight." No good deed goes unpunished. Trying to be a good citizen I checked our carry-ons. It took an hour and 10 minutes at EDI until we got our bags. Never again, my friends.

Posted by
2230 posts

Ok, I have to admit I love when people are honest and can laugh at the situation and/or themselves. So I loved how you started this report! My husband misplaces/loses things all the time. One time is was his covid card, literally a few minutes after getting the vaccine. How do you lose it in the car???? We never found it, but thankfully we took a photo of it before he lost it. Yes, he doctored a new one on the computer and it worked just fine;) this was for his 2nd vaccine, sop early on ion the pandemic when you needed it for so many things.

I have a soft spot for crying kids. Young ones anyway, especially when the parents are doing all they can. I don't mind the crying as the mom instinct in me has to refrain from going over and taking the child and walking around with him/her. I am sure THAT would freak any parent out, lol. I traveled so much with our kids when they were tiny, usually by myself and ross country, so I feel for parents and kids.

We found Scotland to be chuck full of nice people as well. We went in the dead of winter and people were so kind to us, and especially to our kids.

The birthday dessert is a very nice touch. Happy belated yo your wife!

Posted by
11483 posts

My weight (on my 5' 11" frame) went from 166 to 161 pounds

"BigMike" is a misnomer

Posted by
175 posts

Welcome back, Mike! Sorry you had to deal with those Ugly and Bad bits. All of the Good ones resonate with my own experiences on my recent trip. About the walking in Edinburgh: I half expected that the Fitbit folks would think I’d been mugged and had my Fitbit stolen by someone much more active. I had a few consecutive days of 18,000+ steps—quite a departure from my workaday routine where I struggle to hit 5,000!

Posted by
3034 posts

NancyG, the good or bad part of Fitbit is it can sort of run your life a bit. For example I'll be sitting at the table after dinner with, say, 13,000 steps and think, "A few times around the block and I'll hit 15,000!" Maybe this is a good thing. I have a friend who ditched her Fitbit for that reason.

mikliz97, I might be a brother from a different mother with your husband. It can be maddening when you look under the seat and all over the place multiple times. I hope this isn't a sign of what's coming as I get older. On a bus my credit card fell on the floor and Mary found it. She game me "the look" that said, "C'mon, honey." 40 years of marriage and most of our communication is a simple glance or body language. Nothing needs to be said lol.

joe32F, "Big Mike" comes from my track and cross country coach back in the day. It's like calling a big guy "Tiny" as a sort of joke. Then again I was 145 pounds in high school so yeah I'm "big" now.

Posted by
3034 posts

Carol, unfortunately not. It took us all of the three hours we had there just to tour the golf course and town.

Also, that day was "members only" from 1000-1600 so it wouldn't have worked out. Really cool town and I'll bet it's really expensive to live there. It would be a great summer home in my fantasy world. Mary did take a rather pathetic video of me "running" on the Chariots of Fire beach. I was in sharp contrast compared to the young, vibrant men in the opening of the movie.

Posted by
4292 posts

we had a tour guide to explain it in some detail.

I've been sold on the value of a guided tour for a long time now for that reason. We did a Mercat tour of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh in June last year and without it I might side with the group that calls the Mile touristy, but the history is fascinating once you see beyond the restaurants and gift shops.

Posted by
2233 posts

Love your trip report - honesty and information in one package. My son bought his dad a passport holder that holds an AirTag. That will eliminate one stressor on our next trip.

Posted by
3034 posts

Patty, apparently your son had good parents! Smart young man.

Allan, yes. This is why we love walking tours.

Another thing about Rabbie's is 16-passenger buses. Small groups. You don't feel like your part of a big bus cattle call.

Posted by
175 posts

Mike, I love the small-group tours. Discover Scotland, which I used for my tour of the West Central Highlands, also uses the 16-passenger Mercedes mini coaches.

Posted by
465 posts

Mike--wonderful and detailed report, with all the highs and lows. Totally agree with you about friendliness. Scotland was wonderful in terms of personal interaction. We had a friend living in London at the time and he said that was something that we were really going to notice. Our time there more than exceeded our expectations--We loved the people, food, music, and landscape. It really touched my soul is a way I was not expecting. Very much want to return. (We did London-Edinburgh train, West Highland Way, Isle of Skye, Inverness).

Posted by
3 posts

We toured Scotland in May. Edinburgh is definitely walkable.
Had never been on a guided tour, so I was apprehensive about taking the Rabbies 5-day tour of the Scotish Highlands. It was great! Our tour bus driver/guide, Billy, was awesome! It turns out that the guide plans the trip, so if you're counting on the listed itinerary, don't! Billy did ask us at the beginning if there was anything in particular we wanted to see from the itinerary, and we all said no. (Our tour group of 11 was terrific.)

At one of the bnbs we stayed at, a gal on another tour was unhappy with her Rabbies tour because her guide didn't follow the itinerary and didn't ask for feedback. So just beware.

Billy worked tirelessly to give us a terrific tour. As a bonus, we made friends with 2 young ladies (one from our town!).

Posted by
3901 posts

I'm late to the game, but nice trip report. Sorry about the grumpy sister-in-law. When I travel with someone, I try to take a few moments at the end of the day to come up with the cool thing of the day and the travel misadventure of the day... it helps me laugh about the misadventures.