Archives for August 2006

Scotland Wrap Up

Here are some final thoughts on my trip to Scotland:

  • Excluding travel time, I spent about 10 and a half days in Scotland. I think that this is the perfect amount of time to spend on a vacation, because it affords you enough time to get settled into a place, but it’s not long enough to get homesick. 7 days is too little time to spend on a vacation, and 3 weeks or more is difficult because of financial responsibilities.
  • My 13 day (this includes travel time) vacation cost me around $2000. This includes the flight ($1250), cash withdrawals (~$440 / 220 pound sterling), tour fees ($150 / 76 pounds), and other credit card purchases (~$200). That’s really not bad for a two week trip to Europe, especially considering that it would be closer to $3000 if I had to pay for lodging.
  • “Aye” and “Cheers” are my favorite terms that I picked up on the trip. I plan on using these for years to come. I also love talking about Loch’s, Ben’s and Glen’s.

Scotland – Day 11

Today was the last of consecutive days of bus tours. Overkill, I know. The only reason why we booked this particular day tour was the destination; Loch Ness. Although I’m glad that I was able to say “I went to Loch Ness”, I really didn’t enjoy the tour very much as a whole and it really seemed like a waste of time (12 hours) and money (37 pound/$73 US).

With that said, I’m committed to tell you a diary of all the events of my trip, both good and bad. Perhaps after I give my explanation, you’ll see why I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I would have liked, and perhaps it will help those planning on visiting Scotland in the future.

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Scotland – Day 10

Today I was booked to take a tour with a touring company named Haggis adventures. Unlike the St. Andrews tour from Day 9, which was filled with folks over 60 years old, this tour catered to travelers in their 20’s, and took a “hip” approach to traveling. I was sort of apprehensive to this “hip” approach at first, because usually when someone tries too hard to make something fun; it backfires and doesn’t work well.

This was not the case with this tour. It was actually pretty hip, not pretentious, and a hell of a lot of fun! Our tour guide was named Disco Dave (from this point forward we’ll call him Disco), and he was absolutely hilarious. He was very well spoken, even though he had a very thick Scottish accent. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent the last week talking to Scotsmen, but I didn’t have any problems understanding him along the way. He was energetic the entire trip and really knew his history! He was shouting out facts and dates left and right, and I was impressed with his narration style.

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Scotland – Day 9

Today was the day that we were to go to St. Andrews. This was probably the single most talked about destination of my trip between me and my friends back home, and everyone wanted me to take some pictures while I was there.

Waking up Sunday morning was NOT FUN. If you recall my story from Day 8, I didn’t get home until very late at night; 5:30 AM to be exact. I woke up at 7:30 AM Sunday, and felt like a million bucks! No, I didn’t feel like a million dollars, but rather like I was attacked by a million male deer. (As you can tell, I was so hungover/still drunk from the night before that I’m at a loss of wit, and I’m reduced to telling jokes that are not funny.)

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Scotland – Day 8

Jeff in a Hearts Jersey sporting a faux hawkToday was the day of the Hearts. Well, at least today was the day where we went to see the Hearts to play. I was fully decked out in my Hearts stripes, and also fashioned my hair into a football faux hawk (the less risqué version of the European Soccer Mullet), and we took route 44 downtown at around noon. The game was at 3PM, so we had some time to hang out before the game started.

The first thing Becky and I did to fill time was go to the box office for the two bus tour companies we signed up for online (we’re touring St. Andrews, Loch Ness and the Highlands by bus). We booked with one of the tour companies online, but the other required us to book in person. So, we went to their offices and booked the trip. I must still look young, because I got a student discount! We confirmed our reservations with the second bus company, and we were on our way.

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Scotland – Day 7

Today was the calm before the storm; the last day of relaxation before 4 days of travel, tours and football games. It was also Becky’s birthday, and she wanted to take it easy on her special day. We decided to go downtown once again, and shortly after we arrived, Becky said she wanted to go shopping, alone.

Kilt Sale on Princes street in EdinburghSince we had no plans, Ed and I decided to take a trip to the Tynecastle Stadium, the venue where the Hearts play, to pick up the tickets we ordered for Saturday’s game. Tynecastle is located about a mile or two from downtown, in the opposite direction of our flat. Rather than take a bus to the stadium, we decided to walk, which was a good choice.

The walk was like most other walks I’ve had in Edinburgh: surprisingly relaxing, and always entertaining. It’s also nice to get a little exercise in, since I don’t have a workout facility at my disposal. Add that to my daily diet of either Fish or Chips, and many a pint of beer, and I am glad that I’m able to walk a lot!

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Scotland – Day 6

We’ve been running out of sights to see around Edinburgh, so we decided to travel to a new area that we hadn’t been to previously. We took the 44 train into the City Center and then catch another bus to an area of town named Leith.

Leith has served as the port for Edinburgh for hundreds of years, and has a rich history, much like Edinburgh. It also went through some rough times after WW2, and until recently was regarded as a very “dodgy” part of town. Within the past several years, though, there has been a massive effort to clean up Leith, and it’s actually becoming very “posh”.

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Scotland – Day 5

Becky woke me up super early today, so I only got a total of like 4 hours of sleep. I’m not a very fun person when I get woken up prematurely, so I wasn’t too happy when this happened and I was grumpy all morning.

After a while I finally woke up enough to be functional, and I got ready for another day of laid back tourism and hanging around the city center Edinburgh. We made up a list of things that we wanted to do on this day, and we did a pretty good job of sticking to it. Our plan was to visit the national art gallery, climb Arthur’s seat (a very large extinct volcano just outside of downtown Edinburgh), look for Hearts jersey’s and then attend the Hearts match vs. AEK Athens for the champions league (more on this later).

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Scotland – Day 4

Day 4, or Tuesday was a catch-up day for the most part. I spent a lot of time working (yes, actually working), and blogging (you notice how I posted 3 blogs yesterday?) and answering my other emails. I also spent a lot of time MySpacing, checking my bank account balances, and reading baseball scores from when I was gone. My fantasy baseball team is officially going to shit!

I did get out of the flat for a while, though, and I was able to take a few pictures.

A gravesite in a cemetary in EdinburghWe took ol faithful (bus route 44) into the city center, and decided to do some walking around. Ed showed Becky and I a graveyard that was connected to the park, and we went in and did some exploring. From the dates on the gravestones, I guessed that most of the people were buried between 1700 and 1850. Some of the graves were in very good shape, while most were actually pretty run down. I don’t think that anyone actually maintains the graveyard, and I’m pretty sure that it just sits unguarded during present day.

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Scotland – Day 3

Woke up late on Monday and felt surprisingly fresh, given my previous night of partying. Ed and I decided to go into the city center and walk through the town. We hopped on a bus (my favorite bus line, the 44) and took off for the city center. It only took about 10 minutes, and the bus took us directly into downtown Edinburgh.

The Chippy - Fish and Chips, Kebabs, PizzaDowntown Edinburgh is a great place, and is relatively easy to navigate on foot. We went through two distinct parts of the city center; New town and Old town. These are two parts of town that are separated by a large park. We started out on Princes street, which is the “main drag” in New town.

There are all kinds of shops and eateries in New town, and most of them are very unique in name. It’s cool to see all of the different stores on Princes street, but it also became fairly annoying, because the street is a large scale tourist trap! I guess that may sound like an ironic statement coming from a tourist such as myself, but I think it’s justified given the fact that my tourguide (Krime Dogg) has spent several years in Scotland in the past.

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