Scotland

Courtesy of the American Spouses of Brunssum Travel Information Guide

How to get there: Ryanair flies from Brussels/Chareloi to Glasgow Prestwick. EasyJet flies from Amsterdam to Edinburgh. Websites: http://www.ryanair.com http://www.easyjet.com (we found it cheaper through Ryanair 250.00 roundtrip for 5 people)

Where we went: We started in Glasgow and spent the night near Ayr. We arrived late so did not do any sightseeing the first day. Second day we drove to Stirling and went to the Stirling Castle, very nice area and lots to do if you want to stay the night there. We went over the East coast and stayed in a town called AnnStruther. Day 3 we went to see the St. Andrews Golf Course and then to the Aquarium which is right next to it. We then drove back towards Stirling to the William Wallace monument (I would recommend that you do the castle and monument on the same day in Stirling). We left from Stirling and headed to Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Castle is a nice spot; I will say it was a bit more touristy, lots of shops within the castle selling stuff, but still worth the trip. The highlights were the Crown Jewels and one of the demonstrations regarding sword/musket fighting. We left from there and drove north staying in Aviemore. Aviemore is a wonderful town (touristy) but if you want a place to do some hiking/nature trail walking etc… it is beautiful. The next day we headed up to Inverness, another nice area and from there to the Loch Ness where we looked for Nessy. I would recommend if you go to Loch Ness that you choose the cruise that stops at the castle along the way. Then we headed back to the West coast near Oban. This is also a nice area. From there we went hiking, took the ferry out to the Isle of Mull (from there you can catch another ferry to Iona Abbey which is wonderful if you have time to do it) and we also went to Inverary to the Old Jailhouse. Inverary and Oban are about 30-45 minutes apart and a lot to do between the two towns so one could easily spend a few days in that area as well. Just remember to plan for the extra expense due to exchange rate.

Personal suggestions: Many of the areas there is enough to do for a week, Edinburgh for example, so you can easily go and stay in one area and do a few day trips out from there. We enjoyed seeing the countryside, mountains and the coast especially. There wasn’t anything we did that the kids did not enjoy (ages 9 and 4). Some of the walking got a bit much for our youngest so we carried her a bit. Things are expensive due to the exchange rate so keep that in mind. A lot of the places we went offered family tickets, which helped save some money, and under 5’s were free at a lot of places. When you first get in to Scotland find a tourist bureau, they have lots of information on each area.

Weather: Expect rain and plan for it, raincoats and extra shoes for the kids. Especially, if you plan to include any hiking in your trip. We had 3 days of nice sunshine with temporary rain showers and the rest of the time it was pretty wet. They do get the occasional odd heat wave, but more towards end of July or August I was told.

Lodging: There are many B&B all over and relatively easy to get rooms at the last minute. However, if you are there during a large event (Edinburgh Tattoo) I would recommend reservations in advance. Most places had a family type room that we were able to stay in but some places we had to have two rooms to fit all of us. Another option is self-catering which you would rent for a week and has kitchen etc… so you can save on lodging and meals. The other recommendation I have is Armed Forces Vacation Club- we got lucky and stayed in a timeshare the last few days of the trip- from what I can tell they have two that come up periodically in Scotland, one in Aviemore and one in Port Sonachan. We stayed in the later and it was out on its own Loch with beautiful scenery but it was out there, very secluded. We had a 3-bedroom cabin with full amenities.

Car Rental: If you plan to explore the countryside a must, however if you plan to hit major areas that are served by the train than you could forgo that expense.

Travel websites:

http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/

http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/home/scotland/scotland.htm http://www.aboutscotland.com/rentals.html

http://www.kayukay.co.uk/kidsscotland.html

http://www.afvclub.com

We did look through a couple of guides to Scotland that you can check out at the library. The kids picked out things they wanted to see and we based our trip around those ideas.

Young children- under 4 just make sure to have a rugged stroller or strong backs- obviously castles and such are on hills and require a lot of pushing up if your child decides they do not want to walk anymore.

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