Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Planning Scotland 2017

Half the fun of traveling is the planning!!!

view to the sea from Glengorm Castle

Shortly after New Year's my daughter, Steph, and I were chatting online (I still don't Skype), and she off-handedly mentioned that it would be fun to take another family trip to Scotland. Ha ha, ja, ja... dream on. I mentioned her comment to M, and within 30 minutes we were looking at which self-catering accommodations at Glengorm were available for five in June.

She was in Wisconsin for the holidays and playing cards with my son (Alex) and his girlfriend (Liv), and I told her to ask him at some point to see if Liv wanted to join us. She laughed and said that he had *literally* just asked her how to ask me if Liv could come along. She enthusiastically said "Yes!" So we were apparently all on the same page.

Over the next several days we booked a flat in the castle, a rental car, our flights coming from three different locations, a B&B near Tyndrum and the Real Food Café for our first night in Scotland on the way to Oban, and the same B&B for a night on our way back to Edinburgh because Al wanted to make a stop in Falkirk to see the wheel and the Kelpies. We also found an AirBnB flat in Edinburgh for our three nights there at the end of the trip before everyone flies back to their various homes.

We found flights all arriving in and departing from Edinburgh within 2 hours of each other (we're pressing our thumbs that no one has any delays and Lufthansa pilots & personnel don't go on strike)!

Then the "kids" (they're all over 20) started looking for "Things to see and do in Scotland". They're all Harry Potter fans, so I came up with the idea to head north after our week on Mull to Glenfinnan to see the viaduct. Liv mentioned Loch Lommond and the Trossachs as well as Glencoe, Al had already talked about Falkirk and wanting to see castles, and Steph focused on Edinburgh (the Elephant House Café, Arthur's Seat, Greyfriar's Churchyard...)

family trip, 2008
Our week on Mull will be similar to previous visits: Duart Castle, Tobermory, hikes around Glengorm, to the coast, up hills and around lochs, possible pony-trekking, and something new for us: a wildlife boat tour to the isles of Lunga and Staffa. M, Steph, and I have been to Staffa before where the gorgeous puffins are, but Lunga and the wildlife tour are new. For those of you who know Scotland, don't worry - we know the weather could be shitty, and we'll roll with it. Variable weather is part of Scotland, and we pack accordingly.

Puffins on Staffa, 2010

pony-trekking on Mull, 2010

my kids at Loch Na Keal, Mull, 2007
My son, who is now majoring in history, said he wanted to see castles. Off the top of my head based on where we'll be, I came up with eight possibilities:

  Duart               (on Mull)
  Glengorm        (though there's no tour, I can tell him about its history),
  Linlithgow             Mary, Queen of Scots was born here in 1542
  Callendar House   Mary, Queen of Scots' 1st marriage agreement was signed here
  Tantallon               Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here in 1566
  Hailes                    Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here in 1567
  Holyrood               Mary, Queen of Scots lived here in 1561
  Edinburgh Castle  Mary, Queen of Scots had a baby here (the future King James VI and I)

Tantallon Castle ruins, with Bass Rock
Bass Rock is a bird colony. It looks white because it's covered in bird shit.
I'm not obsessed with Mary, Queen of Scots, but it seems she was everywhere in Scotland at one point or another. I think the only reason she wasn't at Glengorm was that it wasn't completed until 1863. Admittedly, I find her story fascinating, and I'm half-tempted to re-read Margaret George's novel about her.

It is so much fun to see the kids excited about the trip and getting involved in the planning. M and I loved our trip to Scotland in 2015 and really enjoyed the time for just the two of us, but it's also great fun to share the excitement and planning with others.

We will pay a visit to the Great Polish Map of Scotland during our days in Edinburgh and have a meal with our dear friends (and only wedding guests/witnesses), who live near Edinburgh.

I know it's not a common thing for bloggers to write about a trip before it happens, but I'm caught up in the excitement and the planning, and I couldn't help myself.


  1. Planning trips is so much fun :-)


    I have seen that viaduct (and the steam train going across it).

    1. Aren't they adorable?! M got some really fantastic photos last time (he is very patient), and we're hoping for more again.

      We're hoping the Jacobite Steam Train will pass over right when we're there, but that would be pure luck. My Schwiegermutter treated us all to a ride from Ft. William to Mallaig in 2008, which is how M got that photo. You can see all the people's hands out the windows taking the same photo we did. :-)

  2. Haha I was thinking exactly that when I was reading your list of castles - I mean in Scotland they all seem to have a connection to Mary Queen of Scot. I really want to go to Staffa, how cute are those puffins! :D Wishing you a wonderful trip to your whole family!

    1. Thanks! And I sure hope you're able to get your visa settled and soon return to Scotland and the Brit! I don't think we'll ever get enough of Mull, and Staffa is so lovely. I prefer to look at the sea rather than travel on it, but thankfully it was very calm on my first trip there and I know the boat time is worth it.