Scotland Travel Skills


Hello. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for joining us in
our little teach-a-thon here, this travel festival, and you know for all my
adult life I’ve been living out of a 9 x 22 x 14 inch carry-on-the-airplane
size suitcase, traveling around
Europe, exploring, learning from my mistakes, taking careful
notes and packaging them in classes like this, and guidebooks, and tours, and TV
shows, and so on. And now I just want to take about a half an hour to share with
you a little bit about Scotland. So thank you for joining us for that, if you’re
here in person thanks for being here, and if you’re tuning in online it’s nice to
have you taking notes, and learning from our experience, so you can enjoy maximum
travel thrills for every mile, minute, and dollar for your next trip to Scotland.
Scotland is a place that just has– people have, you know, all
of these almost clichetic images, and
in a lot of ways you find them in Scotland when you travel
north of England. I was just in Scotland taking one of our tours. For 25 years I
led our tours, now I’m smart enough to know that our local guides can do a
better job than I ever could. And I just had a wonderful 10-day trip around
Scotland, and I’ll be sharing some of that information with you. And this is the
route that we took, and if you look at the numbers, that means how many nights
we spent. But this is my estimate and my staff’s estimate of the
best 10 days in Scotland. You would start in
Edinburgh, couple of nights there. Go north to St. Andrews, the
birthplace of golf. Farther north to Kenmore, side-trip into Pitlochry, now
we’re into the Highlands. The main city in the Highlands is Inverness, near the
battlefield of Culloden, the last battle fought on British soil. And then you
would cut across the Caledonian Canal, the Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness
monster. Lot of British engineering from Telford, and down into Glencoe. And this
is the area of the highest mountains in the British Isles, and the clan massacres,
and so on. And then we get to Oban, which is the gateway to the Hebrides Islands,
and all of the ferry boats head out from Oban. The most popular side trip from
Oban is to go out to the island of Iona, which is the birthplace of Christianity
in Scotland. And then from Iona we can head back to Edinburgh, stopping at
Stirling Castle which, along with the Edinburgh Castle, are the two greatest
castles to see in Scotland, and back to Edinburgh. Not included on this 10-day swing through
Scotland is Glasgow, which is just about a 45 minute train ride straight to
the west of Edinburgh, and that is a very exciting city to see,
and I’ll show you some slides about that. When
we go to Scotland, our first stop is likely going to be
Edinburgh. And Edinburgh is just one of the most entertaining cities in Europe. I
just absolutely love it. If all you’re going to see in Scotland–if you
don’t have time for Scotland and you’re doing England, and you just have time for
one city, really consider Edinburgh. You can actually very easily
fly in and out of Edinburgh if you want to make it an open-jaws flight, into
London and home from Scotland. When you think of Edinburgh, you’ve got the
medieval city. It started on the rocky bluff where the castle has been since
ancient times, and then it goes along the ridge one mile downhill to the abbey. And
that’s called the Royal Mile. In front of the Royal Mile, below it was a lake. In
modern times–or relatively modern times, they drained the lake and now they
brought the train into where the lake once was, and that’s sort of the
center practical transportation infrastructure hub of Edinburgh. And on
the other side, beyond where the lake once stood, you have the modern grid-plan
city built in the Georgian Age, and that’s where most of the fancy, elegant
architecture is of the more modern city. This is the castle on top of the rocky
bluff, and when you go to Edinburgh you’re going to really want to start there, I
would say. At the gate you meet Robert the Bruce, and William Wallace, and you
get a sense that this is really close to the soul of the Scottish people. You step
inside the castle and you will be met by a local guide and they’ll take you on a
walk. You’ll see the Stone of Scone, you’ll see
the crown jewels, you’ll see the old Romanesque church, you’ll see the
military museum, you’ll see the memorial to all the people in Scotland who died,
you know, defending the British Empire, and it’s just an amazing historic
visit, and it really is the essential–the single essential stop when you are in
Edinburgh. From there, at the esplanade leading up to the castle, you’ve got a big parking lot. And for
much of the summer, it is built up to house the Military Tattoo. This is the grand massing of the bands
with the lone bagpiper, it’s an amazing spectacle that happens every summer,
about the same time as the Edinburgh Festival. You’ve got the Edinburgh
Festival, you’ve got the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, you’ve got a lot of other
festivals, and you got the Military Tattoo, all happening late in the summer.
And it’s important if you’re traveling in July or August to know when these
festivals are. And if you are going to hit it during festival time it’s good news
and it’s bad news. You gotta lay the groundwork, you gotta
get your accommodations and everything, you’re going to pay a premium for your
room during this time, but if you like entertainment you’re going to be running
like a kid in a candy store from one event to the next. When
I was there it seems like there’s more stuff
going on, there’s more entertainers than there are visitors
almost, and they’re hungry for people to get tickets to these things in
the Fringe Festival. That’s the more informal ad-libbed
festival that goes along. And you can see the
Military Tattoo, like all of Britain does, on TV if you don’t
have tickets for the actual event. From the castle, one of the most historic and
interesting walks in all of Europe is called the Royal Mile. I absolutely love
it, I’ve been doing it for 30 years, it never gets old. I just tail along with a local guide and
I hear all these romantic, fanciful stories, probably half of them a little
bit exaggerated and bogus, but still, it gives you a little inkling of the rich
history and the fascinating story of Edinburgh. So follow these guides down
the Royal Mile and it’s just an amazing walk past the cathedral, past statues of
David Hume, and a reminder of how many great intellectual leaders came out of
Scotland, all the way down to the Holyrood Palace, one mile below, which
anchors the Royal Mile at the bottom. When you go along the
Royal Mile, you’re going to find a dense
population and a reminder that in the Middle
Ages this was the most densely populated city in Europe.
It was called “Auld Reekie”
because it smelled so bad. And they had all these
early skyscrapers, the biggest skyscrapers in Europe, right
there, and you can see them to this day and with your guide, they’ll bring it to
life. And you’ve got all sorts of literary history, because you’ve got
Walter Scott, you’ve got Robert Burns,, you’ve got Robert Louis Stevenson,
you’ve got all sorts of literary heritage right there. By the way, one of
the great things to do in the evening is to take the literary pub
crawl in Edinburgh, and they’ve got one–they’ve
also got one in Dublin. I just love this thing, and you meet a
couple of actors who really scramble, and hustle, and make your evening very
entertaining as you go from one party to the next, to the next, to the next. And
it’s a very informal, casual, social thing, lots of great insight to Scottish
literature, and more and more fun as the beer-drinking goes on. That is the
literary pub crawl in Edinburgh. Along the Royal Mile you come to Deacon
Brodie’s tavern. And Deacon Brodie was the guy who inspired the story Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, and
you’ve got Deacon Brodie who was a decent man
during the day, and Deacon Brodie who is a terrible
guy after dark. And you’ll learn all about that in other stories. The Royal
Mile is becoming quite touristic, and it’s got all this shortbread, and kilts,
and bagpipes, and all the kitschy Scottish stuff, and it just gets a little
tiresome. On the other hand, you look past that and you’ve got a
lot of history too. Along the walk you’ll come
to St. Giles Cathedral. This is the most important church in
Scotland, and it’s something you really got to check out.
It’s filled with regalia, and pageantry,
and so on, and history inside, and this is the
place where the great reformer John Knox preached the Reformation. In the 16th
century all over Europe, courageous preachers were breaking away from the
Roman Catholic Church, and Knox was the guy who led Scotland into this new age
of Protestantism. And there are all sorts of interesting things to see and
do related to the great reformer John Knox. His house is just across the street,
and if you want to see his actual grave it’s there at parking spot number 23 in
the parking lot of the church. He was really into austerity and
I guess they took him seriously when it came
to his burial spot. But I got inspired at his house, they got–
they let you dress up and play around with one of those little quill pens, but
I’m into great reformers. If you want another dimension of Scottish culture
beyond the Reformation, you go further down the Royal Mile and you get to
Cadenhead’s malt whisky distillery–or Whisky Shop. And there’s a, sort of a
touristic ride sort of a whisky tasting experience at the top of the Royal Mile.
Very–a lot of people say it’s like–they call it “Malt Disney,” it’s very
commercial. And I don’t I just don’t like it frankly, but down at the bottom
of the Royal Mile, you drop into this little place, and these guys are
evangelical about whiskey. Scottish whisky, Scotch whisky, and they will
explain to you how whisky can become a very good friend. And by the way when we
go to pubs in Britain, remember pub is a public house, right,
that’s where you meet the people, and all over
England you just kind of go with the local beer. In Scotland
I’m not–I don’t drink whisky unless I’m in Scotland, I just–it doesn’t make sense
to me outside of Scotland for some reason, but in Scotland it is so right. And I go
to a pub, and I just talk to local people about their favorite whisky. You
know how people always talk about wine, “this is kind of fruity and this is–ooh
raspberries,” or stuff like that, I’ve never–cinnamon? No it’s just, you
know, it’s nice red wine, but I don’t get any, you know–but when it comes to
whisky, you’ve got all these little gradations, and they all make sense. It’s a beautiful opportunity for anybody
wants to develop a fine taste. So let local people teach you about whisky, as
an excuse to make a friend in a pub. And every pub has a long list of whiskies,
they’re all Scotch whiskies, and it really is an interesting experience. I
buy a little bottle of whisky from this guy every time. It comes with a nice cork,
and I just have a little nip every night, and it’s just part of my Scottish
experience. It’s just a beautiful way to augment your time in Scotland. At the
bottom of the Royal Mile, you’ve got the new Scottish Parliament Building. Now
since 1707, until I think 1999, Scotland’s Parliament was in London.
And finally, in the last decade or so,
London said, “okay, you guys can have your Parliament back up in
Scotland.” All over Europe really, ethnic regions are getting more autonomy
because, you know, Europe is uniting. I mean you could succeed from Britain, but
you can’t really secede from Europe. And the London’s and Paris’s,
and Madrid’s are really realizing, “we
gotta give their ethnic groups a little more ability to wave
their flags,” and consequently Scotland is feeling its oats, and they’ve got their
own Parliament building. It’s a beautiful, beautiful building done with all sorts
of Scottish pride, and obviously you’d have a wonderful tour here, which is a
perfect way to learn about the issues the Scottish people are dealing with, as
they find a nice balance with their partnership with London, and their
membership in the British Isles. Big news these days is,
“how much autonomy or even out-and-out independence
does Scotland want?” And if you look in front of their
Parliament Building, like all over Europe, you’ll find three flags–the region, the
country, and Europe. Here you see the flag of Scotland in the middle, the Union Jack,
and the flag of Europe. Maybe in the future the Scottish people will have
more independence, more autonomy. It’s a very complicated issue for the Scottish
people. When you’re in Edinburgh you’ve got your chance now to see Scottish
art. When you’re in London you see British art. In Scotland you want to
really go to the National Gallery, even if you went to the British Museum, even
if you went to the National Gallery down in London, do it Scottish
style in Edinburgh before going out in the countryside.
You’ll have a beautiful art gallery right there, it’s
free, it’s gorgeous, and then you can go nearby to the National Portrait Gallery
in Edinburgh. And there you get to see a lot of the heroic and sort of
patriotic heroes of Scottish culture. Robbie Burns, Bonnie Prince Charlie, you
name it, all of these great figures in Scottish culture and history are there.
Lots of pageantry when you’re up in Scotland, and lots of entertainment in
the streets. I reminded you, the Edinburgh Festival is a big formal deal, with hard-
to-get tickets sometimes, but the real fun is what’s called the Fringe Festival,
that goes at the same time. Much more loose and easy going, lots
of tickets available, and it really is a
cultural free-for-all. If you see a lot of ladies dressed up in
nice hats, maybe the Queen is in town. Whenever the royalty’s in town there’s
lots of buzz, and they spend a lot of time down at Holyrood house,
that abbey I was talking about. All over Scotland
you got a chance to go to traditional restaurants and eat haggis,
and eat whatever would be traditional local food. And I really loved the food
in Scotland. And haggis is a very rich sort of–they won’t tell you exactly
what’s in it, but it’s a lot of a lot of guts and that kind of stuff, and it’s
actually quite good, it’s not just a wacky touristic dish, it’s
really part of the culture, and it’s worth giving haggis a good honest try in
a nice restaurant. Okay. Now from Edinburgh you can get on the
train, and there’s like two trains an hour, it takes 45 minutes and you’re in
Glasgow. I just love Glasgow. First time I ever really spent a lot of time in
Glasgow was just last year, working on my guidebook, and Glasgow is one of those
second cities. All over Europe–I’m kind of into second cities, Antwerp, Marseilles,
Porto in Portugal, Bilbao in Spain, Liverpool in England,
Belfast up in Ireland, and Glasgow in Scotland.
Glasgow is a powerhouse of an economic place in the
old days, and then with the end of the Industrial Age and the beginning of
whatever you call the next stage, all these industrial power houses went down,
and they became Rustbelt places. But the Rustbelt places are now reinvigorated,
and really rising up with a vengeance, and you feel that when you go
to Glasgow. Glasgow has a very proud shipbuilding heritage. and there was a
time when a third of all the ships sailing the sea, or something like that,
were Clyde built, on the Clyde River from Glasgow, and they’re proud of that.
Today, very few ships are still built in the shipyards of Glasgow, but the whole
city is this artistic, creative spirit. You’ve got wonderful big graffiti that
is ordained by the city, you’ve got important buildings that are decorated
in a creative, fun-loving, sort of a almost edgy kind of way. And even in
fancy museums you’ve got funny little indications for where the restroom is.
It’s just all fun in Glasgow, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now Glasgow is a
rough-and-tumble working-class town, and they’re really into futball,
that means soccer. And you’ve got two
teams, you’ve got the Rangers, and that would be the Protestant team, and that
would be the high class people if you’re to generalize, and he got the Celtic, and
that would be the Catholic and the working class people, and it is serious.
And when you’re going around the streets you’ll find a Ranger shop and you’ll
find a Celtic shop, just like we’ve got football shops in our in our country. And
the difference there is, if you go into the Celtic shop wearing red or blue, I believe that’s the color of the Rangers,
it’s physically dangerous for you. You don’t–you walk into the shop and red
and blue don’t exist, it’s just green everywhere. My guide had a red tie on and
he was very nervous to go into that shop. So it’s serious stuff, and if you ever
wanted to really have quite a memorable experience, try going to a soccer game
while you’re in Glasgow. Now there’s a lot of museums that keep alive the old
days of the Industrial Age, and one of the most fascinating is the Tenement
House. And this is just a time warp house in a cheap little apartment flat
from a woman who lived there in the 1920s or something like that,
and never changed anything. And today, her children
have opened up to the public, and you can walk
in and it’s a trip back in time. That’s something worth
checking out. The cathedral in
Glasgow is interesting. Next to the cathedral you’ve got a place
called the Necropolis, which is a very romantic and evocative City of the Dead,
Necropolis. It’s a cemetery for Scotland. You’ve got an amazing museum there
called the kill–Kelvingrove Museum and Art gallery, and stepping in here,
it’s probably the single most important art gallery and historical museum that
you’ll see in Glasgow. Fascinating art, beautiful Romantic art, which I think
is nice to see before heading out into the countryside, and
art that shows off what the Scottish people
have gone through. When you’re in Glasgow you’ll
find half of the tourists are there for one reason– Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
He is the Art Nouveau architect that put Edinburgh [Glasgow]
on the artistic map. And you can find his
art in the different museums, and if you really want to see his art in action, you
go to the Glasgow School of Art. He designed that building, and you can take
tours of it, and you can also go to tea houses around town that he designed.
But if you’re into Art Nouveau and if you want to see the most famous
architect in that–in that era for Scotland, you definitely want Charles
Rennie Mackintosh while you are in Glasgow. I was just in Scotland this
last year with one of our tours, and as I mentioned, for 25 years I led our tours,
for the last 10 years I’ve let my guides do the work, and every year I sign up for
one of my tours. I do it with a pseudonym, I just do it from home on the computer,
it’s kind of fun. I end up getting letters from myself. And then I just
surprise the group over there, and it’s always a lot of fun. Last year I did Scotland, this is
part of my Scotland group. A year before, I did Turkey, before that
I did Village Italy, next year I’m going to do the Best of Europe–in the best
of Europe Tour, the big grand three-week “big hits” tour of Europe.
But we went off on– what you’re going to see now
are just some slides from the route that our Scottish guides
figure is the best, and I just thought it was a wonderful itinerary. And you
can use our itinerary to do it on your own, that’s the point here.
If you’re not gonna take our tour, use that information, rent a car, and
you can do a lot of it easily on your own. St. Andrews is just the first stop
north of Edinburgh, and that is famous as the place
where golf was born. And, you know, golf enthusiasts make
a pilgrimage to St. Andrews. St. Andrews has this amazing
golf course, and also you’ve got a ruined cathedral there, the
St. Andrew’s Cathedral. By the way, I didn’t golf in St. Andrews, I’m not a
golfer at all, but I did love to do these pitch-and-putt ranges at various
countryside mansions around Scotland. All over England if you don’t want
little mini golf, its pitch-and-putt, and its really beautiful, and it’s co–it’s
a good experience, and it’s very affordable. So anybody can spend a few
hours at a pitch-and-putt range as they’re traveling around Scotland. The
Highlands are the whole area farther north. We stay in a little town called
Kenmore, there’s a lot of nondescript little towns that just have a special
charm. This is called a Crannog. And a Crannog
is a fortified prehistoric house that’s built in the lake so nobody could get to
it. And it’s just–it’s about–it could be three or 4,000 years old. And they’ve got one
right by Kenmore, and you’ll find these all over the place, but this is one that’s
turned into an amazing museum with people passionate about sharing how
people lived back in the Bronze Age. And they would make fire just by rubbing
sticks, that kind of thing, and they’d show all sorts of industrious and clever ways
that people lived way back then. Many times when I’ve been traveling around
Scotland, there is a clan gathering going on, one of these big games, clan games. You
don’t need to go to the famous clan games that are advertised all over the
world that people jet into. Just be on the ball, and if there’s a
clan gathering anywhere, drop what you’re doing and go there. The
smaller the better. I’ve enjoyed most the little, little
in–like little small-town hokey clan gatherings where you just got the kids
running, the kids dancing, the fell runners. It’s just the most charming,
fun-loving, beautiful, family values kind of thing, and it’s a perfect insight into
a beautiful culture. Find a clan gathering if you can. You got that the
serious dancers, and then you’ve got the little girls that someday will be
serious dancers that are trying just as hard, and it’s just–you got your
bagpipers. One–you know in the morning the fell runners take off, and fell
running is cross-country running through the open fields, and they run all the way
up to the neighboring mountain top and back, cross-country leaping through the
holes, and everything, just like broken ankle waiting to happen, but they just
all take off. You got the guys tossing the caber, you’ve got
bagpipe parades, you’ve got beer in the tent being
served to everybody, and it’s just a beautiful scene.
Find a clan gathering and enjoy it if you can. Also a fun thing
to do, and we do this with our tour, is to stop at a sheep farm. And a lot of these–not a lot–a
few of these are around, and they can–we list it in our guidebooks, and you get to
meet the sheep farmer, and you could hear what it’s like in his life and what his
struggles are these days, and he will let the dogs do their thing, and these dogs
are incredible. I was just filming, by the way, in the Lakes District south of the
border in England, and we happened upon a dog show. And it was just a countryside dog
show, and every–all these sheep herders are out there with their competing dogs,
and you can find this anywhere if you just “heads up” as
you’re driving around. And they’ll whistle,
and they’ll holler, and a certain kind of whistle makes the
dog go to the left, or to the right, or bring ’em in, or whatever. And these dogs
really are the masters of the sheep, and it’s fun to see them out there working.
And we get to shear the sheep, and we get to learn a lot about that culture. We
were there when the little puppies were just born, and I’m really not much of a
person for, like, holding a cute dog, but I fell in love with this dog. I wanted to take him away.
I just–it was so cute. Their eyes weren’t even open yet, they’re just adorable,
and they will grow up to brutalize those sheep
someday, themselves. Farther north we get to Inverness.
And Inverness is the major city up in the north of Scotland, and it’s kind of a
nondescript hardscrabble town with some interesting history
that just comes to life when you can follow a local
guide around. I just met this guy, his name’s Cameron,
and he’s just entertaining, and for ten dollars, you know, he’ll take
you around and give you a one hour walk through the town. Every night, six o’clock,
Cameron does his Edin–you know, Inverness history walk. Anytime you’re traveling, if you can
find a local person like that that’s gonna give you a walk–it’s a public walk, so
you’re sharing the cost with whoever shows up, be on the ball about that kind
of stuff. Google, you know, go
to Tripadvisor, use your guidebook, ask at
the tourist office, ask at your hotel, whatever, find out
where these things are. Now we were out running around the town, and our guide,
Liz, realized one of her favorite folk bands was playing at the next hotel. And
we were all going to all the place–the bars in town famous for
folk music, ’cause we wanted to see folk music.
So our guide ran around town, physically, and found us
all and said, “the best music’s over here, next to our hotel.” But the point is, you
got to be able to turn on a dime and go to the hotel that’s got the good
music tonight, but it was brilliant. And it was a local thing, not tourists, it was
locals there, and it was just incredible music, incredible dancing, incredible
conviviality, and wonderful beer. Anybody can have that every night when
they’re up in Scotland, if they’re just on the ball. Outside of Inverness is
Culloden, and this is the site of the last battle fought on British soil, 1746.
And this was the last great Scottish hurrah. Bonnie Prince Charlie wanted to
take over the throne in London, and you can walk around that field with a local
guide and learn the romantic story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the Catholic
forces of Scotland trying to move down to London. And here, Bonnie Prince Charlie
and his Highlanders met the Redcoats, and they were just completely slaughtered,
and Bonnie Prince Charlie said, “every man for himself,” and he took off. The clans
were scattered, nobody could wear kilts anymore, nobody could play the bagpipes
anymore, and that was the end of Scottish culture. Until later on in the
Victorian Age, Robert Burns, Queen Victoria, and other people,
recognized the beauty of Scottish culture, and it rose again, and you have
this sort of tartan stuff going on. But Culloden is a very evocative place, and
when you go to Inverness, the first stop outside, I would say, is the battlefield
of Culloden. There are–there’s a place called–there’s a thing called Clava
Cairns, and it’s like Stonehenge-age, it’s about 4,000 or 5,000
years old, and it’s a stone circle way up
there in Scotland. The point is, all over the British Isles
if you know where to look, you can find these evocative stone
reminders that people were doing some impressive stuff here, back when the
Egyptians were making the pyramids. I remember our guide put together, at the
Clava Cairns, just a kind of a Scottish tasting event. And remember–it’s
just a reminder for me to remind you, when you’re in Scotland make a point to
try the local soft-drink, try the local cheese’s, try the shortbread, go to
the grocery store and pick up what you like, and be sure to check it out. Around
the Scottish countryside you’ve got manor houses and
palaces of the old aristocracy, like
Cawdor Castle, and these are well worth checking out in your
planning. Remember the English had to assert their control over Scotland by
building roads, so they could get their forces in and out. Anybody who wants to
effectively control another country has to have the infrastructure, so they can
take advantage of their military superiority. So they would send their
British engineers up there, Thomas Telford made all sorts of roads,
and canals, and so on, and then when Scotland was well under the realm of
England, they built a canal all across Scotland. It’s called the Caledonian
Canal, and it saved the ships the trouble of having to go all the way
around the land, John O’Groats up in the top, and they could just cut across this
way. When you look at the map of Scotland, you can see there’s a fissure across
Scotland, and it’s a series of lakes, Loch Ness is the most famous, going from
Inverness all the way southwest. Half of that stretch, it seems like, is Loch Ness,
the other lakes, and then they built canals connecting all those lakes. It’s
an amazing indust–engineering feat, and these canals only were a little window,
just a couple decades before the trains came in and antiquated the canals, and they
were no longer such a big help. Today they are more recreational. Along
Loch Ness, you’ll find a great castle, Urquhart Castle, very popular
because it’s the best viewing point from here
to see the Loch Ness monster. And all along here you got
this Loch Ness monster lore which gets a little tiresome, but people travel here
from all over the world to see if they can find that guy. This is an example of those canals I was
mentioning. Telford built these canals, and these canals are great examples of
the Industrial Age cutting across Scotland. I find them–the canals up there quite
charming to just have a picnic or something, and imagine what it was like
when they were built. The highest mountains in the British Isles are in
Scotland, and the most evocative countryside I think is in Scotland. And
Glencoe is famous as the place of the Weeping Glen, where the Campbells,
working with the Redcoats, accepted the hospitality of the MacDonald Clan and
then killed them all while they were sleeping. And to this day it’s called the
Weeping Glen, but there’s some very, very tragic stories about the British
corrupting some clans, to get back at the other clans who they had a long-standing
grudge with, and it was just quite a mess. To this day you’ll hear stories about
the MacDonalds and the Campbells. When you’re driving around the Highlands,
you just gotta make a point to stop the car, stop the bus, and get out and hike,
and walk, and feel the wind, and just be in the desolate expanses of the
Highlands. Take little hikes, any guidebook explains good hikes to take.
You’ll see bagpiper standing on the roadside, you’ll find hairy cows,
Heilan Coo they’re called, you’ll find beautiful views of castles, all of that
is just part of the charm of traveling through the Scottish Highlands. I
mentioned Oban is the main port on the west coast, and this is the end of the
train line, and the springboard for all of the ferries. Oban is a beautiful town
in its own right, it became quite important when the train
came there, and it provides that sort of terminus service, and today Oban has its
own charm, and from there you got the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services that
go through the islands, connecting all the Hebrides. The most important single trip to make from Oban is across
the aisle of Mull to the island of Iona. I-O-N-A. And Iona is famous because 1,500
years ago, Christianity came from Ireland to Scotland via Iona. And it’s been a
spiritual place ever since. Regardless–even if you’re not thinking
in like, Christian terms, it’s a spiritual place, there’s something about Iona that
really is–has a special quality. And it really is a neat place to go, I just love
going to Iona and getting into the–all the medieval mysticism of the place, and
the birth of Christianity in Scotland up there, and just walking, and
feeling the great outdoors. Heading back to Edinburgh, your last stop might be
Stirling Castle. It’s a great castle, and it’s a castle that really welcomes the
public in a very good way, and then it is back to Edinburgh. So you can see there’s
lots to do in Scotland, and I want to remind you when you do get to Britain,
it’s quite easy to make an open-jaws trip, flying into London, do Britain, and
then do that whole Scottish loop I talked about, and you can fly home easily
from Edinburgh. One way or another, I hope this has been helpful, and I want to
thank you very much for attending, and happy travels. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Bye now.

12 comments

  • Ellen Goldbeck

    Thank you

  • tracy capers

    Is it easy to find a place to stay for a month, pretty cheap..

  • Paul Houx

    "Europe is uniting, so all these minority states need an excuse to wave their little flags."

    I guess you'd have to be an American to say this out loud on a stage without realizing how historically wrong, degrading and insulting this is.

  • Urge

    nice work!

  • ajay prajapati

    excellently enumerated all about Scotland, great job

  • Little Dorrit

    I agree about the whiskey…if ya fancy a swalley 😉 Belter!

  • Yesemite Sam

    You treat Scotland like an afterthought. "If you don't have time for Scotland and you are doing England…" @ 2:52. Yeah, just great, I mean who would want to waste time visiting Scotland without having seen all that England has to offer first? You can visit Scotland and not go anywhere else you know. And, for the love of God learn how to pronounce the place names properly. It reflects very badly upon you that you trade on being an expert yet you can't pronounce the name of our capital city. Then, to suggest that you see the best of Scotland on your little tour, which goes nowhere near the north west highlands, is just ludicrous. Do some proper research please.

  • val Fletcher

    Remember, before you post a critical comment – that Rick Steves is not a historian… he is a travel advisor and an excellent one! He may mispronounce a word or two, ha. I would hate to think how it would be if I were to begin to expect for a travel guide or even a movie actor to get the terms related to Louisiana correct. I hear our villages, towns, and cities mis-pronounced all of the time and with good reason- the Cajun French is not familiar to very many at all.

  • Alasdair MacKenzie

    An American who cannot even pronounce our places names correctly giving a talk on visiting Scotland. You'd think that anyone taking on this task would do their research first.

  • Colin Gajewski

    "Edin-bow-row."

  • sean mack

    Thomas Telford was Scottish, not British. Otherwise, respect.

  • Phil Ryan

    Sir Walter Scott?

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