Tag Archives: scotland

Bucket List No 1. Visit my nephews in Denver & Bucket List No 4. Visit 3 different countries

15 Jun

When I became a mum, my biggest fear was that it would change parts of our lives that we love and one of these was travel. In reality, the fact that our daughter could fly for free until the age of two meant that we have packed in as many holidays as we can before she hits that age. This year, we managed to get to Marrakech, USA (New York and Denver) and I squeezed in a trip to Scotland with work. 3 countries done! Marrakech was amazing and I highly recommend it. It’s only a three and a half hour flight but it feels like a world away, it’s cheap once you get there and we stayed in a Riyadh which just made the whole Moroccan experience. Wandering through the souks and getting lost is part of the fun, the food is delicious and you can pick up great quality and reasonably priced leather (we bought five bags!).

Our Riyadh

Our Riyadh

Next was Edinburgh. As someone who has lived abroad for several years, I find it a bit embarrassing that I’ve never been to Scotland or Ireland. What a mistake that was. Edinburgh is beautiful. I was there for one night for work so there was very little time to look around but I did stay on a lovely cobbled street and manage to walk up to the castle. I’ll definitely be back with the family.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Finally was the States. I’ve been to New York before for a couple of nights. It’s the only place I’ve been on holiday alone but seeing it with my family was something else. It’s so easy to get everywhere on foot which I love because it meant that in 4 nights, we managed to see pretty much everything we wanted to. The ferry around the Statue of Liberty, Rockerfeller Centre, Central Park, shopping on 5th Avenue, pizza in Little Italy, Times Square during the day and at night, 9/11 memorial and eating in a proper American diner.

View from Rockerfeller

View from Rockerfeller

NYC!!!

NYC!!!

The icing on the cake was a trip to Denver to see my sisters and their families and the absolute highlight was my crazy three nephews and Amaya hanging out together and bonding. I won’t mention the weather in Denver because they always tell me it famously has 335 days of sunshine a year and we managed to fit a week of that into our ten days! But family time is always special and being together is what makes it, especially as got to celebrate my youngest nephew’s first birthday.

Cousins reunited

Cousins reunited

Much to my husband’s annoyance and amusement, I’m now looking at beach holidays for October. We may have had a few holidays but we haven’t had a beach trip yet. That’s my argument anyway.

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Travelling in the UK? Give me foreign shores any time.

30 Apr

Now before you judge me on the above comment, let me explain.

I spent years working abroad in some far flung destinations.  Azerbaijan, Colombia, Indonesia, Italy – ok Italy is not so far flung but it was a lot of fun.  This meant I was lucky enough to travel to nearby countries like Georgia, Singapore, Brazil and other places it would have taken me years to travel to if I hadn’t been living nearby.

And to be honest, I felt guilty that in spite of making it to all these destinations, I’d never been to Wales, Ireland or Scotland.  This was especially true when I spent two days driving through the Welsh countryside in the summer of 2007.  It was absolutely stunning and I loved it.

Scottish Highlands

The beautiful Scottish Highlands

So, when I put together my bucket list for this year, I added “Visit Scotland” as one of my things to do.  I’ve seen Braveheart – I know the Scottish Highlands are beautiful.  Besides, I also had “climb a mountain” as another bucket list item and thought I could kill two birds with one stone.

I’d also seen loads of deals on websites like KGB deals, Groupon and Wowcher for very cheap weekend stays in country manors and castles set in picturesque scenery serving homemade bread, butter and jams for breakfast.   I’m easily swayed by good food so this was an added bonus.

dumfries-friars-1

£119 for a two night stay in this amazing place with KGB deals

Feeling pretty pleased and excited at the thought of a weekend break in the mountains, I sat down to Google images of the Scottish Highlands and how to get there.

Obstacle 1 – the nearest you’re going to get to the Scottish Highlands by public transport is Inverness airport or train station.  You then need to hire a car to get you around from there.

Obstacle 2 – a flight will cost you around £100 return with Easy Jet and the train is an overnight sleeper from Kings Cross taking 11 hours and costs around £200.  You then need to add the cost of car hire onto this which is quoted as £25 a day on Easy Jet or £75 for a weekend.  Even with relatively cheap accommodation at around £100, the minimum cost you’re looking at is about £300.

Sleeper train

London to Scotland sleeper train

Obstacle 3 – lots of people will tell you how easy it is to get to Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I’ve heard very good things about Edinburgh (not so much about Glasgow – sorry to any Glaswegians reading this I’m sure it’s a lovely city) but I have a very specific idea of a Scottish holiday and it’s all about enjoying the natural beauty of Scotland.

It’s a bit like planning to do the Trans-Siberian Express but being told to go to Moscow.  Both would be brilliant experiences but very different.

Obstacle 4 – you’ll start thinking about the other trips you could go on for £300 per person.  My husband and I went to Malta last year and paid £200 each for flights so this was already in my mind as I was searching for my dream Scottish trip.

Just to prove this last point, I did a quick internet search and found that I could easily get the following trips for £300 or less:

  • A three night break in central Rome at a hotel with an outdoor pool.
  • A seven night, all inclusive stay on a 4 star resort in Greece or Turkey.
  • Two weekend breaks somewhere in England – there are great online deals for weekend stays in Wiltshire (near Stonehenge), Bath or Yorkshire and relatively cheap train tickets can be found.  Failing that, the coach could definitely get you there cheaply.
  • A self-catering holiday for four nights in the Black Forest area of Germany.

After much thought and deliberation, we decided to forgo the Scottish holiday for the time being.  Instead we’re going to Germany for some spa action surrounded by mountains and beautiful woodlands.  If I’m honest, it’s also the closest we could get to a highlands type holiday.

Scotland is not off the bucket list but it’s just going to have to wait a while…

germany-black-forest

Black Forest region