sábado, 16 de março de 2013

Visiting Scotland

We decided to visit Scotland during April, Spring time.

April may not be the best month for a trip to Scotland, some of places are still preparing for the high season, and there are a few castles closed. However it is also an opportunity to see the Spring and we even saw some of the places with snow, curiously during our first night there, it was the night of the biggest snow fall of 2012.
The Glamis Castle with the white snow instead of the green grass
Our main goal when visiting Scotland was to visit the castles around the country, so we chose to rent a car during all the time we were there. The main disadvantage was in the big cities, we did not visit much of them, we spent three nights in Edinburgh and one night in the suburbs of Glasgow.

We did not make a smart choice spending so much nights in one place, but in the beginning we still did not know we were going to Dunrobin, right in the North of Scotland. It gave us the opportunity to visit a variety of places around Edinburgh, but on the other hand less coverage of landscapes, specially in Glencoe.
Our advise if you want to visit several castles is to sleep at least one night in the north, near the Lake Ness, probably in Inverness.

The Dunrobin Castle, the reason we went most northerly than we expected
We caught a flight from Lisbon to Manchester, it was easier and cheaper than the other options. (Flying directly to Edinburgh or doing a scale), so we decided to rent a car in Manchester and drive to Edinburgh, if you have spare time, it is a nice trip since you pass by places as Lancaster and you can divert to see the Hadrian's Wall.

Edinburgh Castle view from the Easyhotel
Since we were in the Edinburgh Easyhotel we visited Edinburgh during the late afternoon, during the day we travelled with the car, avoiding to pay parking We decided not to visit the Edinburgh Castle, since we did not have enough time to visit everything, and the most important jewels were not available in the exhibition. We were told that a good visit should last at least two hours, and for us the castle was closing in an hour.

Scotland has amazing landscapes and castles. It is surely one of the trips that was worth it and we are planning to come back.

So some of the advices we can make are:
  • Choose wisely what you want to visit in Scotland. Between cities, castles, lakes and mountains, there are several options with a distance between them.
  • Consider the season you want to go, different seasons offer different colours in the landscape, specially in Glencoe.
  • The time of the day of your visit is also important, remember the sun rises in east and sets in west. In the Arthur's seat in Edinburgh this can be useful, since the best view can be in the morning, and in the late afternoon the sun is setting on the horizon.
  • When doing the budget on visiting castles, plan at least £12 for each person, at least 2 hours and if you like a walk around the castle gardens.
  • On some remote places, as Glencoe you may not find restaurants or any retail, so be prepared and always carry something, specially water.

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