Me, these two, and a heelan coo: Scotland June 2018

Jess_S

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2015
Welcome to my trip report for our recent trip to Scotland. We were on the June 17, 2018 departure with guides Michael and Claire. I will start with the obligatory introduction, but save my overall impressions for my last post. This report may contain spoilers regarding surprises and activities not listed on the itinerary, so please stop reading now if you want to preserve an air of mystery.

Who?

On this trip report, you'll be travelling along with me, DH and DS. I am a lawyer in my mid-thirties. My husband is a 40 year-old stay-at-home dad. DS is 5 and had his last day of preschool just before our trip. He loves animals, video games and going on adventures. About 1 week before our Scotland trip, DS and I had the following exchange:

"Mommy, I am very excited for Scotland because I am super in to castles now."
"That's great honey. Since when are you in to castles?"
"Since yesterday."

DH is also super in to castles, which is fortunate because Scotland has them in spades.

49 weeks of the year, you can find us at home just north of Boston, Massachusetts. The other 3 weeks of the year, you will find us making the most of my skimpy vacation-day allotment by travelling both domestically and abroad. Here we are on last year's trip to Costa Rica:
17504224_10154547164082877_108418254252930270_o (1).jpg

We usually travel independently. This ABD marks our first foray into group travel.

We were told throughout the trip that DS is an exceptionally good traveler for a 5-year-old. I have no basis for comparison, but assuming it is true that DS is an above-average traveler for a 5-year-old, the credit for that goes to DS. He is someone who genuinely enjoys traveling and is naturally curious and engaged. If DH and I can take credit for anything, it is that we have always taken DS on our travels. On one of the many family travel blogs I follow, the blogger said, "Those who do not travel with young children deprive themselves of the pleasure of traveling with well-traveled older children." With five years of vacation tantrums (mostly by DS, though I do get hangry) under our belt, we found on this trip that DS was a pleasure to travel with 98% of the time.

What?

Our first ABD to Scotland.

Why?

DH and I first learned about ABD the way that most people do. We were contestants on a Disney Sea and Shore Week episode of Wheel of Fortune where we did not win a free trip. However, after seeing the promo reels for some of ABD's offerings, I hopped on over to the ABD section of these board and started following trip reports and asking questions. The end result was that I was sold on taking an ABD trip to South Africa.

It should come as no surprise, then, that our first ABD was to Scotland. Wait, did she say Scotland? Yes, indeed. The Scotland trip was booked as part of DS's and my diabolical plan to sell DH on the ABD Africa trip by selling him on ABD as a product. We were hoping he would love this trip enough that he would put his fear of travelling to Africa aside and come along with us on a safari in 2020.

I selected Scotland in particular because the new itinerary features lots of castles for DH, some animals for DS, and not too much coach time.

When?

June 14-25, 2018.

We booked a 2 night pre-stay on our own at the Caledonian in Edinburgh. I accidentally booked a 1 night post-stay in Amsterdam. We somehow wound up with a 22 hour layover there. I have no idea if I booked the wrong flight or if the layover appeared during the many, many flight changes we received emails about. We decided to make the best of it, book a hotel in the center of town for the night and have a bonus vacation to Amsterdam.

Where?

Scotland (see above).

How?

By plane, coach, boat and foot.

(And for those who were hoping to learn how we managed to afford the trip, the answer is that we booked early, got the DU discount through our wonderful agent, Susan, and live a not-too-fancy lifestyle if you ignore our pricey travel habit).
 
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Joined
Aug 13, 2004
My wife and are torn between Scotland and Ireland for 2019. We're leaning toward Ireland but can't wait to hear a fresh perspective on the Scotland trip from your trip report.
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
I'm looking forward to hearing about the changed itinerary. I don't think I've seen anything since it changed.

Sayhello
 
  • Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Our trip was the second ever with the new itinerary. The guides say they prefer the new itinerary because of the reduced bus time ( and we personally wouldn't have booked the old itinerary because of the travel time). I was literally falling asleep at the farewell dinner after our "relaxed pace" trip, so I can't imagine doing more than we did.

    Hopefully I won't get stuck at work today and can start sorting through my photos tonight.
     

    acndis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2012
    Our trip was the second ever with the new itinerary. The guides say they prefer the new itinerary because of the reduced bus time ( and we personally wouldn't have booked the old itinerary because of the travel time). I was literally falling asleep at the farewell dinner after our "relaxed pace" trip, so I can't imagine doing more than we did.

    Hopefully I won't get stuck at work today and can start sorting through my photos tonight.
    That's great! We had taken this one off of our list because of the bus time (Ireland is a bit the same) so I can't wait to read your report.
     

    aggiemomx3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2013
    Just have to give a quick comment. My family was on the first trip this season. It was also my second time to go to Scotland having done the old, old itinerary. I have to give this trip a 5 star rating. It was fabulous! The guides were out of this world great! There was only one day that was a repeat and it was the day we were all looking forward to (Loch Ness). It was a great trip! I’ll let Jess_S give you all the details but if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them.
     
  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Just have to give a quick comment. My family was on the first trip this season. It was also my second time to go to Scotland having done the old, old itinerary. I have to give this trip a 5 star rating. It was fabulous! The guides were out of this world great! There was only one day that was a repeat and it was the day we were all looking forward to (Loch Ness). It was a great trip! I’ll let Jess_S give you all the details but if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them.
    So you didn't miss the Isle of Skye (Kilt Rock and hiking the Quiraing) and Eilean Donan Castle? They'd already removed the Isle of Lewis a while back, which I thought was tragic.

    Was the day in Edinburgh not a repeat?

    Sayhello
     
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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    DS and I first learned about ABD the way that most people do. We were contestants on a Disney Sea and Shore Week episode of Wheel of Fortune where we did not win a free trip. However, after seeing the promo reels for some of ABD's offerings, I hopped on over to the ABD section of these board and started following trip reports and asking questions. The end result was that I was sold on taking an ABD trip to South Africa.
    :rolleyes1:D:D I really don't think that's how most people find out about ABD. :) Maybe by *watching* Wheel of Fortune....

    Sayhello
     

    aggiemomx3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2013
    So you didn't miss the Isle of Skye (Kilt Rock and hiking the Quiraing) and Eilean Donan Castle? They'd already removed the Isle of Lewis a while back, which I thought was tragic.

    Was the day in Edinburgh not a repeat?

    Sayhello
    The day in Edinburgh was similar but not exactly as before. This time around we had a privately guided tour of the Britannia. We arrived before it was open to the public and were allowed in places that the public were not. We even got to sit on the Queens furniture. We also had scones and tea while we were there. We also toured the graveyard of Grey Friars Bobby. So it was different than before. We did spend an extra day and took a day trip to the Isle of Skye. Two of my children had never seen that area (Kilt Rock and the Quiraing). We wanted them to experience the beauty. If I had not been before,I wouldn’t have known to miss that experience. It was a very fun trip. The falconry was exceptional and even the experience at Rothiemurchaus Estate was different with an extra hike and not only archery but Highland games.
     
  • Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Just have to give a quick comment. My family was on the first trip this season. It was also my second time to go to Scotland having done the old, old itinerary. I have to give this trip a 5 star rating. It was fabulous! The guides were out of this world great! There was only one day that was a repeat and it was the day we were all looking forward to (Loch Ness). It was a great trip! I’ll let Jess_S give you all the details but if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them.
    Feel free to jump in with your thoughts and impressions. I am curious to know how others enjoyed the activities. (My impression from those in our group is that everyone enjoyed the trip as a whole -- but I have no idea how people felt about each individual activity).

    :rolleyes1:D:D I really don't think that's how most people find out about ABD. :) Maybe by *watching* Wheel of Fortune....

    Sayhello
    My son is going to be very disappointed to hear this. He thinks everyone gets to be on Wheel of Fortune when they grow up.
     

    calypso726

    Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2006
    Yay! Trip report with the new itinerary! We did the Scotland ABD the first year and it is still my favorite trip. I’m looking forward to following along! Thank you for sharing.
     

    BluesTraveler

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2015
    Looking forward to reading this! I confess I didn't even know the Scotland itinerary had been redone - I read it a few years ago and, like others, took it off the list because of the bus time. Thank you for posting!
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Can't wait to hear about this ABD...I believe the trip dips down into the Borders near my ancestral clan's ruined castle. It's actually higher on my radar since the itinerary changed...of course since I find a way to get to Scotland as often as I can, it doesn't take much:D
     

    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Pre-day 1: Travel Day

    At the time I booked our flight, I could not find a direct flight from Boston to Edinburgh. Instead, we took a late afternoon flight to JFK and caught an evening flight to Edinburgh from there.

    About a week before we left, my husband finally took an interest in the trip and asked about our flight.

    Me: "It's an overnight flight."
    DH: "An overnight flight. Phineas, that means...."
    DS: "It means you need to try and sleep on the plane Daddy. It's going to be morning when we get to Scotland."

    Unlike DH, DS had been asking questions about the trip for months.

    About that same time, I made the ill fated decision to take my son to the science museum where I picked up my 8th bad cold of the season. That led to taking a sick day the week before our trip, which put my carefully calibrated plan to clear my desk before vacation in jeopardy. The end result was that I worked until 10 pm the 3 nights leading up to our trip. On the morning of the 14th, I woke up still exhausted, but relieved to have 11 work free days ahead.

    We began the day by dropping our dog at the pet sitter. Then we returned home to pack. By noon, our bags were lined up at the door to await the car service set to arrive at 2:30. Our driver arrived promptly at 2, causing a scramble to grab shoes and jackets. It wasn't until we were halfway to the airport that we realized we hadn't taken out the trash or started the dishwasher. At least DH had remembered to shut all the windows to seal in that stinky trash smell.

    Both of our flights were uneventful. The flight to JFK was less than an hour. We arrived early, giving us plenty of time to grab dinner before our flight. (This was a real blessing because dinner on the plane was not served until after 10).

    Our flight to Edinburgh left on time and took less than 6 hours due to strong tailwinds. My son dutifully curled up and went to sleep after takeoff. DH and I were somewhat less successful, but managed to get a fitful few hours of sleep. Overall, I was very happy with Delta and would gladly fly with them again.

    After landing came the unpleasant business of clearing passport control with a droopy 5 year old. After 30 minutes of whining about being bored, he was welcomed to Scotland and sent through customs. That entailed walking through a room with the word "customs" on the wall and heading out the door to baggage claim. Once we had our bags, we quickly found a driver holding an orange ABD paddle and we were on our way to the Caledonian.

    Just to spice up this post, here's a coo.
    scottish-highland-cattle.jpg


    Up next, our adventure truly begins.
     
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    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Yay! Trip report with the new itinerary! We did the Scotland ABD the first year and it is still my favorite trip. I’m looking forward to following along! Thank you for sharing.
    I thought of you during our trip when we walked past the luxurious sleeping pods on the way to our coach seats (for which I paid full price). DH was very disappointed in me when he learned that others got to enjoy those sleeping pods for free.
     

    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Can't wait to hear about this ABD...I believe the trip dips down into the Borders near my ancestral clan's ruined castle. It's actually higher on my radar since the itinerary changed...of course since I find a way to get to Scotland as often as I can, it doesn't take much:D
    Yep indeed. The trip to the borders is day 3 of the new itinerary. It was one of my favorite days.
     

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