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Top 10 Things I Learned About Scotland (Ep. 25)

This Spring I returned from my first trip to Scotland, but I almost didn't. I fell in love with a lot of things about the place and it seemed like the perfect subject for a podcast. So here are the Top 10 things I learned about Scotland that I didn't know before I went.

These are not necessarily in any order of importance:

10. People Aren't as Hard to Understand as You've Been Told

  • The Ryanair verbal freakout
  • The city with the heaviest accent
  • Gaelic vs Gaelic
  • Just walk away
  • A primer for Scotch whisky distillery pronunciations
  • Aberlour, Bruichladdich, Islay, Caol Ila, Glenfiddich, Eilean Donan
  • Throwing the fake accent on a word
  • Asheville, Greenville, Leicester

9. Glasgow as a Town for Being a Tourist

  • Street art murals galore
  • My Glasgow blog post
  • Red sandstone, Victorian architecture
  • A great downtown to walk around
  • The sketchy parts
  • A family to a single room apartment and the rough town no more

8. Haggis Can Be Very Tasty

  • It's offal, no seriously!
  • The strong armed sales pitch
  • Top end Doric-y haggis, close your eyes and enjoy
  • The mealy Scottish breakfast

7. See Scotch Whiskey Distilleries For Free

  • The Friends of the Classic Malts Journal, aka the booklet we get stamped
  • The fine print about your free tour
  • Look for Diagio

6. The Call for Scottish Independence

  • Brexit confusion
  • The English money snub
  • We're giving you the goods, why do you treat us this way?
  • Is being independent such a bad thing? Rethinking the vote.

5. Three Ways to Not See Scotland

  • Edinburgh is not all of Scotland
  • Planes, trains, and buses, oh my!
  • Having good Wi-Fi is not experiencing Scotland
  • Scottish cows are slower than trains
  • Learn to drive on the left
  • Those yellow vests can be fashionable

4. The Missing Speed Limit Sign

  • Speed camera, but how fast should I go?
  • Motorways and dual carriage ways 70 mph
  • With a caravan 60 mph
  • In a built up area 30 mph
  • Otherwise pay attention to signs
  • Speeding through the school zone
  • The missing slash
  • Whisky shaking lay by
  • The petrol that is less expensive

3. The Best Way To See Scotland's History For One Low Price

2. It's the Scenery

  • The 8th natural wonder
  • Pink sand beaches
  • Uig view

1. Listen to Find Out


Drew (00:13):
Hello everybody and welcome to Travel Fuels Life, the show where we share stories, tips and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. I'm your host, drew Hanish, and in one of my early trips in this year of 2019, I went to Scotland and I decided that since I did an episode about Ireland, I should also do an episode about Scotland because the place had a really big impact on me. So I'm going to tell you in this episode about things that are misconceptions that I had, things that came totally out of left field for me. And we're going to talk about scotch. I went to 16 different distilleries while I was there, castles, I went to 16 different castles while I was there, the surprising food I found and a big city that I never expected to be as cool as it was. And at the end of the show, I'll give you some details on how you can see the pictures from my travels and also some exciting news about ways I'm going to make this content available for your own travels.

So it's time to pour a wee dr of Scotch and relax on the sofa and start the countdown of the top 10 things that I've learned about Scotland. Number 10, people in Scotland, they're not as hard to understand as everybody makes it out to be. And this coming from Ireland where I was traveling to places where they spoke Gaelic and there was a whole lot of heavy accent where I just did not understand people while I was in the bars. Well, that sort of thing did happen to me while I was in Scotland, but it was mostly in Glasgow. Everywhere else I seemed to be fine except on the airplane on the way in when I was flying from Dublin into Scotland into Glasgow, I was on this plane with a son and father who were just chatting away in some language that it sounded like English, but I couldn't quite a hundred percent make out what it was and it was freaking me out.

I thought, oh man, how am I going to spend two weeks in Scotland and not be able to understand anybody? This is going to be really tough. But that was actually one of the worst situations I ran into. And of course I was not in a conversation with them. The time that it was a little bit tougher was me going down on Buchanan Street in the main drag in Glasgow, stopping in to get a coffee in a bakery. And then I had a conversation with a woman, but I have no idea what we talked about. And she had a lot to say to me, and I shook my head a whole lot, but I really have no idea what she said. And that was annoying to me in a way because I really wanted to have a conversation with her. What she was saying sounded so fantastic, but I really could not pick it out.

And I talked to somebody about it later and they said in Glasgow, sometimes they'll lay it on even thicker when they know you're having trouble with it just for a laugh, I guess. I don't know if that's true or not, but I talked to plenty of people in Glasgow that I had no problem understanding them at all, but there were some people that just had this really thick, thick accent and it was making it very tough for me to understand. And I don't think they were speaking Gallic. And in Scotland it's referred to as Gallic rather than Gaelic, which is in Ireland so that you at least get that pronunciation right and the languages are slightly different from each other, but apparently the two can understand each other. But it wasn't that it was definitely English, but it's just something you either got to get your iun to or if they're laying it on so thick, then it might be better to go wander off and talk to somebody else who you can actually understand.

Pronunciations were something I was really concerned with when I decided to plan this trip out because I'm going to all of these different distilleries and I hate sounding like a moron not saying the name of the distillery properly, especially since I have to present this to you. I want to try to get 'em as close as I possibly could. So I was amazing people while I was on this trip because I would just roll some of these distilleries names off of my tongue and they'd say, wow, you really know those really well. And I would say, yeah, I know them well because I'm really forcing myself to try to learn how to pronounce them properly. And you don't know how many times I've mispronounced them before I actually got 'em right. So when you're listening to any of the videos that I put together or audio tracks that I put together for this distillery tour, you're going to hear me make mistakes because one of the big ones was the town of AAU that I stayed in.

I kept calling it Avalor because that's what it looks like to me. It's spelled A B E R L o u r. And so abor, nope, that's not it, it's aau. And so it's just something you got to get used to. And then one of the tougher whiskeys to name would be Brute, which if you look at how that's spelled, it's like it doesn't look anything like what they pronounce it BNA Habin. Now that was a fun one to learn. And also up on Ila, there is an ILA is one actually that I had to learn because it looks like Isle I s L A Y. And so for a long time I was mispronouncing it, calling it Isla Isle. No, it's Ala is how that's actually pronounced. And then there's another distillery there that's called Kalila, and Kalila is spelled C A O l space i l a.

Yes, Kalila is how they pronounce that. So it's just going to take some getting used to that green triangle bottle that you see on the shelf of Scotch called Glen Fit. I used to call Glen Fitch because that's just the way it looked. So understand you're going to make mistakes when you go and you can't learn how to pronounce everything perfectly, and I don't know that you need to throw a big Scottish accent on everything you do. I hear people, it sometimes frustrates me when I hear somebody who has this plain American accent and they try to say something in Spanish and they just really throw the Spanish accent on it, but it's so naked out there in the middle of all of this plain American English to throw in this heavy Spanish accent all of a sudden, I don't know, something about that kind of annoys me.

But then there things that are fun to say like Glen fitter after you learn how to say it, to kind of do that little sound at the end, just to sound like you know what you're saying. So castles the same way. There are some castles in Scotland. I still don't know how to pronounce them. I have no idea. Perfect example is one of the most popular castles, which is it Elene? Is it El Doan? I don't know. I've heard it said multiple ways. And I think about that with where I live in the United States, sometimes we have some people say Greenville and others will say Greenville and Asheville or Asheville. These are two towns that I'm very familiar with and I've heard them pronounced both ways. Now I have very strong opinion about the way that I think they should be said, but then if you ask a local, they're going to say, Hey, we've always called it this.

A good example of that is there's a town in North Carolina that forever we have been arguing over, which is Lee Sester or Leicester, how do you pronounce it? Well, if you went for the English UK English version, it'd probably be Leicester. And a lot of people there call it that. But then you have other people who say Lee Ster. So I don't know if you're ever going to be a hundred percent right. Sometimes you just have to throw up the white flag and say, I'm just going with whatever pronunciation, and you're just going to have to live with it for a while until somebody embarrasses you to the point where you say, okay, I'm going to change the way I pronounce it. But the rest of Scotland outside of Glasgow, I had no problem understanding people anywhere that I went, Glasgow was definitely the strongest accent that I ran into. Everywhere else was fine.

Number nine, Glasgow is actually a town worth investigating. I had no idea what Glasgow was going to be like. I've heard the name, name to me resonates as kind of a rough place and probably not a place that you go to as a tourist, but you're probably going to go there because you have family there or something like that. But in reality, Glasgow is absolutely fantastic. I enjoyed my time there. I mean, I think I actually enjoyed going to Glasgow and seeing this underdog more than I enjoyed going to Edinburgh, which is the place that gets all the press. As I was walking around town, I was seeing these amazing paintings, these murals that are up and there's more than 30 of these things around town. And the detail in some of these is absolutely fabulous. And if you want to see some of these, you can actually go to travel fuels life.com and just do a search in the search box for Glasgow, because I did a blog post where I took pictures of some of the places that really stood out to me, and some of these are these murals that you'll find as you're walking through town and you'll find everything from St.

Mungo who was the patron saint of Glasgow. That painting is amazing. It looks so lifelike that it'll just take your breath away when you see it, and then walking through all of this amazing architecture that they have. When I got to Glasgow, the first thing I did was I got the bus transfer from the airport into town, and I was supposed to get off at Buchanan Street, which is the big shopping district, and not too far from my hotel, but as I was looking at the scenery and we were going through the financial district, I kept seeing these gorgeous red sandstone Victorian architecture. It just was stunning to me. And the sun was beaming down. It was really a perfect time to get out and start snapping some pictures. So I didn't care that I was about to add another 10 blocks onto my walk.

I had to get out and start taking some pictures and really just kind of soaking all of this in and I had a fantastic day walking around there. And you'll see through those photos that between the murals and the architecture, it's a wonderful city and one I think is well worth you investigating. So walk down along the waterfront, there's a tiger painting there. That's one of my favorites that, I mean, it's just amazing again to look at that statues, bridges, it's a fascinating place. So my mind was completely changed about Glasgow. Now, there were times really only one when I was coming down high Street and I was starting to head towards the people's palace that it seemed like it was going to get a little sketchy in that area, but it was fine. There was a carnival going on down by the People's Palace, and I had no problem walking around there.

So if you look at that webpage that I put together, that blog post, I actually have a map on there with a circle where I walked. And so I walked about seven miles according to that map. I actually walked a whole lot more than that. I walked within that circle and went to a bunch of different places, but I highlighted some of the really cool places that you could check out there. So Glasgow is not the city that one of my bed and breakfast hosts up in Avalara. She said that they used to have families that lived in single room apartments back in the 1960s, and it was just known as a rough town. But it really has taken on a whole new flavor, and I think it's well worth investigating.

Number eight, haggis can actually be very, very tasty. Which is funny because a lot of people will just go haggis. Oh, that's sheep's stomach. No, not necessarily. Actually what haggis is is probably a lot worse than sheep's stomach. Lemme tell you what haggis is, okay? This according to a dictionary definition is a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep's or calfs, awful mixed with soit oatmeal and seasoning and boiled in a bag traditionally one made of the animal's stomach. So there's a word in there that you may or may not know, which is awful. Well, you may know awful. I mean, that's awful. I can't eat that. Well, maybe this is where that word awful comes from because O F F A L is the entrails or internal organs of an animal used as food.

So if I haven't sold you on haggis already, let me just say that If you get really good haggis, when I went to Edinburgh, I wanted to find a place where I could go have haggis because I thought big city. And if this place is really renowned for its haggis, then I'm really going to see the top end of haggis. So I went to this place called the Dork, it's D O R I C. It's right across the street from the Edinburgh train station. And I went upstairs and I ordered a Guinness and I ordered my meal and I ordered haggis. And I got to tell you, when it showed up and it was on the plate, it didn't look that appetizing. It was kind of like this little mound of gritty looking meat.

I wasn't overly enthused by the look of it, but it's spiced up and it just had this incredible flavor to it. And I said, wow, if this is hagas, then I don't mind haggis. It's actually pretty good. Well, later on in the trip, if you get a Scottish breakfast, you're going to entertain a little bit of haggis or black pudding. And so I got haggis in one of my meals and I got to tell you, it was mealy. It was not well seasoned. And if that was the first time I ever had haggis, I probably wouldn't have haggis again. So haggis can be very good, but then again, sometimes haggis can be kind of awful.

Number seven, did you know that you can go see a whole lot of the distilleries in Scotland for free? Well, you're still going to have to pay for the transportation to get there and those types of things, you got to stay in the hotel, all of that. So there's going to be some costs. But what I found out once I started traveling around to a couple of these different distilleries is that the ones that are owned by a company called Diageo, and there are 12 of them in Scotland, if you get this little booklet that they'll give you, just ask for it. It's called the Friends of the Classic Malts Journal. And just tell 'em that you want the booklet that you get the stamps put in. And what'll happen is they said, just take this over to your next distillery that you go to.

Hand it to them, have them stamp it, and you get to go on the tour for free. And then once you're done with the tour, you get to get this little prize that's sent to you for having completed this full booklet. But the first distillery that you go, you should ask for this and you should get it stamped. However, there's a little caveat to this. When I started planning out my trip to Scotland, I was told Make sure that you make reservations before you go because when it gets to busy season, it's very hard to get a tour. When you want to go on the tour, they will sell out. Well, how do I work this booklet into that circumstance? And I had already screwed up not knowing this book existed by scheduling all of the distilleries that I was going to, and there's a bunch of them in here that I actually went to.

And so I didn't really get to use it the way that it needed to be used. I ended up only getting one free trip. But this booklet, if you want to know, and I'm kind of opening it up and looking through it, it's cool. It's got a little flavor map on it and it will tell you the different flavors of the different types of scotch in case there's a particular type of flavor. If you like smoky or you're more into light or rich, it will help you kind of pinpoint which scotches you might like. And then it's got a little flavor guide in it as well. But Dow, Winnie is where I actually got this thing because somebody there said, Hey, are you getting stamps in your book? So I got a stamp from there, but then as I'm going through, I went to Blair Ethel right before that, and nobody told me about this little booklet, so I had no idea.

And then OEN was actually the one place that I went to that I got to go into for free because I had not made a reservation on the place yet, and they went ahead and give me the freebie to go in there. But there's a bunch of 'em, Kadu, Esker and Kalila and Volin. There's a bunch of them in here that are really good distilleries. So I would highly recommend getting the booklets and I'll put the name of it in the show notes so that you'll have a chance to find out what it is so that you can ask them and say, Hey, give me that booklet so I can do the tour for free, and then you can get a prize at the end. So that's pretty nice. It's like the Cracker Jacks of Scotch Number six, Scottish Independence. It's still a thing. And this has been interesting in going to Ireland and then going to Scotland in the midst of all of this Brexit stuff going on, there's a real embarrassment about what's happening over there and the lack of planning.

And I recall when Scotland was trying to go for independence before I thought everybody was going to be behind it, but then I was hearing people say, well, that really wasn't going to, because even though it was a very close vote, there wasn't really a plan. And now they're looking at Brexit and saying, well, the UK really doesn't have a plan for getting out of the eu, so do we want to be with the UK now or do we want to be with the European Union? And I think there's a lot of people in Scotland and the ones I talked to, and maybe I just hit the right number of people, but it seemed like anybody I talked to about Scottish independence seemed to be somewhat interested in the concept. And so I got deeper into it and was asking, well, how would you guys survive?

And this is where I found out something very interesting about Scotland and the UK relationship and really the relationship with England itself in that it's kind of been a thumb your nose kind of relationship from the way that people in Scotland see it. When I landed in Scotland and I went to draw some money out of the a t M machine, I was shocked to see that I was getting pounds with Scotland on them. I thought all pounds were uk. I didn't know that they actually had their own pounds in Scotland. Then what I found out was that I needed to spend all of those if I had any plan of going to England, because in England, a lot of shop merchants will not take a Scottish pound, and their reasoning is it's just not. It's harder to deal with and it's all the pound, I mean, they all are from the uk, so why are you looking down on the Scottish pound versus the UK pound versus the English pound?

And then it really got me thinking about how that could stick in somebody's craw when Scotland provides a lot of economic resources to England and the UK as a whole. And when you realize that you're providing a lot of stuff, but you're being treated like a second class citizen, it makes it a whole lot easier for you to say, maybe I don't want to be part of this United Kingdom anymore. Maybe being an independent nation is not such a bad thing. Now again, I'm talking to particular people in Scotland and maybe that's not the feeling overall, and maybe this is a little unfair what I'm saying about England, but obviously people who have taken Scottish pounds down to London have had trouble spending them there. So you have to wonder how much of this is leading to this thought of, Hey, we're tired of being second class citizens here and we actually think we might be able to be a country of our own.

So it was interesting having those discussions along the way. Sometimes the discussions got very passionate and sometimes the discussions were just like, yeah, you know what? I would probably consider a different vote this time if the referendum came back up again. So definitely something to keep your eye on and it'll be interesting to see what happens if the UK does break out of the EU and to see if there is any call for a vote next year because there's already some rumblings that that may potentially happen. Fascinating times we live in fascinating. Number five, I discovered the three ways that I do not want to see Scotland. Now, when you're planning out your trip to Scotland, you might say, oh, I really, I've heard fantastic things about Edinburgh. I want to go see it. And then you fly a plane in and you go around town and you see Edinburgh and then you fly home.

You've missed so much of what Scotland is. Edinburgh is a beautiful town, amazing architecture, lots of history, but if you're going to focus just on that one town, you are not getting the full breadth of what you could get out of Scotland because the landscapes, the little towns, all of these just add to the whole allure of what Scotland is, why you should go to Scotland. So three ways that I don't want to access Scotland, a plane, a train or a bus. Now, part of the problem with trains is they don't go everywhere and you can get from Inverness to Edinburgh and you can get some towns in between and you can ride over to Glasgow, but you're going to miss a whole lot of stuff. Yes, you get to see the countryside as it's rolling by and you got your wifi so you can get some work done while you're traveling or you've got your plugin so you can recharge your phone and all that.

Sure, that's fine. You can do that at home. You're in Scotland, go see Scotland. You're not going to see a Scottish cow by, well, you may see one while you're riding by on the train, but there's nothing like being right there and being able to stop and take a picture and just admire and see the beauty of the countryside and buses, same sort of scenario. I mean you're stuck to whatever stops that they're going to give you, and I just feel like you're going to miss so much in between when you go into the Karen Gorn Mountains, you're not going to find a bus going to take you through there and allow you to just stop off and see some of these fantastic places or these castles that I'm finding along the way. I even found that when I was in space side, which I would think would be a perfect place to have a really good bus system where you could take the bus over to the different distilleries, not the case.

There's a bus system, but it's just not really set up for tourists. So to me, rent the car, get a bicycle, rent the bicycle or bring a bicycle or even walk it, although you're not going to get to see a whole lot if you walk it unless you've got a month or two or three to be able to do that kind of a trip. But take it slow, take it in steps where you can get out and you can enjoy it. And if you're scared of driving on the left-hand side of the road, go back and listen to my podcast where I talk about how you can get over your fear of driving on the left hand side of the road pretty quickly and it's enriching and it's fun and you'll get the hang of it. And you don't want to dismiss a great way to go see a country just because of a little bit of fear of the unknown because once you're done, you realize you've been driving a car your whole life and it just takes a little bit more awareness when you're doing your driving.

But for me, nope, no bus, no plane, no train. I am renting a car or I am getting one of those yellow vests and riding around on my bike. Bikes have to ride on the left hand side of the road also. So that will take a little bit of getting used to do it the way that you're comfortable with. But I'm telling you, go to Scotland and take it in a way where you're getting outside of the cities, you're seeing the countryside, and you're really getting to immerse yourself in a little bit more of what Scotland truly is. I think it's much more of a rural country and a landscape diverse country more than it is a country of cities. So get your house cities, go out and explore Scotland, it is absolutely beautiful. Number four, there is a lack of speed limit signs in Scotland, but that does not mean, that does not mean that you are in Germany on the Audubon.

You cannot drive whatever speed you want to drive, but it's confusing when you first get there because I am driving out of the airport, I'm headed down what they call a dual carriageway, which we call a freeway or interstate in the United States. And I'm lost. I'm like, what is the speed limit here? Because I'm driving along and I don't see any speed limit signs, and I thought I was just missing them, but I wasn't. There just were no speed limit signs, but yet I kept seeing these speed and it'd say a warning speed camera coming up and I'm like, I have no idea how fast I'm supposed to be driving. So coming out of Glasgow, headed into go see Dune Castle, I just drove 60 miles an hour and it is miles an hour there. It's not on the metric system, it's the old Imperial.

So I'm driving 60 miles an hour and nobody's really passing by me that much. So I'm thinking maybe this is what the speed limit is. And I'll be honest with you, I went three days before I finally figured out what the speed limit system is in Scotland, and I went past a lot of traffic cameras. So let me give it to you so that you understand. On motorways and dual carriageways, the speed limit is 70 miles an hour for cars, which is 112 kilometers an hour. And then if you're towing a caravan, which is a trailer in the United States, how we'd refer to that, or if it's a truck, then the motorways and dual carriageways are 60 miles an hour. And then if you're in what they call a built up area or we just say in a city or a suburb or somewhere like that, your speed limit, the national speed limit is 30 miles per hour.

And then sometimes you'll find signs around. And when you find those signs, then you skip what the national speed limit is and you deal with the speed limit that it's telling you you should be driving. And one of those, which I busted through, I'll tell you, I was coming into Aberdeen, Scotland and I'd gone through about eight roundabouts and I was frustrated and then my G P s was telling me to turn into the next roundabout and I didn't realize, but there was a road that was going off to the left before the roundabout, and I went on that by mistake and I was looking down at my G P s to figure out where I had gone wrong. And when I looked back up, I was like, okay, everybody's driving a lot slower than I am. I'm going through at 40 miles an hour.

I slowed down to 30, but everybody's still driving slower than me. And then I saw school kids around and I thought, no, you haven't just, and as I started coming out of that area and rejoined the road that I was supposed to be on, I saw a sign that said End 20 miles an hour. So I had sped through a speed zone children's, a school zone, and I just didn't know. I had no idea. I was frustrated and trying to figure out my G P s. Well, the last thing you want to do is end up getting back to your car rental place and having them say, oh, by the way, there's this 200 $300 ticket. You're going to have to pay 200, 300 pound ticket you're going to have to pay. Well, luckily I didn't end up getting a ticket on that, but these national speed limits are definitely well worth knowing.

And if you're outside of built up areas, but you're on a two-lane road, then it's 60 miles an hour for cars and 50 miles an hour if you're towing something along with you. So keep that in mind. It will save you a lot of headaches and a lot of confusion. And a couple other things about driving, I thought I would throw in here. They offered me a $70 upgrade total $70 to go from a manual to an automatic. If you're not comfortable driving on the left-hand side of the road, just get the automatic, it's the best way to go. It's just one less thing that you have to pay attention to. It took me a while to figure this out, but I would see road signs going by me that would have a one and then a two slightly below it. Well, in the US when we do fractions, we have a slash between them there.

They do not. It's just a one slightly over a two to say half for half a mile. They also have these things, these pull offs called laybys, and a layby is a place where you can just pull your car off and take a nap if you want to take a nap, just a place to kind of relax and get yourself collected before you hit the road again. Well, I saw these on the A nine heading up into the highlands from Glasgow, and I was tired and I thought it'd be good if I could just shut my eyes for a minute or two. Well, I'm telling you, the traffic is flying down there so fast and there are so many trucks headed to space side to pick up all that whiskey that you can't rest. It's just my car just kept bouncing and bouncing and bouncing while I was there, so that wasn't too successful.

But those are called laybys. So if you see one of those and you will see signs warning you of speed cameras, I still to this day, I can't really figure out exactly where the camera is. It looks like the camera's right on the signpost, and maybe that's the case. And somebody told me that those speed cameras work by capturing your license plate and then calculating between this and the next speed camera, how quickly you got there, and that's how they determine whether you've been speeding or not. So I dunno, that sounds feasible. I know that they do that in Italy. And so just watch out for the speed cameras. Luckily got through the entire country without having any tickets, so very happy about that. Something else I found interesting when I was in Europe and when in Ireland, if you were going to get a car, you wanted to get a car that had a diesel engine because diesel was less expensive in Europe, unlike it is here in the US where it's more expensive.

Well, I found in Scotland that diesel was more expensive, so I was kind of happy that when they gave me the rental car, they gave me one that used regular unleaded gas because I saved a few pounds here there by getting it that way. And I think the other thing that was kind of a good way to handle driving over there is, and I do this anywhere, if you're going to go to places where you're not sure if there's a lot of gas stations around or petrol stations is they would refer to them there, just make sure that you always have a half tank of gas and once you start getting below half a tank first gas station, you see first petrol opportunity, fill it up and get it back up to the top because there are going to be times when you're driving out, say, on the aisle of Sky where you're just not going to have gas stations here and there for you to be able to fill up and get to your next location. So don't get that little chill feeling that you get when you realize, oh crap, I'm out of gas. What am I going to do?

Number three, get the historic Scotland Explorer pass. You will thank me if you love history the way that I love history and you want to go see a lot of these wonderful castles along the way. Get this pass. There's a couple of different variations of it. I will put the information of on the show notes page for you to check out, but I'm telling you that this thing paid for itself in day one for me. I paid $45 for this thing. I paid, I'm sorry, 45 pounds for this thing, which is probably about 53 or $54, something in that range with current exchange rates. And I printed it out and I took this along with me, folded up piece of paper that saved me, I don't know how many hundreds of dollars. So what you do is you get this pass and I got it for 14 days.

It cost me the 45 pounds. I go to Edinburgh Castle and they wanted to charge, I think it was 26 pounds to go into Edinburgh Castle. So as soon as I've gone there, I've already taken out half of the charge of this pass. I just show it to 'em and then they gave me a discount on the audio headset because I had this particular pass. Alright, that works out well. Next place that I go to is to Dune Castle, and that's the place where Monty Python, the Holy Grail was filmed and some of Outlander was filmed there. And I go up to the entrance and I show them this pass and I get in, don't have to pay the six to $10, I think it's six to 10 year. Six to 10, this is the thing, let's get all of our money on the same lingo.

Drives me crazy. Anyway, yeah, six pounds, whatever. Alright, so now I'm into the 30 pound plus range of money that I've saved and the audio tour is free and I'm getting to walk around and enjoy that. Then I head over to Sterling Castle and Sterling Castle. I want to say that was like 14, 15 pounds, something like that. Okay, I've been to three castles I in the span of 24 hours and I have paid for my 45 pound pass this explorer pass. I cannot tell. And then I've got 13 more days to fill out that anywhere I go that accepts this pass and I used it quite a bit, then you're going to save a lot of money going around and you're not going to have to worry about shelling out extra pounds wherever you go to, to these different castle locations. Now I will say it does not cover every single castle you want to go to in Scotland.

There were a couple Lean Dunan, that one is the Highlander and the world is not enough castle, and that is privately owned. So I had to pay 10 pounds to get into that one, but I was willing to do it. It's a wonderful castle. One I definitely wanted to see. Another is the Don Ter castle. This is the one that if you ever see my pictures where I posted, and it's this little hill over the ocean, that's the Dun Auter castle. Definitely worth visiting, but it is not on this tour and it is not part of the Explorer Pass. And they will tell you when you go up there. But hey, I mean those are amazing castles and definitely worth seeing, but just about every other castle that I went to, there are 77 locations that you can get into with this little booklet and a lot of the ones that I'm going to feature in my castles and Drams tour. A lot of those I will note there whether they're part of the Explorer or not. And you'll find that a lot of them are. And if you start tallying up the dollars from all those places or all the pounds that I saved going from one place to the next, you'd say, yep, I'm getting this sucker too. It is definitely worth it.

Number two, Scotland has an incredibly diverse landscape. I was just blown away with the scenery there. I mean, Ireland is beautiful. Scotland is beautiful. These aisles are just something to behold. And one of my favorite places on the entire trip was Isle of Sky. To me, it should be known as the eighth Natural Wonder of the world. It is just the mountains there, the ports, the waterways, natural rolling hills. It's just this amazing, amazing place. It is like going into a fairytale. It is just phenomenal. And so watch my pictures as I'm posting those things because I have pictures all over Isle of Sky. I think it's about four weeks from now that I'll really be focusing in on the Isle of Sky part of my trip. But I mean Isle of Sky, the ferry pools, there's waterfalls. The old man of store is this amazing rock formation you can walk up to on top of a mountain.

There's a town called Uig, U I G that I rode over from one side of the island over to the other to get there. And it's just, oh, the view coming down to that little port city is just, it's mind blowing. And of course, for some reason I just had the most amazing weather while I was there. And people have said the whole trip, they said, it's not like this. It's not usually this clear this much. I had 14 days of sunshine. I don't know how that happened, but for some reason it worked out, especially in the spring because that's usually supposed to be the rainy season, but they have had some bizarre weather over there and whatever you want to blame it on, whether patterns changing or climate change or whatever it may be. This is very unusual. And they've had some runs of this of late and in fact, Talisker, they were saying that Talisker Distillery had to shut down for some time because they get their waters from natural springs and those springs were drying up.

So hopefully when you go there, there'll be some moody clouds and some rain to get you in the whole Scotland kind of feel. But I'm telling you, on a sunny day, this place is just amazing. So you'll see hillsides with tons of sheep. I now understand why they eat haggis. They got to do something with all those sheep. And the East Point Lighthouse is a very picturesque spot. It's very windy. When I went out there, it was very windy and it's single track roads to get up to it, and it's a bit of a challenge, but it's definitely worth it. Going to see that. And then a little town of Carbo that I stayed in was fun because you had the Talisker distillery and just this beautiful bay that you looked over and the sunset over that bay. It's just the dreamy, dreamy kind of place.

And I mean, that's not the only spot you go to, the Angus Coast, the Pink Sand beaches over there, Campbelltown, I swear when I was driving down the Campbelltown, it looked like Hawaii on one side of me, these turquoise waters with the black rock along the shore. But then you'd look on the other side and you'd see these mountains and hillsides that were all this beautiful lush green with sheep all along. And it's just, wow, it's really something to see. And then Isla, it's kind of, well, I got to Isla and I went up to the Bah Habin distillery, and you look across to Europe, which is an island right across from there. And I swear I was looking at a picture of something I would see out of Star Wars or something. It looked like a desert planet across the way. And maybe it was because it was still early in the season, hadn't had time to get green up on those hills, but it was just this beautiful, beautiful look with little haze over it.

And it just had kind of this dreamy kind of a look to it. So I cannot rave enough about how beautiful the landscapes are in Scotland. And so if you're going to plan a trip out, make sure that you're hitting those countrysides, as I said, avoid the buses, the trains, and the planes. And let's see this Scotland at a little bit more slow motion. And the number one thing that I learned about Scotland, I would love to live there. Holy cow. No, honestly, it would never have been on my list of places. In fact, it was kind of low on my list of places to visit until I did the bourbon tour of Kentucky and thought, well, I like scotch more than I like bourbon. So why don't I plan a trip over to Scotland? So it was all built around whiskey, but then the idea of castles and history came up to me and I thought, well, okay, I could do that also.

And then I started investigating some of the places that I could travel to and learning a bit about Edinburgh and some about Glasgow. And then as I started researching more of the places that I could, I thought, wow, there's really a lot of stuff here that I hadn't really anticipated. And then once I got to Scotland, I saw all the amazing landscapes. I realized that I was only touching a small part of all of the castles I could go see, or the whiskey distilleries I could go visit. And then people were telling me about driving the NS 500, this area in the northern part of Scotland. That's just a fantastic drive. You do it on a motorcycle or you could do it in a car. It's just amazing coastal scenery. And then Orkney Island and seeing a lot of the prehistoric stuff that's up there and Shetland Island, the island famous fors, ponies, and the whole, I mean, just seemed like there was no way, even if I did 50 trips over to Scotland that I was going to be able to enjoy all that it had to give.

And then top that with just fantastic people. I mean, the first bed and breakfast that I stayed in when I started driving north, I really enjoyed some conversations that I had there. The second one that I went to as I was going into the Highlands was just amazing. I didn't want to leave. I mean, these people were like best friends by the time we got through with the evenings festivities and sharing whiskey and wine and talking stories and just politics even. It didn't matter. We talked about all sorts of stuff and it was great. It was great to have such a dialogue with people. And one of the other travelers that was there, he was from Inverness. And just the stories, just fun listening to all of these storytellers. And I've heard the term salt of the earth to describe a certain type of person.

And I would say that the people of Scotland are truly the salt of the earth. I just felt so welcome there that when it came time for me to go home after two weeks, I didn't want to go home. I was ready to just stop and say, Nope, this is where I want to stay. I'm not going home. I'm just going to enjoy my time here a little bit longer. So that was a big surprise to me, but maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise, I don't know. But what it's done for me is it's told me that I need to go back again. And that even though I consumed a lot of Scottish history and a lot of, and I'm telling you Scottish history is probably the hardest history for me to learn because all the Mary's and James and William III is actually William ii.

And I mean, it is frustrating, but it makes me want to learn it because I just so appreciated the country and the people and all that it had to offer. So fantastic. And I will be going back to Scotland again sometime, and it won't be quite as long as I thought it was going to be. I'm going to work it out. So if you get a chance and you're into, especially into history, if you love landscapes, if you love architecture, if there's something just sort of that gets in your bones about thinking of the fairytale landscapes of Isle of Sky, or again, just the dramatic changes in landscape heading down to Campbelltown or the whiskey and enjoying the wonderful tastes that there are there. And I got to tell you, I stayed in another, it used to be a hospital, but they converted it into a hotel down in Campbelltown.

And the food was amazing. And I'm not talking haggis and I'm not talking experimental. I'm talking about I felt like I was eating Michelin food at this place and the hospitality of the people. Just, I have a lifetime of memories that I've taken from just two weeks of being in Scotland. So if it sounds like I had a good time, yes, I absolutely had a good time and I can't wait to go back again. Well, thanks everybody for listening to another week of Travel Fuels Life. If you want more information about Scotland, I've got a couple of suggestions for you. You can head out to the show notes page of Travel fuels life.com/podcasts. Look for episode number 25, and there you'll get the links to the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. And I have a blog post that I wrote about traveling around Glasgow and all the wonderful street art that you'll find there.

And also make sure to like and follow me on facebook.com/travel fuels life or instagram.com/travel fuels life. In both of those locations, I'm posting all of my great travel pictures from around Scotland and just f y i, there is also a book in the works, especially for you scotch lovers. And that will be coming out probably not this year, but beginning of next year. So I'm really looking forward to that and I will tell you more about it as we get closer to that time. And until next time, have a great week. Safe travels and thanks for listening to Travel Fuels Life.

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