Let the adventure begin! What better way to set-out on a world adventure than to start the trip with friends. I’m blessed to have a group of travel companions who venture out each year to international places like Italy, Iceland, Canada, and Mexico … and this year’s trip was scheduled for Scotland! As I started to craft the details to my hair-brained idea of traveling for a year, it dawned on me that I could couple my group trip to Scotland with a few extra weeks in the U.K. — someplace “easy,” English-speaking, relatively safe, and an environment where I wouldn’t really stand out. My initial idea was to start in Morocco, but after a mild panic attack, I came to the conclusion that as a single, blonde, female, starting in a third-world Muslim country during Ramadan might not be the best idea. So, Scotland it is!
I met-up with my travel group in New York and we flew to Glasgow on one of our favorite airlines, KLM. The ticket was a little pricier than some of the low-budget airlines I’d researched through Google flight tracker but it was important for me to fly over on the same plane as my friends — a little bit of comfort and security in the midst of ongoing change. It was already a big difference for me to pack clothes, makeup, meds, and shoes into a 36L backpack and carry it around like a pack mule. The least I could do was splurge a bit and sit next to my friend on the seven-hour flight over the pond.
We arrived in Glasgow and it was gorgeous! We were warmly welcomed by our hired driver, Robin. The U.K. drives on the opposite side of the road as the US, and just to be safe, we left the right-side, roundabout driving to a local professional. Robin was excellent! He was extremely knowledgeable about the country, laid-back in nature, and truly cared about our well-being and happiness throughout the journey. We contracted with him through Skye Tours in Glasgow and I would highly recommend him, and the company, to anyone who’s interested in exploring Scotland!
The town of Oban was our first destination. This quaint little bayside town was the heritage site of one of our group members and it was neat to see from where her ancestors originated. The beauty of traveling anywhere — especially for an extended period of time — is learning the nuances of a new country and discovering sights, sounds, and local flavors along the way. On the way to Oban, we stopped at Sterling Castle for photos, snacks, and a tour of the castle. A few things I quickly learned about Scotland … the landscape is absolutely stunning with its rolling green hills covered in black and white sheep and hairy brown cows, there are castles and churches and VERY old buildings everywhere, British people typically drink tea instead of coffee and they take it quite seriously, the food is fantastic and often times made up of seafood, and the language is similar…but oh, so different.
We stayed in Oban one night and enjoyed the local cuisine, 60 degree temperatures on the last day of July, and a little time to recuperate from jet lag. Then it was time to head north up to the Highlands and the beautiful Isle of Skye. But photos and stories from that leg of the journey will have to wait … stay tuned for the next posting!