Diipti: When you visited Prrem’s just before your trip you told us about visiting Glasgow. Just out of curiosity when I looked it up I found there are more than five Glasgow’s in the world! I tend to get lost while travelling, so I was wondering whether you reached the right one! No, you were very sure of where you were, weren’t you? (smiles)
Rowena: Haha, yes. My company’s office headquarters are in Glasgow, Scotland so we were well taken care of. This was meant to be a work trip during the first week, post which Ameya was to join me. But that didn’t materialise and we continued with the vacation!
D: That’s always great! What were the highlights of the trip?
R: Glasgow, Edinburgh and Fort William. We chalked out our itinerary on Tripomatic, a website that helps independent travellers set out an itinerary which was really helpful, having our journey plotted out before us. Ameya still has it recorded on his phone. You see all my trips are planned by my brother. His travel funda is - Go to one city, see everything in that city and that’s it. Whereas we think differently; we think we should go to one country, see the entire country and come back! Somehow he managed to get Edinburgh in, so we did see a little bit of Edinburgh and the country side. But when travelling to Scotland, I would suggest visiting at least 3-4 places. If you add another destination to Glasgow, like say England, you might require about 15 days, because places are a little far off, so we drove around the country side too.
D: Oh, you did a road trip!
R: Yes, one of our colleagues hired a car and we covered Fort William too. If you see the map of Scotland we started off from Glasgow and went on to Fort William which was quite a drive, half way to the coast. We would have loved to head to Inverness or Aberdeen from there but it was quite a long way off.
Ameya: Yes, we targeted Inverness, but we couldn’t have gone and come back in the same day which is what we were trying to do. Although, Fort William was very nice! The centre is small enough to walk around on foot.
R: If you want to shop, shop at Fort William. My brother wouldn’t let us shop, we came back to Glasgow, and it was twice the price. We wanted to buy Celtic jewellery, because the motifs are really special. My sister in law and I saw some good stuff but my brother was on an agenda
D: Point noted for my next! How did you explore the city?
R: We took the hop on –hop off tours, that’s the quickest way to explore the city’s museums and castles. A tip from a local - if you want to go to Edinburgh, by train is a good option and fare prices are slashed during certain parts of the day. After 9.30am and 6.30pm, it’s about a quarter of the price! So a 70 to 80 pound ticket cost us just 20-25 pounds!
A: We stepped out at around 8am to explore, so we waited for under an hour and availed of that discount. That saved us over 200 pounds, an amount that came in handy for Rowena’s shopping!
D: Haha! So that was in the city. How about the countryside?
R: We visited a few of the Scottish Loch islands. There are quite a few places where you can actually live on the Loch Lomond Islands. If you book in advance, you can stay at a bed and breakfast, they are quite quaint and affordable, when booked 3-4months in advance. You have to do a road trip because the scenery is to die for. The driver was pretty nonchalant about it but there were times when we were speechless with the beauty of the country side.
The Glengoyne Distillery was next on the list since that was just a few miles outside of Glasgow and along the route through Loch Lomond’s shores.
D: Of course a Scottish Whiskey trail, tell me more!
R: (laughs) I don’t drink whiskey, but I really liked the experience! I tried an 18 year old whiskey which was really good. Even if you weren’t a whiskey fan, you’d like it. Learning about the whiskey making process was interesting too. Even if you don’t like whiskey, just go and see. It’s quite interesting. It is one of the last few distilleries still owned by a Scottish family. Otherwise, all distilleries are taken over by corporations.
Will you believe we saw a couple of barrels which were bought by Indians!
D: Now that’s a whole new story!
A: Absolutely! The Tour Guide also informed us that earlier in the year a gentleman bought it for his daughter’s wedding. The guide explained that his daughter is just two years old presently, so twenty years from now at the time of her wedding, it will have aged perfectly and will be ready for the celebrations!”
D: Amazing, talk about one too many for the road! Tell me, how was the weather like on the road trip? You travelled in June around summer, did you enjoy the weather?
R: It dint feel like summer! The jackets and winter wear we bought at Prrem’s - we didn’t get out of them (laughs) because it was so cold! For the locals, it was pleasant. They roamed around in shorts and some people weren’t even wearing any shirts! And we were in jackets, and woollens!
A: The weather is erratic, within a day you have sunshine, showers and extreme cold. It gets very windy as well. So we had to be in layers unlike the locals who are probably used to much chillier weathers in winter.
D: Wow, it is great to know the winter wear at Prrem’s kept you warm! Tell me, did you prefer your independent trip over a tour package?
R: We did opt for a tour once but they make you wake up really early! I would recommend that if you were to travel with a tour company, opt for a destination where the language is an issue, for example Egypt (that really worked for us) or China, where you cannot communicate at all; sometimes when the culture of a place is starkly different the chances of being misinterpreted are higher. In fact we plan to visit Scotland again soon to explore more of its country side via treks and outdoor excursions.
D: Great! We wish you have a super time on your next trip too!
R&A: Thank you! We enjoyed chatting with you!