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The organization of this particular tour was skillfully arranged to explain the history, culture and current affairs.
Starting with the prehistoric crannog site and ending with last battle site of Scotland, I am much more connected now with this part of the world.
Tonight is a great night to enjoy some traditional music in one of the many pubs. We'll finish our day in the scenic coastal town of Oban, where we'll tour a whisky distillery and enjoy a wee dram while learning about this iconic Scottish industry. Today we'll board a ferry and hop on a local bus for an entertaining ride across the island of Mull to our destination: the windswept Isle of Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.
Sleep in Oban (2 nights; group is split between two B&Bs). We'll tour the 800-year-old abbey, where monks created the remarkable Book of Kells, one of the sparks of creativity that pulled Europe out of the Dark Ages. We'll drive along the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and through central Scotland on our way back to Edinburgh. Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today.
Sleep in or near the village of Kenmore (2 nights). We'll also learn about the first people to farm in this part of the world, millennia ago. Today we'll tour evocative Culloden Battlefield where, in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's defeat ended decades of Scottish rebellion against the English government.
Then we'll head to the Hermitage, where we'll hear about Scottish Romanticism amidst Black Linn Falls and towering forest. We'll start off by learning about the nitty-gritty of Scotland's wool industry at a working sheep farm and watch a demonstration by talented sheepdogs. We'll also stop for a look at the Clava Cairns, an impressive collection of prehistoric burial chambers, and enjoy a picnic in this serene setting.
Our guide, Liz Lister, was warm, funny, smart and caring.
Her historical knowledge was extensive and her background as an educator and biologist brought the informational component of the tour to another level. The visitor center was designed to lead you via multi-sensory displays and historical artifacts to the final moments of this tragic battle.
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On this bonnie journey that starts and ends in royal Edinburgh, your Rick Steves guide will immerse you in the rich culture and history of Scotland. Today we'll see the best of Edinburgh on foot, starting with a walking tour of the Royal Mile and its wealth of historic buildings, quaint shops, narrow lanes, and hidden courtyards.
We'll then set you free to explore or find a spot to meditate on this tiny, spiritually charged island. En route we'll visit the famous castle of the Stuart kings, Stirling, including the newly restored Renaissance Palace. Edinburgh's airport and train station are easy connections from our neighborhood.
We'll return to Oban, and our own century, in time for dinner. Tonight we'll share memories of Scotland and toast new friends at our final dinner together. Glasgow is one hour away by train; London is 90 minutes by air.
Scotland is such a beautiful country and I felt that we certainly saw a great deal of it. My wife and I like the philosophy and method of Rick Steves' tours and of course we met many fine people. "The highlands provided the "wow" moments of the trip for me.