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Scottish Highlands

A one day jaunt through Pitlochry, Blair Atholl Distillery, Fort Augustus/Loch Ness, Spean Bridge, Glencoe, and Tyndrum

Greetings! Today's adventure took us on a tour of the Scottish Highlands in northern Scotland. Scotland is one of my favorite countries and Edinburgh has been one of my most favorite cities we've had the opportunity to visit. We took the train up to Edinburgh and stayed in the most amazing AirBnb in Edinburgh. The hosts had the most thoughtful touches in the flat and the location was perfect. We created a customized private tour with Highland Experience Tours and would absolutely book tours with them again. Simone was absolutely wonderful to work with and created a tour with everything on our list of must see places. Mark was our guide and driver and we could not have had a better guide. He was hilarious, insightful and fun!

Highland Experience Tours: https://www.highlandexperience.com
AirBnb: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/5805796?source_impression_id=p3_1571041311_HIY4TDUxj090zdn4

Mark picked us up at our front door and we started our journey north. The bridge on the right is the Forth Bridge which is a cantilever railway bridge across the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, nine miles west of Edinburgh City Centre. The Scotsmen are very proud of this bridge and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. Construction of the bridge started in 1882 and it was opened in March 1890.
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Here are some pictures in the car making our way up the M90. It was such a scenic ride to our first stop. Along the way Mark taught us a thing or two, like loch means "lake," ben means "hill," and glen means "valley."
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Our first stop was the village of Pitlochry and Blair Atholl Distillery. Pitlochry was a charming little village. We stopped into of the cafes for a quick bite to eat and then it was onto the distillery.
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Next, we made our way through the Cairngorms National Park and made it to Laggan Dam and and Fort Augustus and the Loch Ness area. Unfortunately, we could not find Nessie.
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Fort August/Loch Ness
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After our lunch stop in the Fort Augustus/Loch Ness area we continued on to Spean Bridge, Glencoe and Tyndrum.
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There is a Commando Memorial dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces during Second World War and it is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) north-west of Spean Bridge, the area where we stopped for pictures. It overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle.
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Next it was onto Glencoe and Tyndrum. Tyndrum was probably my favorite stop. The views here are stunning.
Glencoe
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Tyndrum
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Hairy Coos also known as the Highland Cow!
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After Tyndrum, we made our way back to our AirBnb. Visiting the Highlands further reiterated why Scotland is one of my favorite countries we have had the opportunity to visit. There is so much to see here and everywhere you look the topography and scenery is stunning. I cannot wait to return!

Onto the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 23:46 Archived in Scotland Tagged loch edinburgh fort bridge tours highland experience ness blair glencoe distillery augustus atholl tyndrum spean Comments (0)

Israel

The Land of Milk and Honey, Part 1

Greetings! The next adventure is a little different from the rest. I visited Israel for a few days and took a couple of tours around the Golan Heights, the Jerusalem area, and northern Israel (Caesarea, Haifa, Rosh Hanikra, and Akko). The Golan Heights was guided by a friend and I used a tour company for Jerusalem and northern Israel, which I would highly recommend doing. There are so many tour companies to choose from and so many different types of tours you can book. Like every place on earth, each has its own pros and cons and Israel is no exception. Israel has an interesting history and is often a controversial topic to discuss, so I will just stick to basic observations of areas where I visited.

Bein Harim (this was the company my hotel used): https://www.beinharimtours.com

General observations I thought were worth sharing:

The exchange rate is pretty good in Israel, 1 USD was about 3.4 NIS (at the time of my travels), but things are expensive, especially in Tel Aviv. Also of note, like in the US, you are supposed to tip drivers, tour guides, waiters, etc.

Driving: I wouldn't suggest doing that in Israel, at least in my opinion. Drivers drive fast, and move into a lane prior to indicating they want to move into the lane. I would stick to tour companies or friends who know their way around. In the two taxis I took (to and from the airport), I thought I was going to die on more than one occasion. Taxis from the airport were nice because attendants at the airport will give you the total cost of your ride (from the airport to your destination) so you know what to expect before getting into the taxi. Roads can be confusing and parking can be hard to find, especially in Tel Aviv.

Personal space: Forget about it in Israel. Queues for things are a cluster and people constantly invaded my personal bubble. I understand that this is pretty common all over the Middle East.

Fridays and Saturdays in Israel can be tricky because of the Shabbat. Shabbat lasts from sunset on Friday night until Saturday night and is a day of rest for the Jewish people. So, shops, restaurants, and other places are typically closed around Israel in observation of this. There are even special Shabbat elevators in hotels.

Sunsets: Absolutely stunning over the Mediterranean. The sky has so many colors...just gorgeous and best of all they are free :-).

Food: AMAZING...If you love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food. Fresh vegetables, all of the hummus you could want (and it taste so much better than store bought variety) and my personal favorite, falafel! Here are a couple of the restaurants I ate at for dinner:

Boccacio: http://www.boccaccio.rest-e.co.il
Jessica's (right on the beach): https://www.jessica-restro-bar.co.il
Prozdor: https://www.prozdor.co.il/en/

I stayed in the Sheraton in Tel Aviv, between the Frishman and Gordon beaches. It was in a central location and made it easy to walk around to restaurants, shops and the beach. There are tons of hotels along the beach and AirBnbs. I made my tour reservations through the concierge at the hotel. The concierge was very nice and arranged everything. The tour company even picked me up and dropped me off at the hotel.

Views of Tel Aviv:
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Onto Israel part 2...

Posted by LCP 00:14 Archived in Israel Tagged beaches driving tours israel mediterranean been sheraton harim Comments (0)

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