My friend Mike and I started planning our summer travel just after the first of the new year. He moved to Morocco a couple of years ago to teach at an English speaking school so we decided we'd meet up somewhere in Europe shortly after we finished up our school years. We've both had several European adventures between the two of us so finding a destination neither had been to was a bit challenging. After throwing around some places that peaked each of our interests, we finally settled on Scotland with a few additional days in the Lake District of Northern England.
Neither of us were terribly comfortable taking on the task of driving in the UK, so we decided public transportation was the way we would go. We made accommodation arrangements before we left as well as long distant train reservations for our long travel days. After some research, we also decided we couldn't go all the way to Scotland without seeing the west of Scotland and the Isle of Skye, so we did arrange a 3-day tour that left from Edinburgh before we left. I'm not a huge fan of "Tour Bus" travel, but we decided that was our best way for that particular destination. Other than those plans we wanted to play the rest of the trip by ear, which is my favorite way to travel.
This trip was probably the MOST relaxing international vacation I have ever had. I think that the stressful last few months of this past school year had a positive impact on this trip. When I travel, I'm usually a serious researcher. I like to know about the places I go and make sure I have at least some understanding of the history and culture and a list of things to do and see. However, other than the basic information we looked at when deciding on where to go, I did NO additional research. I had no preconceived notions and expectations about my destinations. Actually, I had two basic ones. First, I figured language wouldn't be an issue we'd have to worry about. Second, having previously traveled to Ireland, there was an assumption that the two countries would be geographically similar. I was correct about the first, and mostly incorrect about the second. Anyhow, my point being, we traveled to the UK without a long list of must-sees or must-dos. We went to bed each night without a plan for the next day, slept in each morning, and devised our day's activities over breakfast. Being so far north, dusk didn't come until 10:30/11:00 so even though our days started later, we still had a lot of light left. It was my dream schedule actually - stay out late and sleep in late.
I came home with over 900 pictures on my camera - the blessing AND curse of the digital camera age. I have finally finished sorting through and editing them. I'll share some in my next few posts.