Spectacular Scotland

By Marcia Brandes
This article appears on page 6 of the June 2019 issue.
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View of Dunnottar Castle, outside Stonehaven.

My husband, Steve, and I have Felix Mendelssohn to thank for our June 2018 trip to the Scottish islands. Steve is an amateur musician and had yearned to visit Fingal’s Cave since hearing the German composer’s “The Hebrides” overture.

This interesting geological oddity is not easy to visit, requiring a ferry ride from mainland Scotland to the Isle of Mull, then a boat excursion to the uninhabited island of Staffa. To make it even more challenging, the trip is only offered from April to October and is dependent on fair weather.

As long as we were going to be visiting Mull, I decided to extend our trip to the Isle of Skye, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands as well.

The plan

This was a trip where logistics were the trickiest part of the planning, our journey requiring we take multiple modes of transportation. Because the summer weather in Scotland is frequently stormy and foggy, ferries are more reliable during the warmer months, but flying is preferable in the winter. Then there is the ferry schedule to take into consideration, as the ferry to Orkney is not available every day.

After doing extensive research in guidebooks and online, I decided on a 14-day itinerary. We flew to Edinburgh from Atlanta with British Airways, using Avios points for business-class seats. The extra fees required in addition to miles were outrageous, but it still meant we got two business-class tickets for a total of $2,600.

In Edinburgh, we picked up an Enterprise rental car that we had reserved through Costco for $483. Knowing Steve would be driving on the left while I navigated, we splurged on an automatic. We used our American Express card to pay so that we would have full insurance coverage (for a $19 fee from AmEx).

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