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UK: Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands 2 - FAQ
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Scotland, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your Scottish adventure.
Scotland follows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, with Scottish summertime lasting from the end of March to the end of October. For most of the year, including summer, Scotland is 5 hours ahead of the time observed in the eastern United States. Because of different daylight-saving-time practices in the two nations, there's a brief period (about a week) in autumn when Scotland is only 4 hours ahead of New York, and a brief period in spring when it's 6 hours ahead. But most of the time, when it's noon in Scotland, it's 7 a.m. in New York and 4 a.m. in San Francisco.
There are many great souvenirs to bring back with you from Scotland, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase and pack light. For the bus transfers between the hotels, we limit the luggage that can be taken on the bus to one check-in size bag and one carry-on size bag. You do not need formal clothing for this trip, and the weekend casual clothing is the most appropriate. Since we'll be walking a lot, please make sure that you bring your most comfortable walking shoes. And since it is Scotland, don't forget your umbrella and a waterproof jacket!
Visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport, but visas are not required for Americans, Canadians or Australians visiting for less than 3 months. Your passport must have at least 2 months' validity remaining. The immigration officer may also want a proof of your intention to return to your point of origin (usually a round-trip ticket). You must complete an entry form on arrival at the United Kingdom.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts on Monday, August 26, 2019 at the Edinburgh International Airport and we will provide private transfers from the airport according to your flight arrival time. The tour starts at 3:00PM, and your flight should arrive no later than 1:00PM on Monday, August 26, 2019. That means that you'll probably be departing North America on Sunday, August 25, 2019. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. In the evening of Thursday, September 6, we'll arrive at the Glasgow International Airport, and spend the last night of the tour at the airport hotel. You should book your return flight from Glasgow on Thursday, September 5, 2019. If a return flight from Edinburgh works better for you, there is a direct Citylink bus connecting both airports for an easy transfer. If you need help with your flights to Edinburgh, please feel free to give us a call.
To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The Scotland tour group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour director. However, because we have only 11 rooms available on this tour, if there are a lot of people requesting a single room, we may have a smaller group. In addition to the tour director, the travelers will be assisted by private local guides, museum docents, and bus drivers, who will be sharing their insights about Scotland with the group throughout the tour.
No special vaccinations are required or recommended to enter the United Kingdom. Scottish food generally is not spicy, so gastric sensitivities are rarely triggered by the national cuisine. Restaurants serving vegetarian choices are commonplace in Edinburgh, but rare in the countryside. The Highland midges (known in the US as "gnats") can be annoying, but their bites are not dangerous. Midges are attracted to dark colors, so were colored clothing and cover up.
Tap water in the United Kingdom is pollution-free and safe to drink. If you would rather have bottled water, it is commonly available at grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines.
Scottish restrooms are marked by Public Toilets signs in streets, parks, and tube stations; they are the standard Western-style toilets and many are automatically sterilized after each use. Like the English, the Scottish often call toilets "loos." You'll also find well-maintained lavatories in all larger public buildings, such as museums and art galleries, large department stores, and railway stations. It's not really acceptable to use the lavatories in hotels, restaurants, and pubs if you're not a customer, but many people break this rule. Public toilets are clean and often have an attendant, so you may need some change to get in.
Like all big cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow have their share of crime. Compared with most large European cities, however. Pickpockets are a concern, though violent crime is relatively rare. Rural Scotland is relatively safe. In Edinburgh, take all the precautions a prudent traveler would in going anywhere, be it Los Angeles, Paris, or New York. Conceal your wallet or else hold onto your purse, and don't flaunt jewelry or cash. Local law-enforcement officials in Britain have a long history of being fair and impartial to visitors. Unlike Germany, England seems to practice great tolerance, more so than parts of America. There is little racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination, including that of sexual orientation.
Women traveling alone in the United Kingdom encounter less aggressive or so-called macho behavior than they will find in such countries as Spain and Italy. Of course, discretion is always advised, as anywhere else.
During the Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands tour in Scotland, we will travel by a private bus and on foot. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, including uneven surfaces, at a leisurely pace, up to 5 miles throughout the day. You need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles, including boats, without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. While in Edinburgh, we’ll be walking quite a lot. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is busy. Be prepared for some early starts and long bus rides. If you have no mobility issues and your fitness level is average or higher, you will have no problems keeping up with the group.
Unlike the way it's sometimes presented, Scotland's climate is actually moderate, if changeable and only rarely extreme at either end of the temperature scale. However, for such a relatively small country, one of the most surprising things about the Scottish climate is just how much it varies from one region to another. The western Highlands are some of the wettest and windiest places in Europe. The eastern part of the country enjoys an annual rainfall that is actually similar to or less than New York, Barcelona, Rome or even Rabat in Morocco. Scotland's high latitude means that during the summer months, the days are very long, often with an extended twilight. For example, Inverness has about two hours' more daylight at midsummer than London and at this time of year. July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with temperatures of an average 66°F.
Scotland's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotel lobbies and in some public places. Internet access in rural areas may be available, but it varies widely. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in Scotland's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have WiFi Internet available for their guests.
Scottish electricity is 240 volts AC (50 cycles), roughly twice the voltage in North America, which is 115 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles). American plugs don't fit Scottish wall outlets, so you should bring suitable transformers and/or adapters.
Great Britain's monetary system is based on the pound Sterling (£), which is made up of 100 pence (written as "p"). Britons also call pounds "quid." Scotland issues its own pound notes, but English and Scottish money are interchangeable. There are £1 and £2 coins, as well as coins of 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, and 1p. Banknotes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50. In Scotland, ATMs offer the best exchange rates. Avoid exchanging money at commercial exchange bureaus and hotels, which often have the highest transaction fees. Get a four-digit PIN from your credit card's issuing bank before leaving home, or call the number on the back of each card and ask for a four-digit PIN.
You can get a VAT refund if you shop at stores that participate in the Retail Export Scheme. (Signs are posted in the window.) When you make a purchase, show your passport and request a Retail Export Scheme form (VAT 407) and a stamped, preaddressed envelope. Show the VAT form and your sales receipt to British Customs when you leave the country, they may also ask to see the merchandise. After Customs has stamped the form, mail it back to the shop in the envelope provided before you leave the country. Your VAT refund will be mailed to you. Remember: Keep your VAT forms with your passport; pack your purchases in a carry-on bag so you'll have them handy; and allow yourself enough time at your departure point to find a mailbox.
Restaurants', drivers' and guides' gratuities are included in the Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands tour price. While dining on your own, a 10% to 15% gratuity is expected in upscale restaurants. Otherwise, it is considered polite to leave any coins from your change on the table in cafes and restaurants. A small (1GBP) tip for other service providers (taxi drivers, hotel maids, bellmen) is the norm. For cabdrivers, add about 10% to 15% to the fare on the meter. However, if the driver loads or unloads your luggage, add something extra.
The souvenirs to buy is Scotland include: Scottish woolens: cashmere, lambswool, tweed and tartan; golf souvenirs, such as St. Andrews imprinted gold ball markers, hand-made golf clubs, golf hats; whisky, single malts include brands with names like Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Pittyvaich, Auchroisk, and Teaninich.