It is surprising why Scotland is not a popular travel destination for Israelis, who are known to be adventurous travelers and can be found on a hiking trail virtually anywhere in the world. This could be because of the distance, the perception that Scotland is costly, and the absence of regular direct flights from Tel Aviv. Perhaps Israelis pick up “trendy” destinations – countries with trodden paths. In short, word of mouth works better with Asia or Post-Soviet countries like Georgia, where even in the most remote places you tend to meet packs of Israelis.
Recently Israir started operating a direct flight to Edinburgh, to the delight of many of us living here in Israel and wanting to try new places and breathe fresh air. The direct route started for the first time this June and will continue through August/September of 2018.
In less than 5 hours, you can find yourself enjoying refreshing summer winds and rains in wild Scotland. What a relief after the Israeli summer heat and drought. Scotland is very suitable for a light family travel budget, a critical point for many Israelis. Israir’s prices for one-week stay return tickets vary from 400 to 750 USD depending on how spontaneous you can be with the travel arrangements.
The entire flight back I kept hearing positive feedback from other travelers. “Wow, the Scottish are so friendly!’, “The prices are fair!”, “Let’s buy a small cottage and escape there every summer!” And it’s so true. Many of us were surprised by how affordable the prices for great Scottish bed and breakfast places were. We got excellent service and a genuine friendliness from every person we met.
The Scottish tourism industry creates an impression that everything is made by hand just for your arrival – including the services they provide, souvenirs they sell, breakfasts they cook, marmalades and soaps they make for the hosts.
Ah…and nature, it is one of a kind. You see that each flower, grass, and tree drinks plenty from local rains. Scotland has some very lush and beautiful landscapes, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes, ocean, that can all be covered in a week.
If you still have not decided where to spend your next holidays and think Scotland could be a possibility, check out my highlights from the latest August trip to Scotland with my husband. And if you wonder why I called this as an alternative guide? Well, it is because you won’t find here much talk about whiskey factories, or lochs with monsters, or about numerous museums or endless castle visits. This guide is different than regular travel guides. I’m going to show you some hidden spots that will help you find the real Scotland.
Edinburgh: capital of Scotland, Royal Military Tattoo and International Edinburgh Festival
The Israir Tel-Aviv – Edinburgh flight arrives late in the evening. If you want to save time and money it’s best look out for BB place in the areas close to airport area such as Corstorphine. It’s a 15 min drive from both the airport and Edinburgh center. There are many great BBs on Glasgow Road – the main road. Booking.com and Trip Advisor should give you plenty of listings.
Next morning after a good night’s rest we drove to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Edinburgh is exceptionally vibrant in August because of the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It’s famous cultural performance by international military bands, light, fireworks and a classical music show on the esplanade of the historical Edinburgh Castle. The event is held each August as part of the Edinburgh Festival that brings together dance, opera, music and theater performers from all over the world.
St. Andrews and Fife’s Fishing Villages: medieval history, charming streets and atmospheric cafes
After a bustling city experience, it is time to drive to the countryside, which is the main attraction on the east coast of Scotland. Fife area is a string of picturesque villages of charm and character, especially the Falkland at the foot of Lomond Hills. The village was featured in the famous television drama series “Outlander” based on the novel by Diana Gabaldon.
Here you can find a historical Falkland Palace, home to a famous royal family in Scottish history – the Stewarts. It’s also a great place to try some Scottish tea with scones in one of the local atmospheric cafes or just to stroll along the small charming streets of the village.
The Stewart’s House: eco experience, beautiful inside and out
Our next destination in the area was Stewarts’ House in Kettlebridge area. Well, this is a different Stewart, the house is nor royal nor historical. It is much more temporary, even advanced, regarding the materials used in its architecture.
The Stewart House is a wooden house on the almost uninhabited beautiful hill overlooking farming lands that are filled with sheep, cows, and goats. I found the place on Booking.com and chose it because it was close to Falkland (15 min drive from Falkland and around 45 min from Edinburgh). It was described as a true countryside place that’s perfect for couples. The reality was much better than its description – it turned out to be a beautiful ecological paradise. It is a real sustainable house with the Sustainable Building Certificate awarded by the Scottish Parliament.
The house generates its own electricity from the windmill, uses hot water from cellular panels, recycles rainwater through its roof, has a vegetable garden and they even grow their own cattle. I am not even going into the details of 100% genuine cotton, silk, wool, stone and wood used to design, furnish and decorate the lovely guests’ bedrooms.
The owner of the house – Lorraine – is an ambassador of Scottish hospitality, history, eco-thinking. The house is a true example of how one can cooperate with nature in a loving and caring way. Lorraine built the house in memory of her late husband Stewart, a professor at Edinburgh University, whose life and love of Scotland was an inspiration to build this unique nature-friendly house.
Glasgow: the perfect place for an art and food lover
Our next stop was Glasgow, a city that has been voted as the world’s friendliest city. Our main agenda was to see the House of an Art Lover, designed by famous Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald.
To be continued.
Please stay tuned and follow my blog to read about more places to visit and see around Glasgow and our adventure driving along the beautiful Atlantic coast up to the most southern point of Scotland – Mull of Galloway.