SCOTLAND ! ! !
We've finally decided. We aren't waffling any longer. Our minds are made up, and it is all because of a chance discovery of the most interesting new travel services web site.
One of our top five considerations was always the British Isles. But we just couldn't wrap our heads around exactly how to narrow it down. Initially we were thinking a week in Belfast, two weeks in rural Scotland and a final week in Cardiff. But, the problem with that was the distances we would be covering to get from one place to the next.
It would be like starting in Genoa and going through Venice on our way to Bari with a final destination of Palermo. Our Italy travel friends would all agree just how crazy that would be! So, I eliminated Wales and thought maybe just Belfast and three places in Scotland.
By far my favorite general and comprehensive website on Scotland has been Undiscovered Scotland. But the information there is so extensive as to be almost overwhelming. I was drowning in possibilities without any focus.
Then, I ran across http://www.secret-scotland.com
WOW! The delightful young couple who have developed this site are really onto something. They help you plan your driving tours with customized downloadable plans developed just for you. Their prices are very reasonable (I would suggest that they are too reasonable).
I loved the idea, and I loved their forward thinking.
Unfortunately, I didn't love the focus on driving from one B&B to another every day. SlowTravellers just don't do that packing and unpacking thing very well, do we?
So, on a lark, I emailed the owner of the site to see if they would be interested in helping us research a plan that took into account our desire to plant ourselves in self catered accomodations for a week at a time.
Aurelia, the owner of the site, not only emailed me back promptly, but she jumped right into the project. She even researched this blog to learn more about our travel styles, picking up on clues about the things we like to do and the accomodations we enjoy.
Once she had a handle on what makes us tick. She guided us toward her recommendations of the parts of Scotland we may most like to explore. It was through those suggestions that we realized we didn't even have time for Belfast. We needed to focus on Scotland alone, and only from Edinburgh north at that.
Our dates are set and our general locations for each week are set.
Week One: Around Oban for convenient daytrips to the Western Isles.
Week Two: Around Iverness for exploring the North Central Highlands.
Week Three: Near the town of Balfour on the Orkney Islands.
Week Four: Old Town Edinburgh.
So far we've booked our final week and narrowed down our choices for the other three weeks to just a few properties for each.
Here is Week Four: The Candlemakers Row Flat
As we finalize our bookings for the other three weeks, I'll post updates.