Ach! or yikes! ... in 10 days I'll be in Scotland

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seashanty's picture
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 in 10 days I'll be in Scotland for 2 weeks. 

 scared to fly, but that's how to get there and back.  i'll be at a gathering of other widows and widowers and seeing a beautiful place at the same time. 

any advice about traveling, especially to the UK, much appreciated.

 

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seashanty's picture
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OH!  no right on red?  thank you! 

are debit cards accepted in the big stores?

 

 

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Forgot to mention that I found the exchange rate at the ATMs in the train stations to not be horrible.  Just used my bank ATM card to get pounds.  I also found that Marks and Spencer's store currency exchange was a better rate than any local banks. 

There are additional foreign transaction fees when using credit cards in the UK.  We have never had a problem in the UK with using a magnetic stripe card. 

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Highlands John's picture
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seashanty wrote:

OH!  no right on red?  thank you! 

are debit cards accepted in the big stores?

 

 

Holy cow, don't try and turn right on a red light, you're on the other side of the road, you'd cross two lanes of traffic.

I think if your card is either vi sa or mast erca rd you'll be ok. I use my debit card everywhere.

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seashanty's picture
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Highlands John wrote:

seashanty wrote:

OH!  no right on red?  thank you! 

are debit cards accepted in the big stores?

 

 

Holy cow, don't try and turn right on a red light, you're on the other side of the road, you'd cross two lanes of traffic.

I think if your card is either vi sa or mast erca rd you'll be ok. I use my debit card everywhere.

 

haha!  oh, man.  this should be interesting!! (or something)

 

Madeleine's picture
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The only time you'll find it a problem is if you are the first car at a stop light/sign. Then you really have to pay attention to where the traffic is going!

Oh, and all the directional signs (Loch Ness 5 km) are on the LEFT side of the road, not the right. All you see on the right side of the road is the back of the signs going in the other direction.

Everyone WALKS on the wrong other side, too. So, if you stay to the right you'll plow into everyone. Crossing the street is hard. You'll get used to it but it takes a few times of close calls to make your brain think to look the other way!

Good luck with the 'accent'. In some places it is thick as the fog.

 

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Highlands John's picture
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Yeah, crossing the street is the bit that scares me too.

Madeleine's picture
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Highlands John wrote:

Yeah, crossing the street is the bit that scares me too.

BTW, in New England, most states have a rule that vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Don't believe it. Make eye contact with the driver and if you don't feel you're in the movie Mad Max, they're probably going to stop for you not on you.

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Madeleine wrote:

Highlands John wrote:

Yeah, crossing the street is the bit that scares me too.

BTW, in New England, most states have a rule that vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Don't believe it. Make eye contact with the driver and if you don't feel you're in the movie Mad Max, they're probably going to stop for you not on you.

That's pretty much the same as our zebra crossings.

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yup debit cards are pretty much accepted everywhere - some very tiny shops are cash only (ie like newspaper shops) but thats it

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Have a great trip!

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Wow...envious!  Set your hearing for the Scottish brogue, which I personally love.  smiley

Bring clothing to wear in layers.  I found that to be the best advice when we were in the UK in the Fall.  Don't forget your neck scarf (until you can maybe buy a Scottish woolen one) and some gloves.  The wind can be wicked sometimes.  I brought an all weather (rain) coat with a zip out liner. 

Great advice for packing a few essentials in your carry on bag in case something happens to luggage or it's delayed. 

Driving on the "other" side of the road is not so bad once you get used to it, but crossing the street as a pedestrian can be tricky.  Be sure to look in the correct direction before stepping off the curb!  Roundabouts are easy to navigate in an auto with practice.

Napping as much as you can on the plane and just staying with the new time zone when you get there seems to work the best for me.

A great place for Americans to visit, as we kind of speak the same language.  Eye-wink

 

 

 

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I got the worst rate of exchange at a bank. There were currency exchanges all over most places we went. I only got London, Stonehenge, Windsor, and Canterbury in the UK and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Have a wonderful time!

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SS, how wonderful...hope you have a fantastic time!

Get a small pillow, memory foam one is great, for the plane ride.  It is not for the head, it is for the bum. 

And as Maddie said call your CC co to tell them where you are going...each individual country mind you!  We went to Spain, Malta, Italy, France and Monaco a few years ago. Went to purchase something in Monaco and the CC was denied.  THAT was embarrassing. Come to find out I had forgotten to mention we may drive through Monaco.  Grrr

So if you may venture into another country, make sure they have it on the list.

seashanty's picture
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i am not going with a tour group. 

no itinerary.  free style.

a widower who lives over there invited a few other widows/widowers to come ... so i said 'why not?!'  my life is work and sleep and cook and clean.  why not indeed. 

i only know him the way i know all of you ... online. 

i did not want to go alone, so although not widowed ...  my nephew and his wife asked about coming, too ... he said okay and yes they are going with me.

we are flying iceland air with a stop in reykjavik iceland and then we fly into glasgow.  have arranged a car rental and it should be interesting driving on the opposite side of the road.

we have reservations to go on the jacobite train in fort william, are going to see loch ness and a few other places .. but basically the rest of the time we are free to do whatever or not much.  staying near  a ruinous castle in the middle of nowhere. 

my credit card company has been told about the trip to scotland ... gave me no pin and chip info ...  so we will see how that goes. 

i am going to get some pounds this week (hopefully) so will have some when we get there.

 

 

Highlands John's picture
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seashanty wrote:

my credit card company has been told about the trip to scotland ... gave me no pin and chip info ...  so we will see how that goes. 

i am going to get some pounds this week (hopefully) so will have some when we get there.

I'm off to get my dollars tommorrow...wahoo!!

We have lots of people pay with cards that are on foreign accounts and often do not have chip&pin chips in them and I've never had a problem. I just swipe the card and it prints the receipt for signature. I don't think you'll find this an issue.

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John, are the automated machines, like at the train station set for chip or do they still swipe? In France they were all chip only. We have chips, but had to direct Americans to go to the cashier, or in the case of the bicycles they simply couldn't use them. And at least one department store made the Americans go to customer service to check out, since their registers no longer had swipe capability. 

Not that they can get a chip&pin card in any case, but it does present a small hassle.

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Joey Camb's picture
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our machines know the difference and do it automatically - either ask for pin or print out to sign - its not a lot of bother.

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Well  ss..that does sound wonderful! You will have a great time I am sure. Now isn't there someone on the forum from near LOCH NESS wink

Yes, you will be definitely 'tested' on your driving skills. Take it easy. WOW Ice land air.... that is an interesting choice. Have you flown with them before. I know you will let us know all about it.

Joey Camb's picture
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this will sound stupid but the time to watch is when you stop _ say for gas (and your eyes will water at our gas prices) this is when you make the mistake to drive on the wrong side - once you are going and following the traffic it is a lot easier so be aware of this!

My DH has added in his 10 cents - wear a thick coat and visit distilleries for whisky most have a visitors center and free samples!

Highlands John's picture
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The only time I've ever forgotten I'm supposed to be driving on the other side of the road is at a roundabout.............you have heard about roundabouts haven't you?

Oh... and you can't turn on a red light.

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Highlands John wrote:

The only time I've ever forgotten I'm supposed to be driving on the other side of the road is at a roundabout.............you have heard about roundabouts haven't you?

Oh... and you can't turn on a red light.

The US is finally catching on to how well the roundabouts work to reduce traffic jams in otherwise congested areas.  Our area has installed 2 in the last year and no more backups!  Of course, there are some famous roundabouts that have been in the US for a very long time (i.e. Lee Circle in New Orleans) hope it catches on in many more places! 

Highlands John's picture
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There's a town down in England called Hemel Hemstead, which has a famous roundabout, known locally as the Magic Roundabout (Magic Roundabout was a kids program from the 70's and 80's).

It's a large roundabout that you can go either direction round, but around it it has mini roundabouts and as you come to each one you have to obey normal roundabout rules (ie. give way to he right). 

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Here is a link to that roundabout on Wiki.  Very interesting!

Joey Camb's picture
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I wouldn't try and attempt it and Im from here!

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I'm sure with all the great advice given here you'll have a great time.  You go girl!!!

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Oh How wonderful. I love Scotland with all my heart and a wee bit of my soul. Take a small umbrella with you . You may find it handy. Plus a some gloves leather like. It can get a wee bit windy . I don't know if the Heather will be blooming then but it is beautiful with the hills all purple. I love the drive through the highlands. Tucked in the soft hills a small stone house. My only and lovely Aunty lives in Edinburgh. She is all of 87 and we are trying to get her to fly over here for one more time. Anyways .

In Edinburgh go and see the castle .Walk down Princess street one side shops the other side park & gardens. The clock is amazing to see .  And most important take your camera and a spare battery.There plug in are different so buy some adapters.

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If you are going with a group, don't they have your itinerary and places to stay all ready set. Of course, you should have some free time, but not enough to really allow you to explore to far. Have a wonderful time!!!

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Make sure your PIN on your bank account is 4 digits. Generally ATMs in Europe take from your chequing account, it's rare that they have asked me which of my accounts to take from.

Expect some hassle associated with not having a chip on your card, it's inevitable. Start looking both ways when you cross the street, it will save you hassle in the UK where they drive right-hand drive. 

If you are travelling with someone else, cross pack your luggage... half in yours and half in theirs. If one of you has a luggage delay, you at least have half your clothing. 

Tea... and milk. Entrees come before you main meal. 0c is freezing, 100c is boiling and 37c is body temperature. Yes, welcome to metric. A quid is a pound, and 5p is a bob.

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Travel advice - always take a t-shirt, knickers and socks in your hand luggage in case they loose your luggage (it always finds you within 24 hours but its handy to have spares just in case) -

Having a bit of local money is good especially if you are staying in BB's as some don't have card machines - then you have to go to an ATM and get money out (you can get it out of any ATM with a US debit or credit card) if you need to (but they will skin you on charges) . Please be aware NO WHERE in the UK or Scotland takes travelers cheques for payment - ie you have to change them at a bank. Banks mostly now stay open till at least 9-5 monday-Friday and 3pm on a Saturday  - no banks open on a sunday.

Do not EVER ask what is in Haggis or Black pudding especially if you have just eaten it.

If you have a change over in Europe - don't worry - everyone in the airport will speak English

Remember you are safer flying than driving - you will be fine.

 

feel free to email me with any further questions, but I am sure you will have an excellent trip (and Highland John will back me up) the Scots are a hospitable people and very tourism focused so should you have any problems I am sure a solution will be quickly found.
All the shops sell all the usuall stuff in USA plus same brands - ASDA is the same company as WALMART if you need any traveling snacks or there is SPA, CO-OP which are smaller supermarkets in most high streets (more like corner shops) You will probably also see TESCO, Morrisons and sainsburys - they are all like Target and walmart if you need any emergency supplies.

Highlands John's picture
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Not much to add over and above Camberley, although I will say MOST B&Bs in Scotland do not accept card payments.

Does anyone use travellers cheques anymore, it's so easy to go to a cash machine abroad these days. We take them and just pay them into our bank account like a personal cheque, but I've not seen one for years.

Come visit us at Loch Ness if you're in the area, although you may have trouble booking because we're heading the opposite direction soon and we're pretty busy until we leave.

If you've not already booked places to stay tourism is on the wind-down now so you wont have trouble finding accommodation.

One thing to be aware of is that B&Bs in Scotland tend to be small places, usually someone's home with just a couple of rooms to let. If you're looking for the sort of facilities you get in Amercian B&Bs they tend to be called Guest houses over here (although the line is blurred).

If you're driving don't forget to drive on the other side of the road!!!!

Things to see: Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Isle Of Skye, Isle Of Mull, Applecross Penninsula, Cairngorm national Park (and the Highlands generally), Ben Nevis (Fort William area)...  email me if you'd like more information.

Have a great time.

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Odd you say no one will take travelers cheques as the only guests we have who use them every year are from Scotland.

Seashanty- tell your cc company you are traveling to Scotland or your cc won't work at all. Enjoy yourself!

Joey Camb's picture
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yup for some reason the advice is still to take travelers cheques to the USA if traveling from the UK - no idea why everyone has a credit card nowadays which you can get cash out with if you need to - seems a bit redundant.

Madeleine's picture
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Every year these folks book online and put in a note asking if it's ok to pay with the cheques when they arrive.

Skamokawa's picture
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Sadly, no current info as last trip was some years ago.  This may be true still:  If you find a B&B you like, ask the proprietor to refer you to the next place, that avoids the bite the tourist information kiosk takes off the top for the innkeepers.   Oh, and if you haven't already, get some local currency before you go.  Always handy.

Here's a cup of tea lifted in your honor!  Enjoy!

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