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International Travel

Surveying Scotland: Day trips from Inverness – Loch Ness, Highland Wildlife Park, and The Macallan

After four amazing days in Skye, we made our way to the picturesque river town of Inverness. We rented two apartments with lovely views on the banks of the river to use as our base of operations for the next five days. Here are some of the things we did and saw during our time there. Obviously, the big attraction in the area is Loch Ness. While not the most beautiful loch in Scotland (according to the guidebooks), it nevertheless remains the most famous due to a mythical creature that purportedly inhabits its waters. The funny thing is it doesn’t seem like anyone takes the idea of a Loch Ness monster seriously anymore, especially the people who run the tourism industry there. Instead, it feels like more of a wink [...]

Surveying Scotland: What to do on the Isle of Skye (Part 2)

We spent four nights in Skye, but I would have happily spent more. It really is the type of place where one can just enjoy taking their time and exploring. I covered the first half of our time there in my last post; here are a few other things we found worthwhile. There are a lot of well known hikes on the Isle of Skye. One of the most famous ones cuts from the Fairy Pools through the Black Hills and ends at the Sligachan Hotel. That looks like an amazing hike and the only reason why I regretted (for a split second) bringing my kids on the trip. It takes 4-6 hours and there is cold beer waiting for you at the end if you stop by the hotel [...]

Surveying Scotland: What to do on the Isle of Skye (Part I)

Hopefully my picture post piqued your interest in the Isle of Skye. It truly served as the highwater mark of our trip - quite literally at times since we got the most rain there! As I mentioned on the last episode of the Saverocity Observation Deck podcast, if you need good weather to enjoy your vacation, you might need to pass on the Isle of Skye (or stay for two weeks). It does rain a lot in Scotland, especially out in Skye, but it's not like 24/7 rain. Also, everything still looks beautiful in the rain. Still, the breaks in the rain make you marvel at the natural beauty even more. We took a short hop flight from LHR to Inverness that we remember very little of. That's a good thing! [...]

Surveying Scotland: The Isle of Skye – 11 Photos that will hopefully make you want to visit

I mostly chose the title of this trip report "Surveying Scotland" due to the alliteration. Surveying turned out to be the right verb, though. I once read in Rick Steve's that you don't really start appreciating a city until your second or third visit, which is something I have come to live by. That's why we easily took our kids around London despite some things going south, it's why I love visiting Madrid, and it's why I'd love to go back to the Bavarian Alps. Traveling with kids obviously slowed us down a bit, so it really felt like we only got a taste of Scotland had to offer. A decent taste, but not as much as we might have liked. Wish we had hiked more, sat more, ate more, [...]

Surveying Scotland: Hyatt Regency London The Churchill Impressions

I know people don't care too much about hotel reviews but I still find them useful, so here are some quick impressions of the Hyatt Regency London: The Churchill (what a name). I used a Diamond Suite Upgrade and stayed as a Hyatt Diamond (thanks to the status match earlier this year). As I mentioned, we were upgraded past even the lowest level suite thanks to the great employee working the desk at the lounge. Here are my impressions. As we discussed on the last Saverocity Observation Deck podcast, I was deciding between confirmed suite in unfamiliar location (Hyde Park) and smaller room in a favorite location (Covent Garden). The Hyde Park location, while a 30 minute walk, is still fairly closely situated to the West End all things considered. [...]

Surveying Scotland: Free activities for young kids in London

One of the benefits of visiting a city repeatedly lies in familiarity. Having visited London multiple times before we had kids, we know our "favorite" places and areas to hang out. Of course, with two kids under four in the mix, a lot of things change by necessity. However, we found that having a nice baseline and knowledge of the city helped us greatly when touring our kids - especially since it was our first stop and we were still in the throes of jetlag. Despite the stroller unfriendly Tube, London actually turned out to be a great city for our preschooler and infant. Better yet, nothing we experienced had an admission fee. Here are some attractions we found worthwhile (granted we only had three days), and some reasons to consider [...]

Surveying Scotland: Getting Around London with Young Kids

One thing I neglected to research before leaving was accessibility in London and Scotland. Did you know that the majority of Tube stations in Central London, where the bulk of tourists spend their time, do not have elevator access for strollers or wheelchairs? I do now! Here are some suggestions for getting around London with young kids (the ones who can't walk far). When we went to Hong Kong with our then two year old, my mother warned us Hong Kong's subway system wasn't very stroller friendly. It turned out to be okay, though not great. Let's not sugarcoat this: the London Underground is horrible if you need to use a stroller or a wheelchair. Look at this website before planning your trip to London. When an official page detailing [...]