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Scottish Tour Guide - Travel Information

Peter John Lawrie BSc, BA, MPhil, MBCS, CITP, FSAScot

 

 

Although you may be a seasoned traveller, local customs are sometimes different. The article below may help  you whilst you are here, if you have any questions that are not covered email me for advice at peter.lawrie @ glendiscovery (dot) co.uk, and I will happily answer them.

Scottish Airports

Depending where you are flying in from you will find the main airports are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Glasgow Prestwick (south of Glasgow) Aberdeen and Inverness. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are all part of British Airports http://www.baa.com/ where  Prestwick http://www.glasgowprestwick.com/ and Inverness www.hial.co.uk are independent of B.A.A. The airports at Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick handle international flights. All of the airports also link through London Heathrow or Gatwick, (be aware that Gatwick and Heathrow are some distance apart and time will be required to travel between them the route of about 45 miles between Heathrow and Gatwick is also along a heavily congested motorway/freeway a minimum of 3 hours between flights should be allowed for).

Railway Stations.

Train travel is safe although I would advise travelling First Class. Trains at peak season can be crowded and a reservation for seats is always a good idea. There will be drinks and some limited food in most intercity trains  but it is always a good idea to have a bottle of water and a snack in case.
All of the main
cities of Scotland have rail  links http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/

The major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh both link through Perth to Inverness or Aberdeen. If you travel into London there are railway connections between London and Scotland by either the East Coast to Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen or West Coast Lines to Glasgow, Oban and Fort William.

Coach

Travel by coach is provided by a number of carriers if arriving at Edinburgh or Glasgow and I can provide more information.

Currency

In the U.K. and Northern Ireland, the currency is the £ Pound Sterling, the Euro is notwidely used but will be accepted in the larger stores, it is used in the Republic of Ireland (South) and most of Europe. U.S. Dollars are not widely used in the U.K. but may be accepted in the larger Stores, Restaurants and Hotels however the exchange rate will be poor and you are advised to use your credit card or sterling. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted for everything. Cheques are being phased out in the U.K. and unless you have a cheque (check) for a British Bank it will probably be declined.

Goods and Services

Although the U.K. adopted the metric system around forty years ago, there are a mismatch of systems. Beer is sold in pints, wine and spirits are sold in ml (millilitre). Do not worry, wine will be sold to you in a small glass around 125ml or a large glass around 175ml, spirits are sold in 25 ml or 35 ml. For spirits it is worth checking which unit the pub or restaurant is using as the “bargain malt” may be less than expected!

Things like fruit, meat, sweets (candy) unless in bars, sugar, flour etc; are sold in kilos (2.2 imperial pounds) or halves, quarters of a kilo etc; 1000 grammes make a Kilo so you can either  ask for 150 grammes, or ask for a quarter pound which is just over 100 grammes. A pound is 454 grammesThe assistants are usually very good at making it up. 

Shoes, dress sizes etc may not be the same as at home but most shops which sell these kind of items will have a conversion chart available.

Electricity is 220 Volts A.C. operating at 50Hz. In the U.S. and some European countries the Voltage is 110v and operates at 60 Hz. You can buy an adaptor which will allow you to run your equipment, some items now are dual voltage (you may have to select or it may do it automatically), do check as sensitive items which normally work at 110v or even 55v may fail if you connect them directly. Mobile phones are particularly sensitive to voltage and Hz changes.

 The other difference is that in the U.K. we have a three pin plug the third pin (the larger of the three is the earth) do not try to put a two pin into the three pin U.K. socket it will not work as the earth is used as a safety feature to prevent this. Adapters are available. If you need help ask Glen Discovery Ltd

Personal Safety

Scotland is a very safe place to visit with the Highlands more so. People are friendly and will always go out of the way to help visitors to Scotland, with directions, or advice. If your hotel room has a safe, use it to store your passports, and valuables. Make sure you stay away from the more undesirable areas of town (especially late on Friday or Saturday nights when some locals may have over-indulged), do not carry large amounts of money around,  be careful about  wearing expensive jewellery. Credit Cards can be used in most shops, cafe’s etc;  and there are cash machines (A.T.M.s) everywhere including petrol stations (gas stations) as well as at banks etc; only in more remote areas may there not be any, but your guide can advise. The national emergency number is 999 and it will connect you to an operator who can assist, make sure you know where you are, a street sign or landmark as they will only be able tohelp if they know where you are. Do not use the 999 number because you are lost or need information it is for emergencies only.

Make sure you have insurance, you  will be treated at the emergency rooms of the hospitals but they may back charge you. As mentioned above we drive on the left and so do take extra care, in towns and cities also traffic laws are different here and traffic may not stop when you expect. At crossings do not cross because others do, make sure it is safe and that you have right of way.

Eating Out/Drinking

Tap water is fine to drink, but the water at your chosen location may be different to what you experience back home, even over the border in England. The water in most of Scotland is very soft, and has liitle in the way of lime in it. Use bottled water for drinking if in doubt.

Public Houses (Pubs) come in various guises just as they will where you live. Some can be a bit run down and you will soon know if you have stumbled into the wrong one but if you stick to the main streets you will be O.K. Look for a pub which is well cared for or ask  Glen Discovery Ltd or the hotel or owner of your accommodation for a recommendation they are always happy to suggest places for a quiet drink or somewhere with a more lively atmosphere or music. Most pubs serve drinks from eleven a.m. until eleven p.m. sometimes later at week-ends but check locally. Children are normally welcome if you are having a meal in the pub. Unlike the U.S. and parts of Europe drinks are paid for at the time of order unless with a meal when they can normally be added to the bill. There are lots of places to eat in the towns and cities, with most pubs serving a range of food normally from around lunch time until around eight p.m. Restaurants tend to stop taking orders around nine p.m. although Chinese, Indian, Thai etc will serve later but week days may be more restricted than week-ends. Tipping in a pub is not normal  although a couple of pounds are welcome after a meal. Tipping in restaurants,  check as some have started adding a “service charge” if not about 10% is around right or if the bill is say £55 and you pay with cash leave £60, only if service is good. Taxis can be hailed or you will find ranks in most towns and cities again ask locally,  ask the restaurant to call you a cab at the end of your meal if you are not sure where you can find one. Taxis can be cheap or expensive depending where you are, cities are normally cheaper than the country, if you call a cab expect there to be a charge already on the meter,  from a rank there should not be a charge on the meter,  at a rank  at the airport or train station ask for a price to your accommodation or hotel if I am not meeting you.

This information does not form part of the contract and the information given is for guidance only although believed to be largely correct. More detailed information can be sort from me Glen Discovery Ltd.

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