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Trying to decide which town to stay

South Lyon, MI
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Trying to decide which town to stay

Seeking some input from experienced travelers...

We will be driving up after picking up our rental car in either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport vicinity when we come to Scotland for our first vacation (an overnight flight from US). We are planning to drive straight to a B & B (or guest house, small hotel) in either Aviemore, Grantown-on-spey, Carrbridge, Nethy Bridge, we can't decide. So I am asking for some guidance. We know we want to go to Braemar for the annual games/gathering the first Saturday in Sept. of 2014. And we also want to take a couple of day trips exploring the Whisky Trail and the Castle Trail before heading over to Isle of Skye for our next accomodation. So we want to stay 4 nights and plan to book two rooms. It would be terrific to stay in a place that is located near enough to restaurants and pubs to easily walk in the evening, or have other services like a petrol station or shopping nearby, yet are "pretty" towns with a long history. Which of the towns listed might be best to focus our research? We are one couple with a grown son and daughter who might want to go off walking in town to get away from us. Hopefully with pubs that might have music on Friday night. But I would like a place that is quintessential Scotland when you look along the road out into the viewable area near the B & B, whatever that means... Comments, advice, suggestions?

London, United...
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1. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Aviemore is more of a centre than the others but if you drive a little bit further north to Inverness then that is an attractive small city with the lovely River Ness winding through the middle of it . It has a lot more to offer in terms of a real shopping mall , choice of restaurants and yes, plenty of history in and around the immediate area including Culloden battlefield, Cawdor castle and more. Wide choice of good accommodation too. For four nights that would be my choice of location. Don't think in terms of a US city. Nothing like that at all. Very pretty.

Scotland
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for Scotland
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2. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Grantown on Spey would be my choice but I wouldn't drive there after an overnight flight. It's a long drive on unfamiliar roads.

Have you seen Edinburgh? A night or two there to get over the jetlag would be an option

Perth, United...
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3. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

I agree with the Goodwitch...Grantown on Spey is nice but quiet...if you feel you have to be in the thick of things then Aviemore. Have you considered Boat of Garden as well. Lovely Highland village complete with preserved steam railway.

The Stunning...
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4. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

From what you are looking for Grantown would get my vote as well........I am sure there is a DE who will be along to give some great tips for the area ;-)

Perth, United...
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5. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

That should read Boat of Garten %#%!* predictive text!

Dundee, United...
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6. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

I realise from your posts elsewhere that you've driven on the left before, but nevertheless driving to these towns straight after arriving on an overnight flight from the US is not advisable imo. It will take about 3 hours from Glasgow/Edinburgh and the road you will be travelling on north of Perth - the A9 - is generally regarded as one of the most dangerous in Scotland. It's in all right condition, but it's a fast road that switches back and forth between single and dual carriageway which tends to confuse many drivers (particularly the many foreign tourists using the road), leading to many serious, and often fatal, accidents. If there's one road that shouldn't be tackled by a somebody not sure of driving on the left and just off a transatlantic flight with no sleep/jetlag, it's the A9.

I'd agree with thegoodwitch that it would be a good idea to spend a day or two in Edinburgh or Glasgow to get over the jetlag. In not, then you could maybe consider breaking your journey northwards and staying your first night somewhere on the way to your target area - Stirling is only about 45 minutes from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, or if you want to stop nearer half-way then I'd recommend Dunkeld, which is a lovely town just N of Perth.

South Lyon, MI
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7. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

So many good suggestions! Initially we wanted to arrive in Edinburgh and then stay 3-4 nights before picking up our rental car near Edinburgh and then driving north. Should we go back to that idea to acclimate before driving north, presumably on the A9?

I'm torn about what to do. I won't be driving--my husband and 30 year old son will be driving. There seem to be a ton of round-abouts on E15 going north out of Edinburgh. That would definitely unnerve me, if I was driving--I have trouble with complicated roundabouts popping up all over in the US. I've personally thought it might be a good idea to take a train north to Aviemore (or Inverness?) and rent a car there but then we would need to turn it in in Edinburgh before we finish our holiday with a 3 or 4 night stay in the city. My husband is loathe to get on a train with all of our bags after that flight. Ughh. I have tried to find some trip reports that include this type of driving scenerio and cannot find any. If you can point me to some reports that include a full 11-14 days of driving around the southern half of Scotland and into the highlands on both coasts, that would be helpful. Maybe Woody can also chime in??

Scotland, United...
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8. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

Grantown on Spey is nice but quiet. Aviemore would be your best bet, more places to have a drink in the evening but it's very touristy. A few weeks ago we stayed at the Boat of Garten which was lovely. The Strathspey Steam Railway, has one three stations there and it's also the home of the Ospreys. It's only 4 miles from Aviemore, but a real world away as it's far less touristy and more Scottish, but again, it is quiet, however, did not bother us as we were driving and really enjoyed our stay.

Staying in Edinburgh for three days is a good plan, as you will find so much to see and do. The highlands are lovely if you want scenery, walking and whisky trails, but you cannot beat Edinburgh for nightlife, history and so many things to see in do in a small radius and great public transport. Even a week is not long enough.

If I where you I would go to the Edinburgh T.A. Forum and ask, there are a lot of D.E,'s who give advice about touring Scotland all the time.

Edited: 5:23 am, April 08, 2013
Dundee, United...
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9. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

I wouldn't say it's driving per-se that's the problem, it's making that specific trip straight off a transatlantic flight that I think many would advise against. It's fine picking up a car at Edinburgh or Glasgow, but just hold off till a day or two later or make a shorter trip on your day of arrival to a nearer destination.

Wrt to roundabouts, they're pretty much ubiquitous in Scotland so you can't avoid them. Just don't go to East Kilbride!;-)

Perth, United...
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10. Re: Trying to decide which town to stay

One tip is to upgrade to an automatic car ...then you have only to worry about steering and not be negotiating roundabouts whilst changing gear with the wrong hand.