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First trip, September 2011

San Diego...
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First trip, September 2011

We are taking our grown kids for a 2 week trip to London, Dublin and Scotland next September. We plan to spend a week in Scotland. We want to see Edinburgh, but we are interested in exploring our roots (last name Gordon) which would appear to be around Aberdeen. Because there are five of us it would be nice if we could rent a cottage, but my husband is hesitant to drive due to left hand driving. I am a new photographer and interested in beautiful countrysides, which would appear to be available all over the country.

My questions are: does anyone know of rentals close to the train so that we could avoid driving? how easy has it been to convert to left hand driving (all 5 of us are over 25, so maybe my husband rides and the rest of us take turns driving). I have considered staying in Edinburgh and hiring a tour guide to take us, but it would appear Aberdeen would definitely be a two day trip from Edinburgh if we want time to explore the area.

What sites would you say are don't miss, especially from the scenic aspect?

Any help is GREATLY appreciated!


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1. Re: First trip, September 2011

Just some thoughts if you are considering hiring a car- for 5 adults plus luggage you would need a larger than normal car e.g. a van (we call them MPV or people carriers). Most hire cars here are manual (stick shift) and you have to specifially request an automatic (which are in shorter supply and more expensive). Also most rental companies charge per driver so to put 3 or 4 names on the insurance for driving will again increase the cost. Finally, the cost of fuel in the UK at the moment is EXTREMELY high, almost £5 GBP or almost $8 per US gallon.

We do have a public bus service as well as trains. Have a look at the local sites here. http://www.scotrail.co.uk/


Elie, United Kingdom
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2. Re: First trip, September 2011

Hi Betsy - Welcome to the forum! As you have suggested it is possible to get around Scotland by train. If you are visiting Edinburgh you will not need a car when staying in the city. You can get the train to Aberdeen from Edinburgh which goes via Dundee and up the East Coast but you only have a week so its not leaving you a lot of time. Do you know which part of Aberdeenshire your family is from? Aberdeenshire is a large county with many minor roads so I cannot see how you can avoid driving given your limited time and the usefulness of rural public transport. However if you got the train to Aberdeen at least it would cut down on the driving. Is there any way you could spend more than a week in Scotland?

Have a look at these websites to get you started but it would help you to know just where you are going to be searching for your roots. There is no point in being in the north of the county if you are going to have to search in the South.




Woody x

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3. Re: First trip, September 2011

Hi Betsy,

How much research have you done on the Gordons?

I did a quick search on Altavista "Gordons in Aberdeen and Scotland" or something like that. What a rich history!

I notice there is a Gordon Highlanders Museum (sexact name?) in Aberdeen and a lot of historical ties to Huntly Castle in Huntly. Plus countless other battlefields and castles of enemies and such.....

Have fun!


Russell, Kansas
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4. Re: First trip, September 2011

Driving is not that difficult to get the hang of. It helps if someone can watch the road signs and tell you when to be ready to exit or turn. If I can do it anyone can! And it really is the best and sometimes only way to get to those neat places off the beaten path.

Mt Airy, Maryland
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5. Re: First trip, September 2011

If you rent a car, bring your GPS or rent one from the rental car place. We found this to be very very useful when driving in Scotland.

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6. Re: First trip, September 2011

Betsy, I will also be making my first Trip to Scotland in September, 2011. I can tell you that I have done a ton of research on Scotland. While we will be primarily staying in Edinburgh, we will be adventuring by tours to other areas. I ca tell you that the Apex Waterloo Hotel is by the Waverly train station. I chose to stay in an apartment because we are going for 2 weeks and want that cultural immersion type of vacation. If you want an apartment try Edlets.com. They were helpful and the prices were reasonable. All the research that I have done states that driving in the cities of Scotland particularly Edinburgh is tough. They say that parking is even worse and expensive. hope this helps. Good Luck. Janie jlambbo@yahoo.com

Edinburgh, United...
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7. Re: First trip, September 2011

Lots of good advice on these replies.

To narrow it down, you really need to know exactly where you are looking for your roots, Aberdeenshire as somebody mentioned is a large county. Renting a car in Aberdeen might work for you, but it may be cheaper to rent in Edinburgh, than spend money on five train tickets to Aberdeen. The drive to Aberdeen is mainly on four lane highways so you should not have any trouble. Driving in any city, in any country, is no fun, so why not take the airport bus out to Edinburgh Airport and book from an airport car rental branch? It is on the West side of the city about 5 miles from the Forth Bridge (A must do stop at either North or South Queensferry!) and the road North. You miss all Edinburgh traffic doing that. Try to rent from a Scottish company, as the deals will usually be better than from multinationals.

Huntly Castle is worth the visit,even if there is no family link. The coast line of much of Aberdeenshire is beautiful and the only way to see it is to drive. Rent an automatic. One less thing to think about and you won't find yourself opening the window instead of changing gear.

Have fun, Willie

Glasgow, United...
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8. Re: First trip, September 2011


Celticlegend has made a v. good suggestion of hiring a car at Edinburgh airport - there is no benefit from hiring in the city.

The road to Aberdeen is fine - the main hazard is a large number of speed cameras... I too was nervous about driving on the wrong side of the road when abroad but found it pretty straightforward - but maybe worth asking for an automatic if you are used to one.

If you do drive to Aberdeed, it's worth stopping off at Dunnotter castle on the way - it is mostly ruined but in a really dramatic setting. In Aberdeen itself it is worth having a look at Old Aberdeen if you like attractive historic areas. Heading west along Deeside is really beautiful - if you are confident with the driving you could go to Braemar, then south back to Perth before heading back to Edinburgh.

Lots of info on www.aberdeen-grampian.com if you haven't tried it.

If you want to find out more about your Gordons, there may be information on wwww.scotlandspeople.gov.uk which I have found really good for tracing the family tree.

Have a great trip.

San Diego...
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9. Re: First trip, September 2011

Thank you all so much for your great suggestions. I like the idea of renting outside Edinburgh, but am a bit concerned about getting a vehicle large enough to hold 5 people plus luggage. Has anyone done it? I suspect we would end up in a van, which would be more cumbersome to drive, but it would give us flexibility to move around, rather than train to Aberdeen and stay there for several nights and explore the countryside from there. Don't love the idea of taking all the luggage on and off the train as well.

Any particular iconic or beautiful sights to not miss while we are taking photographs? Definitely want to capture the bridge. So looking forward to the beautiful countryside as well.

thanks again so helping us make this trip one to remember.


North Berwick...
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10. Re: First trip, September 2011

The vans you can rent are easy to drive. The advantage in addition to space for you and your luggage is that you can see over the fences & hedgerows! Don't worry about driving, this from a timid driver who learned to drive in New Jersey. But do order an automatic.

Great castles in Grampian. But you do need a vehicle for easy access. Be sure to check opening days.