|Information Centres throughout Scotland i
When in doubt about ANYTHING, head for the
nearest Tourist Information Centre. Virtually
every town has one. Look for the big "I"
out front. There will be signposts and directional
arrows around the town to guide you there.
Information centres have everything you'd
want to know about the area.
gift items at reasonable prices
made in the UK. Their staffs
are very helpful.
Lots of free booklets, and items
find anywhere else.
When to come to Scotland
May thru September are the best months to
come. May is less busy and especially beautiful,
with the yellow gorse in bloom everywhere
(although hellish on the golf courses in
the rough). September can cool off yet is
usually still nice. The weather here is changeable
and fairly unpredictable. Be prepared for
rain...chances are you'll get some. But here's
the good news -- whatever the weather is
in Scotland, it won't spoil your stay.
Although the locals play golf year round
in Scotland, winter is not the ideal time
to visit here. Days are very short and nights
very long. It will most likely be cold and
damp, with snow in some areas.
Here's something rather rare -- the world's
most famous golf course covered with snow!!!
Quite a different St Andrews Old Course from
the one we all know. Photo taken on Christmas
Day 2009, by David Scott.
Packing for Scotland -- what to bring
First on the list is a comfortable, STURDY
pair of walking shoes with good tread on
the soles for non-city walking. Second is
adequate rain gear. (A must.) Pack so you
can layer your clothing each day--it's the
best way to out-guess the weather, which
changes frequently.The more you travel the
more you realize you need to bring less.
Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on
luggage, in case your stowed luggage is lost
or delayed. (It happens.) Bring care-free
clothing made of cool-max or microfibre,
for instance. We buy most of our clothes
mail order from Travelsmith (www.travelsmith.com or 1-800-950-1600) and L.L.Bean (www.llbean.com or 1-800-221-4221, and don't miss their excellent
coupons and great deals -- http://verified.codes/LL-Bean ), and Winter Silks (ww.wintersilks.com). A good resource is www.packinglight.net .
Some important items to bring --
"Can I charge my electronic gadgets
Virtually all electronic gadgets sold in
the USA can be used with the USA's standard
100 to 110 volts. Much of the rest of the
world uses 200 to 220 volts. However, almost
all items sold internationally can run on
both voltages. If you check the charger of
your smart phone or tablet or computer you'll
see 110/220v or 100/240v, which means it
runs on both. BUT… the electrical outlets
in the United Kingdom (Scotland, England,
Wales, and Northern Ireland) are different
from the outlets in the USA, so you'll need
an adapter to plug into the outlets in the
UK. NOTE -- You do NOT need a transformer. You simply
need an ADAPTER (about $5). These UK electrical
adapters are readily available in any travel
The adapter for Europe is different
the UK adapter, so if you're
France, Germany or any other
you'll need an additional adapter.
check out your travel store.
Passport copy - make a copy of your passport and pack it
away from the original. Or take a digital
photo of your passport and send it to your
email address. That way you'll always be
able to access a copy of it.
Golf handicap certificate - Most golf courses don't ask for a handicap
certificate but if you have one handy, bring
it. (A letter from your club professional is
no longer used.)
Bungee cord or two, for securing your golf bag on a trolley
(pull cart). They come in handy for many
Golf rain gloves - Or you can always wrap a wet hankerchief
around your grips when they get wet. Amazingly
Don't want to bring your own golf clubs?
Then contact www.GolfGearHire.com, a new service for the independent golf
traveler in Scotland.They supply quality
golfing equipment with several options. Also,
most golf courses have clubs to rent, but
call first to make sure.
Getting to Scotland
For either Fife (St. Andrews) or the Edinburgh
(say "Edinburra") area of Scotland,
you can fly into London and take a connecting
flight to Edinburgh, where you can rent a
car at the airport. But better yet, look
for international flights direct to Scotland.
Avoiding the London airports whenever possible
is always smart, so if you are coming from
the U.S., best to fly directly into Edinburgh
or Glasgow (depending on where you'll be
golfing) from a major U.S. airport.
Another option is to fly from NY or Newark
or Orlando directly to Dublin, take a connecting
flight to Edinburgh, and drive from there.
As you know, flight itineraries can change,
so check for the latest info.
Trains go from London's King's
to Edinburgh, about a 4 to 4
1/2 hour picturesque
ride. Frequent service--almost
These are fine trains, such as
Scotsman, Highland Chieftain,
Lights. From Edinburgh take a
ride to Leuchars, the station
for St. Andrews. Taxis are plentiful at Leuchars for the
5-minute ride into town. Or for
Scotland's Golf Coast, take a 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh
to North Berwick.
||And then there's our own personal choice
Each May or June we sail out of New York
(Brooklyn) on the Queen Mary2, Cunard's magnificent
flagship which makes the transatlantic crossing.
Yes, you need time to spend 6 days (7 nights)
at sea, but what an incomparable experience
it is. You arrive rested, well-fed, and free
from jet-lag.The ship docks at Southampton,
England, and we drive up to Scotland from
there. The QM2 is the last of a bygone era, and
really worth experiencing at least once in
a lifetime. If you can spare the time, it's
"the only way to cross." (Sailing
to England may seem expensive but remember,
in addition to transportation to Southampton,
sailing on the QM2 is like staying in the
equivalent of a 5 star hotel. Consider how
much would you pay to fly to England and
then stay in a 5 star hotel for 6 days and
5 nights with all meals from a top-notch
kitchen included?) www.cunard.com
Car rental in Scotland
***Special note -- A "sat nav" is essential. Not
all rental cars have them, so check to find
out whether your car does. If not, bring
your own but make sure it includes the United
We use Kemwel -- reliable, easy-to-deal-with, good rates,
and integrity. If you shop around you'll
see it is difficult to compare rental costs.
Our experience has proven it's best (least
stressful and least expensive) to stick with
a dependable company.
Get a smaller car than you might have in
the U.S. because streets can be very narrow
and parking spaces are smaller than in the
U.S. More economical, too, because petrol
(gasoline) is very expensive in the UK. Try to rent a diesel.
Once you get behind the wheel, KEEP TO THE
LEFT !!! It takes some getting used to, so
go slowly. And try to avoid the mistake we
all make when we first come here--when approaching
an intersection or crossing the street--
look to your right when driving or walking, because that's
where the traffic is coming from.
If your destination is Scotland's Golf Coast,
with North Berwick and/or Edinburgh, then see Scotland with local eyes, and really enjoy your stay in this beautiful part of
the world. Discover this delightful preview
of Scotland's Golf Coast with "LOCAL EYES -- Fun & Friendly Small
Group Walking Tours". A new and unique service, Local Eyes is the best way to start your holiday. www.localeyestours.co.uk
Walking in Scotland, an advantage for the
In addition to golfers, golf courses in Scotland
are open to walkers. Anyone can hike freely
anywhere on any golf course except for the
greens. Obviously, don't walk in the fairways
but keep to the sides. Watch for golfers,
give them the right of way, and be alert
to any flying golfballs! Golf courses are
so beautiful and peaceful in Scotland, so
they are wonderful places to walk. Keep this
in mind as a good way to reconnoiter a new
course before you play it, or as a nice outing
for a non-golfing partner to walk along with
you, or as a lovely way to spend an hour
or two just being in nature.
Walk around a Scottish village or town to
see the gardens in front of the houses. They
are always a treat and some are spectacular.
Often you'll see someone working in them
and he or she won't mind at all (in fact
be flattered) if you stop to admire. Usually
they are happy to talk about their gardens
or the village, etc. Take every opportunity
to chat with the locals.
gardens like this
are all over Scotland.
A feast for the eye. and
Leisurely strolls will
always provide an
abundance of them.
Or follow a public footpath. This bridge
is near the footpath by Kingsbarns Links..
Public footpaths in Scotland
Walking is a major activity in the UK, and
public footpaths abound, clearly signposted
and free. Find them indicated on your Ordnance Survey map. Many are ancient, trod by Romans, Picts,
Saxons, or other long-ago people. Very rewarding.
This one is between the golf course and the
Public toilets in Scotland
A bathroom in Europe means a room with a
shower or bathtub. In other words, a place
to bathe. If you are looking for just a toilet
(or what in the U.S. is called a "rest
room.") then simply ask where a toilet
is. Or "Where's the ladies?" or
"Where's the gents'?" Or, if you
really want to blend in, "Where's the
We've found the public toilets in the British
Isles to be, for the most part, quite good
and sometimes exceptional. They are easy
to find and numerous. Some of the have a
small charge for using the facility so always
carry a bit of spare change. Our favorite
is in North Berwick, Scotland, which has
won "Loo of the Year" (a national
award) many times. Spotless and attractive,
with fresh flowers each day in both the men's
and the women's. Sounds odd to call a public
toilet a visitor attraction, but this one
really is worth a visit.
Maps for Scotland
Once you arrive, go into any bookseller or
news agent or the wonderful Tourist Information
Centre (look for the big "I" outside)
and purchase an Ordnance Survey map of the area. These maps are the greatest.
They even show public footpaths and every
other detail you could possibly want. There
is literally one of these maps for every
corner of the British Isles.
Parking in Scotland
Lots of public carparks around. Keep your
out for the big white "P" on a
blue sign. These are "pay and display"
carparks because there is a charge for most
public parking. (The places to park I mention
in my comments are free, unless we say otherwise.)
Keep some loose change in your car so you
will always be ready for pay parking. You
just stick a few coins in a meter and out
comes a ticket with the time printed on it
and the time you must return. Directions are on the machine. Then stick
the ticket onto the inside of your windshield.
If you're not sure quite what to do, ask
someone. They'll be happy to help.
Scotland without a car
If you don't want to drive, there are plenty
of things to do without a car. And you should
seriously consider taking advantage of the
excellent local bus service everywhere in
the UK. Even the smallest villages are linked
by buses (many of them double-deckers) and/or
trains. Public transportation is excellent
in the UK. Again, keep a pocketfull of change.
Play golf with a member in Scotland
When booking a tee time, ask to play with
a club member, who can show you the ropes
and give you insights into the course. Richard
inadvertently discovered another advantage--Just
after paying his £52 for a round of golf,
he was invited to play with three club members
because one of their friends did not show
up. This qualified him as a guest so he was
refunded £42 and ended up paying only £10.
Nice saving, enjoyable experience. Anytime
you play with a member you get a reduced
rate. But the best part is meeting the member(s)
and getting inside information on the course.
After the match, be sure to offer to pay
for the first round of drinks.
The UK abounds in charity shops. Most towns
have at least one, usually several. They
sell donated clothing and all kinds of stuff,
the proceeds going to the particular charity
sponsoring them--heart foundation, cancer,
Oxfam, etc. Good selections of used books
at really cheap prices. Well worth checking
out. In St. Andrews people sell used books
in the middle of Market Street on weekends
and often other days too. Actually, used
books are sold in all sorts of unexpected
places in the UK.
Scottish castles and stately homes
||Scotland is teeming with castles. Take time
to visit some of these wonderful buildings.
They range from tiny ruins to massive magnificent
compounds like Edinburgh Castle, and all
shapes and sizes in between. Most have a
gift shop and usually a tearoom, where you
can have a light meal. In Scotland you are never more than a few
miles from a castle.
E-mail in Scotland
It's nice to be able to leave the everyday world behind and lose
yourself in the local scene, But should you need internet access virtually any coffee shop has access available.
Also, the public libraries in some towns
offer internet service at very nominal cost. And most B&Bs and hotels are offering
If you need a phone card for either local
or overseas calls, the best ones are those
sold in post offices. It's only a few pence
per minute for any call, and these cards
can be used with any type phone, including
mobile phones and public phone booths.
Mobile phones are not permitted on most Scottish
golf courses. (Dogs are usually allowed, but not phones.)
"Bad hair days"
Hairdressers are in every town, even the
small ones. And hairdryers are available
in most accommodations.
Smoking in the UK
Scotland is a non-smoking country. it's banned
in all public places, including restaurants
and pubs and most B&Bs.
Supermarkets (called superstores) are popular
in most parts of the UK now.
The large chains
we like most are Tesco (Britain's
chain), Waitrose, and Sainsbury's.
to go through them and see what
kinds of products they sell.
are popular in the UK, and the
have large sections of them.
A nice feature of these superstores is their
cafeterias. You'd be surprised
as the quality
of food here--not a bad choice
for a quick
But we want to put in a good word for the
shops in the towns. As an independent traveler,
you can take time to visit these smaller,
single proprietor shops found on the "high
street" of every town or village. There
is a green grocer, a butchershop, a flower
shop, a bakery, etc. These are the traditional
British shops, where you'll find old-fashioned
service and good products, usually beautifully
Eating out in Scotland
You can usually get a decent, inexpensive
meal in a pub. They often have two menus--a
restaurant menu and a pub menu. Standard
pub food is simple but ranges from light
meals to complete dinners. Pubs tend to be
our first choice when we eat out. One thing
that is different about the pubs in the UK
is that you order your food from the bar
and pay for it when you order. When it is
ready. a waitress or waiter will bring it
to your table. Note that tipping is different
in the UK. In the States, 15% to 20% is normal.
Not so in the UK where a 10% tip is very
Valuable Tip: Our other top choice is a golf course clubhouse.
Most of them have attractive views, offer
decent food, and are open to players and
sometimes the public.
Here's an easy and inexpensive way to have
lunch. Available almost everywhere--pharmacies
(such as Boots and SuperDrug), small food
shops in small villages, large superstores,
department stores, petrol stations -- you'll
find pre-wrapped sandwiches in a refrigerated
area. Delivered daily to these outlets, they
are always fresh, and usually quite good.
Keep your eye out for them. (Especially the
Ginsters brand.) You can pick up one or two,
take it with you to a lovely spot, and enjoy
Another lunch option is to pop into a food
market (large or wee) and pick up a fresh baguette (many
shops carry fresh French bread), some delicious
cheese (there are assortments from all over
the British Isles), some fresh fruit, and
a bottle of soda or mineral water (they usually
have some chilled). Take it to a park or
any other attractive setting. You'll notice
the locals do this.
Or have someone else put together
basket for you. Some shops will
If you're in the Golf Coast area,
have the best--www.gullanedeli.co.uk. (Also appears on our Golf Coast page.)
Still another option for lunch is to go into
a pub and order a "jacket" (baked)
potato. You can have it plain or choose one
of the toppings, such as cheese or chicken
or tuna, etc.. A salad is usually included.
The baked potatoes in Britain are usually
excellent--no soggy, grey-looking things.
Another favorite pub food is called a "ploughman."
This is a LARGE piece of cheese, a baguette,
relish (chutney) and a salad. A Ploughman
is the quintessential pub meal, and is often
more than you can eat.
Special note for golfers --Two things rarely found on UK golf courses
are toilets and drinking water.
So be sure
to pick up a bottle of water
when you are
More helpful ideas for your golf trip under
the specific areas