Travel Memories Old and New in Scotland

Scotland is really hot in the travel business lately. It’s one of our bestselling tours and one of our bestselling guidebooks. And, after traveling a route pretty close to what we do on our tours (with the luxury of having one of our Scotland guides, Colin Mairs, all to myself), I’m seeing just what the kilt-and-whisky-powered buzz is all about.

Colin knows our Scotland tour itinerary down to the minute, allowing us to ambush a big Rick Steves tour bus of travel joy as it pulled in to Clava Cairns (just outside of Inverness). I got to pop into the bus and say to the happy gang, “Thanks for traveling with us.”

Traveling through Scotland, I’ve been impressed by the variety of sights, and how close together things are. In 12 days, I can’t remember a long, boring drive. There are the big iconic blockbuster sights, and there are the silly Loch Ness monster sights. (Actually, I enjoyed the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre — which analyzes how such a crazy legend could capture the imagination of so many generations of visitors.)

In the last decade or so, two new sights (both near Stirling Castle) have joined the parade of Scottish travel memories: The Falkirk Wheel opened in 2002. Rather than a series of locks, it gracefully raises boats 80 feet from the Forth Canal to the Clyde Canal with an innovative wheel. And a couple of giant steel horse heads, based on the mythic Kelpies, were built in 2014 and have become a symbol of the region around Stirling.

This is Day 95 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.