“Expect the best, plan for the worst and prepare to be surprised.” – Denis Waitley
I’m not a fan of tours. Tours of any kind. I dislike day tours, free tours, hour long tours of museums, week long tours, adventure tours, small tours, big tours, etc. Maybe I’d enjoy a PERSONAL tour. Maybe. A tour where it’s me and the guide and they cater it to whatever I want and that’s it. But otherwise, no thanks. I’ll do it all on my own.
But in Scotland, it was going to be pretty impossible for us to head to the highlands without a car and in a reasonable amount of time. After seeing many an advertisement for a tour company called Haggis Adventures (a.k.a. Shamrocker Adventures or Busabout) we decided that was the best way to see the highlands (and we had to do something in Scotland besides Edinburgh). So, I was forced into doing a tour.
Since I don’t really like tours and since we didn’t want to spend a lot of money (food and hostel not included in the price) we decided on the two day “highland weekender.” It cost about 85 pounds per person and included Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, Glencoe, a whiskey distillery (optional and an additional fee) and a night spent in Inverness (hostel cost an extra 20 pounds for a bed in a six person dorm). It seemed a little steep to me, but a bus to Inverness and back probably wouldn’t be much cheaper, we got to stop at all these sites plus others and had a guide giving us info along the way.
So, while I was excited I would get to see the Scottish Highlands, I was less than thrilled to spend two days packed like sardines with a bunch of other annoying tourists onto a bus and shuffled in and out of sites.
I was shockingly surprised to find at the end of the trip, I actually had a great time and even ENJOYED the tour! Here’s why:
1. They’re wild. and sexy. Or at least that’s what the website says. And the side of the bus. AND the tour guide.
2. It was mostly 20-somethings. Probably because the tour advertises as wild and sexy. But it was nice that people were our age and traveling all over Europe like we are. Didn’t have to sit next to some smelly grandpa or anything like that…
3. The group was maxed out at 30. And there were fewer of us than even that, although not by much. It wasn’t a giant tour bus like I was anticipating. It was a much smaller, bright and shiny yellow bus. Just slightly larger than a “special school bus.”
4. There are fun, social activities. We didn’t really get to participate in any of them, seeing as we were only on a two day tour, but on the longer trips they have toga parties and quiz nights. Our tour guide even went out with us for some music on a Saturday night. Basically I like the fact that they dont just take you to tourist sites all day, dump you at a hotel for the night and send you on your own way to have fun. They make you interact with others on the trip and organize events!
5. The guides are awesome! Kelly mentioned in her last post how our guide on the second day of our tour wore a kilt. Not to mention he was hilarious! And so was our tour guide the first day! They are also very knowledgeable and provide a LOT of information. They tried to squeeze in as many stops as possible so we could see a lot of sites and weren’t on the bus all day (The only downfall- the bus was HOT because there was no air con. Normally they wouldn’t have a need for it but they were in the middle of a heat wave while we were there.).
So, in the end I was really happy with how the tour went. I would recommend their company to anyone. Especially since there were a couple of people who had done tours with the company in other countries as well! My only wish is that we had signed up for a longer trip instead of just the weekender! Two days was just not enough time to explore Scotland!