The Two of Us Canada Andy Holidays Fish

Scotland
Introduction

While I was growing up I was fascinated with fantasy novels. I loved reading stories of knights riding out to conquer evil, quests of great daring, legends and magic, swords and sorcerers, wizards, castles, trolls, elves, dwarves, kings and queens, knights and peasants, and everything else that belongs to the mythical realms. These novels and stories took me to amazing far off places where I could marvel at the different sights and fight alongside my heroes of the day. Even though the stories were fantasy, many of them have connections to the UK. Some of the more famous ones that everyone knows about such as "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table," and "Robin Hood" were counted among my favourites, but there are a many different authors who reference things like the druids, Stonehenge, the Highlands, and old English or Scottish castles. While Canada has it's own amazing qualities we are missing a lot of our connections with history. We don't have any ruined castles thousands of years old or stories of knights doing battle together like the old-world countries do. Take these stories and references, along with my family name being Scottish and the lack of historical landmarks where I grew up, well it was the beginning of my longing to visit the UK, with Scotland being the most important part I wanted to see first, and quickly became one of my highest priorities.

While growing up I planned that I was going to go on the trip at aged 25 with one of my best friends, but as I approached that age things had changed. I realized that I had too many other things to take care of first, and my friend wouldn't commit to going, so it turned out that I would have to reschedule my trip. A couple years after that my mom and I started talking about vacations and when I mentioned that I still longed to go to the UK for a major holiday, I guess she remembered all the times she had to call me home from fighting dragons or talking with the druids and her hidden delight with these imaginings of mine came to light. She thought it would be a great place to visit as well and we started talking about the possibilities of us going on the trip together. By this time I had given up on my friend ever committing to going so for me this was the beginnings of a dream about to come true.

By this time both my mom and I had seen so many documentaries and travel shows dealing with Scotland that we wanted to see it all but were really concerned about the cost of traveling in the UK because of the high currency exchange rates.  We were going to have to figure out ways to do this on a fairly tight budget but we also didn't want to limit ourselves so much that we couldn't enjoy the sites while we were there.  We started doing a lot of research and quickly found that our biggest expense was going to be lodging if we were going to stay in hotels or B&B's and food since we would have to eat out for most meals. These ideas didn't really appeal to us so we started toying with the idea of trying to find campsites and bring our tents with us.  We were used to the idea that if there was an open space of land here we could simply set up a tent for the night without any problems or fees.  However things aren't that simple in the UK and we quickly realized that bringing all our camping gear on the airplane would be difficult and expensive.  So this stumbling block put our trip on hold for a while.  Then one day I was watching a travel show on how students were able to afford to travel across Europe and the UK on a very limited budget. This was the first time I heard of the elaborate Youth Hostel system that is nearly every country in the world.  I started doing some research on them and the more I read about it the more I felt like I had finally come across the solution to our expensive lodging and dining problems.  All I had to do was convince my mom that while they were called Youth Hostels, they were open to people of any age.

At first she wasn't very keen on the idea because of stereotypes we have of hostels being a place for the down and out and generally not very well thought of.  I gave her the links to the Scottish Youth Hostel site which has a lot of great information on the system with pictures of people of all ages and stories of people from around the world praising them as the best the world has to offer.  After reading through it and thinking it over she finally decided that she was willing to give them a try. As soon as she agreed to that we both knew that we had the foundations of an affordable trip planned.  The next thing we had to decide was what time of the year we wanted to go.  This was a lot easier because by this time Andy and I had been talking together for a while and I was able to talk to him about what time of year had the best weather, meaning less chance for grey days and constant rain. We also didn't want to go during prime tourist months because the prices go up a lot and we don't really like being in crowds of people. We also wanted to go when a lot of the attractions would be open so we decided to go in late spring just before the main tourist season started.  We finally decided on going in the month of May and since my birthday is in that month, we decided I would celebrate my birthday overseas! 

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