Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Scotland Tips - Get the Explorer Pass

Take my advice, if you're ever in Scotland... see some friggin' castles. See the friggin' history - it's got a good 2+ millennia of history on the United States, and the lore and the culture and the people just beg to be seen and told.

The view from Eilean Donan Castle (Not on the Explorer Pass)
So, with that said, if you're traveling to Scotland to see the historic sites, then I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you get the Explorer Pass. Seriously, If you plan on visiting more than two castles in a short-time frame, it's worth it. The $$ to get into the various castles ranges, based on popularity and location, and to be perfectly honest the length of the lines to get in at some of the more popular castles is completely unreal.

Walking down the historic Royal Mile, which involved
a lot of buying things, as you could imagine.
I also recommend that you do NOT get it at Stirling or Edinburgh Castles. These are two of the top tourist destinations in the Highlands and as such, they have the longest lines. If you get your Explorer Pass at a less popular destination then you get fast-tracked at the other two, which means you get to waltz past the people who did not get this tip and do not have to waste countless minutes or hours, depending on how busy they are that day, in line just to get past the gate.

JR and I did not set out to Scotland to see castles, we just set out with the hopes of letting our feet guide us, but we wound up seeing quite a few in the 6 days we spent galavanting across the highlands. We saw privately owned castles, as well as nationally owned castles, and while the privately owned had a stronger feel of charm and homeliness (since some are still used as a home), the nationally owned ones were quite awesome for the history they told and the views. Seriously, the views were amazing.

In fact, since JR and I did not set out to Scotland to see castles, we did NOT get the Explorer Pass, until we had already visited two of the locations at which we could have used said Explorer Pass... man... wish we would have known that - but the last thing you want to do after knocking the side mirror off of a brand new Mercedes is stand around and talk about the various ways to explore Scotland with a cashier... I wish we would have stood around and talked about the various ways to explore Scotland with that cashier....

Standing outside Doune Castle, which is where parts of Outlander, Game of Thrones, and the Classic Monty Python Movie that involves the Holy Grail.
Anywho, the Explorer Pass is not universal - not all castles we went to would accept it, but you know that going in - you can see the full list of historic sites that the pass allows you to see here and they even have a mobile app - HOW FRIGGIN' HANDY IS THAT? Basically the most friggin' handiest, that's how handy. The Scots are always using their thinkers that's for sure!

ALL I'M SAYING is that's the wall Bran's climbing up when
Jamie pushes him out of the window in the first season of Game of Thrones,
and that well is definitely in a few Outlander scenes.

We saw Urquhart Castle, Elgin Cathedral, Doune Castle, Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, among others... all eligible for the Explorer Pass, but we didn't get it until we were two places in. IF ONLY we would have known those passes were there...

Don't be like us - get the Explorer Pass, and explore to your heart's content. Because who doesn't hate paying for something twice, when they could have just paid for it once, all at the same time... and just flashed a book to go through the lines without a fuss.... no one. That's who!

Happy Travels, and bring me back some clotted cream and scones!