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Scotland

Day 1 - DEPART USA - Today, we depart our local airport for our overnight flight for Scotland. We enjoy inflight movies, dinner and breakfast while aloft.  

Day 2 - EDINBURGH – This morning, we arrive in Edinburgh, the glorious Scottish capital. We are met by our Tour manager and transfer to our motor coach for our scenic drive into Edinburgh. We enjoy a panoramic tour of the “Old town”, taking in the historic Royal Mile in the old town and the Georgian “new town”, admiring the many fine Georgian crescents, squares and streets with their distinctive architecture. Our first stop is the beautiful the Cathedral of St. Mary and its Shrine of St. Andrew, Scotland’s Patron saint. The cathedral was designed by the prominent ecclesiastical architect, James Gillespie Graham, in 1814.  Because of a fire at the adjacent Theatre Royal in 1891, the Cathedral was damaged and subsequently restored and expanded.  The Shrine of St. Andrew, which houses Holy Relics of St. Andrew, was refinished in the 1980s for the Papal of visit of the then Pope, John Paul II. If time permits, we celebrate Mass while there. Following our tour, we break for lunch on our own and then visit the nearby Edinburgh Castle, which sits on an extinct volcano. On view are the “Honors of Scotland” – the magnificent Crowned Scepter and the Sword of State, which are the oldest Crown jewels in the British Isles. Also housed here is the fabled “Stone of Destiny”, the symbol of nationhood used to inaugurate monarchs of Scotland, England, and the United Kingdom for over a millennium. Built in the 12th century, it housed various monarchs and royals until the mid-17th century, when it became a military barracks because of its strategic location.  While there, we also stop at St. Margaret's Chapel, which withstood numerous destruction attempts. Dating back to the 12th century, during the reign of King David I, who dedicated this Chapel to his mother, Queen Margaret, who we now know as St. Margaret of Scotland. Also located nearby is the Cathedral of St. Giles, the patron Saint of Edinburgh. We have the remainder of the afternoon to browse the many shops that surround this area.  We then check into our hotel before enjoying our “welcome” dinner in Edinburgh. Overnight in Edinburgh.

Day 3 – SCOTTISH BORDERS/EDINBURGH – Today, we visit the Palace of Holyrood House, now the official residence of the England’s royal family’s while on holiday in Scotland (pending the vacation schedule of the Royal Family). It was once the home of none other than Mary, Queen of Scots. On our return to Edinburgh, we stop for lunch on our own before we finish our day in Edinburgh with time for leisure before we enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants that populate beautiful Edinburgh. We return to our hotel. Overnight in Edinburgh.

Day 4 – EDINBURGH/GLASGOW - This morning, we depart Edinburgh and journey to Glasgow. On our route, we stop to visit Rosslyn Chapel, which took some 40 years to complete. Its ornate stonework and symbolism have inspired and intrigued artists and visitors ever since it was completed. Today, there are countless theories, myths and legends associated with the Chapel, many of which are impossible to prove or disprove conclusively. Following our visit, we arrive at the Carfin Grotto and have an opportunity to celebrate Mass while there. Carfin “Lourdes” Grotto, is a Roman Catholic shrine in Scotland, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and was created in the early twentieth century. For more than ninety years the Grotto at Carfin has been a special place of pilgrimage, prayer, and grace for those who visit it. We enjoy lunch on our own along our way to Glasgow. Upon arrival, enjoy a motor coach tour of Glasgow, with views of Tolbooth Steeple, Clyde Arc, Cineworld, and the University of Glasgow.  We conclude our day with dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 5 – GLASGOW/IVERARAY - Today, we depart Glasgow and journey north to the picturesque Loch Lomond and the impressive Trossachs National Park.  This area of beauty demarks the mid-point between the “Lowlands” and the “Highlands” of Scotland.  After passing through this wonderful national park, we proceed west to the town of Iveraray. This centuries old town was planned around the centerpiece, Iveraray Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyll, of the clan Campbell.  We break for lunch on our own before our tour of this impressive castle. Designed in the French style, it was constructed on the foundation of a much older fortress, built centuries before this 1740s era building!  The castle is surrounded by lush, manicured gardens and walkways.  The interior of this magnificent building is decorated with art, dating back several generations of the current Duke of Argyll’s family.  Though the current Duke still resides in part of the castle, the “public” part is literally a museum to his family and the clan Campbell.  One of the most impressive collections is found in the armory, which tastefully houses swords, daggers, spears and rifles.  Following our visit here, we conclude our journey north to the quaint town of Glencoe.  We enjoy dinner and overnight in Glencoe.

Day 6 – GLENCOE/FORT WILLIAM – This morning, we journey to Fort William, located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and the backdrop for numerous movies (Harry Potter & Highlander are two recognizable ones). We enjoy a tour of the Fort William Museum, and then break for an early lunch on our own before boarding the Jacobite Steam Train & West Highland Line* for their scheduled 2:10pm steam train service from Mallaig to Fort William. On our ride, we enjoy a unique view of the picturesque Scottish countryside along our route. (*pending the train schedule and availability).  We overnight in the Fort William area with dinner at our hotel.

Day 7 – FORT WILLIAM/INVERNESS – Today, we depart Fort William and journey to Inverness. We stop to enjoy a Loch Ness boat cruise. Loch Ness is a freshwater loch (Scottish for lake), known for its fabled “Loch Ness Monster”. Aside from its monstrous connection, this stunningly beautiful loch holds more water than both Wales and England’s lakes combined! Our two-hour cruise includes a visit to Urquhart Castle, located on the shore of Loch Ness. Once considered one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its five centuries as a medieval fortress. Control of this castle passed back and forth between the Scots and the English during the many wars over Scottish Independence. Sadly, the last of the government troops garrisoned here, blew up the castle when they evacuated. Urquhart’s ruins are all that remain, offering glimpses into past medieval times and the lives of its noble residents.  Upon arrival in Inverness, we celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s Church. We conclude our day with dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at our hotel in the Inverness area.

Day 8 – INVERNESS/CULLODEN/PITLOCHRY. This morning, we enjoy morning Mass before departing Inverness for Pitlochry. Our first stop is the Culloden Battlefield, the scene of the famous 1746 Battle of Culloden between the Jacobite and the British armies and the last battle fought on British soil. Though the battle lasted a mere hour or so, Culloden marked the beginning of end of Highland society. Following the battle, kilts and tartans were soon banned as a symbol of Scottish heritage.  We continue our travel as we pass through the Cairngorms National Park and arrive at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, which produces one of Scotland’s most exclusive whiskies. While here, we enjoy a special tour and tasting at the distillery! We continue to Pitlochry, which is considered the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. We conclude our day with dinner at a local restaurant before we overnight at our hotel in Pitlochry. 

DAY 9 – PITLOCHRY/FIFE/EDINBURGH – Today, we start our day with a visit Blair Castle, which was built in 1269 and is one of the most famous castles in Scotland. It is also home to Europe's only legal private army, the Atholl Highlanders, which are the remnants of the old Scottish clan system, a time when every clan had its own army. It is also the seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. We enjoy a tour of not only the castle, but it’s fascinating collections and beautiful landscaped gardens, stopping for lunch on our own along the way.  Then we travel to St. Andrews in Fife and visit St. Andrews Cathedral. Once Scotland’s largest and most magnificent church, these ruins still show how impressive the original footprint of St. Andrews Cathedral would have been when it was originally built in the 12th century. As a Catholic stronghold in medieval Scotland, it was captured by Calvinist zealots during the Protestant Reformation in 1560. St. Andrews was the seat of the country's leading bishops. Used for worship since the 8th century AD, when the Holy Relics of St. Andrew, Scotland’s admired patron Saint, are said to have been brought here from abroad. It soon became a major pilgrimage Shrine for Scotland and northern Europe’s early Christians. The cathedral and buildings are surrounded by a graveyard and a massive enclosure of walls. The “X” shape, in which St. Andrew was crucified, is a symbol on the Scottish national flag to remind the country of his martyrdom. We celebrate Mass while in St. Andrews. We conclude our travels back to Edinburgh, where we enjoy some time for relaxation before our “farewell” dinner. Tonight. we enjoy a special “Scottish” evening with traditional Scottish music, dance, and food. We overnight upon return at our hotel. 

Day 10 - EDINBURGH/USA – This morning, we transfer to the airport for our return flight home, with memories of a lifetime!   


St. Andrew may be known as a golf course to many in the world but to the Scottish people,
St. Andrew changed the course of their history and is still present on their flag as their protector”