Virtual Vacation #4 - Scotland
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The next installment in the Virtual Vacation series is to:

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This vacation will be a bus tour with an itinerary, but at a rather leisurely pace so that we can enjoy ourselves a long the way.

Please join us on our virtual vacation by:
purpletrain Expressing your desire to join as a tour guide or traveler in this geeklist
redtrain Posting comments to this geeklist
bluetrain Post photos of the places we're visiting. Bonus points if they're your own.
greentrain Chatting with other travelers on the forums
geeklist
blacktrain Having fun!

I would love to see your own photos of things, if you upload and post them. Lots of images makes for a nicer geeklist.

If you wish to join us, I encourage you to display for the month one of the microbadges below:
Microbadge: TravellerMicrobadge: World Traveller
Microbadge: I love ScotlandMicrobadge: I love Scotland!Microbadge: If it's not Scottish it's Crap!Microbadge: Robbie Burns (Bard of Scotland) fan

Destinations
Share with us information, pictures, videos, and other media of an interesting city, museum, historical site, natural landmark, beautiful area, park, or other destination of interest. Help us experience this destination from a far.

Events
Share with us videos, information, pictures and other media of an artistic performance, festival, holidays, or other events of interest. Help us experience this event as if we were there.

Previous Virtual Vacation destinations:
VGG Virtual Vacation #1 - BELGIUM
VGG Virtual Vacation #2- Australia!
Join us! Virtual Vacation #3-- Italy

Virtual Vacation discussion thread:
VGG Virtual Vacations
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1. Board Game: Destination Scotland [Average Rating:3.80 Unranked]
Board Game: Destination Scotland
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Here are some of the places I would like us to visit. Please feel free to interrupt with detours.

Explore Edinburgh
Day trip to Glasgow
Loch Ness
Loch Lomond
Oban
Isle of Skye
Iona
Inverness
St. Andrews
Hebrides
Hadrian's Wall

----
Also, "free time" will be left at the end of the trip, starting Nov 22nd to explore anywhere else that I really should have had us go.
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2. Board Game: Scotland Rising [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:13446]
Board Game: Scotland Rising
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Overview of Scotland:

"Crammed with sky-high mountains, rugged coastlines, romantic lochs, cultured cities and a fiercely proud people, bonnie Scotland is an incredible destination.

One day you could be quaffing smoked salmon and single malt in the glens and the next you could be tracking the Jacobite forces at Culloden Battlefield or following in the footsteps of royalty at Stirling Castle.

That's assuming you aren't busy swigging local craft ales at music festivals, trailing Harry Potter on the real Hogwarts Express or guffawing along to stand-up comedy at the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Although compact, Scotland is studded with an astonishing number of ancient monuments and buildings, which span many millennia.

Travel back in time 5,000 years at the UNESCO-listed Heart of Neolithic Orkney and wonder at its prehistoric settlements and burial tombs; delve into Scotland’s turbulent past at citadels and forts like Eilean Donan Castle and Finlarig; or just gaze in awe at the Calanais Stones in Lewis."

Source: World Travel Guide
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3. Board Game: United Kingdom Trivia Game [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: United Kingdom Trivia Game
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Scotland is NOT England.



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4. Board Game: Go: The International Travel Game [Average Rating:5.70 Overall Rank:16745]
Board Game: Go: The International Travel Game
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TOUR GUIDES AND HOSTS

Do you live in Scotland, have lived in Scotland, have traveled to Scotland, and/or are passionate and knowledgeable about Scotland? Volunteer to be a tour guide or host below and spend some time this month sharing why Scotland is a great country and what every traveler should experience there.

What is your experience with Scotland?
What do you love about the country?
What do you suggest people do when visiting Scotland?
What do you like doing on vacations?
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5. Board Game: Travel the World [Average Rating:4.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Travel the World
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TRAVELERS

If you want to join this virtual vacation in any way please post your desire below and tell us what you like to do on vacations.

Have you been to Scotland before?
What do you like doing on vacations?
What do you hope to get out of this experience?
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6. Board Game: Accentuate [Average Rating:5.38 Overall Rank:17320]
Board Game: Accentuate
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LANGUAGE

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7. Board Game: Haggis [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:887]
Board Game: Haggis
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CUISINE

"Scottish cuisine has a reputation for strong flavours and interesting ingredients. Inspiration often comes from traditional Scots products – oats, whisky, salmon, Aberdeen Angus beef and game. In season, pheasant, grouse and partridges often feature. Scottish smoked salmon has long been celebrated, and the langoustine, mackerel or haddock can be similarly good. Fish and chip shops are widespread.

When it comes to eating out, visitors have a multitude of options these days, from high-end Michelin-starred dining and gourmet rural restaurants to stylish vegetarian cafés, farm shops and traditional pub lunches.

In Scotland’s cities, you’ll come across a huge assortment of international cuisine; Glasgow in particular is famed for its Italian restaurants and first-rate curry houses. Scots won’t deny that they’re prone to the odd sugary or deep-fried temptation, but new ranks of celebrity chefs have helped change outside perception."

Source: World Travel Guide


But, of course, we all know that Haggis is the most well known:
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8. Board Game: The Scotch Whisky Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Scotch Whisky Game
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DRINKS

Whisky is Scotland's most famous export.

What Scotch whiskies or beverages are you enjoying?
What are your favorites.

Note: "whisky (plural whiskies) shows that the product was made in either Scotland, Wales, Canada or Japan, whereas whiskey (plural whiskeys) shows that it was made in either Ireland or America."
Source: Whisky Distilled

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9. Video Game: Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods
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MOVIES, TV, DOCUMENTARIES

Share with us media that is about Scotland, set in Scotland, or is famous in Scotland
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10. Board Game: Swords and Bagpipes [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:5307]
Board Game: Swords and Bagpipes
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MUSIC

Scotland's music is most associated with bagpipes.

It is also world famous for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

What other type of music is associated with or comes out of Scotland?
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11. Board Game: The Fine Art Game [Average Rating:4.29 Unranked]
Board Game: The Fine Art Game
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ART

Share with us works of art and famous artists.
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12. Board Game: Burns and Verse [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Burns and Verse
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LITERATURE

Share books that are about Scotland or set in Scotland.
Famous Scottish authors and Literature?
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13. Board Game: Royal Palace [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1379]
Board Game: Royal Palace
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Today we explore the Royal Mile! Okay, not all of it. I am a big fan of picking one or two major item per day and then wander.

However, before we get started, let's pause a moment for pronunciation. Edinburgh does NOT rhyme with Pittsburgh. The correct pronunciation is "Edinburrah".

Now that we can pronounce the city we're in, let's swing by Holyrood Palace. (Okay, fine, it's officially the Palace of Holyroodhouse.) We should do this mostly because I like the name. You can wander in if you want, but mostly, just take a look.
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The main trivia about this place is that it's where the very pregnant Mary, Queen of Scots, saw her "secretary" David Rizzio brutally murdered by stabbing 56! times. Her husband was the one who authorized the murder.

The main activity for the day, however, is Edinburgh Castle.
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From here, you can look out over the city. You can even see the land of Fife across the Firth of Forth (another fun thing to say). And take the obligatory photo with a cannon.
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On the north face of the castle, at 1pm every day, a 25lb Howitzer is fired. This tradition started in 1861 (with a regular cannon) to help sailors on the Firth adjust their time pieces.

Once you're done wandering around the castle, feel free to wander around the city. Tell us if you're checking out anything else interesting!
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14. Board Game: The Glasgow Game [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
Board Game: The Glasgow Game
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Before we begin, another pronunciation lesson: Glasgow does not sound like Glass Cow. It is more Glaz-go.

My feelings on this may be out of date, given that I was last in Scotland in 2000. However, if you're only in Scotland for a very short time, I would say skip Glasgow as a tourist. I happen to really like Glasgow, more than Edinburgh, but that has to do with living there for 9 months for a study abroad year at uni. It is a good city to live in, but it is not really a tourist destination. When I was there, it still very much had a blue collar feel (which I happen to like), with only 1 white (non-soot covered) building. Apparently leaps and bounds and have been made towards re-inventing itself. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, I was regularly hearing about the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I would be curious to know how it feels now. Maybe a bit like Brooklyn?

That all being said, it's an hour away by train, so let's go! There is a subway line in Glasgow, and it's a circle, so if subways make you at all nervous, this one is simple. We will start in George Square. It is a short walk from Central Station and a good place to people watch. There is often a market in the square. You can also easily pick up a hop-on hop-off bus here.

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Make sure to walk past the Gallery of Modern Art, which always made me happy with the cone-wearing statue:
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Actually, Glasgow has a large number of art museums, so it may be worth it to determine what would best suite your taste and pop into one of them.

We will also head over to the West End (via Hillhead on the subway or a bus if you want a more visual ride) and visit the University of Glasgow. It was founded in 1421 and the old buildings are beautiful.
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Nearby is also the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, located in a lovely park setting.
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15. Board Game: Storm the Castle! [Average Rating:4.79 Overall Rank:19151]
Board Game: Storm the Castle!
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Today we head off to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland's most important castles historically. Story has it that King Arthur took it from the Saxons, but that's highly unlikely given timelines.

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Also, the old city walls of Stirling, down below the castle, were built to keep Mary, Queen of Scots, safe from Henry VIII.

Nearby, on the other side of the River Forth, is the William Wallace Monument:
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And from here we will head into the Trossachs to visit Loch Lomond. The Trossachs are the first national park in Scotland, and Loch Lomond is Britain's largest freshwater lake. Not surprisingly, there's plenty of hiking in this area for those of you interested.
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Also, you've probably heard of Loch Lomond before in this song:
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16. Board Game: The King's Abbey [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:3104]
Board Game: The King's Abbey
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Normally I would say we should take more time in the Trossachs, but I'm super excited about today's trip to Iona. Most people probably wouldn't be, but I took a year course in Celtic Civ and wrote a paper on the impact of Celtic monastic life. I don't remember most of the information, sadly, but I still remember being very impressed at the widespread impact the monasteries had on society.

(Note: This would be a rather full day to do all at once. I'm considering doing it in two days, because I prefer to have more time to relax and take photos, but if you are a pack it all in person, this is doable in one.)

First stop, Oban. It's just a cute little town, and there's tasty fish and chips to be enjoyed while you admire the boats. Oban Distillery is also in town and offers tours. Apparently, they are one of Scotland's oldest sources of single malt scotch whisky.

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But the real reason that we're in Oban is to take the ferry over to Mull. We're going to head to Fionnphort and sail to Fingal's Cave on the Isle of Staffa first. Here you can see beautiful basalt columns, the inspiration for Mendelsson's Hebrides Overture.

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From here, we will sail on to the Isle of Iona, hopefully seeing some puffins along the way.
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The views of Iona itself is not necessarily the most exciting of this trip. However, this stop is more about the history. Columba, the grandson of the Irish King Niall, and 12 companions went to Iona from Ireland in AD 563. The monastery they founded was considered the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. It also was likely where the Book of Kells (found in Dublin) was probably made. Our practice of putting spaces between words derived from these Celtic monks, as the Romans did not use spaces. They provided education and also were able to work on specialized wood and metalworks. The monastery stood despite regular viking raids. In the 1200s, an abbey was built, which still stands and contains a collection of early medieval carved stones and crosses.

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17. Board Game: Shok & Awe [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Shok & Awe
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Today is mostly a traveling day to our next major destination, but we might as well see some pretty scenery on the way, right?

We're going to backtrack a touch (because I missed this on the way to Oban) back to Loch Awe to take a photo of Kilchurch castle. I just like the ruins of castles, so I don't want to miss it.

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Then up to Glencoe for a hike. A bloody Jacobite massacre happened here, but that doesn't decrease the beauty of the area. You can take an easy walk around Signal Rock or a 10km hike up the Devil's Staircase. You can even take a chairlift at the Glencoe Mountain resort.
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If you prefer, you can hike Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.
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From here, we'll drive the scenic Road to the Isles.
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Lots more pictures can be found here: http://www.zigzagonearth.com/road-to-the-isles-scotland/
Finally, we'll spend the night in the seaside down of Mallaig.
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18. Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:190]
Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
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You knew this was going to be showing up, didn't you?

Skye is amazing. I have no particular plans except to drive and see beautiful landscapes.

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At points, you feel like you will encounter a fairy. It really is a magical place.
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There is lots of hiking on Skye too, if that's your thing.
A common hike on Skye is to the Old Man of Storr.
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At the end of the day, we're going to head back to Inverness to spend the night. But first, we shall stop off at Eileen Donan, the Highlander Castle.
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19. Board Game: Loch Ness [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:9608]
Board Game: Loch Ness
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Time for Nessie Spotting!

If you like to be on a boat, apparently Jacobite Cruises is highly recommended. They have several different options to consider as well. However, we are definitely going to see Loch Ness today!

Loch Ness is actually 37km long and connects back to Inverness via a series of canals. I particularly like the view of it with Urquhart Castle in the forground:
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Not far from the Castle is Corrimony Cairns. It is a 60ft in diameter excavated passage grave surrounded by 11 standing stones. "The cairn is believed to have been built some 4000 years ago, and from faint traces found in 1952 is believed to have been the last resting place of a (presumably very high status) woman." (Undiscovered Scotland)

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Instead, not far from Inverness to the east are the Clava Cairns. There are actually 3 different cairn sites not far from each other, along with more standing stones. (It seems as though maybe some of these show up in the Outlander show somehow?)

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Finally, back to Inverness for another evening. It is a cute little town with some good shopping. My mom bought a lovely black wool hooded cloak here that she wore to church for years.
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20. Video Game: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:632] [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked]
Video Game: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
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Today we are heading to Ullapool. It is apparently a very pretty village, but we're here to catch a ferry to the Isle of Lewis, part of the Outer Hebrides.

On Lewis, we are first stopping at Carloway Broch, an iron age structure over 2000 years old for defense.
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Next up is the real reason for this trip - the Standing Stones of Callanish. They may have been erected as early as 3400 BC and were used predominantly as an astronomical calendar until about 800 BC.
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You may also remember them from Brave:
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21. Board Game: High Hand [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:15723]
Board Game: High Hand
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If you did not get enough birdies over on Mull, there is Handa Island:
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We will be heading to the northern bit of the island next, stopping at Smoo Cave, a hollowed out limestone cavern.
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If you want some local craft purchases, Balnakeil Craft Village is close by.

Finally, we will stop at John O'Groats, supposedly the northern most tip of the main island. But only if you want to say you've visited there. Dunnet Head is actually further north. And Duncansby Head is apparently more beautiful:
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22. Board Game: AberdeenOpoly [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: AberdeenOpoly
A face in the crowd
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(Side note: Apparently you don't live in a real city unless someone has turned it into a Monopoly game...)

ABERDEEN

"Aberdeen is a port city in northeast Scotland, where the Dee and Don rivers meet the North Sea.
With an offshore petroleum industry, the city is home to an international population.
It's also known as the ‘Granite City’ for its many enduring grey-stone buildings."-- Google

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"Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city and has one of the busiest heliports in the world.

The University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495, and the city is the educational center of North-eastern Scotland.
In 2012, Mercer named Aberdeen the 56th most liveable city in the world, as well as the fourth most liveable city in Britain. HSBC (a bank) named Aberdeen as a leading business hub and one of eight 'super cities' spearheading the UK's economy, marking it as the only city in Scotland to receive this accolade.

The city has a long, sandy coastline and a marine climate, the latter resulting in chilly summers and mild winters." -- Wikipedia

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Sounds like it would be a nice place to visit.

Castles? Check.

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Catch a football game?
Aberdeen plays in the Scottish Premier League and are perennial contenders for the cup.

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Maybe get in a game of golf? There are plenty of "links" courses around town.

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It actually looks to be a fairly relaxing place to visit.
Unless you're into naval history museums or old architecture, you'll be able to just walk around and work up an appetite for some local fish 'n' chips, or enjoy some Angus beef at a modern Scottish restaurant.

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23. Board Game: The Front Nine [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:7689]
Board Game: The Front Nine
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Did someone say golf? Surely we should swing by St. Andrews!

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(Though if you actually want to golf there, you should plan very far ahead.)

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club actually holds full legislative power over golf worldwide .... except for the US and Mexico.

But what I actually remember of St. Andrews is the cathedral ruins:
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24. Board Game: Wooly Wars [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:3121]
Board Game: Wooly Wars
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I just realized I had not included a picture of a "hairy coo"!! That is completely inexcusable. Keep your eyes open during drives between locations for these adorable cows.

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25. Board Game: West Wall [Average Rating:5.03 Overall Rank:18067]
Board Game: West Wall
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We took a day trip from Edinburgh south, mostly to see Hadrian's wall. Yes, it is in modern England, but it was built to keep the Picts (one of the kingdoms in ancient Scotland) out. Therefore, in my mind, it's the southern border of Scotland.

But there are great stops along the way and back:

Rosslyn Abbey is most known now for DaVinci Code, but even if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, this is a really cool place to stop. The inside feels like a treasure hunt of odd carvings.

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Melrose Abbey is a bit south of there and is a wonderful ruined church. It apparently has a stone for Robert the Bruce's heart, but we didn't find it in the limited time we had. (Silly us for going to grab a meat pie for lunch). But we did find the "gargoyle" of a pig playing a bagpipe!

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(It did not look like this for us. It was pouring down on us instead.)


Hadrian's Wall was a huge undertaking, a wide and tall wall spanning the entire countryside. I had seen it twice before, but Housesteads Fort had the most intact section that I had ever seen.

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On the way back, we had a quick stop at Jedburgh Abbey, which is yet another ruined church. A lot of churches were destroyed during the Reformation, but the bones are beautiful.
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