I am putting together a tour of Scotland for a Solo American Woman over 50. She will be visiting Glasgow, Oban, Inverness, Aberdeen, St Andrews & Edinburgh. The lady in question doesnt just want a vacation but she wants a learning experience along the way, Really getting involved in every day life, interacting with locals as much as possible and understanding the culture of the areas she is visiting. She has done a lot of the tourist spots before so is really looking to go off the beaten path and find those unique hidden gems. Interacting with inspirational women along the way would be a massive bonus for her as she has done a lot for the area she lives in. Looking forward to hearing any recommendations. Thank you in advance
I only know Edinburgh somewhat well, but if you say she has already done the tourist spots, the main thing I’d advise is a homestay location, with Leith probably being the best area. Central enough but not strictly in the Old or New Towns, it is defined by the Leith Walk avenue connecting these areas with the industrial, more working class port of Leith.
Like many working class neighborhoods in cities that have become big tourist destinations, Leith has a very cool diversity (verging on gentrification). Migrants are a strong presence in Leith and this is clear strolling along the Walk, where the standard UK Asian and Mediterranean eateries and supermarkets, are accompanied by less-common businesses like an arepería, a Polish community center and a Swedish-inspired bar.
Hipstery and diverse, Leith is still far from devoid of its working class roots. For better or worse, both Trainspotting movies are centered on Leith, and the presence of drug use is felt, but the main impulse is definitely towards “regeneration”. The infamous Banana Flats are an unmissable feature closer to the Firth of Forth, and the Foot of the Walk area around them is as “every day life” as it gets.
Mary, of the absolute ice cream institution that is Mary’s Milk Bar, and Mama Bross, the Canadian founder of Edinburgh’s Montreal-style bagel chain Bross Bagels and a former comedian, are some of the most inspirational women I can think of in the city that I’ve met (just barely). There are many women-lead art initiatives like Dovecot Studios as well (not been there myself, but definitely intend to).
This is exactly what I want to do next year, except I want to also travel the whole of Scotland and to some of the islands. Interested to learn what you came up with and how your client liked her trip.
Hi, you’ve probably already finished organising but if she want to “get off the beaten path” then I’d recommend exploring a lot more of the smaller towns and villages in Scotland.
For the east coast places like Stonehaven, Frazerburgh and Peterhead. On the west, the Kintyre peninsula - Skipness, Macrahanish.
And some of the islands too - a flight to Barra and land on the beach? Or Mull to the colourful town of Tobermory, or Arran “Scotland in miniature”
Don’t forget the majestic Scottish Borders - Peebles, Galashiels
Lots to explore in central Scotland too - my home town of Stirling a great starting point to head up the middle of Scotland to Speyside - Pitlochry or head west from Stirling to Aberfoyle, Loch Lomond.