Armin's World Tour of Scotland

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Facts of the Tour:
Date: 01/July/2002 - 22/August/2002
From: Swindon
Via: Various places in Scotland
To: Swindon
Miles: 4170
Midges: Quite a few, but not as many as feared
Weather: Everything, but mostly OK
Mood: Mainly very good

Picture of two piles of laundryWith the first laundry load in the washing machine it was time for a look back over the tour. Some statistics, some thoughts, that kind of thing. First the boring (or may be interesting for some?) facts: I was on the road for 53 days, in this period I drove 4170 miles and slept in 30 different beds (my own on the last day not included). I completed 16 ferry crossing (if I counted correctly), not including the passenger ferry to Loch Leven Castle. I didn't add up the number of midges, but there weren't as many as I had feared before the tour. I saw two dolphins and a lot of seals (lost count here). I didn't bag any Munros, not sure what the highest point of my tour was though.

Picture of my souvenirsSo what did I take away from my tour? A lot. In regards to worldly goods a few souvenirs, like the sheepskin rug and the handknitted Shetland jumper (Sweater for my American readers). Also a handwoven Harris Tweed rug and a lot of brochures from all over Scotland. And some beer from Scotland's most northerly brewery, although I will drink that soon. Not to forget a Christmas present for my sister (not on the picture for obvious reasons). But much more important are other things in my eyes. Did I enjoy the tour? Did I achieve what I wanted to achieve? Did I meet nice people? How was the weather? Would I do anything different if I had the chance?

I feel this tour was one of the best things I've done in my life, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've seen so many things, had so many experiences, it will take a while to really absorb it all. Looking back at my planned route I did pretty much follow it and visited the places I had set out to visit. It is very difficult to point out the highlights, I enjoyed almost all places I visited. If I'm pressed to name any places I would probably go for Islay and for Shetland. But all the other areas wouldn't be far behind. I very much enjoyed writing down my experiences, trying to show what I saw to other people.

One of the most important things are the people I met. I met all kind of people, other travellers, hotel and B&B proprietors, tourist attraction staff and local people from the various places I visited. It was great to meet all of them and enjoy their helpfulness and hospitality. Not to forget the interesting conversations I had with other travellers and local people alike. Thanks to all of you, you know who you are. Also a Thank you to my readers, thank you for following me on my tour and sending me feedback. And to Stuart Mudie and Brent Ashley for the mentions in their blogs.

Picture of my laptop and mobile phoneWould I do anything different if I had the chance? No, not much I think. I might not choose some of the places I stayed in again, in particular the rather noisy ones. It took me a while to learn how to upload the pages most efficiently via my GPRS Mobile phone (yes, that's a cellphone for Americans). I sometimes wasted too much time trying to upload the pages when waiting for a better reception in another place would have been more efficient. I might prepare slightly better in regards to some of the equipment, for example I only bought the right bag for my camera several days into the tour. But then I simply learned what works and what doesn't while I went along.

If you have the chance to go on a sabbatical I can only say, go for it, it's worth it. But make sure you plan it well and know what you want to get out of it.

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