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Scotland Part 3: To tour or not to tour...

After taking in all the sights and sounds of Glasgow, the next step on my itinerary for my father's trip to Scotland was a group tour of the Highlands. That's right, a tour.
Now for many of you, that may invoke an image like the one below.

Tourists II
From here.
Actually, for me, this is missing the key item of touristas everywhere: the fanny pack. But I digress.
In actuality, I think tours can be kind of fun. Under the proper circumstances.
Which are:
  1. You are travelling alone in a place where you are unfamiliar with the customs, culture, geography or language and may get yourself in trouble if you go it alone.
  2. The tour actually takes you to places you would like to see, and does not fill your itinerary with stops to the historically accurate Q-tip factory or the culturally irrelevant miniature statue replica studio.
  3. The demographics of the tour are such that you can a.) find some cool people to hang out with or b.) plug in your headphones and tune out your companions completely.
When I travelled to China on my own in 2010, I took a tour from this company and had a phenomenal time, mostly because it fit all of the above qualifications. I was alone in a country that I probably would have struggled to get around on my own. Although we did make some pit stops at the jade factory and the teeny tiny terra cotta warrior makers, these stops were somewhat interesting and didn't outweigh the time we spent at more interesting places, like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. And finally, I travelled with a group of interesting people, some of whom had, like me, just life Korea after teaching English. We had a blast. As another note, traveling with a tour can sometimes be a great way to save coin. My trip was very reasonable, and because of the group rates the company had access to, we stayed in wonderful hotels, ate at great restaurants, and went to some really fun shows (Chinese acrobats? have you seen them? incredible). So for me, definitely the right decision.

@ the Terra Cotta Warrior Factory, Xi'an, China
Photo is mine
Dad wasn't sure he wanted to rent a car (and I wasn't sure I wanted him driving on the wrong side of the road and getting himself killed), so I did a little hunting for him on tours. On the Lonely Planet website, I came across the link to Viator tours and some short, small group tours of the highlands: Iverness, Glencoe, and even, yes, Loch Ness!
Nessie - Glasgow
Nessie from here.
(Apparently the boat window has a sticker on it to make it appear that "Nessie" is following you around the Loch.)
The tours were all a really good deal (from $59 for one day to $315 for a three day trip, with hotel.) There's even a Halloween themed tour of Edinburg that takes you to all the sights associated with murder, plague, and general death and haunting.

But, alas, the fish did not bite. Dad was afraid after taking a short walking tour in Glasgow populated mostly by octogenarians that he wouldn't be able to handle two or three days of touring at an aged pace. So,  he deviated from the itinerary and skipped over to Edinburg.
So tomorrow, the sights of the city!

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