The American in me (who am I kidding, I am American and that guy just won’t leave me alone) has a difficult time with the concept of “Paid Vacation”.

From my experience of working in the U.S. I get this cement anchor type feeling in my tum-tum whenever I take time off that’s longer than a 3 day weekend. Which is unfortunate since I’m given 20 days of holiday at my current job.

Anyway, now that we’re on the homestretch of buying our flat (still shit to do, but there’s a nice warm welcoming light at the end of the home-buyers tunnel) I suddenly realized that, “Holy Shit! It’s almost October and I’ve only taken 5 of my 20 paid vacation days!”.

Long story short: We’re trying to decide where we should spend a week of vacation.

Our options (so far) are: Salzburg, Austria and Scotland (in general).

Salzburg would be fun because I’m all about taking the Sound of Music tour and revisiting all the Mozart landmarks. (I was in Salzburg several years ago but I was Interailing and anyone who has ever Interailed will tell you that most of your time is spent trying to find youth hostels that have sinks with continuous running water so you can rinse your underwear and socks in them without having to pound on a button every 30 seconds or so.) (Also, I didn’t have the money to take the Sound of Music tour.)

Needless to say, revisiting Salzburg in a more controlled I-can-actually-pay-for-my-room-and-not-have-to-sleep-on-park-benches type of situation definitely has its perks… in that I won’t be sleeping on a park bench this time. Unless things go terribly, terribly wrong.

But on the other hand, I haven’t been to Scotland for a long time either.

The last time I went to Scotland was with 3 other American friends way back in the dinosaur age of 1990. It would be nice to go back and see the creepy landscape with a fresh new perspective of someone who has spent 3 years in Northern Ireland and isn’t afraid to tackle the Scottish Egg.

Ruth and I are going to talk about this tonight but, boy, I’m torn. Crazy Austrians or Crazy Scots… It’s a tough decision all round.



  1. I’m sure this will offend Scots and Irish alike, but wouldn’t a trip to Scotland be somewhat redundant?

    (yes, I’m American)

  2. Phil, Ouch… That hurt buddy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Eh, I can’t say too much, because there is a very small amount of Scottish mixed in with me Irish. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Scotland is great, but since you live within a short distance, and can therefore visit anytime, go to Salzburg, Austria.

    However, if ya are strapped for cash, go to Scotland dude. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you do go to Scotland, try some Aberlour A’Bunadh Whiskey, for it is the best damn Scotch Whiskey you’ll ever have. Just don’t tell any Irish people about it, when you get back. You don’t want to start that debate. lol…

  3. I would do Austria. That would be my vote but it’s cause i’ve never been there, although i always have fun in Scotland!
    I, too, have been told by my employer to take some damn vacation days, so I’m off to Italy this time next week for 10 days.. whoo hoo! Any tips for Rome?

  4. Phil- yes and no. There’s a lot of difference between N. Ireland and Scotland – like mountains and stuff and ummmm… well mountains, I guess.

    Healy- DON’T get into a cab without agreeing the price before you get in. That’s the main thing. Other than that just enjoy yourself. Rome is absolutely amazing and one of the few places that I’ve been to where I feel like I didn’t see enough of it. Have fun!

  5. Easy. Travel light and leave the car behind: let go with a return to nature in the Highlands and Islands. I did this last summer (and usually spend a week or two every summer on one of the small islands). Take the Stena HSS to Stranraer and then the train to Glasgow. Live it up in the big city for a night or two, then take the train to Fort William. The railway line from Fort William on to Mallaig is one of the most beautiful in the world (and yes, it was the one they used for the Harry Potter films… you can even ride that steam train). Stop at one of the stations along the way: I know that at least one has a hostel in the old station buildings. Then strike out into the beautiful countryside for walks and hikes. Take the train on to Mallaig, and then choose to take the ferry to either Skye (the obvious choice) or to one of the quieter Small Isles. Eigg is easy to explore on foot, Rhum is so ragged and barren it’s almost best seen from the other islands. Muck is beautifully small and peaceful. Canna is the furthest and perhaps the most remote. You can get cheap accomodation on all of the islands. An Island Hopscotch ticket will take you from to the other on the regular CalMac ferries. Absolute bliss, but do it soon before winter kicks in.

    Oh, and did I mention that you would be commiting cultural suicide if you go and do the Sound of Music tour?


  6. You make a very convincing argument there James–especially since I’m a huge fan of trains (travelling trains that is, not commuter trains). I will pass this on to my wife and see if she has the same reaction (I know she wants us to take the car because that means I’ll drive while she takes in the scenery which I find unfair at times).

    As for the Sound of Music Tour… my sole purpose is (like 1000’s of other loser American tourists with no sense of history) to get a picture of myself twirling on that damn hillside.

    It’s the principle of the thing.

  7. I see.

    I realize my comment sounded akin to saying “well, you live in the U.S., why travel to another state?”, but to me the difference between N. Ireland and Scotland would be like the difference between Georgia and Alabama. Sure, I realize they are different, but how much rolling peat and old castles can you see?

    But now I see it is like when we go to North Georgia, to see the mountains.

    ….Go to the other place.

  8. P.S. I like the large lettering font on your ‘comments’ entry box. You should see a spike in posters 65 and older.

  9. (region info, including links for accommodation etc.) (the seasonal steam trains Fort William to Mallaig) (all other trains, including combined ferry fares from Belfast) (ferry info between the Scottish islands)

    Sheer bliss. I’ll be back on Muck in June 2007, can’t wait.


  10. Cheers, James!

    Are you like a professional travel writer or something? Or are you hired by the Scottish Mafia to deliver offers I can’t refuse?

    Either way, thanks! (Oh, btw…your post got sent to moderation cuz you had more than 2 links…just in case you were wondering why it didn’t show up right away. It’s a SPAM thang…)

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