for fellow travellers

Friday, May 22, 2009

Inverness - Things to do

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We were chalking out as to what our itinerary would be in Inverness.
Things to do

1. Culloden visitors centre.
The timings are 9am - 6pm Summer (April - October)
The prices are
Adult - £10.00
Family - £24.00
Concession - £7.50
Single Adult Family - £20.00

Hire of a battlefield tour PDA is included in the price of admission.

Weekly off: Battlefield open daily, all year

2. Happy tours
History Walking Tour of Inverness,
through heart of the City
The tour begins outside the Tourist Information steps
The timings are Every day at 11am, 1pm or 3pm!
The prices are Adults £10, Super Adults £8, Kids are Free
Discounted rates for larger parties.
Weekly off : they operate 365 days a year.

3. Lochness tour
Still to be researched
The timings are
The prices are
Weekly off

4. Floral Hall
The timings are Easter to October - Daily, Floral Hall & Gardens 10am – 5pm, Coffee Shop 10am -4.30pm
Last admissions to Floral Hall & Gardens, 30 minutes before closing time.
The prices are
Adults £2.00
Under 18s Free of Charge
Senior Citizens £1.50
Weekly off : it seems that there is no weekly off.

Cawdor castle is privately owned and extrememly expensive at 30 pounds per person. we decided to give it a miss.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

VFS UK Delhi

We reached the VFS UK, (Upper Ground Floor, S-2 Level, International Trade Tower, Nehru Place, New Delhi 110019) without appointment early in the morning at 7:30 am there was already a queue. We got a number for waiting for paying the visa fees at the cash counter.
In case of USA visa this fees can be paid by applicants in their hometowns at a HDFC , specified counter.
After 3 emails to UK VFS we got an appointment for a date other than the 3 dates we had requested.
Although not mentioned in the required list of documents a Bank statement is absolutely required to be submitted at the time of application.
In 2007 when we went to USA we had been sure that we would be refused visa. But they had told us not to buy flight tickets or pay for accommodation before getting the visa. For the UK visa you have to purchase tickets before hand and also book accommodation. What happens when they refuse visa? I found the Working of US embassy much smoother and systematic than UK VFS.
After submitting all documents and after hours of standing in, this queue then that queue, we were told that we may still be required to come for an interview, that was ultimate especially for us, coming from another city.
We proceeded to Biometrics where we had to give finger prints of all 10 fingers. They took photographs also. AVOID MEHNDI (Henna) application on hands if applying for a UK Visa, otherwise you might have to postpone your visit to UK.
First time visitors to UK and less frequently travelled people should be prepared that their applications would take a longer time to process.
Collecting the passports afterwards was again not easy. I suggest you stand in line by 5:30 pm otherwise there would be a long queue.
Pankaj had last year applied for a 5yr visa to the UK. The family had a history of travelling to UK for 3 times in the last 4yrs. He had payed the hiked visa fees only to receive a visa for 2years. In contrast one applies for a tourist visa to the US embassy for 6 months and they even give you a 10 yr multiple entry visa in the same fees.
I think UK VFS seriously needs to revamp the processing process which they are currently doing for visa applications.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Visit Scotland - planning a trip

Planning a trip to Scotland has turned into a daunting task, with so many inputs from so many forums and the wish to see as much as possible. Expectations are high as we have been told that it is the most beautiful place in the world. I got this map from a truly great site.
The best car rental site is Arnold Clark rental.
I found a tour appropriate for us at Globus.

Day1 Hull – Edinburgh, Scotland.
This morning a magnificent highlight visit to see the lavish ALNWICK GARDEN, where the fountains and waterfalls are a breathtaking feature. Take your photos of the castle, ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, setting for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the recent Harry Potter films. In the afternoon, distant views of Holy Island and Lindisfarne, then cross the border at Berwick-on-Tweed and head for Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. Optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and the Ceremony of the Haggis

Day 2 At Leisure in Edinburgh.
Morning city sightseeing of the 200-year-old “New Town” and famous scientists, inventors, and novelists. In the “Old Town,” drive up the narrow Royal Mile to EDINBURGH CASTLE to admire Scotland’s Crown Jewels, then explore HOLYROOD PALACE (except when the Queen is in residence). The afternoon is free to enjoy this “Prince of Cities” at your own pace. Later, a unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia, once the perfect royal residence for the Queen’s glittering state visits and family holidays. Tour five decks and see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds off this optional evening.
Day 3 Edinburgh–Pitlochry–Braemar–Inverness.
Over the elegant Forth Road Bridge and into the Highlands. Stop at the Victorian mountain resort of Pitlochry, then head for Deeside with its royal connections and visit pretty Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games for over 900 years. Cross heather-clad moors for a visit to a WHISKY DISTILLERY, see the ancient art of converting barley, water, and yeast into a heart-warming liquor. Spend the night at Inverness, the Highland capital.

Edinburgh–St. Andrews–Braemar–Inverness. (Wed.) Over the elegant Forth Road Bridge and through Fife to St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, has given us the rules of golfing. Cross the Firth of Tay and from Dundee head into the Highlands with a lunch stop in pretty Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games for over 900 years. Drive through the Grampian Mountains, following the River Dee in the area where the Royal Family spends their summer holidays. Later, visit a WHISKY DISTILLERY, see the ancient art of converting barley, water, and yeast into a heart-warming liquor. The next two nights are spent in the Highland capital.

Day 4 Inverness–Isle of Skye.
A leisurely day with a stop first at CULLODEN VISITOR CENTRE, which sets the scene of the crushing Hanoverian victory over Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scottish clans. Plenty to focus your camera on as you follow the shores of Loch Ness, keeping a lookout for the mysterious monster.
Then call at CAWDOR CASTLE, setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and for over 600 years home to the Thanes of Cawdor. View the castle rooms and take a stroll through the gardens. Back in Inverness, the rest of the day is free to explore this compact city. We can have the Loch Ness Experience excursion including a cruise on the loch followed by supper at a local inn.
After a lunch stop in Fort Augustus, cross onto the Inner Hebridean Isle of Skye, the relaxing setting for tonight’s stay. Before dinner an optional excursion to spectacular Eilean Donan Castle.

Day 5 Isle of Skye–Fort William–Glasgow.
Call at the Clan Donald Centre for a visit to its MUSEUM OF THE ISLES and an insight into 13 centuries of clan history before boarding your FERRY at Armadale to sail across the Sound of Sleat. Rejoin the mainland at Mallaig and follow the “Road to the Isles,” pausing at Glenfinnan, the site where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s standard was raised in 1745. More scenic highlights this afternoon: Fort William beneath Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain; the shores of lovely Loch Linnhe; the mountain pass known as Glen Coe, where the MacDonald Clan was treacherously massacred by the Campbells; wild Rannoch Moor; and the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond. On arrival in Glasgow, your orientation drive takes in the 12th-century cathedral, imposing university buildings, and elegant Georgian squares built by the wealthy tobacco barons.

If possible
Glasgow. Excursion to the Isle of Bute.
A worthwhile last day’s excursion out of Glasgow with a short drive and FERRY crossing to the picturesque Isle of Bute. The highlight is a visit to the Marquess of Bute’s MOUNT STUART HOUSE, Britain’s most spectacular Victorian gothic stately home, built in the 1880s in breathtakingly grand proportions. Here you’ll be welcomed in the family’s private sitting rooms for morning coffee, see this amazing house. Back in Glasgow, the rest of the afternoon is free for last-minute shopping before enjoying a farewell dinner at your hotel.

CITY: Edinburgh

Scottish Evening April 1 - October 31
No visit to Scotland's capital city would be complete without joining a Scottish evening with dinner, wine and a show featuring singers, dancers, bagpipers and the Ceremony of the Haggis.
Approximate value: GBP £50 per person

Rosslyn Chapel
Take a short trip from Edinburgh to visit Rosslyn Chapel, featured in the best selling novel The Da Vinci Code.
Approximate value: GBP £18 per person

Royal Yacht Britannia and Dinner
A visit on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, now moored at Leith docks, is followed by dinner with wine and coffee at a local restaurant.
Approximate value: GBP £47 per person

CITY: Isle of Skye

Eilean Donan Castle and Pub Visit
Enjoy a visit to spectacular Eilean Donan Castle followed by a drink of your choice at a local inn.
Approximate value: GBP £19 per person


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