MEMORIES OF A HIGHLAND ADVENTURE

To Sue Sparkes, the best thing about any Divine Destination Collection trip is – you don’t have to think!

“They take you everywhere. They think for you. They plan for you. There is no detail that they have missed!” she laughs.

Sue has travelled with Divine Destination Collection to South Africa in the past and joined co-founders Allison Frame and Deb Niven on the group’s recent journey to Scotland – Mists, Mystics and the Whisky Trail.

“Everything was a surprise. All you had to do was be at a certain place at a certain time. And no matter where we went, the food and drink was outstanding. Everything is planned to the greatest detail. The transfers were even first class!”

Although Sue says it’s hard to pick one highlight, she says she loved the mystical Clava Cairns. When they arrived, there were picnic tables waiting for them, complete with buckets full of wine, bubbly, hot soup, and gourmet boxed lunches. To make the event even more magical, a flautist played as they enjoyed the scenery and explored the Cairns.

EVEN SCOTLAND’S FAMOUS SOGGY WEATHER BROUGHT SURPRISES

Another highlight for Sue was when a walk on the moors was cancelled because of extremely soggy weather. In its place, one of the TDDC guides took them on what they thought was an impromptu walk around the three golf courses at Gleneagles, filling them in on the history of the famous property. But when they came up over a hill, there were two pipers playing.

“It was so beautiful. Everyone was in tears,” says Sue.

The pipers led them to a gazebo where they sat around a fire pit and sipped hot toddies. The guests were also all given matching purple tartan scarves as a memento of their time in Scotland.

The last evening aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia was a huge standout. “We had it all to ourselves,” says Sue. After a champagne reception, the group had the chance to wander throughout the yacht and get a peek into royal life. “We had a magnificent meal and were entertained by adorable young Scottish dancers.”

“It seems like every time I turned around, there was something new.”

Leanne Hunter also enjoyed her experience aboard the Britannia. “I knew that going aboard the Britannia would be incredible, but I wasn’t expecting the food to be so amazing! It was the best dinner of the trip.”

But what really stood out for Leanne was her first glimpse of Inverlochy Castle, in the Highlands outside Fort William, where they stayed the first two nights. “It was the first of many jaw dropping experiences, walking into this beautiful, historic castle.”

A COUNTRY MADE FOR HISTORY LOVERS

A history buff, Leanne loved learning about Scotland’s fascinating past.

“I didn’t expect such a rich, cultural experience. The TDDC guides were great. They gave such a vivid account of what happened in Scotland’s history, and made it all the more fascinating by telling the history in story form, and often to music.” 

The visit to the Culloden Battlefield, the site of the final Jacobite Rising, was also a highlight for Leanne. “Even though it was incredibly sombre, it was wonderful to see how it’s been beautifully honoured.” 

Leanne also loved the surprise of seeing the pipers at Gleneagles. “The hotel was beautiful and the hike through the famous golf course was magical, especially when the bagpipers appeared in the distance, piping us into a cozy outdoor area with a fire and a ‘wee dram.’”

FAMILIES AND FRIENDS

In Edinburgh, Leanne loved the architecture and the rich history in such a bustling, vibrant city. “I could have stayed there for another week!” she says.

While in Edinburgh the group had the chance to dine with a local family to get a taste of Scottish culture. It was a great meal and the family was very warm and welcoming, says Leanne, but what made it extra special was when the daughter stood up and sang Caledonia, a beautiful Scottish folk ballad.

“It was unrehearsed and spontaneous. We were all teary-eyed. It was wonderful.”

Leanne says one other surprise was how much she enjoyed the whisky tasting. “I’m not a whisky drinker, but I did learn to appreciate it,” she laughs.

And finally, an unexpected part of the trip was how easily the group formed friendships. “We were all strangers at the beginning, but sharing the same wonderful experiences together creates a common bond. That may be the most spiritual part of this adventure for me.”

FOR THE ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT

John Kafieh finds the Divine Destination Collection trips to be more like an “adventure” rather than a vacation.

“They are more of a learning experience than just a sightseeing tour,” he says. “And the learning has as much to do about the discovery of things about ourselves, as with the destination itself.”

Like Sue and Leanne, John says he finds it difficult to pick just one highlight of the trip to Scotland. He enjoyed staying at the Inverlochy Castle and riding on the Jacobite Steam Train. He also couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking scenery in the Highlands and in Edinburgh.

“I would say the trip exceeded my expectations largely because of the scenery throughout the trip, and the combination of different modes of transportation used to get us around. Add to that the quality of the TDDC guides and the information that they provided us all along the way.

“Although we have some personal time to do as we please, we are generally moving from one experience to another. And I enjoy that. The only challenge is that we are doing so much in such a relatively short time I need to refer to our itinerary to remember all the things we have done!”

John has travelled with Divine Destination Collection to South Africa and Muskoka in the past, and enjoyed traveling with his daughter Vanessa on this trip.

“That was the real highlight for me.”

To find out about taking a group trip to Scotland, check out the Divine Destination Collection website or contact us at info@divinedestinationcollection.com if you have any questions.

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