Next October The Divine Destination Collection will be travelling to the land of haggis, stone circles, bagpipes, and whisky… lots of whisky.
Full of royal intrigue – after all, it was in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace where David Rizzio, the supposed lover of Mary Queen of Scots, was stabbed to death right before her eyes – and grand, sweeping scenery that changes from almost moonscape starkness to mist-covered highlands, craggy coastlines, majestic snow-capped mountain ranges, and deep, beautiful lochs (that may or may not be inhabited by otherworldly creatures), Scotland is the perfect mix of the ancient and the modern.
This fall, The Divine Destination Collection’s co-founders Deb Niven and Allison Frame visited Scotland to check out three important aspects of this upcoming journey – the spirituality, the luxury, and of course, the adventure.
A SPIRITUAL QUEST
Scotland is believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christianity in Western Europe, so Deb and Allison travelled to where it all started – Iona Abbey on the Isle of Iona, close to the Isle of Mull on the west coast of Scotland. Home to the 9th century St. Martin’s Cross, you can imagine the monks of St. Columba going about their religious duties (as well as fending off the occasional Viking incursion) as ocean waves crash along the shore, and the wind howls through the haunting halls of the abbey.
But while most people think of Scotland as a predominately Christian culture, with the majority of Scots belonging to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland or the Roman Catholic Church, evidence of pre-Christian cultures such as Celtic Paganism can still be found – like the mysterious circles of various-shaped stones, organized in rings, in various locations around the country and believed to be more than 5,000 years old.
The famed Clava Cairns, a cemetery dating back to the bronze age filled with ancient monuments of piled stones. For Outlander fans this site was the inspiration for Craigh na Dun where Claire went back in time through the stones to 1743.
It is also a mystical place, with folktales full of fairies and “thin places”, where the earthly veil is pulled back to reveal where heaven meets our world. When Allison and Deb visited the Isle of Skye, they were convinced it was an area of high energy concentration or energy vortex (the intersections of natural electromagnetic earth energy, also known as ley lines).
A Taste of Luxury
Scottish fare hasn’t traditionally been known as gourmet cuisine, but just as a food revolution has taken over England, amazing food has come to Scotland, with many restaurants, such as Edinburgh’s Ondine – which offers fresh seafood and shellfish from the east coast of Scotland – making it onto the best restaurant lists in the U.K.
But while the duo had amazing meals at new and innovative restaurants, it was the shortbread, homemade scones with jam and clotted cream and a cuppa strong tea that really dazzled their taste buds. And oh yes, let’s not forget the whisky tastings.
There are 120 active distilleries spread across Scotland, and while Deb and Allison didn’t get to try them all – they got a feel for the five distinct regions where whisky is produced. It turns out where a whisky is made has a huge bearing on its taste. Everything from the water source to the peat in the area will come through in the flavour.
Another surprise was the variety of gin tastings to be found. Scotland is home to many of the world’s best-selling gins, such as Gordon’s, Tanqueray, and Hendricks, but only now is Scotland getting the attention it deserves for its expertise in gin production.
It is also where you can travel along the cobbled steps of the Old Town, then venture into the chic boutiques and trendy restaurants on Princes Street in the New Town. Of course, it is guaranteed that you will meet a few local “characters” along the way. This is the site of the original Fringe Festival, after all.
While Edinburgh can transport you to a glittering past filled with royal pomp and circumstance, Glasgow ushered in another era for Scotland. This is where Charles Rennie Macintosh designed his famous tea rooms and took Glasgow’s reputation in architecture and the decorative arts to world renown at the end of the 19th century.
Glasgow is also where statues of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns preside over the city’s principal meeting place, George Square – highlighting how important great literature is to this country.
But while these two great cities captured their imaginations, it was the countryside that really captured Allison and Deb’s hearts. From feasting on fresh mussels in Oban, a picturesque port town on the west coast of Scotland, to seeing double rainbows on the Isle of Mull, and meeting an assortment of friendly highland cows (pronounced heeland coos by the locals) – every day held an a unique and unexpected surprise.
So get ready for a magical trip to the land of Outlander, Harry Potter, and the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel, where Dan Brown set the finale of The Da Vinci Code.
“We are going to offer our travellers a chance to experience some amazing adventures they wouldn’t be able to find on their own,” says Allison. “Our hope is to give them a true sense of Scotland by exploring the land, learning about its history and ancient cultures, and connecting to its mystical side.
“We will, of course, include the high-quality accommodations and fine dining our guests have come to expect, along with the great camaraderie of like-minded travellers.”
A full itinerary is coming soon – so keep checking back to see what’s in store for you on this amazing tour of the mists, mystics and whisky trails of Scotland!
Unique travel experiences... where luxury, adventure and spirituality meet!
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