Romantic Scotland

Continued (page 3 of 4)

8. Hike the Highlands

Inland from Loch Oich is Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom. At 4,490 feet, it still tops out lower than Denver, but it's a serious, craggy peak, with its own weather—it seems to be quite fond of wind and fog. People do climb it, but I settled for a walk on its lower slopes, checking out vast stands of pink flowers that looked like the Rolling Stones' lips logo. The air smelled as it must have when the world was all shiny and new. By evening, I was soaking up the warmth of The Creggans Inn, set on the shores of Loch Lomond, watching sunset duel with an incoming storm. The winner wasn't decided for hours.

9. Learn Gaelic

I was nearing the end of my visit and feeling very smug about all I'd done, until I tried my hand at learning two Scots Gaelic phrases essential for a happy relationship. Asking whomever I bumped into, I got "I love you" rather easily—Tha gaol agam ort in the country's old language. But no one would translate "Sorry, you can't have my Internet password."

10. Get to Know Glasgow

My last stop was Glasgow, a city that spent decades getting bad press until it reinvented itself as Scotland's art capital, and the only place in Europe that gives Reykjavik, Iceland, a run for its money in the nightlife department. I went to check in at Malmaison, a sleek hotel housed in a converted Greek Orthodox church, but there was a problem: '70s Scottish bubble-gum rockers the Bay City Rollers were in my room and wouldn't leave. (It wasn't even S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night.) Once I finally checked in, I discovered that my suite had a loft and a tub big enough to float Woman I Love. There was even massage lotion. Outside, Glasgow was a mosaic of cobblestoned streets and beautiful people out for a stroll. A string quartet played on one corner, and a man in a kilt played bagpipes on another. I stopped and listened, looking forward to a final bite of haggis. Maybe my parents had lied to me about where our people came from, but I found them out, and now I've found my place on the planet. Woman I Love had better start packing, because I'm home.

(For more info, call 800-462-2748 or go to visitscotland.com.)

Scotland Essentials
What To Do

Balmoral Castle & Gardens

The grounds are open daily for free strolls from early April to late July. Cottages are for rent year-round when the royals are away. (Cottages from $785 per week. Tel: 44-01-339-742-534; balmoralcastle.com)

Deepscan Cruises

This Drumnadrochit-based company offers one-hour Loch Ness cruises. (Tours from $18.50. Tel: 44-01-456-450-573; loch-ness-scotland.com)

The Glenlivet Distillery

Free tours and not-to-be-missed tastings. (Tel: 44-01-340-821-720; theglenlivet.com)

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