The first thing that a hard core Shahrukh Khan fan can think about when you say Scotland is not the castles, not Harry Potter, not the scotch single malt and not the haunted graveyard and witch stories but only one thing... Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. This was the first location on our Europe trip and we flew from Bangalore to Edinburgh via Amsterdam on Jet Airways. Edinburgh has very good Bed and Breakfast places where you can enjoy the feel of staying in old sottish buildings with fireplaces and get a decent breakfast in the morning and head out for a whole day of adventure. We stayed at Edinburgh Regency Guest house run by an Indian origin person who helped us with where to find “Good Indian Food” especially with our vegetarian restrictions and we were surprised by huge number of options we found. We all find these places expensive and we decided to forget math for the entire trip :)
Now coming to the main purpose of my trip to Scotland, the title song of KKHH was shot in some of the amazing castle locations throughout Scotland including Eilean Donan, Glen Coe, Loch Lomond and Tantallon Castle with the nearby Bass Rock forming the backdrop in some scenes. For someone staying in the capital city Edinburgh, the closest one you can cover on your own is Tantallon castle. Eileen Donan and Glen Coe are a bit far away which might take 6 hours to reach from Edinburgh. There are day tours run by several agencies that cover the other locations but those trips would be on clock and you would not have time for self exploration or to enjoy some privacy in those beautiful spots. We had decided to rely on public transport as much as possible through out our trip though the local taxi service and uber too operate well in Edinburgh. We used those a couple of times as well. By the way Tantallon castle is not very famous in Edinburgh and most people would give you a quizzical look as to is that on top of someone’s list to go on the first day.
The best way to get to Tantallon castle is take ScotRail from Edinburgh Waverly station to North Berwick and then a bus 120 from North Berwick to Tantallon Castle . These operate at hourly frequency and hence it is better to plan and stick to timings as otherwise it would lead to unnecessary wait of an hour or a long walk of 3-4 miles. Buying tickets on bus is very simple in Scotland if you can have the right change and hence it is good to maintain the exact change if you want to use buses. Rail transportation is very efficient and easy to use. There is no stretchable time and schedule is adhered to the last second. We took the morning train to North Berwick but missed the bus. We were lucky to meet a nice Scottish lady at the store near the bus stop who gave us a lift till Tantallon castle though she wasn't going that way at all. Overall, we found people to be very helpful and friendly in Scotland.
When we reached the castle, we bought the entry ticket and a guided tour was starting but we skipped the tour as our goal was different. I wanted to feel every moment of my memories from back in 1998 of KKHH and dance to the tunes of the song at the castle. Being of a fan of Shahrukh Khan for 20 years, I danced my heart out at the castle not bothering about the fellow visitors :) Watch and enjoy. It is good to be mad about something in life that liberates you from “what will people think?”. We took some crazy photos and enjoyed every moment for about an hour and a half and decided to head back. Since there was half an hour left for the bus, we decided to walk 2 stops for half an hour and enjoy the beauty of Scotland and then catch the bus. The walk was beautiful. Just 3 of us with the sea on one side, grass fields on the other side with speeding cars once in 5 minutes. Then we took the bus and headed back to Edinburgh.
Now it was time to explore Edinburgh and cover some of the “Things to do” in Edinburgh. We customized it to our taste and covered it in 3 stints of self exploration.
A trek through Princes street garden to the Edinburgh Castle, walking along Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral visiting Scotch Whisky experience store along the way and enjoying hot Dal Chawal at Dishoom at sit out in cold weather.
A walk through Grass market , Grey Bobby Friar graveyard reading the story about the loyal pet dog, Holyrood park and climbing up to the Calton Hill for a beautiful view of the city winding up with Dinner at Jamie Oliver.
Playing at Children’s park at the Meadows and enjoying a Desi meal at Tuk Tuk Tuk. The place has a very Bollywood feel to it.
We also took a day package of Highland Whisky experience to the Glenturet Distillery for the famous Grouse experience. There are many such Highland experience tours available as packages and people can choose based on their interest and taste. We also visited a small preserved town on the way called Dunkeld which has a road of shops and cafes that was fun to explore. We had a Pesto sandwich and delicious pistachio lemon tart for lunch.
On the way back, we also got a view of Stirling castle. Edinburgh is full of historic buildings, castles and stories of ghosts and witches that create the mood of the city.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience as we got very lucky with the weather and people were thanking us for bringing the sun from India :) We also realised that the most beautiful experiences on such tours are the ones that we create for ourself through self exploration and visiting the not so popular hot spots that are there in every tour package’s list. Less the tourist crowd better the experience!