What makes a trip with Trek Travel a “cycling vacation of a lifetime”? Is it the best bikes? The best gear? The best guides? The ability to make each day your own? Well, it’s all the above, and then some.
Our guides and trip designers work to build strong local connections, which allows us to make each trip a unique experience. Last month, I was fortunate enough to witness one of these experiences in Scotland.
We finished our first day’s ride and arrived back at the Deeside Inn in the royal highland town of Ballater. When you walk in the hotel, you feel that you’ve stepped back into the 19th century. The hotel is complete with traditional tartan patterns, overstuffed sofas and an inviting fireplace.
As we enjoyed drinks before dinner, our guides went over the next day’s route. They had received word from the hotel that Queen might be participating in tomorrow’s parade down Bridge Street (the main street). We’d have to slightly alter the ride to accommodate the parade at noon. The group agree to the alterations, so we could catch a glimpse of the Queen passing by in her Rolls Royce.
After dinner, one of our guides, Will, reached out to his local contact to confirm the timing of the Royal Parade. Will was quickly informed that the Queen was not confirmed to be a part of the scheduled parade. The Queen would, however, be inspecting the Royal Regiment of Scotland as part of her summer residence at Balmoral Castle. Will took down details of the Queen’s inspection and quickly planned out a new route.
By morning, our guide team was ready to go with a new route. They shared the revised option with the rest of the guests. Everyone was excited for a quick out and back, with just enough time to get past the road closures. We also had the option to ride again in the afternoon.
The road was scheduled to close at 11:00 am. We finished our ride out to Glenmuick, and passed the police road block near the back of the group without any problem. I knew there were three more guests and another guide behind me. Our group joined about twenty others waiting to catch a glimpse of the Queen. We chatted with some of the other onlookers to find out that most happened to be passing by when they saw others gathering in front of the gates and stopped. No one I spoke with planned to see the Queen.
After about an hour of waiting, we were greeted by the sounds of the Scottish National Anthem played loudly by the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The regiment moved into position and stood patiently. Less than 15 minutes later, a regal purple Rolls Royce pulled up to the gate. The door opened, and a small woman opened the car door and shook hands with local royalty from the region.
Everyone stood in awe as the Queen slowly walked closer to us and began her inspection of the Royal Regiment. The commander walked her around patiently as she looked over the regiment, including inspection of Lance Corporal Cruachan IV, the regiment’s Shetland Pony mascot.
It was all over in less than 30 minutes, but it was undoubtedly an experience that will stick with each guest for a very long time. After the Queen stepped back into her Rolls Royce I sent photos to my coworkers, friends, and family back in the U.S. I even sent a picture to a friend from Edinburgh, who was shocked, as she had never seen the Queen in person. One of our guides made the joke, she was dressed in Trek Travel blue for our group.
While not every trip is going to include a visit from the longest reigning monarch, each trip is going to stay with you for a lifetime. If you’re celebrating an anniversary, birthday, retirement, or other special occasion, make sure to let your Trip Consultant know when booking. We want to help make it extra special for you. Even if you’re just traveling on a fun filled vacation, our guides strive to make each trip unique and uncover exclusive experiences by tapping into their local network.
Explore the braes of Scotland