Thursday, September 18, 2014

The UK Part I: Scotland!!

THIS IS MY 100TH POST!! I’ve written 100 posts!! Ah-mazing!! :D :D

Wednesday 25 June 2014
We were up and out the door to take the train to the airport. It was a little confusing, but we found our way to the correct platform (eventually).

In the Amsterdam airport, you can’t go to the gate until your flight is called, so we got snacks in the lounge area and waited.

Goodbye Amsterdam
Our flight to Glasgow, Scotland was uneventful. I booked these tickets last minute on Easyjet, which is pretty cheap. I knew I wanted to end our trip in the UK and we already have return tickets to the US from London. I knew I wanted to end on a roadtrip and I’ve always wanted to drive around England and Scotland. It’s SO beautiful. I debated going from London north and back again, but decided to go easy on ourselves and booked the flight to Scotland to drive south. Glasgow was cheaper than Edinburgh and there is the story of how we ended up on a super cheap plane to Glasgow ;)

We arrived in the rain. Stay true to yourself UK!! :P We took an easy airport bus into the city and were dropped off near our hotel. SO convenient. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure, exactly, where our hotel was, so we had to ask for directions.

I must admit that after so long…it was a relief to be able to ask for directions in ENGLISH. I mean, if you can call Scottish English. I still only got about every other word.

We trudged uphill to our hotel in the rain. Still so tired from the last few days…we rested a bit in the hotel before wandering around for dinner.

We found a little pub and had delicious burgers (remember when I was trying to be vegan? This trip has chucked THAT out the window. Fail.) and a pint. 

Everyone is insanely friendly so far. We mused a bit on checking out a nearby pub where Oasis had been discovered, but instead decided on returning for an early night. I’m not going to lie…we are wrecked. Thirty year olds can’t party like twenty year olds…not that I was ever very good at partying in general, but I’m even worse at it now ;) Drinking beer or wine and staying up all night is not for me!!

Thursday 26 June 2014
We had another lazy day. Shameful. It’s still spitting rain with a mix of sun and clouds. We roused ourselves around noon to walk the length of the city proper and have lunch near an indoor market. The market is quite popular on weekends, but was a bit dead midweek.

Glasgow gets a bad rap as being boring and industrial, but I found it had a lot of charm. The buildings are mostly sandstone Victorian. There are many squares adorned with statues. Plenty of shops and restaurants line the streets. Two days was more than enough, but Glasgow is certainly worth a visit.

See? Glasgow knows how to get crazy :D

I had a tasty salad for lunch with a glass of wine and Preston had a sandwich and beer. We both enjoyed our meals and continued to be met with friendly service and people.

We took a different route back towards the hotel for a bit and then headed out to a pub to watch the World Cup game.

We enjoyed pints of Guinness in the pub and watched the match mostly surrounded by old men (it’s still early :D).

I think this was when the US was eliminated. Wompa wa.

On the way ‘home’, we were handed a coupon for Indian food. My UK guidebook recommends countless Indian food places. Truthfully, since my visit to India in 2011 and eating NOTHING but Indian food for 33 days straight…I have a bit of PTSD about chana masala and friends. Nonetheless, I thought…’it’s been 3 years…let’s give it a go’. Pres and I had eaten that little Indian dinner in NZ, but it was only 2 small appetizers (entrees ;)), so this was my first time REALLY going all in on Indian food. 

Um, mistake. I thought it was time. It wasn’t. I even got a little excited in the restaurant to revisit some of my favorite dishes from India, but ick. First of all…the food IN India is MUCH better and second of all…just no. No. India is the ONLY place I’ve visited where it’s near impossible to get something other than local food (I’m a terrible person, I KNOW ;)).

Feeling quite ill, we walked back to the hotel and plopped on the bed. I watched “Made of Honor”, since I rather enjoy movies appropriate to my surroundings ;) Preston hated it (rightfully).

Friday 27 June 2014
We got up early today to catch the bus back to the airport. This time we needed only to go downhill with our heavy bags :D We aren’t actually flying anywhere, but had rented a car from the airport location. Many of the Glasgow city locations didn’t have what we needed.

I got Starbucks (which was a feat somehow managing all the bags) while Preston picked up the car. We got upgraded to a sweet Audi, since the cost was the same with the added GPS (the Audi had a built in GPS).


Preston hopped into the driver’s seat and navigated the left side of the road again driving manual. He’s a pro!! We took off into the hills north of Glasgow and were soon in the Highlands.

The road followed an old military route, like from the time when England was marching on Scotland. We curved up and through the increasing hills.

So difficult to capture the magnificence on camera

We stopped at a little rest stop overlooking the valley below. Preston got a bacon sandwich (!!).

Marking the old military road 

From there, we continued driving through the rolling hills and cute little towns. We passed a huge manor that I later read was used in Downton Abbey!! Some of the Christmas episodes were filmed here as the site of the fictional Duneagle Castle. 

Matthew? Mary? Mr. Bates??

Whatever though...Downton Abbey is DEAD to me. I LOVED that show and abruptly stopped watching when a certain someone met their death in a TOTALLY unnecessary car accident. This is the SECOND show (See: Robin Hood) that the BBC has ruined for me. The BBC is DEAD to me too!! You just can’t kill off main characters. Figure out how to get your actors into tighter contracts!! Managing a television station 101. Sheesh!! ;) Ok, rant over.

ANYWAY. We continued along following the winding path of beautiful lochs and down into and through the well known and picturesque valley of Glencoe.

I HONESTLY thought this was a hole in that hillside until we got closer and I realized it was snow ;)

I’d visited this valley back in 2007 on my first trip to Scotland. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to come back. This place is INCREDIBLE. We stopped at the visitor’s center to use the bathroom. I made an impulse buy of delicious mini shortbreads. 

Glencoe is the site of the infamous Massacre of Glencoe. The MacDonald clan was brutally murdered after being betrayed to the English by the Campbell clan, who had been accepted as guests in the MacDonald home. When all was said and done nearly 80 members of the MacDonald clan would be dead from brute force or exposure after their homes were burned. It's a pretty big no-no to kill your gracious hosts, so the Campbells aren't really favorites around here. My best friend is a Campbell and I can vouch for them not to be trusted ;) 

The drive continued up again through the beautiful passes.

We arrived at our cute B&B in Spean Bridge. Our room is decorated in purple, but is cute and cozy. It also has the smallest fridge I’ve ever seen. :D

Driving stick on the left hand side takes a lot out of ya

We got unpacked and debated taking a walk in the area. Preston wasn’t up for it, so we relaxed a while and then walked up the street to the Old Railway Station restaurant (literally the old railway station) for dinner. We were greeted by the friendly staff and had a pint at the little bar before being seated.

I had some delicious salmon and Preston had chicken stuffed with haggis. We had a little haggis pastry puff appetizer too. I find haggis completely disgusting, but Preston actually LIKED it.

For those that don't know, haggis is a traditional Scottish dish 'containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for approximately three hours'(Source:Wikipedia). I wish I had more pictures, I've gotten really lazy about photographing everything over these last few months.

We headed back to the hotel. I’m amazed again that the sun remains on the horizon well into the night.