Scotland

I apologize in advance for all the weird formatting.  This was all cut and pasted from my old blogger website!  Enjoy!

POST #1

09/03/2010

Okay – we are almost there… 

While most of you have been snuggled in your beds, we were on a flight from SLC to Paris.  The amount of luggage us three girls brought is rediculous.

It was about 10 hours and the plan was to sleep the whole way…well…that didn’t happen.  We all had our methods of sleeping drug cocktails.  Ambien, Lortabs, Halcion, you name it, we tried it…to no avail.  So we are now sitting through a four hour layover in Paris.  Tracy and Abby have found some comfy spots to sleep.

One sad little side note…

Since I met Tracy long ago, she has talked often about her deep desire to visit France.  Her first time to Europe was last year when she went to Spain.  She had a layover in Paris both ways, but never left the airport.  When we arrived here, she realized that she has now been to Paris three times without ever leaving the airport.  So she sat staring longingly out the windows….

Well thats all for now!  We will be in Scotland in a few hours and thats when the real fun begins!

Friday, September 3, 2010

How did we get ourselves here?

So we arrived in Scotland right on time and our good friend Stan graciously offered to pick us up from the airport.  He met us right outside of customs and drove us straightaway to our hotel.  I can honestly say that a familiar face was exactly what we needed after a crazy day of airplanes and airports!We grabbed a quick shower and ventured out to go grocery shopping.  After grabbing a few things we decided to get dinner at the pub around the corner from our hotel with the big sign that read “Serving great food daily!”  Turns out it was false advertising…no food on Fridays.  They recommended a chinese restaurant around the corner where we had a great dinner.  Strangely enough they offered us a choice of steamed rice or chips.  For those of you that don’t know, chips are not the Ruffles that we are used to at home (which would have been even stranger).  They are deep fried potatoes.  Seriously?!?!  Who orders deep fried potatoes with chinese food?!?!

On our way home we came across a pub that looked irresistible!

Had a few beers and discovered a beer that Tracy just couldn’t resist called “T”…
After a couple beers, some crazy drunk chick was rambling on about liver disease so we decided to bug out to another bar called Smithie’s where the adventure really began!
We had a couple drinks.  Turns out that they have Captain Morgans here (for those of you that don’t know, thats my drink of choice), but it is called Morgan’s Spiced.  After a few of those, we wanted to take a picture of us so we asked the guys next to us to take a picture.  So they did…
But then they decided that we needed to hang out with them…especially Paul…who took this awesome self portrait to share with all of you at home…
Paul and his crew consisting of his wife, friends and family invited us to drink with them and we had a blast talking about Paul’s obsession with bluegrass, the Shetland islands, and other miscellaneous Scottish subjects.  Here is part of the crew…
After a few hours and a few drinks they invited us to go over to their apartment around the corner to hang out for some after hours cocktails.  We decided to join them, but had no idea what a treat we were in for.  On the way home, Paul ran into a group of musicians with a band called Penny Candy and invited them to join us back there.  They graciously accepted and the party began!
Once we got to Paul and Fiona’s house (his lovely wife) they had a whole room set up for music including Paul’s banjo and mandolin.  Next thing we know we are sitting in the middle of an impromptu jam session.  I have a video to share with you, but I don’t have the patience to wait for it to upload on this painfully slow connection.  I will try to get it posted tomorrow…  The jam session went on for hours with many of our favorite tunes.
Wow – what a great night and surprise adventure.  We met some great new friends and they told us that tradition in the Shetland Islands (where they all hail from) is that “if the lights are on, come on over”, so we are hoping to see them again during our stay.
By the way, it’s 4:00 AM here.  Yes, my friends, that means that I have gone way over 36 hours without sleep and Tracy and Abby are running on a whopping two hours max each.  Plenty of time to sleep when we are dead.  Looking forward to many more adventures here in Scotland!
Cheers and stay tuned!!  Tomorrow brings our first venture out into Princes street, the Botanical Gardens, and a Flamenco performance at the International Festival!
-Lisa, Abby, and Tracy
POST #2
09/04/2010

The grass in Scotland IS actually greener… 

Hi everyone!
As you might imagine, we got a late start on the day.  If you are wondering why, refer to the previous post!  We started out by having a nice lunch at an Italian cafe a few blocks up.  We found out that they refer to Arugula as “Rocket” which is a bit odd, but I guess the word Arugula is strange too…  Also discovered that bacon here is what we call ham at home…yuck!
So then we ventured up to the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens where we spent most of the day.  We discovered a lot of beautiful fields of flowers, streams, and found it very peaceful and relaxing.  Just what we needed!!
We (I) dedicated a good portion of our (my) time (convincing Tracy and Abby) to hide behind huge plant leaves.  This provides fun for all.  Okay, mostly me, but I am sure someone, somewhere would find this fun besides me…
They were having a special exhibit on, of all things, fungi.  It was complete with large plastic mushrooms…
…and a whole section on Psychedelics…complete with Lewis Carroll references.
After getting in touch with our “green” side, we returned to our hotel to get ready for dinner and an exciting Flamenco show.
We took a taxi down to the Edinburgh playhouse and decided to get dinner at an italian place down the block called Giuliani’s. Tracy had what she described as “the best raviolis she has ever had in her entire life”.  Ironic that the best raviolis are in Scotland…it’s actually kind of wrong on a certain level.  We shared a bottle of Italian Cab with dinner and then ventured across the street to the playhouse.
So here is the situation…red wine, a very warm theatre, full bellies and a show that could be best described as “watching paint dry.” Seriously – no one was Flamenco dancing.  Not a single person.  It was just a bunch of interpretive dance set to flamenco music.  Barf.
At the intermission we decided that we would rather find a pub than to sit through more of this painful Flamenco show.  I am sure you are all shocked by the fact that I would prefer a lively pub over a high culture event.    Please try to feign surprise for my sake.
So we made a quick change into more casual attire and went down to the bar area that was recommended by our barmaid from the night before.  We started at a place called Dropkick Murphy’s.  Yes, for those of you that know the band, it was named after them.
Cute little football bar, but not a great place to spend the night so the bar hopping began!

We stopped at several bars in this area and found that most of them were over run by young drunk folks. So we ventured further down the road and stopped at a pub called the Blue Suit.  It was more of a local’s place and we met a great couple of guys.  They were kind enough to write down a list of pubs worth checking out in the area.

That pretty wraps up our day!  It’s about 2:30, so we are all off to bed.  I should say, I am off to bed because Abby and Tracy are already there!
Tomorrow we will be going to Princes Street, visiting some historic sites, and then watching one of the biggest fireworks displays in the UK with Edinburgh castle as a backdrop!  It should be pretty cool!
Love to all!
-Lisa
POST #3
09/05/2010

Day 3 in Scotland-By Abby

As I opened one eyeball this morning to survey what I was faced with, I realized that no matter what, I’m in Scotland with my two best friends in the world…I may be a touch dehydrated and really, really tired…but there are far worse problems in the world.  I switched into my running clothes and took a much needed run up through Edinburgh’s neighborhoods.  I passed by shop owners preparing their stores, their dogs, and people just doing their thing.   As I ran, I had a lot of time to truly appreciate the culture and really enjoy the day to day life in Scotland. As I passed by, a little old man with his Scotty looked up at me and laughed right out loud!!!  I had to stop and rip out my Ipod and ask “What?!!” He just shook his head and laughed…”you young people and your fit bodies!!!”  I thought about kissing him on his bald head but moved on.  I was lucky enough to pass through a true cross-section of Scottish suburbia that only a runner/voyeur can experience.

As we embarked on our walking tour, the weather held out, and we had an amazing time, bought all sorts of tourist crap, and took photos of everything we saw.

We toured Edinburgh Castle, had an amazing tour guide, and really learned Scotland’s military history.

We toured the gallows, and were privy to the King’s royal execution methods, especially for treason… and of course the jail quarters for prisoners of war…

By the evening we were taking a bus down to the Edinburgh International Festival fireworks, with a picnic blanket, snacks and a literal ton of alcohol.  Imagine being on a picnic blanket, snacks, drinks, castles, fireworks…you’re in Scotland…its hard but we managed.

The symphony was amazing, the strings pulled and broke our hearts(very few know what that means), the winds lifted us and the reed players really deserve an award.  It may be the humid environment, but they were exceptional tonight!!  Amazing!!  I’ve cried three times in 2010, and this accounted for 4 and 5!!

Unbelievable, wish you were here, I can’t believe this is my life!!

-Abby

POST #4
09/06/2010

Castles, Coasts, and Whisky – Day 4!

Hi everyone!Today we saw a lot, so there are more pictures than there are stories.After a late night at the fireworks tonight we wasted no time getting up early to catch a minicoach to take us on a tour!Here is our trusty coach:

And here is our trusty driver…
Yes, that is a monkey in his hands.  For those of you that don’t know the story behind Pleepleus the monkey please ask and I will explain since many of you already know from my trip to Spain last year.
So this tour was a very relaxed on the back-roads outside of Edinburgh in the Mid and East Lothian regions.  As we left Edinburgh we soon passed Craigmillar Castle, just 3 miles from Edinburgh city centre. It was here the plot to kill Mary Queen of Scots’ second husband (Lord Darnley) was hatched.
Our first actual stop was at Hailes Castle, overlooking the River Tyne and thought to contain some of the oldest stonework in Scotland.
After taking some pictures, we ventured on to Tantallon Castle, which was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  Not only does this castle overlook an incredible volcanic formation and sit right on a cliff, we were also able to climb up into the curtain wall several stories up – so cool!!  The bad part was that there were about 59 mile an hour winds so we were fighting to stay upright at times.  Still worth it though – we had a great time!
Here I am fighting to keep my eyes open and my hair out of my face.   I failed on both counts, but it was incredibly windy there, so cut me some slack!
That rock in the background of the castle is called Bass Rock on the Firth of Forth.  It was amazing to see in person.
Also, I should not here that we had a couple camera SNAFUs and from this point forward we only had my little point and shoot to take pics.
After leaving Tantallon we had a great lunch in the cute beachfront community of East Berwick.
Abby frolicked on the beach for a minute (can you believe they were offering scuba lessons?!?! – The water was downright frigid!!)
Had a great lunch and a few beers and then headed over to the Glenkinchie Distillery where they have been making Single Malt Whisky since 1840.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the distillery, but I did manage to sneak a pic with Pleeplius in there.

After a very informative tour and tasting we went on to drive past a couple more castles.  After going, going, going for four solid days (and nights) we decided to stay in for the night and get a good nights rest.  Well that didn’t completely work out for me since it’s 12:30 and I’m still up, but thats okay!

Tomorrow we are taking a highlands tour – should be pretty cool!!

Thanks for reading!

-Lisa

POST #5
09/07/2010

Day 5- The Hairy Coo Highlands Tour – by Abby

So I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when we signed up for a free tour of the highlands on a bright orange bus, with a young Scotsman all of about 25 years old.  It literally says “Honk if your’e horny” on the bumper…

Little did I know we were in for a amazing day, getting to see parts of the highlands that most tourists never venture to.  As we embarked on our journey, we realized that this guy really knew his stuff, and he avoided all the major tourist traps that most people on holiday fall prey too.  Russell ended up being a very informative and a rather humorous guide, who let us know in no uncertain terms that “Braveheart” is a bunch of nonsense made up my Mel Gibson.

After viewing the Falkirk wheel, which Tracy found fascinating, (totally lost on me)we headed to theSterling castle along with an extra treat, the Sterling Bridge.  This was a reconstruction of the one thatWilliam Wallace had weakened to collapse on and conquer English troops during the battle over the castle.  Turns out that he was actually somewhat of a sadistic man who had a history of killing and torturing a lot of people.  Scotland’s actual “Braveheart” is Robert the Bruce.  I won’t bore you with the details, but if you want to know more, just ask!

Next we headed into the Highlands where he very literally took us off-road in our giant orange coach.  The flowers, colors, lochs, and landscape were brilliant, and we even got to do a little hiking.  On a side note during our hike, Russell informed us that “Loch Drunkie” during the Scottish prohibition was the only place to hide illegal whiskey casks, being that it is one of the more shallow lochs.  Because the casks weren’t water proof, the whiskey seeped into the water, thus legend says that if you drank the water..

We were ever so lucky to be in the tail end of the Heather blooming all over the Highlands, which was amazing with the brilliant purple against the luscious green landscape.

Next Russell switched on what we determined to be extra special “Coo” hunting music and charged us with the task of finding the elusive Hairy Coo.  The Scottish word for cow is “coo”, and they get the hairy part from the tuft of punk rocker hair that sprouts out the top of their head and hangs over their eyes.  A bit disconcerting to be faced with an angry coo, who’s eyes you can’t see, I would imagine.   But Pleeplius wasn’t scared.

Any of you who know me, know that any time there are animals involved my interest automatically peaks, and thus the hunt was on.  As we rounded a bend, thankfully the Coo were lounging about in a field enjoying the beautiful day.  This was a darn good thing, as Lisa and I determined that this trip would not be complete without a “coo sighting”.  Russell calmly warned us that the bull coo had challenged the bus before, and not to get too close.  Being the highly intelligent and educated Zoologist that I am, I immediately strapped on my coo hat for extra camo, and sprinted out the door.

As I crept stealthily across the field to get a closer look, I made sure to stay just a little bit further away than another tourist with a large camera and a death wish.  You only need to be able to run faster than one person if an angry coo situation should arise, and I was positive he was my man.  After proudly presenting my find to the camera, we hopped back on the bus, satisfied with our coo encounter.

After leaving the National Forest, we headed to Doune Castle, the famous sight of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie filming.

After much quoting, and coconut banging, all hell broke loose and our good weather came to a screeching halt.  Luckily we were on the way home, tired, satisfied, and all “Coo-ed out”.  Never have three girls in the history been so excited about cows, or “Coo’s” as I now vow to refer to them for the rest of my life.  Blame it on the jet lag, the hangovers or the weather, a wonderful time was had by these three ladies, and we would definitely refer anyone to the Hairy Coo tours!Off to a stay over in Inverness to hunt for Nessy and hang at the Hootenanny.-Abby
POST #6
09/09/2010

Days 6 & 7 – Inverness, Perth, Glasgow….by Abby and Lisa

We just got back from a great two days on the road!  We started our adventures out by taking an early morning train trip to Inverness.  After much debate and confusion over how the train system works we got settled in for a three hour trip to beautiful Inverness.

We took a ten minute walk through the city to get to our hotel, the Strathness House.  It was a lovely little guest house with a beautiful view of the river.

We then departed for our cruise of Loch Ness which started with a lovely boat ride around the Loch.

The tour ended at Urquhart Castle ruins which are situated right on the loch.  No Nessie sightings, but as our tour guide told us, “It’s all a bunch of rubbish anyway.”  Despite that sentiment, Abby and Tracy gave it a great effort.  Abby even pulled out her highly effective “hand telescope” shown in use below.

It was actually a very beautiful scene with the river as a backdrop, and we took a lot of pictures.

We took a quick bus ride back to town and got ready for a night out.

Our night got started with a trip to Hootenanny’s.  Its a bar known for it’s Live Music Ceilidh.  Ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing.  Before discos and nightclubs, there were céilidhs in most town and village halls on Friday or Saturday nights.

It was a really fun scene and more musicians just kept pouring in as time went on.  We had a fantastic time!

The next morning we got up and headed to Perth to connect with our friend Stan for a fun filled day!  Abby deemed this her favorite day, so I am going to turn this over to her.  She is a much more exciting writer than me and there is more story than pictures for today.

Love to all! – Lisa

Yes so far today was my favorite day and that primarily has to do with Stan.  We arrived in Perth on the train down from Inverness, and he immediately loaded us up, and drove us around Perth to see the various sights it has to offer.  He drove us through the rolling hills on the back way into Perth, which looked like all those postcards you see from Scotland.  Stan grew up in Perth, and still lives there with his family.  He entertained us with stories about the area(plus one about Houston that I never saw coming), and took us home to meet his lovely wife Wendy, Boab the magnificent, and his three cute kitties.  We had a lot of laughs visiting with Wendy, and enjoyed their beautiful garden and fruit trees.  As I sat there in their living room listening to them banter back and forth, it hit me how lucky I am to meet people like this.  I can’t believe all the help and time Stan has given to us, and this trip would have really been missing something without him.

Next we headed downtown to Stan’s favorite pub where he has been going since he was a teenager and had a quick pint before heading out.  It reminded us of our local haunts, as when we walked in, every single guy greeted Stan.  Next they looked at us rather blankly, (probably wondering what was up with the random tourists) and the bartender informed us that “ladies don’t pay in this pub”.  Where are these places in the states?!!

After arriving in Glasgow we headed to an old bank turned bar that was really neat and different than anything we had seen.  Next it was on to a wonderful Italian restaurant, where naturally I was thrilled to find pizza.  No ice cream though, its been 2 days, I might be in withdrawal….

To top off the night we headed to the Citizen’s Theatre for the opera Carmen.  This charming little theatre was just the right venue for my first opera, and I found myself just staring straight up at all the features on the balconies and walls.  There couldn’t have been a bad seat in the house, and we were in just the perfect spot to view the opera itself, and the wonderful orchestra.  The flute player was exceptional, and I enjoyed watching him a little when I wasn’t captivated with what was going on, on the stage.   As the love triangle unfolded between the Spanish gypsy, deserted soldier, and bull fighter, there was never a boring moment.  I was hooked immediately, and just kept thinking how lucky we were to be there.

To sum it up, it was a wonderful day, with wonderful company, and I just can’t have asked for more.  Thank you Stan, thank you Wendy, unbelievable day!!!

-Abby

POST #7
09/10/2010

Day 8 – Rosslyn Chapel and Edinburgh Underground

Hi everyone!We had another great day on our second to last day here in Scotland.  We took a tour bus to a cute little town in the Scottish Borders area.  This is the area South of Edinburgh and was characterized by smooth rolling hills and beautiful agricultural areas.  The “Borders” part of the region name refers to the areas near the England/Scotland border.

We stopped in the cute little town of Melrose where the big attraction was the Abbey.  The Melrose Abbey is one of the four Border Abbey´s founded by King David I and is also the burial place of Robert the Bruce´s Heart.  This would be the part where I show you awesome pictures of the Abbey, but we actually decided to hang back and do a little goofing off and shopping while the rest of the tour bus cruised the Abbey.  We did, however, take a few pictures here.

 

After that we stopped by “Dobbie’s Garden Center” which was really like a big freaking Walmart.  Gross.  This tour was not looking promising at this point.  Dobbie’s only claim to fame is that JK Rowling really loved it and named a house elf in Harry Potter.  Really was not worth the time we spent there.

But the good news is that after this stop, things picked up.  We headed over to Rosslyn Chapel which is one of the coolest places I have ever been.  As some of you may know, I am an avid reader of Freemason and Knight’s Templar history, so I was pretty geeked out by it.  I can’t even begin to describe the history or conspiracy theories surrounding this place, but I would encourage you to read up on it if you have the interest.  Unfortunately, you can’t take photos on the inside, but you can find plenty of pictures online if you search for the chapel on Google.  I took a few pictures of the outside, but it was undergoing some restoration so I couldn’t get a photo of the whole chapel.

I will share the rest of our pictures and some of the pictures shared with us by our tour guide.  He has some great photos of the inside of the chapel.   I have been anticipating this tour for our whole trip, so I was pretty excited!!

We returned back to Edinburgh just to turn right back around to go to and Underground Vault tour in some of the vaults under the South Bridge in Edinburgh.  It was a night of ghost stories and haunted vaults.  We didn’t actually see anything while we were in there, but it was still pretty cool just the same.  The pics are really just of stone walls, so nothing to see here!

Tomorrow we are headed to a Football (soccer) game with our friend Stan!  We are really looking forward to finishing our trip off with a great day!

Cheers!

-Lisa

POST #8
09/11/2010

Last day!!!

Really quick post as we have to get on a plane soon!So last night we actually got some sleep and were picked up by Stan bright and early for the football match in Perth at 10:30 AM.  Its a rough life being escorted around Scotland in BMW SUV but we somehow managed, and arrived in one piece.  Many drinks, pictures and a lovely dinner ensued.  We were informed that Scotland football matches get violent and that alcohol is not allowed from the beginning to end of play.  Thank goodness our hosts loaded us up beforehand…I honestly was pacing myself and wondering what the urgency was…Anyway, we were so pleased to find that our friends from Spain had time to accompany us, and they proceeded to show us around Perth after the game.  Such a great time was had by these American girls, and our hosts took very good care of us.  We laughed about how everyone make promises to “visit soon”, and we actually made good on that promise.  Luckily we all still get along in the light of day.  Many pubs and many deep discussions later, we ended up taking a cab back to Edinburgh at about 1:00 AM.After learning even more about my friends, I adore them even more than I originally did from our trip to Spain.  Thank you so much for showing us such a wonderful time, canceling golf games and taking the time to show us a good time.Stan you go down in history as my top most favorite people on the planet, if you ever visit SLC I will give you one hell of a tour of the Temple.

We take a cab in about 40 minutes for the airport, so we are in fact rock stars, and plan to stay up all night.

Thank you so much to Stan(most of all), Cavi, Fraser and Jimmy!  We adore you and love you dearly.  A great time was had by all, and we thank you for taking the time to come out with us!!  Love you, bye Scotland!!

***Pictures to follow tomorrow

POST #9
09/12/2010

We survived! Lisa’s final thoughts.

After spending about 14 hours traveling home we arrived in one piece with all of our luggage.  I was shocked about the luggage, I figured at least one of us would be missing something.

We had a very close call in Paris and I actually sprinted to the gate to catch the flight.  Apparently I was shady looking yesterday as I was “randomly selected” for a full luggage search in both Edinburgh and in Paris.
Charles De Gaulle has to be the worst airport on the planet.  We had to taxi on the plane for about 15 minutes after landing.  Then we were loaded on a shuttle for another 10 minute ride.  Once we got dropped off we realized that we had to go through security again to get to our gate.  Ridiculous.
Arriving at security right as our plane was supposed to begin boarding, they directed us to one line and we sat in that line for about 20 minutes.  Then they shouted “Salt Lake City” and diverted us over to another security line.  Seriously, it was the most chaotic security experience I have ever seen.  We weren’t the only ones getting pissed, several french speakers were yelling very passionately at the security personnel.  Not sure what they were saying, but “idiot” seems to be universal in all languages…  Regardless, we made it home.
I think the thing I love most about traveling and having new experiences is how much I learn.  Of course I learned about Scottish history and how many contributions they have made to the world.
Did you know that the Scots gave us:
  • Sterile surgical methods:  Joseph Lister, Professor of surgery at Glasgow University, was the first to realize that the high post-operative mortality of his patients was due to the onset of bloodpoisoning (sepsis) caused by micro-organisms.
  • Buick:  This car is the named after David Dunbar Buick, a Scot who immigrated to the U.S. in 1856.   In 1899, in the city of Detroit, he formed the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, manufacturer of gasoline engines. David also patented a carburetor and designed an automobile, but business debts and failed investments prevented him from realizing profits from his inventions. He died, impoverished, in 1929. But General Motors saluted his inventiveness in 1937 when it adopted the Buick name and family crest for its new line of cars.
  • The decimal point:  The notation we use today first appeared in a book called “Descriptio” by the Edinburgh mathematician, John Napier, Laird of Merchiston, in the 1616. He used a decimal point to separate the whole number part from the decimal number part.  Note:  He also invented logarithims.  Thanks a lot….
  • Penicillin:  Discovered in 1928 by the bacteriologist  Sir Alexander Fleming. This drug has saved more lives than the number lost in all the wars of history.
  • The Steam Engine:  Invented by James Watt, instrumental in powering the Industrial Revolution in the Eighteenth Century.
  • The telephone:  Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh and lived there until his family emigrated to Canada when he was 18.
  • Television:  A photo-mechanical device invented by John Logie Baird in 1922. He set up the first practical television system in the world in 1929, in Britain. In 1935 Baird worked with the German company, Fernseh, to start the world’s first 3-day per week television service.  In 1908, another Scot, Alan Campbell-Swinton, outlined the use of the cathode-ray tube for transmission and reception that is used in modern television.
  • Of course Whisky:  be sure you don’t spell this with an ‘e’ or it’s not Scotch.
There are hundreds more, but I was surprised to learn about the inventiveness and contributions from this small country.
But the learning that happens on trips like these is not just factual.  It is also cultural.  I can’t believe what a wonderful people the Scots are.  As an American, you never know what kind of reception you are going to receive in a foreign country.  Some people are happy to meet you, some aren’t, but overall I found the Scots to be welcoming and eager to make friends.
Having been there while that idiot Terry Jones in Florida was threatening to burn the Koran I was invited into many discussions about the American stance on Islam.  I had to explain that he was probably just pissed that his parents were brother and sister (the only explanation I can think of), and that his feelings are not widespread.  I don’t want to get into a political rhetoric, and I know the blog audience is mixed, but I can tell you that I was really nervous about the repercussions on America if he had gone through with it on 9/11.  I am thankful he pulled his head out of his arse and hope we never hear from him again.
A few other notes on the cultural similarities though.  I have never traveled to another english speaking foreign country (other than Canada, but that doesn’t count) and I was amazed by how much we have in common.  The green initiatives were everywhere, big chain stores are threatening small local business folks (yes Walmart, aka “Evil Empire” is there too), and taxation is out of control.  It was easy to see how we have such a great relationship with our friends over the pond.  Once you remove the accents, there are many similarities.
We were also blessed to spend time with our friends from Perth.  We got a brief window into their lives and were able to get to know them all better.  Stan welcomed us into his house where we met his wonderful spirited wife and loving pets.  We were able to turn people that we met once on a whirlwind trip in Spain into friends that I hope will always be in my life.  He showed us things that we would have never seen had we not met him, and for that I will always be grateful.  I would love to return to Scotland someday as I was left wanting more.
A few other small things of note if you decide to visit Scotland some day:
  • Take public transportation as much as possible.  You will get to see the city as the locals do and save a lot of cash in the process.
  • Take in the music.  I found some great new music while I was there including the Peat Bog Faeries and Finley Quaye.  It’s not just about the bagpipes, there is a ton of great music there.  Just like the Irish folks I have met, the Scots are a musical bunch.
  • When ordering food when someone would ask “To stay or to go?” instead they say “Eat in or take away?”
  • Cannot = cannae
  • New Years = Hogmanay
  • My hovercraft is full of eels = Goad a’michty! Ma dampt hoovercraft’s breemin’ ower wi bluiddy eyls!
  • There really isn’t a loch ness monster, unless you consider that monster the tourism business.
  • Don’t try to see Scotland as a side trip from England or Ireland.  It is worth a trip of its own.  We spent 10 busy days there and we could have filled another month with what we missed.
Thank you to all the Scots that made this trip so special.  Thank you to Abby and Tracy for another wonderful trip and being the best travel companions and friends a girl could ask for.  And also thank YOU for reading this blog and participating on this trip with us.  I hope we can actually travel together in the future – you name the time and place and I’m there!  Love to all!!
Lisa
P.S.  Here are the pictures from Saturdays shenanigans:


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