I apologize in advance for all the weird formatting. This was all cut and pasted from my old blogger website! Enjoy!
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….
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!
The grass in Scotland IS actually greener…
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.
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!!
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:
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!
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.
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!!!
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!
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.