We left the Irish Island by taking a 2 hour+ Ferry ride to Scotland. This is not the normal car / passenger ferry we are accustomed to in Seattle. The Stena Line ferries have a cinema, restaurants, PS4s for the kids, several lounges, shops, bars, spas, Wi-Fi, photo booth, and six suites. Unfortunately, we only found out about the ‘Quiet Zones’ as we departed. For most of the journey we felt like we were in an unsupervised daycare … although they did have cute accents.
We did not realize we could have booked the ferry and bus ride together as a package. When we saw how close the ferry arrival (9:52) was going to be to the bus leaving (10:00), we decided to give ourselves some buffer time and take the 14:15 bus. When we discovered that the bus always waits for the ferry when they are booked as a package, we decided to see if there were any available seats … nope. The driver told us we could wait to see if there were any ‘no-shows’, but he doubted it. We were first in line and soon followed by others. One of these others was an older Irish guy who was more than talkative and ‘well lubricated.’ After about ½ hour we were informed that the bus was oversold and another one was on the way. A men’s football (remember now … soccer) team got off to wait for the coming bus and we got on at 10:30 versus 14:15. You just never know how things are going to turn out.
Bus rides are a little more informal in Scotland. The bus stopped at the first village with an ATM so some of the passengers could get off and draw out money to pay for their tickets.
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city. Since we arrived before we could check into our place, we stored our suitcases at the bus station and took our backpacks onto the Hop On Hop Off bus to get an overview of the city. While in Glasgow we learned that the Scots have three rulings for a case: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. This last one is when they know the person is guilty but do not have enough evidence to prove it. So, the person gets off ‘Scot Free.’
Throughout our Great Adventure, we have been finding deals that honor our ‘mature years.’ In the UK, they referred to this privilege as ‘Concession tickets.’ With Marsha being 100% Dutch and me more than ½ Scot, we are frugally rocking the European discounts. There are benefits to staying alive.
As we were checking out the University of Glasgow, we heard a lone bagpiper. Following the haunting sound, we came upon a wedding reception being held just outside the museum in the university’s cloister. Here is a quiz for you: What special beer would these wonderfully kilt-clad men be drinking to celebrate such an important occasion? Hold on to your tams … it was Budweiser. Marsha and I are appalled that the Irish and their Scottish brothers drink Bud and Coors Light when they have such a delicious selection of local beers. Appalled I tell you!
Fun fact: citizens of Glasgow are called Glaswegians.
They also have a sense of humor, as you can see from this distinguished statue. The city spends £10k each year removing the traffic cones from the heads of the man and horse. I bet it is because these crazy Glaswegians are drinking Bud and Coors Light.
Our next city was our favorite: Inverness. Actually, it was more the region than the city. The Highlands of Scotland are beautiful, haunting, and spiritual. They seem to echo the joys and trials of the Scots. Eight of us took an all-day tour with our fantastic guide, Raymond. He is proud of his country and culture but is open with the struggles of the past and present. It was a memorable day that included the following experiences: Loch Ness (I do believe), Elena Doune Castle, Isle of Skye, Kilt Rock and its ocean falls, The Old Man of Storr, 5 Sisters of Kinail, and our favorite, the rolling hills of Quiraing. The picture of Marsha and Raymond was taken there. As we were taking in the breathtaking beauty of Quiraing, Raymond asked if we would like to celebrate the occasion with ‘a wee nip?’ He pulled a flash from his leather sporran (Scottish fanny pack) and poured his favorite whisky into communion cups for us. It just doesn’t get any better. Note: Raymond did not have a wee nip himself.
Elena Doune Castle
The featured image of our shaggy friend is from our tour. These Highland Cattle are very gentle and just fun to look at. This one was having a good rub on the fence wire.
Our third and final city was Edinburgh (pronounced Edinbur-uh), Scotland’s second largest. We loved the vibe of this ancient city as walked the Royal Mile. Although it is heavily tourist in nature, the architecture is amazing. The Royal Mile starts at Edinburgh Castle and flows down to their new Parliament building. We saw the very solemn bronze statue of John Knox in St Giles Cathedral. I bet he wasn’t invited to many parties. The National Museum of Scotland took up our whole afternoon and was fantastic. The Scots are very proud of their contributions to the world: TV, penicillin, telephone, steam engine, whisky (duh), fax machine (remember those?), refrigerators, microwave ovens, golf, and more. As our Highland Guide, Raymond said, “It may sound like we are big-headed, but I guess we have to embrace it.”
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern – Inspiration for Jekyll & Hyde
Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry in Scottish Parliament Building
Maybe in the near future I will show you how I became part of some young buskers’ entertainment on the Royal Mile. It involved a straw hat and me balancing on a skinny, cement spike-like structure. There is video proof.
Our next post will be from England. Mind the Gap!
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We look forward to hearing from you.
Preston & Marsha
Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side