My trip to Scotland, Part 1
There were 11 of us on the tour (including my mom and my sister Alice, and Betsy Green from LOL and her husband, Ross), plus Judy Lowstuter (who runs Celtic Journeys Tours), a Scottish tour guide named Alison (she was excellent, with a delightful Scottish accent that we all found a pleasure to listen to <g>), and the driver, Ian. We started in Glasgow, and over the course of the week, visited many different areas of the country.
The weather was good, for the most part. The final day of the tour, on Saturday in Edinburgh, was cold and rainy, but until that point we'd seen only a few sprinkles, and we had two sunny days in a row on Thursday and Friday. Now I understand what everybody (including Diana) was telling me about the weather in Scotland changing in a heartbeat. It really does! <g>
Food on the tour was excellent. My favorite Scottish foods were cullen skink and sticky toffee pudding. <g> I tried Irn Bru and thought it was pretty good, though a bit too sweet for my taste.
We visited a number of castles on the tour, but my favorite was Stirling Castle. It was by far the easiest in terms of accessibility, and they had re-enactors in each room role-playing from 1546. That was fun.
Favorite historic site: Culloden, especially the Visitor's Centre. Some of you may recall Diana's blog posts from 2008 about her visit to Culloden. Go here and here to read her impressions of that visit. I think she described it very accurately.
Most surprising thing about Scotland: it's very, very green, in a way that I've never seen before. (Probably because I've never lived in a place where it rains as much as it does in Scotland. <g>)
The best advice I got prior to going to Scotland? "Keep a journal of what you did each day, otherwise you'll forget the details." I have detailed handwritten notes from each day, which I'll summarize here as best I can. (This will be the first in a series of blog posts about my trip.)
Day 1 (Saturday, June 30)
My mom and I arrived in Glasgow about 7:30 am, after a smooth and uneventful flight. Judy (the tour leader) met us at the airport. Got into the hotel room around 10 and immediately took a 2 hour nap. <g> After we woke up, we decided to go exploring in Glasgow, as the official part of the tour didn't start until the next day and my sister wouldn't be arriving until the evening.
We rode the "hop on hop off bus" (here) for an hour or so, with the bus driver pointing out various sights in the city. For example, see the photo below with the statues. The one on the left is Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband), and the one on the right is James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine. (Click on the photo for a bigger view.)
Despite the very ominous-looking clouds in this photo, it didn't actually rain for more than a couple of minutes while we were out that day.
At one point the bus stopped almost in front of an area where they were having a celebration for Armed Forces Day, and we got off the bus to watch. This gentleman kindly let me take his photo. He was part of a pipe band that was performing that day.
We took a taxi back to the hotel, where we had dinner and met the rest of the group for the first time. (And had a very lively OUTLANDER discussion! <g>) My sister Alice arrived just as we were finishing dinner. She lives in Israel, and we hadn't seen her in almost a year, so it was good to have some time to talk before the actual tour began.
Here are the other blog posts in this series: