Wednesday, November 07, 2012

If it's not Scottish, it's crrrrrap.

Another day, another international journey. This time I headed across the pond  to Scotland with Chris, Kent, and my friend Wendy who currently lives in Olympia, Washington. The trip came together in kind of a funny way. Wendy had traveled to Scotland last year with her family and in February posted about how she wished she could go back. I responded something along the lines of, "let's do it. How about October?" Between me and Chris we then had the entire trip planned in about two weeks with hotels and flight booked. What can I say, we move fast.

We planned to spend nine days on the trip, but traveling to and from Scotland basically takes an entire day, which left us a week of sight-seeing. For the first time in another country we rented a car so we could keep the itinerary somewhat fluid. We basically traveled in a big loop starting out in Edinburgh in the east, then heading slightly north to St. Andrews, continuing Northwest into the highlands and Inverness, going further west to the Isle of Skye and then coming back south and east through Glencoe, Stirling, and finally ending up back in Edinburgh. Here was the itinerary:

Day 1: travel, evening in Edinburgh

Day 2: Edinburgh

Day 3: St. Andrews

Day 4: Loch Ness/Inverness area

Days 5 and 6: Isle of Skye

Day 7: travel to Stirling area

Day 8: travel back to Edinburgh

Day 9: come home!

All in all, it was a trip without major incident, which was kind of a relief. There were no problems with the rental car, the flights all went off without a hitch, and there were no (seriously) injuries or delays. More on all of that later...including the epic battle of Kent vs. Scottish showers and the day we almost killed a woman on horseback. But for now, Edinburgh!

When traveling to Europe, you're most likely going to be on a red-eye flight. Chris and Kent managed to sweet-talk the check-in lady into letting me sit in economy plus for free and we settled in for a relaxing flight that would hopefully include some sleep. Unfortunately for us and the other two hundred or so people on the plane there was a kid two rows down for us who screamed for three solid hours. Now to clarify: this wasn't a baby. This was a kid who was about four years old. Old enough for his parents to tell him to STFU or otherwise discipline him or find out what the fuck was wrong with him that would make him scream for THREE HOURS. But the parents were clearly not interested and just say there and did. nothing. So let's just say that we didn't get a lot of sleep on our flight to London. But we wouldn't let it get us down, and we connected to our flight to Edinburgh, finally got some sleep on that hour long flight, and arrived at Edinburgh airport around 3 in the afternoon.

And then it was time for adventures in driving on the wrong side of the road! Since we had rented a car to get us around...someone was going to have to drive it and Chris stepped up. I had borrowed my Mom's GPS and downloaded the UK maps (since renting it from the car rental company was super expensive) so we thought we were good to go. Chris actually took to driving on the left pretty well and did really great on the roundabouts. But....nothing is ever easy.

Turns out Edinburgh was hosting the Great Edinburgh Run the day after we arrived and there were unannounced road closures all over the place. PLUS there seemed to be some kind of epic construction project going on downtown and half the city was dug up and inaccessible. So our GPS was...kind of useless once we hit the downtown area. The apartment we rented was right off the Royal Mile (more on that later) so we had to rely on my memory of the city from 10 years ago and Wendy's memory from her one day stay the year prior. But finally FINALLY we made it and pulled into Old Tollbooth Wynd (for reals). After a bit of running about to actually find the entrance to the apartment we were settled in our home for two nights.

And then it was time for food! Since we were right off the Royal Mile, there were tons of pubs and restaurants but we wanted a taste of real Scotland. The famous The World's End pub was just a few blocks away, so we took to the street and had some good old fashioned pub grub...along with a pint of cider of course.

That's enough chitchat isn't it? Let's get to the pictures!

 Me, Chris, and Kent outside the apartment on Old Tollbooth Wynd

 Me and Wendy with our pints at the pub!

 My steak and ale pie (i.e. stew) with chips, beans, and yorkshire pudding! It was AMAZING, even though it looks kind of gross. I think that's true of most Scottish food, actually.

Outside The World's End

 Wendy in our apartment

Our super nice kitchen!

Coming up next: we dive into the history of Edinburgh and learn about the castle and the Royal Mile!

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