A TRIP TO SCOTLAND

When we had Fiona we said when she was no longer with us we were going to travel abroad. It took us 9 months after we lost her to start to plan a trip. Scotland and Ireland were the first places we wanted to visit.

A couple of years ago as I was writing out Christmas cards I came across an address for our old friends, Mike and Cherilyn McBride. We fell out of contact after they moved from the desert. I didn’t know if they lived at the same address after close to 20 years, but I thought what the heck, I send them a card and see what happens. The next thing I know I get a Facebook friend request from Cherilyn! Then after a year of liking and commenting on each others posts, and chatting we decided we were two peas in a pod and Paul and Mike were too! The guys worked together at Cathedral City Fire Department before Mike left for San Diego Fire where he is still a Battalion Chief. I told Cherilyn that we wanted to take a trip to Ireland and Scotland and right away she was on board for them to join us. Since Paul and I have no schedule, we worked around theirs and decided on two weeks in Scotland. 

Paul traveling incognito with a beard. Hoping that HS would finally leave him alone while flying. The first leg of our long journey. And, yes that is duct tape on my earbuds. You can take the girl out of the country…

Paul traveling incognito with a beard. Hoping that HS would finally leave him alone while flying. The first leg of our long journey. And, yes that is duct tape on my earbuds. You can take the girl out of the country…

Now that’s what I call a sunrise! The sun peaking up from the horizon as we flew from Iceland to Scotland.

Now that’s what I call a sunrise! The sun peaking up from the horizon as we flew from Iceland to Scotland.

 We met them in Glasgow and stayed at an air bnb for a couple of nights. We flew out of Spokane to Seattle, then Iceland to Glasgow. Paul and I got there 6 hours before they did. With driving on the wrong side of the road, from the wrong side of the car, that was a manual, we decided to navigate the city as little as possible. Of course, we got lost as soon as we left the rental company. So we found somewhere to buy food and adult beverages close to the flat, and rested until they got there. We thought it would be an early night since all of us traveled all night and part of the day to get there. I think it was 18 hours from our door to the flat in Glasgow. Go to bed early? I should have known better. We ended up staying up late drinking and making up for lost time, and well, lost luggage. Two of their bags didn’t make it for a couple of days and they had to run down to the store we found to buy some essentials.

Paul reading with his eyes closed. A little rest after a long day and night of travel. Typical Firemen, laying around and sleeping.

Paul reading with his eyes closed. A little rest after a long day and night of travel. Typical Firemen, laying around and sleeping.

Mike taking a little snooze in the Dublin airport.

Mike taking a little snooze in the Dublin airport.

Cherilyn thought she was picking the largest glass until I found the coffee press container! We were sipping on gin and juice in our jammies. Hers freshly bought since her luggage was lost.

Cherilyn thought she was picking the largest glass until I found the coffee press container! We were sipping on gin and juice in our jammies. Hers freshly bought since her luggage was lost.

The random assortment of glasses available.

The random assortment of glasses available.

 Finding a restaurant with a table available during Sunday brunch proved difficult. We finally found a place that I had already had plans to go for BBQ one night. If you know me at all, you know I always research restaurants before I go anywhere to check out the menu. I never thought I’d need to look at what restaurants serve for breakfast because what else besides, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and the like would you eat for breakfast? I found out soon enough, the answer is black pudding, beans, haggis, tomatoes, and sausage that isn’t at all like breakfast sausage we know. Also if you order bacon, it’s actually ham. Unless you order stringy bacon and it’s more like bacony ham. 

The boys waiting for us to come down to go find breakfast.

The boys waiting for us to come down to go find breakfast.

Weird sausage, egg, blistered tomatoes, black pudding (ie. blood sausage), stringy bacon, roasted mushroom, and spicy beans sitting on my toast! I had to try their version of breakfast to say I did. Wasn’t all that bad.

Weird sausage, egg, blistered tomatoes, black pudding (ie. blood sausage), stringy bacon, roasted mushroom, and spicy beans sitting on my toast! I had to try their version of breakfast to say I did. Wasn’t all that bad.

 We spent the day walking around Glasgow. I wanted to see the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. It’s the oldest cathedral in Scotland, built in 1197 with post war stained glass. The Necropolis is a beautiful old cemetery.

The Glasgow Cathedral. Free entry and knowledgeable friendly staff on hand to explain things. We got lucky and got a private tour just after church services. Stunning!

The Glasgow Cathedral. Free entry and knowledgeable friendly staff on hand to explain things. We got lucky and got a private tour just after church services. Stunning!

A view of the cathedral from the necropolis.

A view of the cathedral from the necropolis.

Walking through the Necropolis. The most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen.

Walking through the Necropolis. The most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen.

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Just one of the impressive markers in the Necropolis.

Just one of the impressive markers in the Necropolis.

Scotland is so rich in history. It was an amazing place to visit!

Scotland is so rich in history. It was an amazing place to visit!

 Cherilyn wanted to see the Sharmanka Kinetic Theater, which was moving puppets and sculptures timed in sequence to music. It was interesting, but Paul says that was 8 million hours of his life he will never get back! He still says Cherilyn owes him one. 

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow. I like to call it "she pulls his strings".
Another of the moving sculptures at the kinetic theatre.

Another of the moving sculptures at the kinetic theatre.

Taking a shortcut through what we called the alley of death in Glasgow. We lived to tell the tale!

Taking a shortcut through what we called the alley of death in Glasgow. We lived to tell the tale!

 The next five days we stayed in southwest Scotland in the little country town of Dailly at the McBrides timeshare. From our home base there, we took day trips to Ayr and up the west coast, a train to Edinburgh, and a ferry to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Of course, at zero dark thirty, in the falling snow, on a country road, in the middle of nowhere, Paul hit the curb and got a flat! Mike and Paul fixed the flat and we still made it to the ferry on time.

There’s not much to see in Troon on the west coast, but I wanted to go there to honor a long time client and friend, Hugh “Scotty” Boyd that grew up there.

There’s not much to see in Troon on the west coast, but I wanted to go there to honor a long time client and friend, Hugh “Scotty” Boyd that grew up there.

Mmmmm a cold pint! I was actually just dipping my lip in for a cool mustache. They asked if we’d like super cold Guinness. They must have known we were Americans.

Mmmmm a cold pint! I was actually just dipping my lip in for a cool mustache. They asked if we’d like super cold Guinness. They must have known we were Americans.

Like my moostachie?

Like my moostachie?

The Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland, near Three Sisters. I think that’s the Isle of Arran across the water.

The Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland, near Three Sisters. I think that’s the Isle of Arran across the water.

Three Sisters. Near West Kilbride. Left to right, Penny, Steph, and Sandy. Where their husbands jumped from the cliffs!!! (That last part was added by Paul)

Three Sisters. Near West Kilbride. Left to right, Penny, Steph, and Sandy. Where their husbands jumped from the cliffs!!! (That last part was added by Paul)

Paul and Mike changing the tire. Besides his apparent plumbing skills, Mike has some mechanic abilities.

Paul and Mike changing the tire. Besides his apparent plumbing skills, Mike has some mechanic abilities.

We upgraded to the reclining lounge. The ship had plenty of great seating but this was a special bonus!

We upgraded to the reclining lounge. The ship had plenty of great seating but this was a special bonus!

No better way to ferry across the Irish Sea! Cherilyn, AKA Trucker Joe.

No better way to ferry across the Irish Sea! Cherilyn, AKA Trucker Joe.

Riding in luxury to Belfast!

Riding in luxury to Belfast!

The Titanic Museum. Sorry Dustin, we didn’t go in. We had bar hopping to do!

The Titanic Museum. Sorry Dustin, we didn’t go in. We had bar hopping to do!

We basically pub crawled through Belfast, Northern Ireland.

We basically pub crawled through Belfast, Northern Ireland.

A proper pint at the Crown Bar in Belfast. I learned to not order a “black and tan” in Northern Ireland unless you want to get yelled at by the bartender to go “ google that term! We don’t serve that here!” I guess ordering an Irish Car Bomb might have gotten me kicked out altogether!

A proper pint at the Crown Bar in Belfast. I learned to not order a “black and tan” in Northern Ireland unless you want to get yelled at by the bartender to go “ google that term! We don’t serve that here!” I guess ordering an Irish Car Bomb might have gotten me kicked out altogether!

The famed Europa Hotel. The most bombed hotel in the world with 36 bombings during The Troubles.

The famed Europa Hotel. The most bombed hotel in the world with 36 bombings during The Troubles.

Oh, the trouble we could get into if we lived closer to each other!

Oh, the trouble we could get into if we lived closer to each other!

I think we belong in Ireland!

I think we belong in Ireland!

Another reason I belong in Ireland is the food! This was my favorite meal of the trip. At Brennans’ in Belfast. Ham with champs (potato dish), cabbage, and brown gravy.

Another reason I belong in Ireland is the food! This was my favorite meal of the trip. At Brennans’ in Belfast. Ham with champs (potato dish), cabbage, and brown gravy.

Arriving to Edinburgh by train.

Arriving to Edinburgh by train.

Scotland sunrise on the train ride to Edinburg.

Scotland sunrise on the train ride to Edinburg.

Roslyn Chapel, south of Edinburg.

Roslyn Chapel, south of Edinburg.

The back of Roselyn Chapel.

The back of Roselyn Chapel.

The is no picture taking allowed in the chapel…

The is no picture taking allowed in the chapel…

I lit a candle for my step dad Frank in honor of my Mama.

I lit a candle for my step dad Frank in honor of my Mama.

In front of the Edinburgh Castle.

In front of the Edinburgh Castle.

The Scottish have a good sense of humor.

The Scottish have a good sense of humor.

Walking down the Royal Mile in Edinburg.

Walking down the Royal Mile in Edinburg.

Sir Walter Scott Memorial in Edinburg.

Sir Walter Scott Memorial in Edinburg.

 The next week our home base was a timeshare in Kenmore, near Aberfeldy. From there we took a day trip by train to Stirling, and drove to St Andrews on the east coast, and up to Inverness, because you can’t miss Loch Ness when in Scotland! 

A beautiful drive into the highlands.

A beautiful drive into the highlands.

A beautiful view of Loch Tay from the McBride’s second timeshare.

A beautiful view of Loch Tay from the McBride’s second timeshare.

Sunrise drive to St Andrew. Mike had a surfing date with a US expat and some Scottish firemen.

Sunrise drive to St Andrew. Mike had a surfing date with a US expat and some Scottish firemen.

Surfing at St. Andrews. Yes, that is snow on the ground! Mike got to check one thing off his bucket list.

Surfing at St. Andrews. Yes, that is snow on the ground! Mike got to check one thing off his bucket list.

At St Andrews Cathedral. It was closed because of ice.

At St Andrews Cathedral. It was closed because of ice.

St. Andrews Cathedral

St. Andrews Cathedral

They didn’t effing mess around back then!

They didn’t effing mess around back then!

We did get to go into St. Andrews Castle.

We did get to go into St. Andrews Castle.

On a wee bridge at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

On a wee bridge at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

I don’t think we will turn there, thanks.

I don’t think we will turn there, thanks.

These two!

These two!

Cannon sitting has become a tradition for me. This is in Stirling.

Cannon sitting has become a tradition for me. This is in Stirling.

Walking through Stirling on the way to the Castle.

Walking through Stirling on the way to the Castle.

Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle.

Inside Stirling Castle. I learned that the Unicorn is a symbol of Scotland.

Inside Stirling Castle. I learned that the Unicorn is a symbol of Scotland.

I also learned that the rumors are true. Nothing under that kilt!

I also learned that the rumors are true. Nothing under that kilt!

A monument to Robert the Bruce outside Stirling Castle.

A monument to Robert the Bruce outside Stirling Castle.

On the walk back to the Stirling train station we saw this. We decided one or two beers would just make us tired during the train ride back north. Paul and I opted to go wait at the train station and have a latte.

On the walk back to the Stirling train station we saw this. We decided one or two beers would just make us tired during the train ride back north. Paul and I opted to go wait at the train station and have a latte.

As professional drinkers we knew to wait until we were back at the house for the night. ;)

As professional drinkers we knew to wait until we were back at the house for the night. ;)

Where did you get that cool pillow, Cherilyn?

Where did you get that cool pillow, Cherilyn?

To us! Sláinte!

To us! Sláinte!

Driving North through the highlands.

Driving North through the highlands.

Where the battle of Culloden took place.

Where the battle of Culloden took place.

Artifacts in the visitor centre near the site of the Battle of Culloden.

Artifacts in the visitor centre near the site of the Battle of Culloden.

You can see mounds that were mass graves all over the field. There are markers for different clans that fought and died there. This is the marker for Clan Fraser, which I am a descendant of.

You can see mounds that were mass graves all over the field. There are markers for different clans that fought and died there. This is the marker for Clan Fraser, which I am a descendant of.

A memorial cairn at the battlefield.

A memorial cairn at the battlefield.

Ironically, I didn’t get any photos of Loch Ness, but we did go to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition and learned about it. A low tech place, but a place to learn about the loch.

Ironically, I didn’t get any photos of Loch Ness, but we did go to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition and learned about it. A low tech place, but a place to learn about the loch.

Again, I wanted to try local food. This was mince, mashed potatoes, veg, and yorkshire pudding. I had heard of yorkshire pudding and thought it was an actual pudding. It’s bread, people! Like a bread cup.

Again, I wanted to try local food. This was mince, mashed potatoes, veg, and yorkshire pudding. I had heard of yorkshire pudding and thought it was an actual pudding. It’s bread, people! Like a bread cup.

The one thing both Cherilyn and I said was a must see was highland cows. Finally on the way to the airport hotel we found some!

The one thing both Cherilyn and I said was a must see was highland cows. Finally on the way to the airport hotel we found some!

 The two weeks went by in an actioned packed blur! We took a scenic drive around Loch Lomand to a hotel right at the airport. Staying close to the airport made the next long day of travel a little easier. We arrived in Spokane in the middle of the night and stayed at the hotel near that airport since we’d been awake over 24 hours. That’s the only part of traveling I dread, but wouldn’t trade the experiences we had and the things we got to see for anything. I highly recommend visiting Scotland! Especially in the winter with no other tourists.

I finally tried haggis. It wasn’t bad.

I finally tried haggis. It wasn’t bad.

Who has ever had to take a bus from the airport gate to the plane? This was in Iceland.

 P.S. If you think you’ll be able to understand the Scottish dialect because you watch Outlander, think again! It’s like a whole other language they speak on the streets there! Paul swears he couldn’t understand a word they said as soon as they landed. Luckily, he had me! And that’s not saying much. 

Back home with Finley cat who missed us.

Back home with Finley cat who missed us.