Glasgow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I spent most of my last day in Edinburgh in a museum. I walked by the Elephant House Cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. I took a picture, but did not go inside. It was too crowded, and I read reviews that the food wasn’t worth the price. I took a train to Glasgow, and got settled in. As I mentioned before, I was meeting my friend Rose. She was in Glasgow because a friend of her’s from Ireland now lives there. After dinner, I took the subway to the West Side of town and met up with Rose and her friend Laura. It was raining of course, but that is Scotland. We socialized for the night. Went to a few different bars, and even hung out with a few other locals.  Some locals I could understand, others I couldn’t. It was similar to Ireland. Depends on how fast they speak. The next morning I had decided to visit the People’s Palace, which is a garden and a small museum, and the Glasgow Cathedral. I met Rose and her friends at the Cathedral, and then we got some lunch. When we were out the night before, a local told me how Scotland needed a “last call,” but you could stay out all night in London. I asked why the difference since they were both part of the UK. His response was The Scottish, especially the Glaswegians, were alcohlics. They need to be sent home to prevent bad things from happening. This came to light during my time at the People’s Palace. They had an entire section designated to responsible drinking. I saw pictures of drunk guys passed out in the gardens during the middle of the day, and they had a wooden charriot type wagon thing on display. This was used to haul the drunk people off to jail during the 1800s.  Another interesting piece in the museum was “determine their punishment.” The Glaswegians had been given a survey. It was different scenarios, all resulting in murder, and they picked jail time or death as a sentence.  Mind you some deaths were on accident or negligence, and some were quite gruesome. The Glaswegians are brutal. They said everyone should be sentanced to death. The Scottish see no mercy.  My time in Glasgow was rather lazy. I did see the city. I walked around it a lot both during the day and at night.  I checked out the Necropolis  which is a creepy cemetery. Some tombstones stand over 15 feet tall, and even have rooms. The dates weren’t as old as  I thought, and some date of deaths were in the 1930s. Not sure why you need a 15 foot tomb room, but to each’s own. It was wonderful spending time with Rose and her friends, and I met some girls at my accommodation that I befriended as well. Glasgow was a different city for me compared to Edinburgh. I really enjoyed my time in Scotland. The stories were interesting. The country has been at war with either each other or someone else (primarily England) since the beginning of time. It is a beautiful country. The Highlands are breathtaking, and the cities have there own unique beauty. Glasgow is a little more modern, and boosts the second largest shopping area in GB outside of London. Edinburgh has some modernization to it, but the old city is something to brag about. I loved the old case stairwells, the cobblestone, the castle. The food was fine. The UK isn’t known for their food. I did try some Haggis. It was fine. And I had an Arran burger. Arran is my father’s first name, and they had quite a bit of food and beverage items with his name on it. The weather was less than ideal, but I came in February so I wasn’t expecting much. The Scottish are hilarious. They are very proud of their heritage. I told my tour guide I had some Haggis in England, but was looking to try some in Scotland. When I said that, the tour driver spit. Keep up the feisty spirit you guys. Cheers Scotland.

The Highlands

IMG_9529I was dressing warm for my trip to the Scottish Highlands. My fleece lined leggings, ski socks, thermals, winter coat, gloves and my winter headband. It was going to be a 12 hour tour. We were going to drive through Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Loch Ness, Inverness, Cairn Gorm Mountains and then return to Edinburgh. It snowed the night before which made the mountains beautiful. The mountains in Scotland aren’t as tall as those in California or New Zealand, but they were still beautiful. The bus driver was halrious. He wore a kilt and had three rules. Don’t talk on your cellphone during the tour, don’t talk when he is talking, and be on time. A group of about 4 people were late for the tour and the guide gave them a hard time for it. It was funny to watch. We drove passed Sterling Castle where the William Wallace mounment is. So unfortunately I was unable to get any proper pictures because we never stopped. As we got further into the Highlands, the snow became thicker, and the scenery became more beautiful. It was now snowing and blustery again. We had reached Glen Coe where the first stop was scheduled. I was nervous. It looked awful outside. The driver said from this point we wouldn’t be able to see anything , espcially the Three Sisters which is the main attraction. He drove a little further down the road and pulled over on the other side of the hill. The snow and wind had stopped, and it even looked like the sun might break through. We stepped outside the bus and took in the amazingness that surrounded us. It was like I was back in New Zealand staring at the Southern Alps speechless. It was absolutely breathtaking. This is Scotland. Omigod, Scotland. I was not expecting this. Turns out Glen Coe has a sad history. An entire clan was murdered. Also, the area is where scences from Skyfall were filmed along with Harry Potter. We kept driving and made another bonus stop to take in the beautiful panorama that surrounded us. The sun had come out now. I needed my sungalsses in Scotland. It wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t rainy or windy either. Our next stop was Loch Ness. We arrived just in time for our tour. As soon as the boat launched, the wind and rain came. I tried to hang out up top and outside for as long as possible, one so I could see the sites, and two the inside was too crowded for my taste. We searched for Nessie, but did not see anything. We took the boat to an old run down castle, the only one on Loch Ness. Loch Ness is the second largest lake in Great Britian. Only second to the largest lake I saw in Northern Ireland. After our cruise, we returned to the bus and started the journey home. The driver wasn’t a fan of Inverness and drove quickly through it. I was exhausted. I’m pretty sure the driver is used to people falling asleep on his tour, especially in winter after nightfall, so he plays an audio tape. I peaked out the window for any Northern lights, but I was unsucessful. We arrived in Edinburgh late, but suprisingly I was no longer exhausted and decided to go check out a ghost tour. The guide told us stories of all the executions that used to go on in the square we were standing in and the street that my hotel was on. The executions were quite brutal and went on for three days. Everyone was hung, beaten, and quartered with their body parts sent to the four corners of the UK. And their heads would be spiked in London for all to see. We then went down into the vaults. It used to be a merchants quarters, then turned into an illegal merchants quarters, then turned into a place to store dead bodies sold to the medical school, and I think finally a place for hookers. She told us strange stories about things that had happened or been felt during previous ghost tours. I grabbed my cross and started rubbing it . I’ve got my own personal guardian angel, and no spirits are coming near me. The ghost tour ended around midnight. I made my way home and went to bed. Set no alarm. And woke up at 11:30 the next day. It was glorious. My last full day in Edinburgh consited of a nice run through the new part, both in age and for me. Then I toured the castle and its grounds, and finished the day by checking out the Queen of England’s Scotland castle. During the Winter, when you wake up at 11:30am you’ve killed most of your day. I was okay with it through. I had seen Edinburgh for the beautiful city it is. Tomorrow I would check out a few more things and then take the train to Glasgow. And in Glasgow I would meet my friend Rose from Ireland. What a small world.

A Blustery Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was a blustery morning when I arrived in Edinburgh. The pilot completed an excellent landing in the winds, and it was also his 30th birthday. I made my way to the tram station and headed to central Edinburgh. I had about a 10 minute walk to the hotel after my drop off point. After walking for a few moments, I was presented with a hill. I treked up the hill with my suitcase (which stands to my hip) as the wind tried to blow us around. I tried to read the map, and saw where I needed to go next. It was another hill. This one steeper, made of cobblestone, the wind was picking up and it was even starting to sprinkle a bit. I kept walking and made it onto a main street. A man was playing the bag pipes. There was a giant old Catherdral. People everywhere. Souvienor shops. And the spectacular Edinburgh Castle. I was in Scotland, and it was beautiful. I continued to follow the directions, but I was lost. I was on an upper street and needed to be on the lower street. I couldn’t understand google maps. I stopped to study the map. It was really howling now, and my 10 minutue walk turned into a 20 minute trek up two large hills in the wind and rain all while lugging my suitcase around. I finally figured out there was a secret staircase that I needed to use to get to the lower street. I lugged my suitcase down the small and dark case. A case being an alleyway for people only. I finally reached a downhill point in my journey. And at the bottom of the hill was my hotel. My room wasn’t quite ready, but that was okay. I had some errands to run. Yep, I was on holiday and running errands. I booked my Highland tour for the following morning and then made my way into town. One of my errands was I wanted to figure out Peru. I went into the STA travel shop and found a program that would work for me. It isn’t quite as long as what I was originally looking for, but I’m okay with that. So basically I booked a volunteer/adventure package. I will work with children and help them gain certain skills so they can succeed in life, and then I will have two side trips. One to Machu Picchu (which was my main goal for Peru) and another to the Amazon. Everything is already planned for me. Where I’m going to stay, what I will be doing each day, plus some scheduled free days. My airport transfer, my two side trips are all organized, and I have a few day trip activities already planned. It’ll be different than what I’m used to but I’m okay with that. I will be with the same people for the entire 20 days, and most of my time with be spent in Cuzco. I’m looking forward to staying in one place for a bit because consistently traveling does get tiresome. Also, I could be more excited for Machu Picchu and the Amazon. One last adventure before it’s back to the real world. The flight was the most difficult to situate. San Francisco had the most options, but not without a long layover. I have about 24 hours of travel on my way there and back. Plus I fly in and out of San Francisco at really bizarre times. No direct route to South America for me. Another cool thought, this will be my 5 continent since I started my travels. Besides Antartcia , I only have Asia left. Settling everything for Peru took a while, but that is okay. The weather was atrocious anyway. My second errand was renewing my mobile phone plan. I officially checked into my hotel and settled down. I walked around a little bit and got some dinner.  I was right next to a few pubs, one being the smallest pub in Scotland. I was also situated next to Scobby’s Cafe which I loved. My tour the next day had an early start, so I wasn’t going to be doing anything crazy.