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Trip to Scotland

I finally got out of the country in the fall of 2000. I took a trip with through the Contiki tour group. I spent almost 10 days in Scotland, which was not enough time. The tour started in Edinburgh, then to Aberdeen, up to Isle of Skye, over to Oban, and then finishing up in Glasgow. I enjoyed my stay and can't wait to go back. I took a few rolls of film on this trip and was amazed at some of the pictures that I got from my camera.

My trip out of the U.S. would start with a connecting flight out of JFK International Airport. Unfortunately, it was raining at the airport and I waited to take off for almost two hours, part of that was actually sitting in the plane on the runway. So, my plane landed at JFK at the time my flight was leaving, which caused me to miss my flight. I knew I had a little time before I had to meet the tour, so I wasn't completely worried. They put me on standby and after I scarfed down some airport McDonald's, they called my name for the next flight. The lady handed me the ticket and said "Enjoy your upgrade." She said it in some what of a rude manner, so I was kind of dumb found by what she meant by it. Since it wasn't my fault that I missed my flight, I didn't give it a another thought.

I get on the plane and start looking for my seat and to my surprise, I get a "Club class"seat. Whoo! Hoo!! I get a warm towl when I sit down, the attendant brings me a glass of wine and some peanuts in a bowl. I could have had a steak dinner, but I alreay ate. But, the best part was being able to drop the foot rest, take of my shoes, slip on the socks, put on the night mask, wrap up in a blanket and enjoy a comfortable ride to Hethrow airport in London. I wouldn't know just how much better that was until my trip back.

I waited a while to get on the connecting flight to Edinburgh. I was a little hungry, so I bought some food and a drink. This was my first experience using travelers checks and U.K. money. I just hoped for nice people to give me back the correct change.

When I reached Edinburgh, I took a taxi to the hotel. There was a bus going down town, but I enjoyed the taxi ride a lot more. The driver had a really thick accent and was talking about how bad the other driver's were. I gave him a tip when I got out, which I found out later is not the usual custom in the U.K.

After meeting the tour guide, Jaci from Australia, and putting my stuff in my room, I decided to walk down the street to a pub. When I get to the pub, I meet an older American gentlemen, who walks back in with me an buys me a pint. Nothing like getting a tour of Scotland off to a good start. We discuss the differences of European and American woman over another one and I head back to the hotel to meet the tour group.

I get back to the hotel and meet the group. I also meet my traveling buddy, Justin, who I will be sharing rooms with on the trip. We find out at the introduction meeting that we have to move our stuff to another room. Regardless of the inconvience, Justin and I get along great throughout the entire trip.

Half of the group heads with Jaci to the Hard Rock Cafe. Yes, I travel all the way to the U.K. to eat at an American Restaurant. At the Hard Rock, I find out why you don't tip. The service is horrible. I think our waiter forgot we were his table for about a half hour. Afterwards, Jaci took us to Jekyll & Hyde's pub (which apparently originated in the U.S.). It is a theme bar and the bathrooms are hidden behind a book case. They have a set of mixed drinks there called "The Seven Deadly Sins". When we go to Frankenstien's later in the trip, the group tries to see how many "sins" we can put away.

Justin also had some dinner plan ideas, so we go to this really fancy place to eat later. I put away a lot of food that night. Some "rock star" types came in while we were eating. The place was really interesting.

The first night we stayed at the Green Hotel in Edinburgh. This was a nice hotel for getting a feel of Edinburgh. The elevator was really small and when it rained the first night, water game through the top. I decided to take the stairs in the morning.

Another interesting thing in some U.K. hotels, was bathrooms without showers. I guess it was an American thing. I did stay at two places that did have showers and one place that didn't even have the rubber shower thingy on the trip.

Breakfast was also a little different. They had juices and cerals out, but the waitress asked if I wanted the "hot breakfast". I said okay. Yummy.

The Green Hotel Image 1 The Green Hotel Image 2 The Green Hotel Image 2
View from GH Image 1 View from GH Image 2 View from GH Image 3
GH Stairs Image 1 GH Stairs Image 2 Garden behind GH

The first day we went down the Royal Mile and into Edinburgh Castle. I took a few pictures around the castle. It was interesting to see all the different type of tourists in the castle. I would have followed one of the other groups with the guide, but they were speaking in German and Japanese.

The Royal Mile is very touristey on the outside, but if you go down the side streets you will likely find a nice little shop.

Gaurd at the front gate Castle crest Statue
View from the castle wall View from the castle wall View from the castle wall
More city from the castle Dog cemetary Castle protection
Castle protection closer view Housing Castle character
Castle character and me. Dr. Who impersonation

After going to the castle we met down to Edinburgh Square. While I was eating a sandwhich they set up some tables and chairs for a talk show called "Talkaokie". Basically, this English guys goes around to different places and gets a group of people off of the street and ask them questions. Well, after watching them for a while, I couldn't keep my mouth shut and yelled out an answer to one of his questions. So, with a little proding, they put me at the table until we had to catch the bus.

The square seemed like a really nice place for people to meet for lunch and stuff.

Edinburgh Square Image 1 Edinburgh Square Image 2 Scottish street minstrel

Later that afternoon we make it to the Queen Mum's childhood home and retreat.
The majority of the roads in Scotland are 2 lane and full of curves. When we arrived at the estate, the bus driver had to do a little manuvering to get through the gate. I had the bus driver stop on the way out so we could take some pictures of the tight squeeze.

The original house was a hunting house, that eventually became a normal residence.
The house is surrounded by plenty of open fields and a forest with trees from around the globe. There is also a little garden, I was hoping to find a labyrinth of bushes with in its walls. Unfortunately I didn't find one, so I had Missy, another American on tour, help me fake being lost in the maze.

Queen Mum's House 1 Queen Mum's House 2 Queen Mum's House 3
Queen Mum's House 4 Queen Mum's House 5 Queen Mum's House 6
Queen Mum's House 7    

That night we stayed at a regular hotel in Aberdeen (that means it had a shower). No air conditioning, but it gets cool at night so we left the window open. Before going to bed, we try to find some local pubs to hang out in. We close one down and go to another, with some real locals. The great thing about being in a foreign country is that you can act like an idiot on the dance floor. Nobody there knows you and you probably will never see them again. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun.

The next morning, I take a chilly stroll down the street to get a glimpse of Aberdeen. Aberdeen is famous for the gray/silver stone used to build the majority of its buildings. It is said that after it rains, the city shines like it is made of silver. Luckily for us, we get to see this in the morning as we leave. Before we get out of town, we headed down to the beach to get some group photos.

Aberdeen Image 1 Aberdeen Image 2 Aberdeen Image 3
Aberdeen Image 3 Aberdeen Image 4 Aberdeen Image 5
Aberdeen Image 6 Aberdeen Image 7 Aberdeen Image 8