About our Band B in Edinburgh

imageThis last BandB we’ve stayed at in really nice.  Jill and Bob are retired – she a schoolteacher, he a lawyer and diplomat….She’s English, he’s Scottish…hmmm I wonder how they voted.  They live in this beautiful victorian house filled with books….She’s utterly charming and leaves little handwritten notes all over the house….reminds me so much of Ross’s mum……

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Last Day in Scotland – Off to Glasgow

We’re off to Glasgow for our last full day in Scotland.  I canna believe our trip is almost over.  Aye, it’s been a grand one at that.

We took the bus down to Waverley Station and took the train to Glasgow….it was easy.  You’d think we were seasoned travellers 🙂  It was a mere 45 minutes ride making just a  few stops along the way.

I can'tresist.a man in a kilt

I can’t resist.a man in a kilt

Once we made our way to street level, we decided the best way to see the city in just a day was to take a hop on-hop off bus.  Round trip, it was almost two hours.  Glasgow is certainly more spread out than Edinburgh and there is so much to see.  I only took a couple of pictures and I know they won’t do the city justice…the architecture is utterly amazing.

Georges Square

Georges Square

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On Glasgow’s coat of arms is the bird, the tree, the bell and the fish.

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“Here’s the Bird that never flew, Here’s the Tree that never grew, Here’s the bell that never rang, Here’s the fish that never swam.”

This rhyme is based on the life of Glasgow’s patron saint, St. Mungo, and all are symbols of rebirth…a recurring theme in Glasgow’s history.  There were once 43 shipbuilding companies in Glasgow and now there is only 1 left.  I think the tourguide said that 20% of all the ships in the world were built in Glasgow, on the river Clyde.

The statue below of Wellngton on his horse Copenhagen has a cone on it’s head…..no one knows for sure who places it there.  But everytime it is is removed,,,,it reappears.  The feeling is that it brings Glasgow good luck…..

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People talk about how Glasgow differs from Edinburgh……it’s a working class town and the people are really friendly.  There is a certain buzz about the place that’s unmistakeable….We’d intended to take the tour and decide how we wanted to spend the afternoon.  We went for lunch at the Counting House – a pub right in the centre of the city – and decided that since it was such a nice day that we’d just wander the streets and soak up the city.

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I’m not sure how the vote went – city by city – but throughout our travels, I’d have to say we saw more YES signs than NO…and met more people who voted YES than NO.  What an incredible time to be visiting this country.  We attended a post-vote YES rally in Georges Square that was pretty well attended.  People draped in the flag of Scotland….families, old people, young people.  We listened to protest songs and speeches from the podium.  It was really moving….

We wandered  down pedestrian shopping streets and came across this band entertaining the crowd.  I tried to upload a video I took of them but the file type wasn’t allowed.  You have to listen to them.  Google “Big Peat Pipe band” and watch one of the Youtube videos.  I could have listened to them all afternoon.

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There were tons of people in the streets – and not only tourists.  Mostly locals…shopping, generally having a good time.

We topped off the day with dinner at a cafe close to our BandB.

Oban to Edinburgh

We have a full day planned today……after checking out, we proceeded to town to buy some true Scottish wool :-).  I couldn’t resist……and then headed over to the Oban Distillery for a tour.

It was very interesting…and included a tasting at the end.  This time I DID buy a bottle of whiskey but just a small one.  Ross was still not a fan.  I’m willing to share when we get home…..it’s delicious with a bit of candied ginger.

Before heading out of town, Ross took a few pictures of the harbour…..you’ll notice that we had another beautiful day.  I thought it rained in Scotland all the time…..

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Our next stop was Stirling Castle….which was close to where the Ryder Cup is being played.  Traffic was a bit tricky and of course we got lost again……

We both agree – that of all the castles we’ve toured, Stirling was our least favourite…..I’ve included a few pictures of the grounds which were truly beautiful…..

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle – Childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots

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Here’s Ross – intent on listening to the audiotour……lots of information to take in……

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What I found interesting were the artisans who have been commissioned to create some new tapestries for the castle…..

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What i think was a bit disappointing was that the restoration didn’t seem as authentic as some we’ve seen.  For example – I think that , in the past, these were probably tapestries….but now, the images are painted on the walls of the castle in the royal apartments…..beautiful paintings, but hard to imagine that’s how they once looked.

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I just had to slip in another picture of King Robert The Bruce…..

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From Sirling Castle, the GPS took us on a very merry way back to Edinburgh to drop off the car.  And guess what – we got lost again – but this time trying to find a gas station to fill up before we dropped off the rental.

I have to say, Ross did remarkably well driving on the wrong side of the road…….but I think we were both happy to drop off the car and take a cab to our last B&B in Edinburgh.

Speaking of our B&B at 4 Morningside Place……beautiful.  I’ll take more pictures tomorrow, but here is a photo of our room and the view from the window…it’s like a secret garden…..

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Tonight we had a lovely Italian dinner at a nearby restaurant recommended by our hostess….our luck is holding.  We got the LAST table without a reservation……

We planned our day tomorrow in Glasgow – our last day in Scotland.  We’re going to take the bus to the train station and then take the train into Glasgow.  We needed 3 pounds for the bus and were 1 pound short of the exact change.  So Ross went into the Tesco to buy a pack of Scottish cigarettes for some coin.  What a guy!  What an excuse!!  The clerk in the store wasn’t allowed – by law – to give out any information about what cigarettes they sold…..or even how much they cost.  If you have to ask – you don’t need to know!

Looking forward to another great day tomorrow – the weather is supposed to be beautiful….again.  I love this place!!

From the Isle of Skye to Oban

We kind of miscalculated the next step of our trip.  We planned to spend only one day n Oban…and planned to visit the Isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa….only thing is we needed a full day to do that….so matter which way we tried to make the ferries work, there just wasn’t enough time.  Oh well…we’ll leave that for the next trip 🙂

So…on leaving Skye, we decided to take a different route and take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig across the Sound of Sleat (doesn’t that just sound cool in of itself).  On our way to Armadale….you won’t believe what we camee upon..right by the side of the road.  Some hairy cows….I was so excited.  I just had to post all (well not quite all) of our pictures….please forgive me.

Barb and the hairy cow

Barb and the hairy cow

Ross and the hairy cow

Ross and the hairy cow

the hairy cow - all alone

the hairy cow – all alone

And with his family

And with his family

For heaven’s sale, you’d think I’d never seen a hairy cow….

Well after that bit of excitement, we proceeded to the ferry terminal and got lost following the GPS.  That happens when you become too dependent on it…sometimes you forget to trust your own sense of direction.   We knew were going the wrong way but followed it anyways.  The ferry was only 30 minutes long and smooth sailing.  It was a pretty rainy day…good thing we were mostly travelling from one place to another.

Along the way we passed this castle – “Castle Stalker” in County Argyle.  It’s on an island…..looks beautiful in the mist.

Castle Stalker in Appin

Castle Stalker in Appin   .

Oban – is the capital of the Western Highlands and it was certainly was bigger than I thought it would be. We were early to check  in so we hit the Visitor Centre for some tourist information. It was there were learned that there would be a ceilidh at Skipinnish that evening. Show to start at 9:00…an evening of Scottish music and dancing. Sounded perfect……so of course we went. What a riot!! There was music and piping and highland dancing….and scottish country dancing. There was a full crowd – mostly young people – and everyone was right into it. We watched the first set and joined in the dancing in the second set. I don’t know which was more fun – watching or dancing ourselves. But what great fun! We had an absolute blast! Lots of laughs.

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Here is a picture of our B&B in Oban – nice room, but worst shower ever!!

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The Real Skye Tour

We awoke this morning to this view….a bit of cloud but with the promise of blue skies…

looking out from your B&B in Skye

looking out from your B&B in Skye

The forecast called for a nice day though so off we went to meet up with our group for a day touring the Isle of Skye.  We’re so glad we decided to do this tour with Bill.  Not only was he funny and  entertaining, throughout the day, he told us many stories – the history of Scotland, why he voted “YES, Skye’s place on the world….and he took us places we never would have found on our own.  The route we covered was mostly one-way (Deb – they would have ALL been brown roads)…and most weren’t even posted as far as we would tell.  It gave Ross a well-deserved break from the driving so he could soak up the scenery.  He played lovely Scottish music to get us in the mood….and kept up a pretty steady banter all throughout the day.  We took many, many pictures that we could be happy to share for anyone who wants to see them….we toured the northern part of the island  – Old Man of Storr, walking to Lealth Falls, visiting Kilt Rock….we were especially captivated by Fairy Glen…

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen

We were warned though – there are rules you must follow when visiting Fairy Glen

1)  Never whistle in the glen

2) don’t walk with your hands in your pockets, and

3)  don’t take anything with you out of the glen.

If you break any of these rules – bad luck will follow.

There are also magical spiral paths you can follow to bring you good luck.  If you want to make a wish, you enter the spiral walking path…walking to the centre – leave something (we left a few coins) and then back your way out.

Make a wish

Make a wish

Ross climbed to the top of one of the rock formations –

Notice the blue, blue skies.....we were so lucky!!

Notice the blue, blue sky – were were so lucky with the weather.

Then it was off to the Quiraing…..where the views were amazing……

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Then it was off to Uig for lunch….after which we went to the most western part of the island to the Neist Point Light House.  Talk about a climb….I don’t know which was harder – going down or coming back up.  I took it at my own pace and didn’t suffer to much…..but it was truly challenging….but worth it for the views.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

The long walk to the lighthouse

The long walk to the lighthouse

All day long, I was telling Bill I wanted to see sheep and hairy cows.  Well, we saw so many sheep….probably more sheep than people…

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….but alas, no hairy cows.  Though Bill did a pretty good imitation of one…..and he was a wee bit hairy.

It was a long, long day….but an amazing way to spend our anniversary.  One we won’t forget.  Headed over to the pub for a bite of dinner and a pint..or two.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

Day 5 – Isle of Skye

Here is a better picture of our B&B in Fort William..

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The weather was a bit iffy when we left Fort William this morning to make our way to the Isle of Skye.  Mist/fog shrouded the mountains across the loch.  Since we’ve been on the road for the past few days, these things we can tell you for certain when driving in Scotland

1)  the roads are never straight for long

2) there are many roundabouts in the cities, towns and villages

3) you’re never very far away from water

4) most of the road are two lane and everyone loves to pass…there are arrows on the road to tell you when to get BACK into your lane to avoid oncoming traffic

5) there are many signs reminding you to drive on the left……thank goodness

6) no shoulders to speak of – if you drive too far to the left – you hit the curb…..as we have a few times.

7) luckily, there aren’t too many roads,,,,,,which means it’s hard to get lost – unless you take the wrong exit on the roundabout (as we have a few times).  Thankfully, the GPS is very quick when recalculating your route.

8) the posted speed limit is 60 mph most of the time….but you’re lucky if you hit 50…which means it takes a lot longer to get where you’re going.

9)  there are parking areas at the side of the road every 450 yards so you can stop and take a picture.

10)  there aren’t many radio stations…so we bought a CB (Scotland Rocks) to listen to.

…and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful……if you can take your eyes off the road long enough to enjoy it (right Ross?)

View of Glengarry

View of Glengarry

..and another….

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Our first stop of the day….and there were only two…was the Eilean Donan Castle….one of the most beautiful and romantic castles in Scotland (they filmed Bravehart here and James Bond’s The World is not Enough here).  The castle is owned by the MaCrae family (as it has been for years) and they have spent considerable $$$ to refurbish it.  No pictures allowed of the inside…but feast your eyes on the pictures we took of the outside.

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After we left the castle we made our way to the island…the land is so rugged and desolate…outside of the towns, houses are very few and far between…if at all.

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Next we visited theTalisker distillery where we sampled some scotch……I really liked it, Ross not so much….so we didn’t buy any….yet.  It was a single malt scotch…we’ll have to try some others before we make up our mind.  The road to the distillery was single lane only with passing areas for cars to wait until it was safe to continue driving.  Took some getting used to.

Here is a view as we approached Portree…..our base for the next few days.

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Tomorrow, we have something different planned – to give Ross a break from the driving.  We have booked a full day tour with Real Scottish Journeys (small groups in a minivan) and we will explore the northern part of the island.  Can’t wait.

Tonight, we went to the pub for dinner…the portions are enormous…and for dessert we had sticky toffee pudding….my god it was delicious.  When they brought us the bill, they gave us two pieces of fudge.  I love this place!

Leaving Fort William

We’re off again – and we’ve really enjoyed our stay here.  The Maclean Guest House is run by Mark and Brandi Maclean,  This house is brand new and our room was lovely.  HUGE shower, great water pressure…modern decor.  We were very comfortable here.   Notice the Canadian Flag…husband Scotttish.  It was well situated – about a 10 minute into town to restaurants, shops and pubs.  Right on Loch Linnhe…Ben Nevis right behnd us……  a great area for hiking……

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