To read about this trip in order, you might want to scroll to Part One first and then Part Two!
Let’s continue with the stories and photos from my awesome adventure in Scotland…..to recap – Part One took us through Days One and Two with castles and traditional highland music, dancing, and song. Part Two took us through Days Three and Four with more castles, cathedrals, battlefields, a visit to St. Andrews golf club, and lots of stunning countryside. We’ll cover Days Five and Six to conclude my time in Scotland in this post.
DAY FIVE: We began the day with a photo stop at the Kyle of Sutherland:
Me with my friend, Loraine at the Kyle of Sutherland
Lots more of the gorgeous Scotland scenery on our drive throughout the day:
We stopped for lunch and shopping time in a quaint fishing village called Ullapool on Loch Broom. I had the most incredible lunch of fresh locally caught langoustine lobster and chips with garlic bread — OMG – heavenly!!! After lunch, I shopped a bit, took some photos, and had some creamy Scottish ice cream – flavor was a Scottish traditional soda flavor – Irn-Bru – delicious….orangey with an aftertaste of berry or root beer or something like that – hard to describe, but it was soooooo good and very different!!!!
That afternoon / evening, we took a boat cruise on Loch Ness to search for Nessie…..no sightings! hahaha But, the cruise was very nice and Loch Ness is beautiful! Loch Ness is the largest fresh water body of water in Great Britain by volume! And it is quite the experience. After the cruise, we went to an exhibit that went through the history and investigations surrounding the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) and had dinner – chicken with potatoes and veggies and a berry crisp with custard….and a 1/2 pint of locally brewed Loch Ness Lager!
A kilt and cowboy boots……
DAY SIX: Our last day in Scotland was a long day on the coach driving from Strathpeffer back to Glasglow. Lots of wonderful scenery through the highlands – which we were surprised to see was brown in much of the areas. This was mainly because of the season – the mountain heather was not in bloom, in fact, it is burned as a tool to manage the moorland vegetation. The practice is beneficial to sheep, wildlife, moorland ecology, and biodiversity. So, it gave us an unexpected view of the hills throughout the highlands. But, although it was not green and covered in heather, it was still quite stunning!
We stopped at the Isle of Skye for coffee and photos….I had a scone with jam and took a banana for later. This was a lovely stop!
The Isle of Skye has the legend of Saucy Mary: a Norwegian princess known as ‘Saucy Mary’ who would charge a toll to any boat using the narrow channel by hanging a chain from the castle to the mainland to prevent unpaid crossings; she would then thank the boat’s crew for paying the toll by flashing her bare breasts at them, hence her nickname ‘Saucy Mary’. LOL
Here is what is left of her castle:
The route back to Glagow involved taking that huge coach onto a ferry across the Sound of Sleat to Mallaig – here are a couple photos of some of our group on the upper deck of the ferry — it was a cold, wet, windy day…..I stayed below……these photos are courtesy of a friend:
We stopped for a photo op at Glenfinnan to see the monument to fallen Jacobite clansmen and the famous viaduct well known to “Harry Potter” fans……I got a photo of the train seen in the “Harry Potter” films before we got to the viaduct and a friend got this great photo of the train going over the viaduct…..any “Harry Potter” fans out there find this to be a familiar sight?
We also visited Fort William beneath Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in Britain.
Next stop was Glen Coe – known as “The Three Sisters”, where the MacDonald Clan was massacred in 1692.
Me and my friend Pat with two of the three sisters behind us.
The last stop before we returned to the hotel in Glasgow was Loch Lomond…..made famous by the song “On The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” – see the video in “Part One”. I told you earlier that Loch Ness is the largest fresh water body of water in Great Britain by volume….well, Loch Lomond is the largest body of water in Britain by AREA and it is stunning!
When we returned to our hotel, we had to take a Covid test – the US still requires a negative Covid test to enter (return) to the US. All but two were negative — there was a couple (husband and wife) that was not part of our group, but was on the Cosmos coach with us that tested positive, so they had to stay in Scotland until they test negative. But we were all good to go!
That night, we had our final dinner together – I chose the spring rolls, bangers (sausage) and mash, and ice cream……I was a little leery of the sausage and mashed potatoes because it was covered in gravy — I thought, gravy on sausage???? But, I decided to try it…..one more traditional Scottish / British meal…..and I am so glad I did – it was delicious!!!
We got up the next morning and took this group photo before getting on the coach to the airport….but, there were several of the 19 of us that weren’t down in the lobby, yet, so we took another one at the airport to be sure we had the entire group in the photo:
BUT…..our adventure didn’t end there!!! We got to the airport and discovered that our flight from Glasgow was delayed and it resulted in us missing our connection in Amsterdam…..several hours and much drama later (I won’t go into it all here), we were able to get all 17 of us rebooked for the next day (only 17 at that point needed to be rebooked – one was staying in London with friends for an extra week and one had a family funeral to attend, so got them to separate her and get her on a flight that evening). The rest of us spent the night at a GREAT hotel in Amsterdam – the Moxy! WE wished we could have had time to see a bit of Amsterdam, since we got stuck there overnight, but it didn’t work out – we didn’t get to the hotel till just about bed time and had to get back to the airport after breakfast the next morning…..so, I guess I still need to see Amsterdam, some day, and I already know a great hotel there! hehehe
They split us up into four smaller groups – try to rebook 17 people on the same plane on short notice…..some had connections through Detroit (I was one of 6 in that group), some had connections through Atlanta and DC. But, we discovered we were confirmed on the first leg of the trip, but couldn’t get confirmation that we had seats on the planes from our connection cities to Buffalo…..had to wait till we got to Detroit, Atlanta, or DC to find out…..but, my thought was “just get me to Detroit, I can get home from there somehow”. But, when we got there, we got on the next flight — all except three who ended up having to spend the night in Atlanta and got out to Buffalo the next day. Some luggage didn’t travel with the owners, but I believe everyone who’s luggage got delayed received it the next day. So…..some definite drama getting home, but we all made it….eventually…..and it was an amazing trip and I refuse to let the last part overshadow the rest of it.
Dinner at an Asian restaurant in the airport while waiting for our new bookings (above) and my room at the Moxy (below)
This was at the Moxy in Amsterdam — we decided to take it as our motto!
My last meal on the trip was a burger and fries at the Long Horn Steakhouse in the Detroit airport!
Before I leave you, here are some interesting facts about Scotland:
With that, I bid you adieu until my next adventure…..wonder where I’ll go next…..hhhmmm……I have some ideas, but you’ll have to wait and see!
To read about this trip in order, you might want to scroll to Part One first!
To recap Part One……I spent an amazing week in Scotland with a group of friends – old and new – and had the best time! We flew to Glasgow and picked up a Cosmos bus tour that took us all over the country of Scotland where we had grand adventures, learned a lot, had great fun, and make awesome memories! This post picks up on Day Three in Edinburgh.
DAY THREE: We had a bit of a late start on Day Three – our Coach broke down (something about the doors not being able to close), so we had to wait for another coach to arrive. But, soon we were on our way to tour the capital of Scotland – Edinburgh. We picked up a local tour guide who talked us through what we were seeing as we drove through “New Town”, which was established in 1779….I guess “new” is a relative term – LOL. At one point during the day, we had a close encounter with Prince William and Kate, but didn’t know it at the time!!! We were stopped at an intersection and Mick (our tour guide that I introduced you to in Part One) pointed out that the royal residence for when the Queen or any of her family are in Scotland was just a couple buildings down the street. There was a lot of security and a motorcade in front of the building. Mick said that perhaps Prince Charles was in town to open Parliament in the Queen’s place. But, we heard on the news later that evening that Prince William and Kate were in town for some event. Sure wish we had gotten a glimpse of them!
After our drive through Edinburgh, we went to “Old Town” to visit Edinburgh Castle. This is a huge castle up on a hill overlooking Edinburgh that had a lot of very steep inclines and lots of uneven walking. After my trouble with the cobbled streets from the day before, my knee and back started screaming at me rather quickly…..I was concerned that I was going to make the rest of the trip a painful one, so I chose to only see part of the castle – I very much enjoyed what I did see and had some nice relaxing time in the sun – it was a beautiful day!
Looking down on Edinburgh from the castle
Some shots of Edinburgh during my walk back down to where the coach was parked waiting for us…..some of us went back to the hotel and some had some “on your own” time to walk around Edinburgh for a little bit and were picked up a couple hours later.
Someone on the coach asked Mick what the zig-zag lines on the side of the street were for. He said that those lines indicated the parking situation. He said a single line meant “no parking”, a double line meant “no parking – ever”, and a zig-zag line means “absolutely no parking – ever – ever”……and used one of his “Mick-isms for this…..he said, “We don’t have the death penalty in Scotland, except for those who park on a zig-zag line – we take our parking rules very seriously, here!” hahahaha
Later in the afternoon, we gathered for our second optional excursion. We went to a distillery and dinner after. The Holyrood Distillery tour was so interesting – we saw how gin and whiskey are distilled and tasted several examples. We learned that Single Malt has nothing to do with the quantity of malts — it simply means that it is all distilled in one distillery for the entire process, which means there is more control over the process and the aging. Blended malts mean it was distilled in multiple distilleries. We also learned that whiskey has to age in the cask for a minimum of three years and more, depending on the process used by the distillery. We also learned that gin has three basic ingredients – beeswax, sea salt, and juniper berry. I don’t like gin – I think it tastes like a Christmas tree! LOL But, I really liked the sample they gave us – they said they keep their gin pure, so it has less of a pine taste. And, the whiskeys we tried were so smooth – no burn at all!
I forget what this place was (saw it on the way to the pub), but it is cool, so I’ll include the photos! hehehe
After the distillery tour, we went to a Scottish Pub for dinner. Most of us chose the Fish ‘n Chips…..it was amazing!!! I also had a glass of Malt Smith Lager that was very good, too – a local brew.
The pub is reported to be haunted. It is located in the old Canongate Tolbooth, built in 1591. It was used to collect tolls from travelers entering the burgh, but has also been used as a Council Chamber, Police Court, and Prison…..and a suspected warlock was said to have been exorcised there.
Those at our table thought this looked like a cow on the back of a child……hhhmmm
My lager, fish ‘n chips, and sticky toffee pudding with ice cream……OMG – so good!!! We also learned that in Scotland, “dinner” is three or more courses and “supper” is two courses – entrée and dessert, typically. And, when a friend ordered a burger, they had the option of having it “with salad”, which meant it was topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion and they could get it “single” – just the burger – or “supper” – with chips!
DAY FOUR: On Day Four, we left Edinburgh and headed to St. Andrews, Pitlochery, Culloden Moor, and Strathpeffer.
We first crossed the bridge that took us over the Firth of Forth – a narrow estuary of the River Forth.
Our first stop of the day was for a photo shoot at St Andrews Cathedral – the ruins of a medieval Catholic Cathedral that was built in 1158. Really cool.
We then spent some time at St. Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club – the home of the rules of golf. It is a beautiful course and the beach that borders it was used for the opening scene of the movie “Chariots of Fire”.
The “Chariots of Fire” beach
We really only got to see a putting green and the 18th hole, but it was stunning! We also had plenty of time to wander around and check out the shops.
We had lunch and shopping time in Pitlochry – I had Steak Pie with chips…..it was incredible! The beef was tender and full of flavor and the gravy was so rich and delicious! The puff pastry was “on the side”, which I thought was a bit odd, but I just put it on top of the steak and gravy and it was amazing!!!
We also made a stop at a famous battlefield called “Culloden Moor” where Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army were defeated by the British government under the command of the Duke of Cumberland. I didn’t get any photos, but here is a photo a friend took:
We also saw some Highland Cattle…..photo courtesy of a friend!
On the rest of the drive to the next hotel in Strathpeffer, we saw a lot of the beautiful country side of Scotland.
These yellow fields were everywhere! It is Rapeseed – it is grown for animal feed and to produce vegetable oil, similar to canola.
Our next hotel was the Ben Wyvis Hotel in Strathpeffer….very old, but elegant hotel, built in 1879! Stunning architecture and décor. For dinner that night, I chose the bruschetta, honey roasted gammon (which I found is ham that is cured differently than regular ham), and the salted caramel chocolate tart – for which I paid dearly with a restless night’s sleep because I consumed too much chocolate so late at night (dinners were 7:00 or after every night)…..but, it was so well worth it!!!
Here is my room and an actual key to open the door – not something you see too often, anymore:
I’ll end Part Two here…..Part Three coming soon!
I just spend an amazing week in Scotland! We were planning to go in 2020, but it got canceled due to Covid……we hoped it would get rescheduled in 2021, but Covid prevented that from happening, too! So, finally, we got there! This was a Busy Buddies trip – the group I belong to that does frequent day trips, overnighters, and some longer trips – all expertly arranged by our fearless leader, Mitzy Peglow of Orleans Travel. There were 19 of us that went. When we got there, we joined 20 others from all over the US and one from Australia to make 40 on the bus….42 counting our tour guide and driver. It was a great bunch of people and we had an awesome time touring the stunning country of Scotland!
Here are all 19 of us in the Glasgow airport on the day we left to head home.
This is our tour guide (left) – Michael “Mick”, an Englishman who lives in Spain – and our driver – Tam, a Scotsman. They were awesome…..Tam maneuvered that coach into some of the smallest places – he deserves to be crowned “king of coach drivers”! Mick was so knowledgeable and helpful….and funny! He kept us on schedule, entertained, and fully informed of everything there was to know about everything we saw and Scotland in general! Some “Mick-isms”: “I’m negative…..I’m a negative kind of a guy” – he and Tam were required by their company to take a Covid test every morning before getting on the coach, so he would let us know they were negative each morning. “We don’t have the death penalty in Scotland, except for (insert some trivial offense here) – we take that very seriously” – he would say this when telling us some rule or local law, like parking in a no parking zone. “Does that make sense?” – this would follow every set of instructions or summary of what we could expect each day. Once, we got together and agreed to all say “NO” the next time he said it…..he seemed to enjoy the joke! hahaha And….“If you don’t like rainy, cold weather, don’t come to Scotland” – he explained that the rainy season starts about the first of April and ends oh, about the end of March! LOL – it wasn’t all that bad – it was in the mid-50s and some sun, some drizzle, and one day that it really rained a lot. Mick was wonderful — he even came out the morning we left to be sure we didn’t get on the wrong coach to the airport, since he noticed more than one Cosmos coach loading up and he ran into us at the airport and stopped to chat on the way to his gate.
The tour called “Scottish Outland Adventure” and was hosted by the Cosmos tour company. This is is the itinerary map of all the places we visited in seven days – pretty much saw the entire country! We arrived in Glasgow on Sunday morning and spent our first night there. Then we spent two nights in Edinburgh, two nights in Strathpeffer, and our last night back in Glasgow. Here is the story of our trip.
DAY ONE: We flew out of Buffalo on Saturday afternoon with layovers in Detroit and Amsterdam and landing in Glasgow Sunday morning. We were all pretty tired when we got to the hotel, but our rooms weren’t ready. Some of us just curled up in the lobby to read and relax and some took a tram to downtown and wandered around some. Our first hotel was The Leonardo Inn Glasgow West End – a nice, clean hotel that served an included buffet breakfast with traditional Scottish breakfast items. I slept like a log…..even though the bed was harder than I usually like and was a bit lumpy…..it didn’t stop me from falling asleep almost immediately and I slept soundly all night! This was my room:
DAY TWO: After breakfast the first full day, we boarded the coach to tour Glasgow and make our way to Edinburgh.
Scenes around Glasgow: A typical Police station, a 12th century cathedral, statue of David Livingstone – an explorer born 1813 / died 1873, and the oldest building in Glasgow:
Stirling Castle in Stirling
My friend Pat by the canons at Stirling Castle
Looking down at the countryside from Stirling Castle
Other shots from inside Stirling Castle:
Robert The Bruce – King of Scots from 1306 to his death in 1329
When we left Stirling Castle, we learned a new word: “Dreich” – a word plucked from the slang dictionaries of Scotland. It describes a dull, damp, Scottish day – one that’s devoid of light, warmth, and color…..in other words, a truly yucky day. We were supposed to spend I think and hour or so at our next stop – the village of Culross, but it is all outside stuff, so Mick called the office to get permission to make a couple unplanned stops and spend less time in Culross. We were all delighted by the additional stops – both were awesome and they gave us two experiences we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
The first unplanned stop was to see the Kelpies. Kelpies are water spirits of Scottish folklore, typically taking the form of a horse and reputed to delight in the drowning of travelers and casting spells. The Loch Ness Monster is a Kelpie. We loved that we got to see these huge metal sculptures…..so beautiful!!!
Then, we stopped at Linlithgow Palace – the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V. This was a really interesting place – great architecture. But, what made the Outlander Fans on the coach squeal with delight was that it is the building used for the filming of scenes at the Wentworth Prison on the TV show “Outlander”.
Near the entrance to the Linlithgow Palace
Entering Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison)
The Palace (prison, for you Outlander fans) – they are in the process or re-pointing the building, so it was fenced off, but all the Outlander fans got as close as they could to get photos!
A church on the property
A cottage on the property and a statue of Mary Queen of Scots
Then, we headed to Culross — the village of Culross is used in the filming of Outlander, too. Unfortunately, in addition to the “Deich” day, everything in the village was closed. So, soon after we got off the coach, Mick called Tam and told him to head back to get us. Some used the time to wander around for Outlander photos and some found a small coffee shop that did happen to be open to wait for Tam to return. It was a quaint little village right on the water…..would have been nice to spend some time there if the weather was better and if some of the shops were open.
The streets were cobbled and steep inclines…..very uneven! It tore my knee up and I turned my ankle, which sent a shock up into my knee, but it didn’t do any damage and all was fine after I was able to rest my knee a bit. GREAT example of olde world villages!
We left Culross and headed to Edinburgh to get checked into our hotel. The hotel we stayed at for two nights in Edinburgh was Novotel Edinburgh Park – very nice hotel with an amazing shower, comfortable bed, and another buffet type breakfast that was included and had the same typical Scottish breakfast items – this was my room:
After we settled in, we met down at the lobby so the coach could take us to our first optional excursion. It was so much fun!!! We were taken to a venue that put on a traditional Scottish night out called “The Spirit of Scotland”— dinner, Highland dancers, bagpipers, singers, and the Ceremony of the Haggis! It was a great evening!
For more about the Ceremony of the Haggis and my bravery in trying the haggis, scroll down to the post titled “I TRIED IT!”.
My dinner choice was the Traditional Scottish Broth – very good, but a bit bland, everyone got some Crispy Haggis Bon-Bons (again – scroll down to the “I TRIED IT!” post for more info on this), and my main course choice was Braised Beef, Fondant Potatoes (that square thing), and Roasted Root Vegetables – all VERY good! The dessert was cheesecake, so I passed on that, but we also had Scottish Shortbread with our tea and a glass of wine. A very nice meal, in deed!
And then the entertainment started — awesome!!! Dancers, singers, a bagpiper, an accordion player, a violinist, some sing-alongs, and wonderful traditional costumes. It was great fun!!!
We sang along to familiar tunes, like “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”, “Auld Lang Syne”, and “Ten Thousand Miles”, among others. I got all emotional when the lady singer sang “Amazing Grace” with the bagpiper providing the music……so beautiful……I was blubbering over it!
One of our Busy Buddies group got chosen to dance on stage with one of the girls….he did good!
We went back to the hotel and crashed after a full day of touring and still trying to get over the jet-lag.
I’ll leave you with with beautiful video of the song “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” – we’ll visit Loch Lomond later in the trip:
So that ends Part One…..Watch for Part Two to come soon!
Here is the next set of Daily Photos for May…..
I READ THIS
(I took this in the Azores in 2019)
Until next time……
Let’s start by saying I am NOT a super picky eater…..sure, there are some things I just plain don’t like, some I won’t eat because I’m not fond of the texture in my mouth (even if the taste isn’t offensive), some I’ll eat if it is the only choice but won’t choose it if there are other options, and then I’m allergic to cheese, so need to avoid anything with cheese in or on it…..and I draw a hard line when it comes to anything involving organ meat, offal, or blood of an animal. OK, so putting it all out there that way, it does sound like I’m picky…..but only mildly so in comparison to some people I know. hehehe
I went on a wonderful adventure in Scotland last week. When reviewing the itinerary with all the things we were going to be doing, I noticed we had an optional excursion that included the “Address To The Haggis”. Hhhmmm……I had heard that word before – wasn’t it some kind of organ meat dish? So I looked it up……yep…..it is exactly what I thought:
“Haggis is a sausage or pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs) minced with oatmeal and spices and boiled inside the sheep’s stomach lining”! EEEWWW!
The excursion description said it was a traditional Scottish evening with bagpipers, traditional dances and song, a meal…..and the Address To The Haggis and the opportunity to try the Scottish delicacy. I was all in for everything up to the trying of the haggis……that was a hard NO for me! But, I gave it more thought and decided I should take a teeny tiny bite and have a napkin ready……after all, I was in Scotland and I really should really experience Scotland, right?
The evening started out with being served our choice of wine or beer – I chose the white wine and it was VERY good – a tad on the sweet side – and our meal selections. Then, the Address To The Haggis began – here’s a description I found on a web site:
“The Address To The Haggis is a poem written by Robert Burns to celebrate his appreciation of the Haggis. As a result Burns and Haggis have been forever linked. This particular poem is always the first item on the program of Burns’ suppers. The haggis is generally carried in on a silver salver at the start of the proceedings. As it is brought to the table a piper plays a suitable, rousing accompaniment. One of the invited artistes then recites the poem before the theatrical cutting of the haggis with the ceremonial knife.“
As we were served our meal, a small dish of “Crispy Haggis Bon-Bons” was placed on the table…..sounds innocent enough phrased like that, right?
So, to follow through on my decision to try it, I took one……cut it in half……and looked it over……
It looked harmless……so, I put a small bite on my fork and put my napkin in my other hand……
…..and put it in my mouth……
It wasn’t bad……I didn’t use my napkin to get rid of it……but, I also didn’t go for a second bite! I just chewed it up and swallowed it and took a big swig of my wine! hahahaha
The taste was not bad at all – not something I would likely eat again, but not bad and I’m glad I tried it. Some of us talked and decided they probably “Americanized” it for the tourists, so it wasn’t so “irony” or “gamey” tasting. The reason I didn’t go for another bite was that “texture” thing…..I found it to be thick and sticky and rather weird feeling in my mouth, so that killed it for me. But, I did it and I’m danged proud of myself for it! hahaha
COMING SOON: A full post (or maybe multiple posts) all about my Grand Scotland Adventure – I’m still trying to catch up from being away and going through my photos and notes…..but, it’s coming…..I promise…..check back in a day or two!
So…..I went to Scotland last week – got back home late last night!!! The photos in this “part” that represent each daily topic were taken in or on the way to/from Scotland…..except the last one. Don’t worry — I’ll be posting all the photos and stories from my wonderful week in Scotland in the next few days, but, for now…..here’s Part Two on my May Daily Photos:
VIEW FROM HERE
WHERE I STOOD
That’s all for now……give me a couple days to catch up and sort through my photos and notes and you’ll get to see what I did in Scotland!!!
Well, Hello, May!!! What took you so long???
We got a new list…..one with NO food related topics on it! LOL Here is the first group:
THIS IS ME
Until next time……enjoy May!!!
Goodbye April and Goodbye “Food” month!!! So happy to be moving on to May, consistently warmer temps, and a more versatile month of Daily Photo Topics! hahaha
Here is the last set of Food photos for April:
IN MY CUP
ON MY FORK
I EAT HERE
THIS IS DELICIOUS
IN MY BOWL
And, now…….here is May’s Daily Photo List:
Catch ya on the flip side……
Continuing on with the Daily Photo Challenge topics for April — the “FOOD” month!
A RED FOOD
Why is April flying by??? I like April – the budding trees and bushes, the sprouting flower, the birds chirping, the greens becoming vibrant……it is the promise of new life and warmth and sunshine brought with the cleansing rains! I want to cherish and enjoy it……
In the mean time…..here is my next set of April Daily Photos……hahahah!
Reminder – April is “FOOD” month — I’m a bit sick of photographing food and finding creative ways to photograph food and finding food that is interesting enough to try to photograph…..but, I have a mission and this is it…..and I get it done! LOL
IN MY PANTRY
A FAVE RECIPE
That’s all……a tad more than a week’s worth cause I got all wrapped up in Easter weekend and forgot to post! But…..that’s how I roll, sometimes!
Next week……more food…..YAY!!!!