My Enthralling Story of Scottish Wonder...Part 1

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I wrote about going to Scotland previously-when I outlined my extensive itinerary below-but then it actually happened, and now I'm back in Canada, back to the 'ol igloo that I had to get to from the airport by foot since my canoe broke down.   I would like to share my semi-point-form experiences from this journey.  This probably means I'll do a super lazy job and bore you to tears by the third paragraph, but that's cool.

Our journey (it wasn't just me hanging out alone - let's call my associate "Maria" to preserve their identity since this is a public blog that everyone in the world reads) began at approximately 4:00pm on a Saturday in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Oh wait - let me first mention that a few weeks back, while on the phone PAYING (sigh!!) to choose the seats on our Air Transat flight, they convinced me with very minimal effort (because I heard the word 'priority' and wanted to feel super special), to upgrade our seats to Option Plus.  Not the physical seats, but their essence, really.

Option Plus means the following (I was not paid by Air Transat to write this, but should be tbh):
-you get priority check-in at the airport.  This was amazing, considering the Air Transat line wrapped around about 8 times and we were able to walk by everyone and check-in almost immediately. Heyyyyy
-you get to check an extra bag/you get extra baggage weight.  If you are planning on bringing your bowling ball to roll up and down the highlands, this is perfect.
-you get priority boarding (after the Club Class people and the elderly/disabled).  So, you get to board before everyone else.  This part I was just ok with, since boarding first means sitting longer.
-they keep offering/handing you booze on the plane, and you get a special snack during a non-snack time!  Other people saw our snacks and asked if they could have one too?  NO, said the Flight Attendant.  They are for OPTION PLUS customers ONLY (she actually did say it that harshly to one person).
-you get a comfort kit.  This includes a blankie (person behind me was also harshly denied one), an eye-mask, earplugs, earphones, and an inflatable neck pillow.
-you get a firm handshake and then a salute, while exiting the aircraft.
-that last one isn't true, but it should be.  I thought it was worth the extra money,  if only for the line bypass alone.

After the overnight flight, we arrived in Glasgow at about 8:00am their time.  I decided not to bother sleeping, since it seemed like a waste of time and I figured I'd fall asleep faster when I went to bed that night (true and cool story).  Luckily the CitizenM Glasgow allows very early check-ins, at a small fee.  YOUR SOUL!!!!

I just spent a few seconds looking for the pound sign on my keyboard just now, and then felt pretty stupid afterwards because I remembered that character map exists,  for such useful symbols as the following:

£  <--the one I needed
Ψ <-- a pitchfork
ώ <--boobs with a food crumb on top
Ử <--a man's nose with a food crumb on top
♫ <--someone's behind-the-ear tattoo

And so on and so forth.

So in Glasgow we were, in the CitizenM hotel which is really quite strange.  All the rooms look the same, with one giant bed at the far side of the room, an odd shower taking over half the room, and then a sink just stuck to the other wall.  I had a picture, but now I can't find it so here is a picture I stole from their website:

You know you want to enclose yourself in this purple tube of joy

Why am I describing the shower in the hotel room?  Who cares?  Why don't I tell you what I ate there for breakfast?  Well I will tell you...I ATE CROISSANTS.  Three days in a row.  Maria had bacon and 45 pieces of bread and what else, and here I was sitting there eating croissants.  I will have you know, that they were the greatest croissants that I've ever had the pleasure of spraying all over my pants.  The crumbs, I mean. You know how croissants are!  LET ME TALK ABOUT CROISSANTS FOREVER

To get this moving along, here is my condensed, day-to-day breakdown of the happenings on my trip.


DAY 1:
  • We wandered around shopping on Sauchiehall and Buchanan Streets, primarily.  I saw a UK Glamour Magazine for the very first time while IN the UK!  I like UK Glamour.  I like it alot.  It's a really convenient size, it has many words inside and in the UK it comes with gifts.  All their magazines come with gifts.  What is this magical land of giftish magazines? 
  • I went to my first Primark store.  How do you describe Primark?  It's like a cheaper H&M with a greater selection of cheap things?  Speaking of H&M, they have a housewares department in the UK.  What's your problem, Canada?  I didn't even look in that department, but the fact that it's even an option there and not here is enough for me to huff 'n puff about it for at least 2 minutes.
  • It rained.  Before I left, everyone told me it would rain and be cold.  I was like 'pssh fine whatever' and the day we got there, it was sunny but then promptly rained when it was shopping time.  But then it was sunny. But then it rained.  Then it was sunny again.  The weather you see, is as indecisive as my associate Maria and hey, but it also doesn't matter because your surroundings are SUPERCOOL.
  • We wandered to this bar called the Horse Shoe, which we were advised is oldest bar in Glasgow.  Should we believe the shop-girl that told us that?  Let's do a quick Google.  brb.  Hmm well, so far all I've seen is that it has the LONGEST bar in Europe.  The physical length of the bar is really long.  So I really don't know what to think now...who can I believe if I can't believe the shop-girl?  I don't even remember what shop she was in.  Wait a minute, she was in Cath Kidtson - the store of many flowers on bags and towels.  Hmm.
  • After more wandering we ate on the patio of some place called Di Maggio's.  By 'ate' I mean shoved entire pizzas into our open faces.  I'm pretty sure after that we were in straight up comas in our strange hotel room, because I don't even remember anything after that.  I'm happy with how this post is going, so far. Really informative.
DAY 2:
  • Day two started like any other day, looking at the rain outside while eating a croissant.  We were planning on eventually making our way to Ibrox stadium, home of the Glasgow Rangers Football Club.  Apparently somebody would maybe(?) be there to let us in to look around.  This was fine, until Maria decided to check his emails, and then made a shocking discovery that would alter the course of our day forever - Ibrox Stadium had emailed us stating that we were an hour and a half late for our tour.  "What tour?" we both said.  Much confusion ensued, and I insisted that Maria check his email conversation with the woman from Ibrox.  "She never said anything about a tour!", he insisted.  Until he saw the email that stated yes, we were getting a tour.  That we were almost two hours late for.  
  • Oop.
  • Off we went for our first ride in the extensive Glasgow Subway system.
Massive/confusing/overwhelming tbqh
  • Tall people like me have to bend down to get in this subway, and it reminds me of the Scarborough RT for some reason.   We eventually arrived at Ibrox, both of us too terrified to go inside (we had visions of being yelled at or banished forever).  Instead we found a nice elderly man waiting for us, and he politely asked if we'd gotten lost/forgotten the time, etc. And I had to apologize profusely.  I'm pretty sure if this were in anywhere else, he would have left an hour earlier and not waited for our sorry butts.  He then had the decency to take us on a private tour of the stadium.  
Ranger's Trophy Room: room of many trophies
  • We then moved outside to the official Rangers Megastore, where we spent so much time that a storm system moved in and a massive downpour began outside (our shopping affected the weather ok). They even gave us a bag of free stuff.  What kind of nice place is this, that rewards punks from Toronto who show up two hours late?!  What kind of flawfree establishment is this?!
  • After that, we took the subway a couple of stops over to Hillhead, as I wanted to see the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and Mackintosh House. 
Lisa Fail-of-the-Day:  Occured earlier in the day when I was looking up the opening times of the above-mentioned places. Failed to notice they are only closed on Mondays.  Day 2 was, of course, a Monday.  
  • It was a nice area of Glasgow, so we did what anyone else would do after such an extreme fail - walked into the nearest bar.  By the way, I figured that in the UK they call everything 'pubs'.  But they kept saying 'bar' in Scotland, and I was flabbergasted.  I felt like a fool.  A FOOL.  The bar was called Tennents Pub (not bar, pub...lolwut), and inside I had my first Tennents beer.  I think it's like the Coors Light of Scotland?  Honestly I just made that up, I'm sorry if I insulted Tennants beer.  I'm so sorry.  My ignorance is showing.  Beergnorance.
  • That evening we ate at Fratelli Sarti ( because of course we would go to an Italian restaurant while in Scotland.  I don't even remember which of the three Glasgow locations we were at, I believe the one on Renfield.  It was good, I had much wine.  
  • I hope you're on the edge of your seat still and that you're still with me - because it's only going downhill from here.
  • This was our second and last night in Glasgow, we would have liked to see more and we hope to return next year.
Bye bye Glasgow


DAY 3:
  • We were due to be retrieved by our Timberbush Tours bus at 10:15am.  Yes, you can get to Skye on your own, but I would much rather have not attempted to drive myself on a)the wrong side of the road b)on narrow highways in the highlands where you drive 2cm away from giant trucks and c)on the sides of tall cliffs where you're certain you may topple off to your very own death-by-rental-car-explosion
  • Being a complete and total spazz at times (despite the fact that I have a "Go With the Flow" tattoo), I couldn't find the bus anywhere...I only saw a couple other confused looking people, and was sure the bus was leaving without us.  After throwing around some swear words and stomping around the block five times and acting like a giant child, the bus randomly showed up and all was well (sorry, Maria).  
  • Our first stop was at Loch Lomond, and it was yes, raining. MORE RAIN (please see below if you feel utterly helpless at the notion).  It was a nice little town with a nice lake (loch) to stare at.  
"Follow me, I will show you the way to your destiny"
Lisa Fail-of-the-Day:  I stopped in a gift shop and bought some super kewl postcards.  In my usual logical fashion, I stored them in my armpit and then took some pictures of walls and flowers.  Taking pictures generally requires you raise your arm in order to actually use the camera, and needless to say, several minutes later I realised my postcards were missing.  I ran back (quite dramatically) in the pouring rain and the postcards were gone.  Never to be seen again.  /csb
  • We drove and drove.  The Timberbush Tour buses are pretty small, which is good if you don't want to travel around for three days with 40 other people.  We drove by Ben Nevis, through the Highlands, and stopped at Glencoe.  It was raining most of the morning, until we got to Glencoe.  That's when the clouds parted, and the sun shone through gracefully upon us.  True and cool!
  • We stopped for lunch in Fort William, which was kind of a useless town, at least from what I saw.  There was a gift shop though, so I was happy as I bought many keychains and trinkets.  
  • After some other stops I forget we eventually arrived in Portree in the early evening, which is a small place saturated with B&Bs.  We ate at the Bosville hotel and I drank much St Mungos beer.  I like St Mungos.  I ate a cow sandwiched between two pieces of bread and question my existence in this world.  I ran to the sea and wrote deep poetry about my experience and my new-found enlightenment that came in the form of a hamburger.
  • At 10:45pm it's still light out in Scotland, which was a bit odd yet also cool.  They air many Gaelic television shows on their stations, which was interesting/I had no idea what they were saying.
DAY 4:
  • Our Skye trip continued - the cute lady that owned the B&B made us breakfast.  That's why it's called a Bed & Breakfast, you know.  I bet you didn't know that.  They have beds inside as well as breakfasts.  Sometimes you can have breakfast on your bed, but that's called breakfast in bed.  DOn't get them mixed up.  You learn something every day with my blog!
Lisa Fail-of-the-Day: We stopped outside/near the Sligachan hotel in the Cuillins for a photo-op.  I wore chucks on this trip, which is really the ideal footwear to go traipsing around hills and rocks and generally slippery things.  So of course I got out of the bus and promptly slid down an entire hill on my butt.  When things like that happen, I generally try to joke with whoever's nearby that potential saw the oops, and then get a smile out of them (this is usually met with blank stares, and this case was no exception).  Even Maria didn't find it amusing as he was already about 50 feet away so it looked like I slid down a 2 foot bump on the ground.

Taken when I was not sliding down a hill.

  • We stopped at a nice beach in Carbost

The hills were calling his name, thought Maria.  They were in fact saying nothing at all.
  • Maria had his heart set on visiting the Talisker Distillery, the only Distillery on Skye.  The tour wasn't really planning on stopping there this time (the Timberbush tours seem to have specific stopping points, but the schedule is up to their own interpretation), but what Maria wants Maria gets.  So after bringing it up to the driver about six times, the whole group was asked if they wanted to go and half actually did.  That worked out, and the rest of us went to the Fairy Pools. 
Off in the distance is that unattainable mountain mentioned below.  One day I will rise above that mountain and poke it in the ear.
  • I'm kind of anti-social/awkward in group situations with strangers, so I ran off by myself in my slippery chucks and headed off towards that mountain pictured up there.  You know when big things look really close yet are really far away?  You know, big things?  That are far away?  Well this big mountain thing was far away and looked just as far away as it was, yet I figured I could get there and back in our allotted hour and a half time frame. I WAS WRONG LOL.  I walked and walked, over crevices and cracks and stones and hills up and down and all around, and yet I still didn't reach that mountain. At one point, there was a stream that you could only cross by walking over about 5 terribly placed, slippery rocks. I did see one man fail at his mission and wind up with soaking wet feet.  I stood there for about 10 minutes unsure of what to do (there were no other options, I had explored for a bit and come to the conclusion that only an epic journey over the fiery fortress of rock would be the way this story ended) when the tour guide came by and helped me.  csb.  Hey, it was kind of scary!
Looks easy in this pic, no?  Well nooo!
  • The driver played alot of music on the bus, including this catchy song: 
  • We went back to Portree for lunch, and it's a good thing we did because we went back to the B&B and as I pulled out the keys to unlock the door, I realised I was holding strange, unfamiliar keys.  I had a hunch that was confirmed moments later, when the owner came out of the kitchen looking all worried asking if I had her keys.  The poor lady had been without her keys the entire first half of the day :(  I'm certain this was Maria's doing, but he claimed innocence (until the next day when he said it was probably his doing).
  • Continuing along on our journey, we stopped to stare at the Old Man of Storr from afar, as well as stopping to see Kilt Rock.  There is a fence to protect humans from falling off the high, high cliff - and of course a tourist thought that it would be hilarious to climb over the fence to show everyone how zany and daring he is and WOULDN'T THIS MAKE A GREAT FACEBOOK PROFILE PIC?  Needless to say, he fell to his death moments later and it put a rather big damper on our trip.  
Old Man of Storr just chilling out, relaxing, missing the old woman, etc. etc.
  • Ok he didn't really fall to his death, but he did have problems getting back over the fence as the crotch of his pants kept getting caught.  He looked very distressed and the rest of us found it amusing (HEY - don't climb over safety fences!).  At one point he was stuck on the fence with all his weight on said crotch, and I thought he was going to start crying.
Kilt Rock looking more beautiful than your wife.
  • We stopped by a place near (in?) the Quairaing that apparently has a dinosaur footprint in the sand, but the tide was too high for us to stare at it in amazement.  
  • Let me add that up to this point we had not been attacked by any midges whatsoever.  I was very pleased by this, as midges are known as "the horrendous biting monstrous teeny tiny creatures of hell of Scotland of go awayyyyy", so I had brought along bug spray and was ready for battle.  The battle never happened....or did it?
  • We went to see some black houses (old stuff is cool) and over there yonder I could see Flora McDonald's grave.  What I did not know, was that Alexander McQueen was also buried in that graveyard (Kilmuir).  We visited them both.
  • After that we went to my favourite place, the Fairy Glen (Castles).  We all frolicked around for an hour, as it was a very pretty place filled with sheep, green hills, strange rock formations on the ground and lots of rocky things to climb.  Speaking of climbing, I was following everyone happily up a hill pictured below, as the path was flanked on one side by a steep drop, but the other side had a nice hill to hang on to if need be.  Everything was fine until that hill just decided to go home, and the path was just hanging there in open air and AHH SOOOO SCARED.  
Where the girl in the white hoodie is, is where I realised I could not continue on my quest to that THING.
  • So I fell over onto the nearest perch I could find where I began to have a mini-freakout, while the others (including women in heeled boots!) continued up the terror-path onto a super-high thing (I don't even know what to call it).  Eventually I made my way very slowly back down the terror-path back onto flat ground, where I frolicked some more like an overgrown child (but with the same scraggly hair).
Further-away view of that THING.
Just outside this frame is an actual fairy taking a selfie.
  • We listened to Rod Stewart on the bus
  • That night we at the Isles Pub on this, our last night in Portree

DAY 5:
  • We left Skye :(  If you ever go to Scotland (you should), you must go to Skye (you must).  Let's get srs rn.  If you like beautiful scenery, feeling alive, running around without a care in the world, sheep, etc. then you should go to Skye.  /End of srs moment.  
  • We stopped at Eilean Donan castle, which was ok.  I liked the giftshop better (what is wrong with me?).  The castle had cute displays inside but when I enter an establishment I really want to be able to wander around the entire place without any restrictions (also known as trespassing).  
  • We stopped to see some highland coos in Invermoriston.  Cows.  Cute cows with big bangs and painful horns.  We fed them carrots, one turned around and nearly shat in our faces.  One almost knocked my entire arm off. True story!    
This is not the one that sprayed feces in our general direction.
  • Still no rain.  
  • Stopped at Fort Augustus, ie. where Loch Ness is.  Saw no Nessy, so bought Nessy souvenirs instead.  Nessy is probably watching Breaking Bad 300 feet below the surface, tbh.  
  • Listened to Stairway to Heaven in the bus, everyone feeling emo and deep.
  • Stopped at a waterfall to take some more super cool pics, and that's when it happened...MIDGES ATTACK!!!  They left me alone (I think I taste bad), but attacked others, including Maria. They chased us back to our bus, but not before we stopped for a quick group pic:
Check us out!  Photo cred to the lady in the middle. I mean, her camera.
  • We stopped in Pitlochry, and although many things were closed, what a pretty town it was!  I'd like to return there sometime and enter it's many treat shops and eat all the treats in those treat shops and become a happy old woman who lives in Pitlochry and knits cosies and cross-stitches and other things of that nature.
  • Alas, after that long journey we finally arrived at our next destination.....

  • I had to get our rental apartment keys from a lady in a bistro known as the Roamin' Nose.  We stopped quickly to admire the apartment (it was very nice) before running back to the restaurant.  I love that restaurant.   I had some Barney's beer there.  I would like more Barney's beer.
  • I went on my very first trip to Tesco.  Yes, it's a supermarket.  Yes, I got excited over going to a supermarket.   Hey, I'd only heard about it via songs (hi Lily Allen) or random British television shows.  Or Glamour UK.  I was as excited to go to Tesco as I was to go to Primark.  
  • We went across the street to a pub called Smithies, where we watched the beginning of the World Cup.  I don't even remember what game it was.  Does it matter?  I was in a bar in Scotland drinking more (Tennants), I don't care what I was watching.
  • Did you know that some places in Scotland allow dogs?  I mean inside their eateries?  Bistros?  I don't know the full extent of it, but there were dogs inside places I was eating.  That's my kind of place!  As long as the dog hair stays on the dog.
  • A couple of old-men regulars made fun of Maria (he was wearing a Canada soccer hat), making exclamations about Canada "what team do they even have anyway!?" and other things of that nature.  Maria was a bit saddened after that, which made me want to attack in defense!  Actually we just had more beer and then went to sleep and were pretty content.

I think that's enough for today.....
.....part 2 of this epic journey to follow (please don't hold your breath).

1 comment:

  1. First time reader, long time listener. Love the blog! Keep at it! I like the elk droppings too!


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