In December 2013, my boyfriend’s brother gave us the opportunity to use his rewards points to book a free flight for a trip to Europe. We planned a 10 day trip to the UK and Ireland. This is our story.
I took some sleep aids last night because of the brightness outside. We must be very far up north because it is 10:30 pm at night and it is still sunny outside. I got a good 8 hours of sleep. Hooray!
Lisa laundered some of our clothes and then we ate breakfast. I’ve noticed that produce in the UK is very fresh and flavorful. The strawberries and apples were to die for. They are also smaller (probably because there are fewer hormones pumped into the food).
We began our adventures today by taking the double decker bus to the Prince’s Mall in the center of Edinburgh. The weather today was a bit drearier than yesterday. It was mid 60’s with a side of gray and a spot of drizzle. As we got off the bus, we noticed that the Scots have retrofitted many unused Catholic churches. They have been turned into vibrant cafes. I like that.
We saw the Scot Monument. I mistakenly thought it was for all the Scots in Scotland. Lisa pointed out the plaque for Sir Walter Raleigh Scot. He’s the dude who wrote Rob Roy. I never read it :)
We walked up the steep mound to the Royal Mile. This area reminded me of Beale Street in Memphis, Carytown in Richmond, or Times Square in NYC. It’s the place to be. Lisa then informed me that we started at the top and we’ll be walking downhill the rest of the day. Yay!
We started at the Scotch Whiskey Experience. I learned a lot about whisky. The first 10 minutes was an interactive video/ride like “It’s a Small World” (but less terrible). The second part was a tutorial on the regions of Scotch whisky.
- Highlands= vanilla flavor
- Lowlands= citrus
- Speyside= fruity
- Isley= burning/smoke
Next up we walked around the kilt/tartan mill. I felt bad because we were low on funds and I wanted to buy everything I saw. We then walked to the end of the Royal Road at into Holyrood House. It’s the Queen’s summer home in Scotland. The place oozes with historical intrigue: from Mary Queen of Scots to Bonnie Prince Charlie (he’s totally worth Googling). Just walking in the halls more than piqued my interest in Scottish history.
After the audio-tour at Holyrood House, I took Lisa on another death march to get to our bus. This time we rode on the top of the double decker bus. I was very happy that it was a closed roof top on the bus. Today’s adventure has definitely been the most enjoyable thing we’ve done so far.
We decided to save money in Edinburgh and bury much of our food at grocery stores for dinner tonight. We picked up Twix, crisps, Iron Bru (Scottish soda that tasted like root beer and cream soda had a delicious baby together), ham, and Cadbury Turkish Delights. Yum!
Traveling to Ayr, Dalrymple and Glasgow
We ate the rest of our food then packed/cleaned up and headed out from our lovely lodgings in Portobello (Edinburgh). I really enjoyed this area and would have liked to stay at least a day longer. I think that’s a good trip, because it left you wanting more. We hopped on the bus and made our way onward.
Lisa did a great job planning our journey today; everything ran smoothly. We had an hour to kill in Waverly station. While I was preoccupied in the loo, Lisa picked up our train tickets at the kiosk and we just enjoyed each other’s company while we waited.
While on the train I noticed a sign that read: www.snh.gov.uk/train. This is a free app and podcasts for stories about “Scotland’s amazing nature and culture.” I now regret not bringing my smart phone.
On our train to Ayr we sat behind six very spirited and jovial Irishmen. One of their conversations was about American football: “US team plays another US team in the Super Bowl and they call themselves World Champions.” But most of their conversations were pub humor and very inappropriate jokes… I liked those guys! The countryside wasn’t bad either.
We had to take a bus ride from Ayr to Dalrymple because it’s a small town. On the bus, Lisa said “We must be in the Deep South of Scotland” as she pointed to bus adverts. To my amazement there were six separate verses from various books of the Bible as advertisements. We also noticed the Scottish brogue is way stronger and more pronounced in this part of Scotland. Even looking out the window reminded me of traveling through rural Georgia, but not Deliverance…never been there.
When we exited the bus we noticed that Dalrymple was quite small. We walked along the main street and reached the end of the town within 3 minutes…womp womp. We looked around and saw 2 pubs in the town and both were closed (probably because it was 11:30 in the morning on a Sunday, and most people were in church, or they are not raging alcoholics who need to drink at 11:30 on a Sunday morning). Lisa posed in front of every Dalrymple sign we could find:
We sat by the River Doon at the edge of Dalrymple. I really enjoyed Lisa’s company here. We talked, snacked, laughed and (ugh) selfied. I also made Lisa reapply her sunblock. She hates that I’m such a stickler for protecting her skin.
Later, we walked down Church Street. To my surprise there was a church there (lol). We explored the church’s cemetery looking for any of Lisa’s ancestors (we didn’t find any). Lisa informed me that her last name “Dalrymple” may have meant “crooked pool” (probably referring to the River Doon). We then later guessed that the name was a title used by the nobility who ruled the area or was used by servants when they earned their freedom or was used by immigrants who entered the USA.
Next, we ran into a neighborhood cat. Lisa cooed and petted the cat (actually I cooed and wanted to put her in my pocket and take back to the states.) The cat realized we were not going to give her food so she left us alone. :(
We decided to leave Dalrymple a half hour earlier than expected. We were hungry and wanted to eat in Glasgow. Upon our arrival in Glasgow (around 4:30 pm), we walked toward our host’s place to find dinner. P.S. Glasgow is hilly as hell! We ended up in a place called Bunker. Our waiter was a super friendly dude from Edinburgh. He suggested that we try a local Scots brew called St. Mungo’s Lager… it was quite tasty. Lisa agreed.
Lisa ate the Nacho Chicken Burger (yum) and I had the Chieftain (onion ring+ haggis+ beef+ cheese gravy= OK. Both the beef burger and the haggis were scorched well-done). For dessert, Lisa ordered the Brownie and I ordered the Orange Honey Cheesecake. If the courts would allow it, I would marry those desserts.
We walked from the restaurant to our hosts’ place, Brendan and Anna. He was from Johannesburg, South Africa, and she was originally from Russia. They were both recent transplants to Glasgow. Their place was awesome. They were such gracious hosts. They provided a wide variety of toiletries, gels, sprays, lotions, soaps, etc.
We spent our night in Glasgow watching the World Cup Final with our host. He admitted that he was not a football fan, but a World Cup fan. I completely understood what he meant. There is just a sort of electricity when watching international sports. You get to see the highest level of competition on the world stage. Our host was a big fan/player of cricket and I told him I vaguely knew some parts of the game thanks to my parents. I saw a few cricket matches before when traveling with my parents to Jamaica. I told him I was six years old and the games bored me to tears, so I climbed trees instead. He laughed and said “that sounds about right.”
We more or less used Glasgow as a bedroom. In fact, I was disappointed that we only got to spend a few hours here. We’ll have to further explore Glasgow next time. Next stop, Dublin!