Scotland - Glasgow and Edinburg, ah the pipes, the pipes...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another day of moving from one location to another.

We have been at our flat for a week and we quite like the Oriental people that we have shared the common areas with. We could have gotten some real weird people to share with, which would have made it unpleasant. These people have made the experience a very pleasant one. All are very quick with a smile and conversation. The two younger ones speak some conversational English, especially the young man. The Mother does not speak English but her kindness and warm heart is definitly communicated. We say good-bye and are off to the bus which will take us to Cork Airport.

Cork Airport is small and reminds me of Regina's airport from hence we left Saskatchewan. One would not get lost in this place. Our wait was limited and soon we were off the island of Ireland. I was sorry to leave even though we did have three weeks here. That is likely more than many North Americans get to experience of the Emerald Isle. It is the home of my ancestors and I feel rather melancholy about leaving. I especially like Dublin for some reason.

Scotland is warmer as soon as we are out of the plane, of course it is about an hour and a half later. We are taken by bus to the main terminal. Now we are in Glasgow and we are now experiencing the strong, Scottish brogue of the information guide. I am getting better at understanding English with the strong accents I hear. Often I have to have the speaker repeat what they have said, they probably think I am old and deaf.

Into Glasgow we go by city bus hauling our suitcases behind us. I remember going by a main park absolutely full of people sitting on the grass. Someone later said the Glasgow ladies go out in the sun then experience a "Glasgow Tan", which is to say a sunburn on their lily white skin.

We get out in the neighbourhood where our B&B is located, Danielstown. We see many a stone building in a sort of reddish colour.

It was very difficult pulling our suitcases up the hill to where we were staying only to be disappointed by the entrance to our shabby looking B&B. I was so tired by the time we arrived I could not even protest the place. After all Ken put lots of effort into picking the places we stay at. It can not be helped that Air B&B clients are not fully disclosing what a place is really like. No one likes to give a bad review, which is obvious from the place we will stay at for the next few nights. We will dub it Dirty Carpets B&B. Oh, but then cleanth factor should really be part of the name, too. The sheets and towel (which we had to ask for) were clean, but the towels had never seen fabric softner. They did not have to worry about us wanting to use the kitchen facilities. We just have to make the best of it as the city of Glasgow has about a 93% occupancy rate in their very over priced hotels that is why a B&B in the first place. Lesson learned, go to the bottom of Air B&B reviews which might have a negative review. If no reviews say the place is immaculately clean, and talk about the wonderful host, well the place could be less then clean. Who really cares about the host, they usually hide out, we care about clean, hot water, air-conditioning or heat and a firm mattress.

We go for lunch at an award winning East Indian Restaurant, Nakodar Grill. Great service and food! These are East Indian people with strong Scottish accents. Just a bit different for us.

Haggis natchos!

Our walk around the city of Glasgow was great because it was so warm. There is a wide, pedestrian walkway with older, well kept building on either side. We meet a Canadian girl trying to find the bus depot, that was unusual.

We find a store with the an enormous amount of glass windows at the front and sides. Inside these windows are old, black sewing machines mounted to show off the machines to their best advantage. Huge sewing machines were used to help display things inside. The machines had been donated to the store, glad they showed them off.

We waste the day wondering the streets of Glasgow wondering at the marvelsous architecture.

Friday, June 12, 2015

We wanted to get out the door as soon as possible today. The weather was marvellous, simply marvellous, darrrrling.  The blue sky was so beautiful and it was so sunny out, with highs that were to go to the low 20s to mid-20s. Anderston and the wonderful, castle-looking building now used as Caffé Nero what is our first destination once off the bus. Surprisingly delicious Brazilian coffee was our treat first thing this morning. We were sitting outside with the sun beating down on our bodies keeping is nice and warm.


After that Ken felt he was ready to conduct some business. He purchased a pay-as-you-go plan for the cell phone. Here in the UK is £16 for 30 days. That is even better than Mexico.

I'll let Ken explain the benefits here,

The provider is, they operate on a newer business model. It was explained to me they built their network expecting you not to use your cell phone as a phone, but mainly for data. This is what we do. Most of the mobile use is Goggle Maps and Yelp, calling is secondary.

The 'pay as you go' plan is very styling -  £15 per month, all you can eat data (25Gb), 300 minutes, 3000 texts. £1 is for the SIM set up.

It's the roaming that I really like, it works for a month or two (can't recall exactly) in countires they call 'feel at home' countries, you can use the cell network as if you were at home, so little or no roaming fees. So for France, Italy, Spain, the United States we can have cell service for £15 per month. This sure beats what I was planning to do, which was hit a new country, buy a new SIM card, pay for a month and use what we use.

No extra charge for 4G service, where available. Something to blow your horn over.

While I was waiting for Ken I was lured off by the sound of drumming. Men in kilts and long curly hair beating on the drums or playing bagpipes. How Scottish of them! It was the Scottish band (I think you figured out the nationality already) called Clanadonia. They play to crowds of 69,000 or they played to the common folk on the street, us. They had is very appreciative group listening to them this time, including Ken and I.

From downtown we were whisked away by the bus to the west end of Glasgow. Somehow part of the day had evaporated, it was two o'clock and we had not eaten lunch yet. We were in a very artsy area given that the biggest museum and art gallery was right across the street from our bus stop. A marvellous restaurant, Mother India Cafe, was located close at hand and again we found ourselves eating East Indian food for lunch. This particular restaurant was voted number one on Yelp in Glasgow.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was our destination until 5 o'clock when we closed it down. This particular museum was built near the end of the 18th century out of rock. It was built for a world expedition. Wow, was it a wonderful sight to see. There were two major parts to it that we were interested in, the natural history part and the fine art part of the building.  There were many fine Scottish painters of men dressed in plaid with many a fine, strong beastie at their sidekick. There were the French impressionists, which believe me were impressive - Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Augustine Renoir, Pablo Picasso, etc. You were allowed to take pictures, so I did. Nothing is as good as the real thing.

The natural history part of the museum was a bit odd to me. Much of it was truly stuffed animals, real dead animals that have been stuffed. Now keep in mind that these animals were stuffed likely over 100 years ago. Ken said to keep this in mind that back then people wouldn't of been able to travel to go and see the giraffes in some zoo far away nor might they be able to afford the picture books. These stuffed animals might've been the only way someone could've seen an elephant giraffe or penguin. At least that somehow mades me feel better about seeing stuffed animals. To be honest I felt quite bad about seeing stuffed animals in a supposedly sophisticated museum. By the way the museum building itself was well worth the trip.

We had an absolutely glorious day in the sun today. I know Ken is totally hooked on Glasgow.

Next off to a local restaurant recommnded to us by a museum employee. We were able to rest up and plan the next day.

Our travels often expose us to some of my favourite treats. Meringue cookies and here was no exception, large and tasty.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

We are leaving Glasgow today for Edinburgh.

We had such amazing weather yesterday but today it is back to the cold, wind and lack of sun, too bad. We leave as soon as possible from the B&B. It is down hill with the suitcases so the walk is fairly pleasant with the huge poppies in a well kept garden.

At the train station I felt a bit overwhelmed, likely because of the swell of people wondering around also escaping to somewhere else. Or perhaps they were coming to Glasgow from elsewhere, who knows. We asked someone who worked for the rail company where to go to catch the train to Edinburgh. He directed us downstairs. For us the only way downstairs was by lift, commonly know as an elevator. We walked everywhere looking for one. My question to the rail company, Scotrail, is why not tell employees to direct those with suitcases dragging behind them where the elevator is not answer, to say "downstairs". Idiot! How dumb not not tell us the obvious. Oh well, just another thing to give us an opinion about Scotland and "the people make Glasgow", their motto. We did figure out where to go all by ourselves, hurried to get the train but it was too full for our luggage to have a safe spot. We waited for the next one in ten minutes, they cancelled it so we waited half and hour. Once on the train and sitting backwards for our trip riding with a lady that did not cover mouth when she coughed, put on her make-up in front of us, we were well on our way to Edinburgh. Oh, and just to add to it all, the train did not have internet like the Irish trains.

It was considerably colder in Edinburgh. Our next adventure was to drag our suitcases to the University dorm Ken had chosen for us to stay in. Here we waited outside for at least twenty minutes in the cold, perhaps chastised because we were supposed to be here about an hour earlier. Once we were inside we each had our own dorm room and bed along with each our own bathroom and shower. We had a kitchen living-room combo. This place was just set up for holidaymakers (those on vacation), as we were the first ones this summer. It is super clean and no one else will be in our little apartment. Edinburgh was very expensive for hotels, etc. so we were lucky to be able to find this little gem, right downtown.

We went for a walk after carrying my bed to attach to Ken's bed. We saw Edinburgh Castle up on a hill plus all the wonderful old buildings that make up the downtown area we are in. We cut through a park with an elaborate statue of Walter Scott. Building after beautiful, stone building, what a sight. This is why a person should travel.

We went to the Apple Store. We had two customer service personnel helping us. One fellow had lived in Vancouver for a time and was very helpful. Wow, were they ever Scottish in their red hair and fine brogue accents.

Now we know truly what a "Scotch mist" is. We heard of it on Gabriola, but we now know of the true spittle of rain on us, the wind, the cold, the slight spiting of rain. Let's see what weather tomorrow brings.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

This is to be a day of rest. Ken is not feeling great, maybe coming down with something. I hope it is not a repeat of our first days in Merida, MX. He believes it is from the feather comforter at the last place we stayed. It could also be from the Scotch Broom that is full bloom throughout the country side right now. Anyway he aches and had a sore throat. Who wants to endure being sick when they are away from home. Actually when you are long term traveling like us you have to put your mind to the idea that you are at home when you are in the new place you are staying for the night. After all you have all the stuff you need with you there.

By the way, we have been traveling for forty weeks now! Can you believe it? We have been out of our home on Gabriola for nearly a year, it will be a year on July 1. Last year this time we were scrambling to sort through all our belongings and pack up those things we wanted to keep. The keep pile, and believe me it was boxes really not a keep pile (that is deceptive) was likely way too big. All that stuff is in storage in Nanaimo. It is hard to part with stuff but once you get on a roll it becomes much easier and is quite freeing. Every once in awhile I would remember that I had sold or given something away. It sometimes would hit me like a flash. I would think, "why did I get rid of that". Truly, I will never miss what ever it is because both of us are doing great right now without any of that stuff from what seems like a previous life. I do not regret any of it. Only thing, I must say, is our dining-room suite that was my parents. I remember my twelfth birthday party around that table and my Sister's eighth. I did keep the suite in the family and gave it to my Sister's daughter, Kelly. Really that is quite fine with me, just miss it a bit.

I went for one little walk yesterday in the evening. Just enough to get some fresh air.

Ken went on two walks. He could barely get me out at all yesterday. I was a real slug bug. I think we need to take more down time but it is hard when you are in a new and exciting place. He did text me some photos from his walk, the new phone is working great.

Our European trip is well underway.
I am sitting here in the dorm room of a university in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has been such a switch to come to the UK and Ireland after a long trip to Mexico. I would say the weather has been one of the big differences, it is cold here in comparison. The driving on the left instead of the right-hand side is sort of mind blowing, too. Ken looked the wrong way one day and walked into traffic, I pulled him back. He had looked the wrong way walking into on-coming traffic. The prices are crazy, hence staying in a dorm compared to a hotel. The dorm is still pricy compared to hotel prices we are used to. Food prices in restaurants are probably double if you take into account exchange rates. This week we will be buying groceries and cooking in our little apartment. Groceries are relatively cheap in comparison. Overall, it is wonderful seeing the old architecture almost everywhere. Love the trains here, some even have internet onboard. We are in Scotland until Thursday, then off to York in England. We need to do some serious planning for the rest of our trip. London might be next after York. Amsterdam could be our first destination on the continent. I am glad we are doing this trip now and not when we are older. I have already hurt my knees, legs and feet from walking too far in the cold and damp. Taking days of rest are already a must-do.

We spent a few weeks at end of April and beginning of May in Saskatchewan with my Sister and Brother-in-law and at my Dad's. My Niece had a baby girl on April 29th. Wow, is it easy to fall in love with a baby! She is the tiniest, most adorable, wonderful baby, but then I am not biased am I? It was great to be in Estevan the day she was born and we got to go see her and Mom, too. Rory's big sister, Hunter, even got to hold her - talk about bonding quickly. Charlene and Mike treated us to a couple of weeks of first class hospitality as usual. At my Dad's in Moose Jaw we were able to stay in a room at the Bentley where he lives. Talk about a glimpse into the future, it was not as scary as one might think. His buddies joked around with each other, ate first class meals and the staff treated everyone with the highest of esteem. He is in a very classy place as he should be. We took my Dad up to a funeral in Saskatoon, my Uncle had passed away. A plus in the whole thing was that I got to squeeze in an evening with lots of cousins. One Cousin and one Auntie I had not seen in decades. It was nice to know that over the years the love of family had stuck with us all.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A big day for walking.


We found an area of good charity shops and when went through them. Not that we really need to shop but, as you know, it is fun to find treasures. Ken found a few CDs and that was about it. I have to be very picky because of limited space.

In the evening we walk to the canal. It has been relatively cold out today but it seems nicer out tonight. We see one of our first canal, barge boats. The canal was surrounded by old buildings, likely factories, that were made in homes. It was a beautiful walk. Then we returned via a street above the canal which was also lovely with gardens in front of the homes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ken woke up today talking about how bad his allergies were. He rarely talks about how he feels when he wakes up. Usually he is a singing in the shower kind of guy, not today. Even being in the city of Edinburgh he is allergic. Even though it is quite cool here lately there are the flowers of home in full bloom: roses, azaleas, rodos, daisies, dandilions, broom, etc, and the pollen is having a deleterious effect on poor Ken.

We kind of lazed around for awhile and got a late start to the day. We both put effort into booking accommodations for London. We were close to finding a great place then realized it was too far away from the centre. The Tube was close to our dream place but a forty-five minute ride would not be that fun first thing in the morning. I can see why Ken has not booked aready, it is difficult and very expensive.

We did not have far to walk, maybe a kilometre to our destination of the day, The Scottish National Museum.

We were there for hours and only covered a small portion of it. There were seven floors if you count the roof top terrace. They had little signs that told the names of recognizable rooftop landmarks of which there are many here in Edinburgh. The most well known building we could see was Edinburgh Castle up on "the rock".

The exhibits covered ancient Scotland up to the present. I, of course, was most impressed by the textile exhibits. When you think Scotland you might think of Harris Tweed or cashmere, but there was had a cotton, jute and carpet industry at the turn of the century, as well. Wool is what is left of the huge textile industry that once was. The museum curators also gave praise to many of their native sons and daughters. We saw a little write up and display to one of our favourite singers, Amy MacDonald. Did you know the famous father of medicare in Canada, Tommy Douglas, was born in Scotland? We are going to try and return tomorrow to see more because we tired out before see the whole museum.

Later on we decided to go back out and do more walking evening walking tour. To walk the Royal Mile was our aim for the evening. This is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of Edinburgh. It runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. It is quite touristy. There are many little covered streets called a "close" that run off the main streets. There are plaques that tell about them and these "closes" have been given names. They are from the seventeen hundreds and older. Ken found a couple of whiskey shops to investigate.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Today we did a repeat day, sort of. First we went to some charity shops for something to do. I still need a bathing suit that fits and looks decent (good luck on that front;) I actually end up buying a jean skirt. I was under the impression that people really dress differently from in North America. I see that they are a little dressier but they still wear running shoes and jeasn. I really needed to feel more like at home so the jean skirt helped. I also...drum roll...found a decent bathing suit which appears to be brand new.

After lunch we walk up to the royal mile again. This time the stores are open. Ken wants to go into a whiskey shop, nothing new there. The Scottish clerk in the store got into a conversation with us. He was a total Socialist. He voted for Scotland to seperate. He said that about 85% of the eligible voters came out to vote when the separation vote was caste. He was so interesting to talk to and about the age of our nieces. He wants to go to Mexico and explore. He wants to go and teach English as a second language. Good luck to him! I know he'd love it in Mexico.

We went back to the Scottish National Museum. Like I said yesterday we only did a portion of it yesterday. Well, today we only did another small portion of it. It is a huge museum. We found the section with stuff animals as we did in Glasgow. They gave a glimpse into the uniqueness of other cultures. For Canada they had a display of the Coast Salish First Nations. They had items from the Eskimos of the North. They even had a Ski-doo. They did not really touch on us regular folks cause we are very much like the Scottish in lots of ways, at least on the suface.

Lastly we went to the Library Bar at the Student Union Building for the University of Edinburgh. It was the most styling student bar I have ever seen. It was multi level with dark wood trim and walls lined with glassed in book cases. It was impressive.

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