Scotland Trip: Part 1 & 2

“My trip to Scotland”

Back to Scotland Trip 2009
Since this is the beginning of my trip and covers several days, this journal entry is rather long, but the following ones will not be so.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 (Departure!)

I arrived at the airport and glad I had a wonderful friend to send me off.
I am very excited to begin this new adventure but very exhausted from the whole ‘moving out of my apartment and city’. Yes it is quite literally a new start to something!
I am finally going to a very “charming” place as I am told.
But looking at myself, physically, I on the other hand don’t look so charming, more like a bruised pear.
This is due to losing your sense of space (well at least mine) when packing, moving furniture and putting boxes everywhere. I tend to be clumsy,I have bruises everywhere!
Luckily, the weather is cool enough (read cold!) that I will be covered up from head to toe!
One thing about planes I dislike, is the ear aches I sometimes get from the air pressure.
I just found these “ear pressure reducing ear plugs” at the pharmacy and I sure hope they work. Besides, I am very exhausted and can’t stop yawning, which by the way, is the best ear pressure reducing invention ever! who knew your body has all the tools to overcome anything! amazing discovery!
For once, I made no apologies for yawning, it’s a good excuse, you should try it!

So… I arrived at the airport early enough to get bumped into an earlier/delayed flight.
The flight I took which was scheduled to leave at 1:30pm left at 5pm. My original flight was the 5:30pm one and likely to be delayed as well so I am glad I didn’t stick around for that one, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it to Scotland! and that is simply unacceptable in my book!
Oh, and on another note, I got a pear and some cherries confiscated at customs.
Apparently if I had left the stickers on the fruits saying they were from Canada or US, i could have kept them. Who knew.
Anyways, it got me thinking… Healthy snack food in airlines are ‘dangerous’ where junk food garbage is ‘safe’. Weird logic!
Anyhow back to my ‘delayed’ flight, we had to sit for another hour in the plane, traffic jam on the runway.
Finally we took off to Newark for my connecting flight.
When I got to Newark, waiting for my flight to Edinburgh, it finally kicked in that I was actually going to Scotland!

I couldn’t stop grinning and smiling the whole way there!

Thursday, August 13, 2009 (arriving in Edinburgh)

I arrived early afternoon in Edinburgh and took a wonderful bus shuttle (AirLink) to the city centre for cheap!
I stepped out of the bus at Waverley bridge to a beautiful sunny day. I thought “what are they saying that the weather is cold and gray?” (oh you just wait and see…)
At this point I am beyond exhausted from the flight and my move and jet-lagged, “what day is it?” I feel like I am in some weird Twilight Zone episode where you wake up and everything looks misty.
I search in vain for my hostel, its on Cowgate and both side streets are like bridges above it and how in the world to get down to that street, I can see it! there! its so close and this is getting frustrating. Unfortunately most people I ask are tourists so they have no idea where they are either. I finally stop in a store with a map and get proper directions.
I check in and decide I better stay awake otherwise I will pay for it later!
I walk around the Royal Mile then go to bed early.

Friday, August 14, 2009 (Edinburgh)

I wake up, its raining outside! I am still very exhausted and don’t know what to do as I am still in the Twilight zone.
I decide to venture out a bit more with my umbrella and raincoat, thank goodness I brought those along.
I walk around GrassMarket, I decide to get myself a cellphone and I also find an amazing organic natural food store called ‘i forgot the name’. This is heaven!
Oh and I have my first taste of a baked potato with hummous, very yummy!
The best place I found was the Baked Potato Shop, they even have haggis baked potatos, but given my delicate stomach at the moment, I resisted! the best I had was a veggie curry one. I could eat one almost everyday!
I also met a wonderful italian couple and went for drinks and listened to a folk singer at the “Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar” on Candlemaker row, which reminds me I need to send them an email!
Here is also a little bit of history on who is Greyfriars Bobby.

Saturday, August 15, 2009 (Glasgow to meet Chris and Cheryl, and to the Highlands)

Today, more rain. I check out of the hostel early enough and leave my suitcase in their storage. I have just enough time for a little stroll in the rain then head out to grab the 11:30 AM train to Glasgow.
On the train, I meet a very nice and friendly family from Scotland who are just traveling around visiting relatives. They wish me a wonderful trip.
Finally I arrive within minutes to meet Chris and Cheryl.
(Chris and I used to work for the same company in Toronto before he decided to leave us to go back to the UK and Cheryl is his very cool wife whom I just met on this trip!)

Now the car loaded with our suitcases, the three of us are off to the Highlands! I think it took us a while to actually leave Glasgow the roads being a bit confusing! at least for me. I am still grappling with the idea that people are driving on the opposite side of the road.
Once we entered the Highlands area I was enchanted, a bit dizzy from the curved roads but enchanted nevertheless.

We drove by what I immediately recognized as the Three Sisters in Glencoe. I spent many many hours painting them (see my interpretation at Three Sisters painting) and was amazed to meet them in person (or in real I should say!). It was like corresponding with someone for a long time but only knowing them by some photos and finally meeting face to face.

We stopped at Morrisons in Fort Williams for some food and I discovered “Flapjacks”, a thick kind of granola bar made with oats andd fruits (and sugar!). I was happy, it’s not everyday I can find handy snacks without wheat or dairy, so I would be keeping my eye open for them for the rest of my trip. One I really loved was Goji berry flapjacks, i used to find them at Holland&Barrett or . yum!

On another discovery note, i found two amazing tea products. I just have to share them with you.
Pukka tea (found also in parts of Canada, you can visit their Facebook page) and TeaPigs (exclusive in the UK unfortunately, but they have an online store, so once I’m settled in, I am ordering!).

Now back to the trip. we are finally on the road to Kyle of Lochalsh, and what we thought was a 3-4 hour drive ended taking much much more. We finally arrived at our charming B&B, Ceol na mara, where our hosts Ross and Jayne patiently waited for us. (It is now close to 9 PM)
We retire for the night and settle into our amazing comfy rooms.

Sunday, August 16, 2009 (Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye)

Our first stop is an Outdoor gear store called 914 Outdoor, Chris and Cheryl really need Highland rain and windproof coats.
We stop at the store just overlooking Eilean Donan Castle, so we make a little stop to take pictures.
We head back past our B&B and stop in Plockton to visit this charming little fishing village.
Here is another link for Plockton from VisitScotland.

In the afternoon we decide to head to Isle of Skye via the Skye bridge. We do a little driving tour of the north part, stopping in Porttree along the way.

In the evening, our B&B hosts had made reservations for us to dine in a nice restaurant in Plockton. Plockton Shores restaurant, where I had a cinnamon glazed breast of duck or lamb, I can’t recall but it was amazingly delicious.
But be prepared, its about 15 quid each (around $30 meal, but oh so worth it!)
One of our waitress was also an artist, so we made a point the following day to visit her studio and gift store.

Monday, August 17, 2009 (more Isle of Skye!)

We woke up a bit later today but decided we wanted to explore more of the isle of Skye. After the wonderful suggestions from our host Ross, we found an area on Skye to go for a little hike. Since at this point we were all aching for some walking rather than car traveling.
We headed for the south part of Skye and luckily when we were walking, the weather cooperated and we had no rain during our 2 1/2 hour walk. The views were amazing so don’t forget to check out the photos!
In late afternoon we decided to go back to Plockton to find a pub or inn to eat and also visit the artist we met yesterday, and also checked out some really nice gift stores along the way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 (last day in the Highlands and back to Edinburgh)
We had a wonderful breakfast at our B&B and our host Ross treated us to some music and showmanship of two bagpipes he made. We were very impressed. We talked about music and bands and he even knows the “nice lads” as he says of the band “Bodega“. One of my favourite Scottish bands that I discovered with my friend at a celtic festival in Ontario more than a year ago…
Anyhow, we said our farewells and checked out of our little home away from home.

We took a slightly different route going back to Edinburgh to check out different sceneries but everywhere was simply enchanting.
Unfortunately, the weather was mostly wet and very windy, but on the fortunate side, we didn’t encounter many midges (this is a good site if you are planning on visiting Scotland, since Tourist season=midge season!). we may have encountered a few in Plockton. I think Chris did get bitten once or twice but I was untouched, maybe they don’t like Quebec blood!
All in all, I really enjoyed the area for its hauntingly beautiful landscapes and the friendliness of its people.
And having traveling partners such as Chris and Cheryl made it all the more memorable.

I vowed to definitely go back to the Highlands. Leaving was like leaving a small part of myself behind.

On a good note, I have tons of ideas and inspiration to get back to the paintbrush and canvas!
Here are the Photos of the first part of the trip, I hope you enjoy!

 Scotland Trip 09 – Part 1: the Highlands
 Scotland Trip 09 – Part 2: Highlands

Next… Scotland Trip: Part 3


2 Replies to “Scotland Trip: Part 1 & 2”

  1. Jayne calderwood

    Hi Melanie
    I found your holiday blog throught the referrers on our website.You have done a great job and I enjoyed reading about your experiences and looking at the photos.
    Enjoyed the bit about our B+B of course,thanks for the compliments.
    Hope to see you again in the not too distant future.
    Jayne,
    Ceol na mara,B+B

  2. melanie

    Thank you Jayne, I am glad I followed my instincts and stayed at your B&B. Chris and Cheryl were also very impressed. It will definitely be the place I will stay next time I am in those parts of Scotland. Merci!
    Mel

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