Day 2 – Breakfast in Glasgow – April 28

The morning was harder on us this morning than yesterday.  I had a hard time getting to sleep last night – the room was hot, I wasn’t as tired as I thought I’d be, and I think I was dreading having to get up at 6 am.  The morning came too early but we got up and got to breakfast by 7:15 am.  We sat next to a retired couple from Austin, TX named Robert and Susan.  For breakfast they offered cereal, porridge, fruit, yogurt, meats, haggis, potato scones, hash browns, and, of course, BAKED BEANS!  Grandma Burns knows how much I love those and of course I had some for breakfast.  I also had porridge with brown sugar and honey, hash browns, bacon, and other yummy stuff.  I tried haggis yesterday and it wasn’t awful but really didn’t have much of a taste so I think I’ll check that off my list and be done with that experience.

Mom is having fun and, of course, she’s driving me crazy!  She feels the need to turn off all the lights and return her room key like she thinks that the hotel is going to go under if she doesn’t do those things!  She gets a bit dippy when she’s tired, too.  I’ve been sure to make her feel at home by giving her a hard time when she says goofy things at night so we’ve been having lots of good laughs.  She’s very angry that we’ve yet to stay in a hotel that offers Fox News.

Today we’re off to Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.  The chef at the restaurant this morning said that Nessie won’t be there this time of year because she’s on holiday.  He said his mother-in-law fills in for Nessie though so we may see her there.  We’re driving along the M8 (main highway) and there are pretty hills in the distance.  I believe we’re going to spend some time in the highlands today as well.  When we reach the hotel in Nairn, we’re supposed to have highland entertainment (bagpipes, etc.) during dinner.

Today we’re hoping to do lots of skiving (Scottish slang for goofing off) 🙂  More updates later today.

Day 1 – Glasgow, Scotland – April 27

Day 1 of our official tour meant we had to move from the Hilton Glasgow to the Thistle Glasgow Hotel to meet up with our group.  We packed our bags and caught a cab over to the new hotel.  We got checked in and went up to our room to find they didn’t give us separate beds.  Not a big deal but with Mom using a breathing machine and doesn’t always sleep soundly so we requested they move us to another room with separate beds.  I quickly moved our stuff and we met our tour group in the lobby for a quick bus tour of Glasgow.

The bus departed and drove us around to explain different parts of the city and the architecture.  There are a lot of neat old buildings and statues and stuff.  She pointed out a unicorn statue and said that there are a lot of unicorn statues around the city because “in Scotland the unicorn represents purity and strength.”  Both Mom and I thought of Jocelyn and Jillian when we heard that because they both love unicorns.  I didn’t get to take a lot of pictures because we were zooming by while the Scottish tour guide Liz shared lots of information.  We stopped at a cathedral and got to get out and walk around.  From there we were able to see a cemetery, some statutes, and a 14th century cathedral.  Inside the cathedral, the choir was practicing and sounded beautiful.  During our walking trip we were given headphones and small boxes where we could listen to Liz’s dialog without having to stand right by her and without her having to yell.  We met back at the bus at 4 pm to head back to the hotel.

We met for dinner at 6:30 pm with the rest of our tour group.  Tim, our Tour Director, and Liz did a more formal introduction of what to expect and the day-to-day logistics of the tour prior to our meal.  We both had salads with bacon and blue cheese as our appetizer.  Mom had a pork chop for dinner and I have pasta.  Both were very good.  For dessert, Mom had rice pudding and I had creme puffs.  We sat with a couple from California named Bill and Gwendolyn.  Turns out they graduated from Cal Poly, the school where Dot Dot (Mom’s Mom) is a professor.  They were nice and we had some good conversation with our meal.  We have to have our bags outside our door and down at breakfast by 7:15 am tomorrow morning so now we’re off to bed.

Pictures from today are at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/94310362@N03/sets/72157644373537965/

Transition Day in Glasgow, Scotland

After getting settled in our room, we went walking through Glasgow.  Even though we were tired, we planned to just push through so that we would be able to sleep at night and transition to this timezone (GMT, 5 hours ahead of the east coast.  We walked through Glasgow seeing some of the sights along the way.  It reminded us of Georgetown the way that it was a mix between really old buildings and some newer construction.  Some of the places were really pretty.  There were a lot of old cobblestone roads.  The cars around here surprised us because they’re all little hatchbacks.  It was an hour or so before we saw anything with a trunk.  There were a few small vans, no trucks, and their taxi cabs look cool.  Toward the end of the day, we did finally see a stretch limo that was made from a Ford Expedition.

As we wandered through the streets, we headed in the general direction of a food place called The Butchershop Bar and Grill that was recommended to us by the hotel staff.  The place the lady circled on the map ended up not being right and we wandered around for another hour before we finally found it.  We were tired and ready to eat.  We walked in around 6 pm on Saturday and the place was pretty empty.  I told the guy we’d like a table for 2 and he said they were all booked up.  We were shocked but I guess we needed a reservation.  I wish the hotel people had told us!  From there we figured we’d head back to the hotel and find a place to eat along the way.  The restaurants, pubs, and general shopping were all in the same buildings along the road.  The storefronts made it hard to tell what a lot of them were.  It made us realize how dependent we are day-to-day on our cell phones.  I couldn’t hop online and figure out what was nearby or call around to see if seating was available.

So…we wandered some more.  We were looking at our map when a nice local guy asked if we were lost.  We told him we weren’t lost but were looking for a place to eat.  He pointed us to Sauchiehall Street and left us with “Cheers”. We walked to Sauchiehall Street and found a restaurant/pub called O’Neill’s.  We went in and Mom ordered Fish and Chips while I got a HUGE double cheeseburger made from Irish beef that I had to cut in half in order to take bites.  After we finished our meal, we shared a Honeycomb Cheesecake.  It was a piece of cheesecake with small pieces of honeycomb dipped in chocolate sprinkled on top.  It also had a caramel sauce drizzled on top.  Needless to say, it was yummy!  After dinner, we headed back to the Hilton Glasgow exhausted and ready for rest.  We were able to call home using Google Voice for free from our computers and talked to everyone. Next…we crashed.

You can view photos from our day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/94310362@N03/sets/72157644344260232/

Travel to Scotland

Mom and I left Reagan National Airport around 3:30pm on Friday, April 25, 2014. Dad drove us to the airport and I truly believe that was the most dangerous part of the trip that we’ll face.  It was his first time driving Mom’s new Jeep and he was spending more time trying to talk to the voice activation system and playing with buttons that paying attention to the road!  We grabbed a quick bite to eat before take off and took this picture together.

John and Paige

John and Paige waiting for the airplane at DCA.

We flew to Newark, NJ on a small plane with 3 seats in a row and about 40 rows.  Because Mom has trouble walking distances with her cane, they picked us up on an electric car.  The crotchety old man driving kept yelling at people in his way and constantly said “beep, beep” so people would know he was coming.  We ate some lunch got ready for the long haul to Glasgow, Scotland.  The bigger plane was nice because we had in-seat entertainment systems.  However, both of our headphone jacks had a plug broken off in them.  The flight attendant was able to get the one out of mine and I had a splitter so we synchronized our screens to run Iron Man 3 at the same time and then just had the audio come through mine.  We dozed on and off throughout the flight and got to eat some surprisingly decent airline food.  Someone on the plane had some health issues and they got some doctors on the plane to lend a hand.  Everything ended up being ok but that added a little excitement to an otherwise boring flight.

Upon landing, we had to go through customs which took a while.  Our plane was the only one at the airport when we arrived at 7:30 am local time (2:30 am EDT).  After customs we got our luggage, exchanged some dollars to pounds and went to find a taxi to the hotel.  It cost 25 pounds to get there but it was a nice ride and our taxi driver was nice and told us some good information along the way.  Driving on the left side of the road caused us several startles when we saw cars coming at us on the right side of the road (especially down smaller streets without lines) and all of the signs are so different.

We got to the Hilton Glasgow around 9:30 am and checked in.  Check in is not officially until 3 pm so we left our bags with the concierge, sent some postcards home, and sat in the lobby to email our status back home.  Mom fell asleep on the couch in the lobby for a bit while I typed up this post.  Now we’re going to grab some food.  More updates (and pictures) to come…