Scotland 6: Day 2

02.28.18 | Edinburgh Hostel | 21:51

Edinburgh and many other parts of Scotland are under a “Red Alert Warning” because of all the snow that we’re getting at the moment. So far, this is nothing that those of us who live in Utah don’t already have to deal with. In fact, so many stores and restaurants have closed their doors because they are thinking that lives are going to be lost. I know it snows here, but I think they’re just expecting some kind of snow-mageddon. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.

Jonny and I were up until about 04:00, and didn’t wake up until after 11:00. That may be normal for some people, but not for myself. Perhaps this means I’m getting older? While we were walking around yesterday, we spotted an Indian/Thai restaurant that we really wanted to try out for lunch today. We found the place and it was closed. This sort of bummed us out a bit because we both had been craving curry. We ended up getting a late breakfast at a restaurant called Fig Tree Bistro. This is a perfect example of a traditional Scottish breakfast: A fried egg, pork sausages, a potato scone, a portabello mushroom, beans, bacon, a slice of tomato, and toast. Tradition would have me add some blood pudding and haggis, but no thanks- been there, done that.

Earlier this afternoon, we went to see The Greatest Showman. I felt like Jonny needed to see it, and I was right- he thought it was great! This marks the fourth time that I’ve seen it in the cinema, and it still gets me. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry and really touches my heart! I can’t promise you that I won’t see it another time before it comes out on video… and yes, I have preordered it on iTunes.

Tonight I took Jonny to dinner at Mum’s, which happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in all of Edinburgh. I’ve eaten here on many visits and it’s the best place for simple Scottish comfort food. Jonny got some kind of pie (something vegetarian, that he said tasted amazing. I got my usual: Sausages & Mash (bangers and mash, if you will). Always a great meal at Mum’s!

Today’s hot chocolate is brought to you by the fine people of Starbucks.

Today’s Hot

Scotland 6: Day 1

02.27.18 | Edinburgh Hostel | 23:00

When I came out of International arrivals, Jonny was waiting. His flight had arrived just about an hour before my own, and he waited at a Costa Coffee in the airport in Edinburgh. I’ve never had anyone waiting for me in Scotland. As you know, these trips are usually a solo endeavor and even though he’s going to be with me for less than a week, this is hopefully going to be a good plot twist.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before my jet lag kicked in, but since it was Jonny’s first time here, we needed to go see the world-famous Edinburgh Castle. We dropped our bags off at the hostel and headed up High Street, a.k.a. The Royal Mile. This city has so many great memories and about now is when so many of them were flooding back. We paid our £17 entry fee and were able to join a guided tour that had just started. Then the wind kicked in. Let me tell you- I have never been to Scotland in this kind of cold. The snow hadn’t yet started, but the wind was already starting to make things miserable. We probably spent about an hour walking around and decided to go find some lunch so we could spend some time indoors.

We walked down High Street until we came to Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. Jonny had some vegetarian sausages, and I had a steak, ale, and mushroom pie. This was the perfect escape from the wind, which had now brought in the snow. I have never experienced Edinburgh this cold before. Even when I come at the end of February, or the beginning of March, I only have had to prepare for winds and rain. This was a whole different ballgame, and I still loved it!

Dinner was a restaurant in a mall area on the New Town side of the city. It is called Slug and Lettuce. Jonny, the traveling vegetarian, got a salad. I had some fish, but it actually came with a super-foods side salad. Also, even though I’ve only been here for two days, I’ve already had three hot chocolates! This may become a problem! I will no doubt come back to the states heavier than when I’d left! Thank heaven for Herbalife!

Scotland 6: PreTrip

My plane from BWI to PVD landed just after noon- two legs down, one to go. When I turned on my phone, I had a voicemail from the Anne Arundel County police. Apparently, I butt-dialed 9-1-1. Whoops! I’m sure they got the wrong guy. Weirdly, the call isn’t showing up in my call history, though.

Here’s the problem I am now faced with: My flight doesn’t leave until 21:35 tonight, so I need to fill up the time doing something. How early is too early to check-in for an international flight? I texted Jonny, and he told me that he wasn’t looking forward to sitting around for five hours until he can catch his flight. I just wish I only had five hours here!

I asked a Delta baggage-office agent if there are any decent restaurants near the airport, and he sent me to Legal Sea Foods, which happens to be located right across the street. I had some clam chowder, followed by some dang good fish tacos. I fought the urge to order dessert. I rationalized that since I’m on vacation, it’s ok. Then I realized that I’m most likely going to eat too many desserts soon. I will remain strong (for now).

After lunch, I caught a Lyft to a nearby shopping center to get some chocolate for the flight crew and try to get a haircut. The chocolate that I found came from a place called Sweenor’s. I wanted something better than M&Ms, but not too expensive. I ended up spending about $30 on a 1 1/2 lbs. assortment. Since I’m flying Norwegian, I asked my friend and former crashpad roommate, Kyle, who now works for this airline, if he knew the crew. He said he didn’t, but that most of them were based in Edinburgh. I hope they appreciate the chocolate. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the haircut I was seeking. The lady told me that they did take walk-ins, but every stylist was fully booked for the day. I’ll have to get one on the other side of the pond.

Now I’m sitting at the Starbucks outside the Security checkpoint at the airport. This is awesome because my large 12.9 inch iPad is in front of me, and since I’m typing and sipping a venti-sized drink (an herbal tea, if you must know), I can pretend I’m one of those wanna-be screenplay writers who live in Los Angeles and hangs out at Starbucks to use their free Wi-Fi.

PVD > EDI | 21:35 (Eastern US Time)

21:35 was when we were scheduled to depart, but Norwegian actually pushed back from the gate about 25 minutes early. This was good because we’re already up in the air before our scheduled push time. I love it when this happens! I guess if you have everyone, you have everyone- let’s go! Jonny sent me a message right as I was turning off my phone. His flight was slightly delayed, and we were leaving about the same time. Perhaps we’ll land closer to the same time- he was initially supposed to have to wait for a couple of hours for me once he landed.

The crew really appreciated the chocolate, and they were terrific! I will definitely continue to look for a flight on Norwegian in the future. They impressed me from Copenhagen to New York City last year as well. They thanked me several times, handed me three bottles of water, and told me that there were empty rows in the back of the plane if I want to go back and lay down. I hope to get at least a little sleep in the next six hours and forty-five minutes. I doubt it’s going to happen, however. I’m “as giddy as a schoolboy.” I believe that quote is from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

23:40 (Eastern US Time)

I don’t know why I even try to sleep on the plane when I travel. I’ve never been able to rest. I think I may have mental problems. Perhaps it’s the fact that there are other people around? There are a few times where I’ve come close to dozing off, but I never get any rest. It doesn’t really matter how tired I am. If I don’t at least get some rest, tomorrow will be a long, headachy kind of day. Bless the flight crew who have reserved some vacant seats in the back so I can go lay down. I really don’t think it’s going to do any good. Just over four-and-a-half hours to go.

Last night, my nephew Sam came over and slept on my couch. I asked him if he could drop me off early this morning at Salt Lake City airport. Since I’ll be away from home for a while, I didn’t want to keep my car out in the elements. The employee parking area at SLC isn’t covered parking. I pay them tons of money to park there, and I wish they would use some of that money to put a roof over our vehicles. Perhaps my money is helping to pay for the new airport that they’re building.

Sam has inspired me to set up a website that will display a ranking of how much I love each of my nephews and nieces. This way, they can compete for the top spot by doing things for me or buying me stuff. He is currently at the top of the list. I want to inspire/ challenge the other 24 to up their game to earn that number one spot. I would include all of my great-nephews and great-nieces, but they are too young and don’t yet have jobs to make money to buy me stuff.

The first leg of the journey was a flight from SLC to BWI. Tonight I’m back in Linthicum, Maryland. This is my old stomping grounds from the first three years that I was based at BWI. Many memories of living in downtown Baltimore and then having a crashpad here in Linthicum after moving to Kentucky. The best part of living in Maryland was the friends I made. Among them is my dear, sweet friend Monica.

Monica picked me up, and we just had a great meal together. She told me about the friends she’d kept in touch with- friends from “the old days.” While we talked, I realized that I had left Maryland for Kentucky more than ten years ago! I don’t even know where time has gone! The last time I was even with Monica was at least five years ago when our friend Arron was in town- I remember going to play games at Dave & Buster’s. As per usual, my time with Monica was so short. I had to be the party-pooper and get back to the hotel. I need rest- I haven’t slept very much for the last three nights. This is because I’m too excited- it’s been constant trips to the bathroom, you know when a little puppy gets so excited that it has to pee? That’s been my body all week. Finally, the day has come! It’s time to go on vacation!

Each time I prepare for a trip to Scotland, I have a friend or two who want to go with me. The first time this happened, I asked that friend what he wanted to see and do while there. I set up what I thought would be the perfect trip to Scotland, especially for someone who has never been there. Then that friend had a conflict and had to drop out of the trip. I still had a great trip but by myself. I’m not complaining, however. This same thing happened a second time with other friends. Just like last time, these friends had to drop out for one reason or another. I’ve learned that I need only to plan the perfect trip for myself. That way, if the others drop out, I still have an ideal trip for one. No regrets- over the years, I have gotten extremely good at traveling by myself (and I like it!).

I invited many friends/ coworkers to come with me. Most of them said they were interested, but the number quickly began to dwindle before I started booking. Of the twenty-one invited, two have made it to the deadline. My coworker Jonny will join me for the first few days, and my friend Alan wants to join me toward the end. I am surprised that more weren’t interested because this is a group of people who make their living by traveling. Most of them know how to make an international trip. Some, albeit, are new to the line of work/ lifestyle and aren’t getting paid very much yet, but It’s not like I planned this trip last week- I let them know about this as early as October.

Again, no big deal- it’s still going to be a fun time in Scotland! I have planned the perfect adventure. I am going to try to update this blog every day, internet connection permitting. You know there will be pictures of most of my food and, more than likely, a daily sleep report. I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors- these will be fixed at a future date. 

Here we go! when you thought I would sit still for a little while- Tomorrow is the beginning of Scotland 6!