Scotland 8: Day 8

03.09.20 | Brodick, Scotland | 21:29

Leaving Edinburgh
Leaving Glasgow

I arrived on the isle of Arran yesterday in the early afternoon. This storm was the first heavy rain that I’ve experienced in Scotland this year. I knew it was inevitable since I choose to travel here this time of the year. I could come in the summertime, but early spring has become my thing.

Even though it was only about a mile walk to my Airbnb, I opted to wait it out for a bit in the CalMac terminal lobby. The cottage was supposed to be ready from 15:00, and it was still a bit too early. I waited until 14:30 to leave.

Walking one mile in the pouring rain felt like walking about five miles. There were taxi cabs available, but I didn’t want to bother them with a one-mile trip. As an occasional Lyft driver at home, I know that we secretly hope for the rides that will give the more significant fares. 

The Rowanbank Cottage is a nice little setup: Across the road from a golf course, and just beyond that, I can make out the sea. It is right on the outskirts of downtown Brodick and seems like a great place to stay.

[update: Link to this place on AirBnb]

After getting settled in, I put back on my wet clothes and headed into town to find some dinner. I walked into the first place I saw that was open (and looked like they’d serve more than just alcohol), which turned out to be Crofters’ Music Bar Bistro. Not to be confused with ‘The Crofter’ that I visited in Ft William, Scotland, back in 2018. The food was delicious- I had the sea bass with crawfish and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

My server, although sweet, was a little overzealous. She kept checking on me every two or three bites at first, asking how I was doing and if I needed anything. I appreciate that she cared, but I’ve learned that this isn’t as common in Scotland as it is in America. Usually, the server will check on you once when you’ve had a chance to taste the food and then tend to leave you alone to enjoy your meal- the server won’t even bother you with brining your bill until you request it. 

When eating out at home, it often feels like the server wants to rush you out to free up the table for the next person. They usually will drop off the bill saying something like, “No rush, but here’s this when you’re ready.” Are they afraid I’m going to sneak out without paying? When I eat, I have a hard enough time slowing down because I’m a pig. I don’t need that added pressure to rush. Just chill out!

Scotland 8: Day 7

03.08.20 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 19:06

I don’t have too much to report about today, sadly. In the middle of the night last night, I get very sick. It seems that the delicious Indian food from last night gave me food poisoning.

So- I was up all night, sitting on the toilet. It made me extremely weak. I also threw up about five times in the day. When I was finally able to leave the house, I grabbed some bananas, coconut water, and chicken noodle soup at Sainsbury.

Hopefully tomorrow is better. I do feel like I’m healing.

Scotland 8: Day 6

03.07.20 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 21:29

For breakfast this morning, I returned to Mum’s. I have probably eaten at this restaurant more times over the years, than any other restaurant in Scotland. Not only is it a great location, but they serve delicious comfort food. The first time I visited Mum’s was back when it was called Monster Mash, but they changed to the new name back in 2010.

This afternoon, I took a walk up Calton Hill- this is an easy hike up the hill and offers a breathtaking view of Edinburgh, especially if you can get up there at night.

The guys and I decided to get Indian food for dinner since this is Drew’s favorite. We found a restaurant called Dishoom over on the New Town side. The food was so good (I’ll be back someday), and the service was impeccable!

Scotland 8: Day 4

03.05.20| Edinburgh, Scotland | 22:39

Today I have to confess that I did not have an opportunity to climb up to Arthur’s Seat. I know I promised myself that I would do it every day, but I have a good excuse! You see, I had to check out of that first Airbnb by 10:00 and couldn’t check in to the new one until 14:00. So I had my colossal duffel bag/ backpack with me. Maybe that’s a trek that a Navy Seal could accomplish, but not this guy.

One thing I did do is have lunch at Oink with Orie. Picture a dead pig in a restaurant window, slowly being carved away until it’s completely consumed. If you recall, I’ve been here a few times over the years. P.E.T.A. would have a fit.

Two of my Canadian friends decided to join me for a few days, then we’ll part ways, only to return and travel together once more. We checked into the new place, and I have to say- I like the old apartment better. Also, the other place was tons cheaper. Nevertheless, this place is beautiful too.

[Update: Book this Airbnb]

It dawned on me that I am wearing out the one pair of shoes that I brought with me on this trip. I decided to do some shopping to find some more excellent shoes to wear when I go out at night or church. I won’t tweak you how much I ended up spending, but I will let you know that I love them!

Tonight we grabbed a quick dinner and went to see The Lion King at The Edinburgh Playhouse. This is where I saw Matilda last year.

This was a blast! I remembered years ago- I was on a layover in Philadelphia, and a coworker and I managed to score last-minute tickets to the same show! It was a great experience then and again tonight.

I’m off to bed!

Scotland 8: Day 3

03.04.20 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 22:26

My second trek up Arthur’s Seat was a success. Orie, a guy I met in a hostel a few year ago, decided to join me. Yesterday was somewhat of a struggle, I had to stop several times on the way up. Today was slightly more comfortable- possible because someone was there to distract me.

I’m trying not to make this blog about my sleeping habits, but this is something with which I have been dealing. After getting a fish & chips for lunch, I went back to the house and crashed pretty hard.

I had a profound dream where I was back in the New Horizons show choir. This is the choir that I performed during my years at Utah State University.

The dream: I was with all my old classmates, and we were on a choir tour somewhere in Wyoming. It was time to fly back to Utah, and I didn’t realize that we were supposed to fly in our uniform. I was stressed out because I was the only one not in my blue sequins. Also, I started to cry because the choir director forgot my plane ticket.

When I woke from this dream, I had actual tears going down my face. I started laughing because, as reality came back, I realized how are odd this was.

For my dinner, I went to Wetherspoon and had bangers and mash- another popular dish here in the United Kingdom.

Scotland 8: Day 2

03.03.20 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 21:19

Probably the best start to my experience in Scotland would be a traditional Scottish or English breakfast. That is, without the black pudding!

Before I landed in Edinburgh, I set a goal to climb up Arthur’s seat each day, weather permitting. When I woke this morning, it seemed like the perfect day! It was chilly, probably in the upper 30s, but not a rain cloud in sight. I walked up the mountain, hoping this would be one of many trips up this time around.

I walked down to the cinema to see Jojo Rabbit. This film was a fun, amazing, and quirky look at the life of a German boy, growing up in WWII Germany. I hadn’t even seen the trailer when a friend suggested that I see it. I’ll be adding it to my library, once the price drops!

Dinner was the most delicious lasagne. I got it at Gordon’s- an Italian restaurant near an Airbnb, where I’d stayed a few years back. It was as amazing as I’d remembered!

Scotland 8: Day 1

03.02.20 | London, England | 14:00

I’m happy to report that I got about an hour of sleep. You may think this is not a significant accomplishment, but it, in fact, is. This is coming from a guy who can’t sleep on planes. It is such an uncomfortable sleeping position, even if I’m able to get the seatback reclined. How cool would it be to fly on a flatbed?

Upon landing at Gatwick, I had about two and a half hours to get from the south terminal to the north. I notticed when I was going through customs and passport control that Gatwick is doing it all automatically. You line up and make your way to this machine that scans your passport, and a camera looks at your own face to make sure they match. I had to do it a couple times since my new glasses look nothing like the glasses in my passport picture.

Now I am waiting for my third plane- this one will take me to Scotland! A Swedish lady just asked me for help finding her gate. Thank goodness for Google Translator! I took the time to explain that she hasn’t yet received a gate assignment and that she needed to check the monitor in about 10 more minutes. She thanked me, pretended to understand, and then left me- only to go ask another man the exact same thing.

London Gatwick

When he explained it, precisely as I had, she wandered off, I’m guessing so that she could ask a third person. I walked over to the man and told him that I had just told her the exact same thing that he had, but I’m guessing that she didn’t trust me.

The guy had an American accent, and he told me that he was from Chicago. I told him that I had been to Chicago for work, and we talked about pizza. This is a subject that I am fond of, what can I say? He told me that his name is Billy Branch and that he is in London singing. I googled him, and sure enough!

I have added one of his albums to my Apple Music and will check him out the next time I feel like listening to the Blues. He was very kind and great to chat with. This is what travel is all about: The lives you touch or are touched by along the journey.

Edinburgh, Scotland | 17:55

After traveling for over 24 hours, I really didn’t have the desire to deal with public transportation. It cost me £25 to get an Uber from the airport to the flat. Had I chose public transit, it probably would have cost me under £6, if I remember correctly. I didn’t have the strength, however. By this point, I really wanted a bed.

The problem I was faced with: I didn’t know how to get into the apartment. When I’d booked with AirBnb in the past, I’d receive a message from the owner/manager about 24 hours before check-in explaining how I get into the place. Usually, it’s a lockbox with a key, or there is a code on the door or something. This is my first time using, and I received no such message.

After about 15 minutes on the phone with the property management company, I’m inside the most awesome little flat! Location is everything, and I have the most fantastic view of Edinburgh Castle! This place is up on the 4th floor (the 3rd floor, if you’re from this side of the pond), and there is no elevator in the building, so I get to lug my bags up the stairs. When I walk in, it’s totally worth it!

I’m so tired, but I need to go grab something to eat. I went to Pret and grabbed some soup and a sandwich, swing by Boots to grab some shampoo and body wash and head back. I’ll head out in the morning. I need food and sleep.

Scotland 7: Day 38

04.08.19 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 21:43

I figured out why Edinburgh has been so rainy over the last few days. This is Scotland crying, knowing that it’s almost time for me to leave. It’s sad when you come to a place that you love so much, and you have to go back to “reality”. It’s ok though- I need to go home and start working again. If for no other reason, it means I can start planning for my next visit. Everyone needs an obsession, and I guess I should be thankful that my obsession is a place and a people, but not drugs or alcohol. Thank you for not judging me too harshly.

The fact is, this is my last full day in Scotland. Much of it was spent waiting around. I had some errands to run- shopping for a friend back in Utah, running a couple of times to the Mail Boxes Etc. store on South Bridge. I’m not a huge souvenir shopper, but I did get a few things. I wanted to ship them home so I don’t have to pay extra money to the airline.

Also, I had to check in to a new hostel. The one I was staying at has a not-for-extended-stay policy, which means that I can’t stay there for more than two weeks in a row. Since this round of Edinburgh is two weeks plus one day, I went to their other location just down the street. It was rather annoying, but it gave me a chance to go through all my stuff and decide what ships home and what I need to carry home. Greetings from the Budget Backpackers (soon to be rebranded as “Kick-Ass Cowgate”.

I got the cheapest room available since it’s only for one night. I think there are twenty beds in this room, it’s mixed gender and it smells like a locker room, right after practice. I just think this is a stinky group of people. Definitely not as nice as the other Kick-Ass hostel that I just came from.

Tonight I went to see one more movie called The Keeper. This was a very touching story that takes place just at the end of World War II. A German P.O.W. is asked to play football while he’s in captivity, but then when he’s released he now loves the situation he is in… fell in love with an English girl- blah blah blah. The acting is the best, but it’s based on a true story, so there’s that.

I’m off to bed. I’m up early tomorrow to catch a plane down to Gatwick.

Scotland 7: Day 37

04.07.19 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 21:06

Today started out, just like yesterday: A misty sprinkle with thick fog. I made the mistake of going to find breakfast without taking my umbrella. By the time I got back to the hostel, I was soaking wet. Because of this, I spent most of the morning inside- I got some more reading done, and managed to get some of my things together so that I’m not running around tomorrow morning before I have to check out.

I stayed inside as long as I could, then I was starting to feel what I would call Cabin Fever. I just needed to get out, rain or shine. This time, with umbrella in hand, I made my way over to New Town and saw a matinee of The Hole in the Ground. The film was good, but I wanted it to be longer, and I wished they would have gone into more detail. I was so engrossed in the storyline- then suddenly it had ended.

On my way back to the hostel, the rain had stopped just long enough so I could take a few pictures of Cockburn Street (pronounced Co-Burn). Like Victoria Street, Cockburn winds it’s way up to the Royal Mile, but does so on the north side (Victoria on the south side), and is longer than Victoria Street.

Scotland 7: Day 36

04.06.19 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 23:46

As I walked to get my breakfast, I could tell it would be a rainy day. This isn’t just rain. It’s that misty rain so that no umbrella is going to help at all. It just blows in your face- not so good for those of us who wear glasses. I decided that I would declare this my last laundry day of the trip. Yes, it is true- My time in Scotland is drawing to a close. It is a sad thing, but unfortunately, life must go on.

What started as this…
…quickly became this!

Other than laundry, I spent the bulk of the day reading and listening to podcasts. In the evening, I did brave the misty fog and went to the cinema to see Shazam!. I thought the movie was a lot better than the previews looked- I’ll definitely add it to my wishlist as soon as the price drops, of course.