Scotland 8: Day 22

3.23.20 | Glasgow, Scotland | 20:53

Today was a bittersweet feeling. Sweet because it’s always nice to be in this country that I love so much. Bitter that today is my last full day in Scotland. Also, I’m having to cut my trip short. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was only the second phase of my three phases of vacation. The first was the week I spent with my family in Hawaii, and the third was supposed to be a trip through Europe.

My original plan was to fly south. The route was all mapped out (you know how I love to plan!). After four days in Paris, it was going to be Switzerland, spending a few days in Geneva, Zermatt (the Matterhorn!!!!), and then Lucerne. From there, it was up to Germany: Heidelberg, Fussen (Neuschwanstein Castle!!!), and the Munich. Then I was heading down to Austria: Salzburg and Vienna. Finally, the last part of this trip was set to be six days in Prague, Czech Republic.


Can you see why I’m a little bit heartbroken? I’m honestly not afraid of the coronavirus. But the problem is that every business that is not essential for survival is closed down until who-knows-when. The good news is that almost all of my Airbnbs’ and hostels’ that I had booked have given me a full refund. And the two who didn’t offer me a refund, won’t get my business when this trip happens.

Several more bucket list items would have been checked off, but these dreams will have to be realized at a future date.

I’m choosing instead to focus on the blessings that I do recognize right now. For instance, you know I l love Scotland! Half my heart is here- I plan on leaving it here, too. That way, I will always have an excuse to plan my another visit.

Scotland 8: Day 21

3.22.20 | Glasgow, Scotland | 19:45

I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night. I don’t know what it is- just couldn’t clear my head, with all of this virus nonsense going on. It’s not that I’m even worried. It’s essential to be safe and take care of yourself, but I feel that people are overreacting. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The bus system doesn’t run on Sundays on the Isle of Mull. I found out about this on Saturday night, so I had to call a taxi service to give me a ride from Tobermory to the ferry at Craignure. This cost me a whopping £50! This is pretty much highway robbery, but it was either that, or hitchhike. I’m not even sure if that’s legal in Scotland.

Pretty soon, I was off the ferry and on the train, headed back down to Glasgow. I tried to sleep on the way, but that’s worse than trying to sleep on the airplane. I gave up and read from the book, Scottish Murders. Even though reading usually relaxes me, there’s something about a murder that holds my attention.

Glasgow is like a ghost town. With everyone doing their self-quarantine as the government has asked of them, I have never seen a city so dead! It was almost spooky to walk around.

Scotland 8: Day 15

03.16.20 | Dalmally, Scotland | 22:03

I’ve been watching the Coronavirus numbers rise from http://ncov2019.live. At least I’m going north. Maybe the virus will ignore the north for a few more days. I’ve already adjusted my trip a couple of times, and when though I was supposed to have a go in Europe, I’m now sticking to the U.K. Two more weeks is all I ask! Maybe I’m flirting with danger? On to happier things!

This morning I said goodbye to Dicky and Drew and caught the 10:33 train out of Glasgow. I wanted to spend some more time in the Highlands. Dalmally is one of the towns that I’ve always wanted to see. So here I am, about two miles outside the city.

I’d love to call this land home!

Stay Here!

I found what is referred to as a “glamping pod” on Airbnb, which is another way of saying that they are not going to provide Wi-Fi. Staying in this little pod is somewhat like I imagine it would be to live like a hobbit. It’s a small, intimate setting, miles from the nearest street light. No Wi-Fi is needed, however. Thanks again to my Skyroam. It’s a great setup!

Tonight I have stayed in, listening to the rain hit the roof of my little hobbit hole. It’s quite relaxing, but I am hoping that tomorrow brings at least some sunshine. There is a nearby road and a barn that I would love to explore if possible.

Scotland 8: Day 14

03.15.20 | Glasgow, Scotland |

When I woke this morning, I had a message from my friend James. He informed me that they had added the U.K. to the banned travel countries, and he asked me how I planned on getting back home. Upon further research, I discovered that they will still allow US citizens to come back home, even during the ban.

With all the virus doom and gloom, I’m just going to hope for the best. But I’m still going to do my best to enjoy my time while I’m here. It always feels great to travel!

When I’m out and about in the morning, I love to smile and tell random strangers, “Good Morning!” Nobody is ever expecting it, and most people respond in kind. Nobody expects it either. It’s brilliant!

I decided to take a day-trip up to Balloch, which is the closest station to Loch Lomond, and nature is probably one of my most intimate connections to God that I have felt. Add a spiritual thought or music to the mix, and that is something that I need!

When we boarded the boat, they made us all use hand sanitizer. I wasn’t planning on touching anyone, but now I just may have to, since we’re all “safe” from the virus.

My time on the boat was terrific. My only complaint is how loud the passengers onboard were. They were pretty rude and inconsiderate, too.

I did get some good video of the beautiful Loch. I have put it together for you and dubbed in Peter Hollens’ version of Loch Lomond. Enjoy!

The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond

Scotland 8: Day 13

03.14.20 | Glasgow, Scotland | 19:00

It cost me £14 to get an Uber one-way to Apple Braehead. Apple Buchanan Street is only a few blocks from me, but they are the more popular destination and had no appointments today. So I get to the store, and five employees are standing on the doorway.

“Didn’t you get the email?” I tell them I didn’t and knew precisely where this is going. It’s this ridiculous over protection from the Coronavirus. They have closed their doors. This is ridiculous and stupid. Can you guys please plan your absurd apocalypse practice for a time when I’m not on vacation? Is that too much to ask?

The only good thing about this is the fact that I grabbed half a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts while I was waiting for my Uber back to the flat. I guess every cloud has a silver lining? I’m trying to make myself believe this very thing.

Other than the death of my computer and the stupid coronavirus, today was pretty good. I got an excellent walk all around the city, and I was even able to go shopping for some new socks.

Glasgow

I considered going out tonight and finding some music, but it is raining, and so I am tempted to stay in and possibly watch a movie on my phone. We shall see what happens.

Scotland 8: Day 12

03.13.20 | Glasgow, Scotland | 20:59

Today has been filled with some good news and some bad and depressing news. First- let’s talk about the good news. I managed to get the first ferry from the island Erin this morning and arrived in Glasgow just before noon. I’m happy to get back and spend a few days in this remarkable city. I always used to tell everybody that Edinburgh was my favorite, and even though it still is, sometimes, I feel like you can’t compare apples with oranges.

Now on to the other news – I found out late last night that Country to Country, the concert that I love to attend while I am here has been postponed. This is frustrating because I came to Scotland this time of year and planned this whole trip around this event. This is all because of the scare that everyone is experiencing with this coronavirus.

Most of the day, I have been thinking and trying to decide what I would like to do about all of this. Part of me wants to go back home to the states, but I know that if I do that, I’m just going to go back to work. In my line of work, I am more likely to catch the coronavirus then I am traveling overseas.

Let’s face it: as a flight attendant, I am near so many people during my day, and it’s not like I can distance myself from most of them.

To be honest, I’m not afraid of catching the coronavirus. I think things would be different if I was very young, elderly, or had a corrupt immune system for whatever reason. This is not the case, however. Chances are- if I did catch this horrible flu, I would be down for a few days, and then I would be fine. I know things could always be worse, but that’s no way to live a life.

As of now, I think I’m going to continue this adventure. I plan on paying attention to the news, and hopefully tuning out some of the things that are being spread all around social media. A lot of these people are idiots. Some of them happen to be my friends. Don’t give me wrong- know the natural thing to do is freak out and run out and buy all the toilet paper.

Enough of that nonsense –today was a pretty good day. I did walk around Glasgow for a little while but had to get some stuff done around the apartment. I am now back with Dicky and Drew, so even though I love to travel by myself, it’s nice to have this company for a few more days.

Tonight my laptop died. I can’t get the screen to turn off, and when I try to use it, it gives me a horrible beeping sound. This machine is about seven years old, so it is time for something new. I just hoped that it would last me till the end of this trip. I have an appointment with one of the Apple stores tomorrow morning.

I’m hoping this is something that they can fix by doing some sort of reinstall, but if it’s something like needing a new hard drive or something that’s going to cost me very much money, then My adventures with this particular MacBook Pro are over. Perhaps Dicky, Drew, and I will have a memorial service for this laptop that I’ve have carried around the world for the last few years.

[update: Link to this AirBnb]

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 7: Day 23

03.24.19 | Glasgow, Scotland | 19:53

I woke up this morning with plenty of time to walk to church. According to Google Maps, it would have taken me about an hour and a half. I was up for the challenge. I guess I got started later than I thought because all of a sudden, the G.P.S. told me that I was going to be 24 minutes late.

Add the fact that the rain started, plus the wind kept turning my umbrella inside-out. This meant that I wussed out and decided I’d better summon an Uber. I’m so thankful for modern convenience, especially when it’s raining outside.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, listening to podcasts, and just hanging out at the flat. I wish I had something better to report to you today, but I don’t. It’s time to pick out a movie and snuggle in bed. I’m sad that tomorrow I will have to leave this city.

Scotland 7: Day 22

03.23.19 | Glasgow, Scotland | 22:34

Today turned out to be another great day! I decided to go for a walk and explore the west side of Glasgow. I’m already staying further west than I normally do, but I walked all the way over to the University of Glasgow. What a beautiful campus! While I was there, I manage to make this little video.

Scotland 7: Day 21

03.22.19 | Glasgow, Scotland | 22:32

Today I took the opportunity to check something else off my bucket list. I walked to Queen Street Station and hopped on to a train that took me to Falkirk. From there, I walked 2 1/2 to 3 miles one way, all so that I could go and see The Kelpies.

I would lie to you and say that this has been a life-long dream of mine, but since the sculpture was built in 2013, still it is quite a sight to behold since these horses are over 30 meters high! [To learn more about The Kelpies, check out the entry at Wikipedia.org]