Scotland 4: Day 34

Edinburgh > Glasgow | 09:18

I had a horrible time falling asleep last night. My stomach started bothering me- I felt as if I’d gotten a touch of food poisoning. I waited in bed for a bit, but then it finally went away. When I did fall asleep, however, I slept fine throughout the night.

I just had to say goodbye to Edinburgh, the most magnificent city in the world. My joy is full, but my heart wants more. Is that poetic? I think so. More sad news: I was unable to find my cell phone. That means if any of my friends and family get random calls from someone with a Scottish accent- please ask that person to return my phone.

Thank goodness all my calls are being forwarded to another number, so I’ll still get my messages. I can use my Skype phone on my iPad or my home computer. If anybody texts me, however, that will probably be lost forever. I should have a new phone in 3 or 4 days, hopefully. I suppose I should have gotten traveling insurance.

I just ate a delicious and healthy breakfast from the train’s trolley: a brownie and hot chocolate. This is one of the healthier meals that they offer.

Glasgow, Scotland | 10:36

Check-in time isn’t until 15:00, so I’m hanging out in the lobby. Connor and Rorrie should be here somewhere. They stayed here last night, and even though they are leaving on a cruise to Ireland tonight, they said that they might meet me for lunch. When I arrived, I asked the receptionist if the twins had checked out. She asked me, “Conner and Rory?” I laughed and said, yes. She said they’d checked out, but they said they’d be back. I find it funny that they sent a message to me through the front desk. I hope they get here so we can grab lunch or something.

I had lunch at the Brunswick Hotel again (I’d eaten there at the beginning of this trip), and it was lovely. I stayed there for about an hour and a half before heading back to the hostel. When I got back, the receptionist said that the twins were there about 10 minutes ago, and said that they were going to find me at the Brunswick. There were so many people out- the sun was shining, and it was a Saturday. We could have quickly passed each other on the street and not seen each other.


I checked into my room- a queen size bed! This will be the first time on this trip that I’m not sleeping in a bunk bed.


I got dinner tonight at a chippy- I had a pretty good shish kabob. It’s been a while since I’ve had that.

Scotland 4: Day 33


Edinburgh, Scotland | 10:14

I had a great sleep last night but was woken a bit too early. At about 07:00 or 07:15, construction started working in the room next to ours, and there was loud banging. I’d only wished that they would have held off for a bit, but no big deal. I got up and headed to breakfast. The twins have checked out and are on their way to Glasgow. Chin has checked out as well and is on his way to London. I don’t check out until tomorrow, and I’m not sure what today will bring.

Tonight I think I’ll get some more bangers and mash! I’ve known about bangers and mash (sausages with mashed potatoes) for years, but didn’t know why they called the sausages ‘bangers’. Well, I found out yesterday, and I’m that much smarter. Back during “the war” (I’m not sure if they’re referring to WWI or WWII), food in Scotland was getting scarce, and they needed to find a way to stretch what food they had further. They started adding water to their sausages to make them bigger. When they would cook the sausage on the stove, the water would come into contact with the hot pan and pop or “BANG!” Thus- sausages became “bangers.” Now you know everything I know.


I found lunch at The World Famous Maggie Dickson’s Pub. I had never heard of it, but when I went in I saw that her story had been posted on one of the walls:
In 1723 Margaret Dickson, a fish hawker in Edinburgh, left the town to visit relatives after being deserted by her husband. On the way south, she stopped off in Kelso at an Inn to break the journey. She stayed a while and worked in return for her board and lodgings. While she was there, Maggie formed a relationship with the landlady’s son and fell pregnant with his child.

This was not in her contract of employment, so she concealed the fact that she was expecting, and in time the child was born prematurely. When the baby died a few days later, she was determined to throw the body into the River Tweed. Losing her nerve, she laid the baby at the water’s edge.

The body was discovered later that day and traced back to Maggie. Arrested and tried under the 1690 Concealment of Pregnancy Act, she was sentenced to be hanged in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh, on 2nd September 1724.

Maggie was hanged, and after her death was pronounced, the body was to be taken to Musselburgh for burial. On the way there, the funeral party heard noises from Maggie’s coffin. On opening the coffin, they found Maggie to be very much alive!

Recovering to full health, she was allowed to live as it was seen to be God’s will that she survives. Living the rest of her days in Edinburgh, she was known by all as the celebrated ‘Half-Hangit Maggie’!


I did a bit more exploring, and I have to admit that I was a little bit sad. Tomorrow I have to leave this city is making me somewhat emotional. I guess all I can do is start planning my next trip to this beautiful country. It may not be for a year, or three years, five years or ten years from now, but I’ve started to plan my next visit.

As promised, my “last meal” was back at Monster Mash for some more bangers and mash. This time, however, the bangers were pork & blue cheese, and the second one was a Moroccan lamb. The mash had grain mustard mixed in, and it was great! I topped it all off with onion gravy this time.

Scotland 4: Day 32

Edinburgh, Scotland | 23:22

Today was great! I woke up and had two big bowls of cereal and then went out for a walk. I decided I’d walk toward the west, away from all the “touristy” areas. It was refreshing to see “normal” people going about their day. I must have been near a university or college because I saw a lot of young people out and about.

Well, I may have lost my cell phone. I haven’t had time to look for it very much yet, but I didn’t see it in my stuff. I hope I don’t have to pay for a new phone- but on the plus side, this will be all the excuse I need to go from my iPhone 3GS to a new iPhone 4. I was secretly hoping to hold out until the iPhone 5 announcement, whenever that will be. I’m crossing my fingers that I can find it.

I found a great lunch at a place called Maxie’s. I had chicken on a bed of spinach and feta cheese, covered in a fantastic sauce that is made from red peppers. It was brilliant!


Last night was a blast! Chin asked me if I was going to go out partying. I told him I didn’t party, but I thought it would be fun to find a karaoke bar or somewhere. He agreed and asked me if he could come along. I told him that would be fine. After a quick shower, I met these twin brothers named Connor and Rorie. Connor is currently studying abroad in Ireland, and Rorie is doing the same thing in France. They have finished their studies and thought they’d come to see Scotland before they fly home to California.

Chin and I set out to karaoke, and I soon realized that it was very awkward having him there. He’s sweet and means well, but unlike me, he is quite the introvert. While I was chatting with strangers, Chin was following me around like a lost puppy. He wouldn’t even talk very much with me- he wouldn’t talk to anybody. I told him in advance that if he got too tired or bored, he could head back without me. But there he stood, like my Asian shadow.

After a while, Connor and Rorie showed up. When they did, it broke the tension a bit because they wanted to talk with me, and weren’t afraid to venture out on their own. I’m not sure what Chin’s deal is, but when the twins arrived, he went back and sat at a table all by himself, as if he was trying to avoid all contact with everyone.

The twins were even asking me what his deal was- but I didn’t know. After a few more songs, Chin came and told me that he was getting tired, and he wanted to go back to the hostel. I asked him if he knew the way, and he said he did. We all told him goodnight, and he left. Once he was gone, I’m sad to say it was much easier to relax and have a good time- the twins agreed with me. I promise I’m not a bad person. I just wish Chin would have at least acted like he wanted to hang out with us. The rest of the night was great!

Edinburgh Castle at Night

Scotland 4: Day 31

4.27.11 | Edinburgh Hostel | 15:56

My breakfast this morning was provided by the hostel, so I didn’t have to eat out. It was some brand of multi-grain cereal. My keen observation: Over here, Cheerios is part of that Nestle company, not the General Mills company like in the states- and now you’re as smart as I am.

Chin and I grabbed lunch at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. I had some fried brie cheese as an appetizer and then a pork steak and eggs. Chin had his first haggis. He said it was good, but he was expecting it to be a lot better- so many people had told him how they loved it. My haggis experience was different, I thought it would be much more disgusting than it was. Both of us managed to keep down our first haggis, though. I feel like this is a huge milestone or right-of-passage!

After lunch, I was dog tired, so I curled up and took a long nap. Now it’s time to do some laundry. Sadly, this may be the last load of laundry I’ll do while I’m in this country.


After my laundry was cleaned and put away, I went to Greyfriars Cemetery and explored some. I tried to find the headstone for George Watson and John Watson. George Watson’s stone is so worn out that I couldn’t read what is inscribed. The John Watson headstone is overturned so that I couldn’t read it either. I wonder if either of them is my ancestor.


Dinner was at a Japanese restaurant. I got some delicious chicken curry. Afterward, I walked to New Town and saw the movie, Thor. It was pretty cool, although predictable. Still, it’s always fun to watch a superhero kill everybody.


Scotland 4: Day 30

My Room in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland | 14:20

Good afternoon! I left Pitlochry this morning and now I’m back to Edinburgh. Sadly, this is my 2nd to last stop before having to fly home. This time I’m at a new hostel… well, I stayed here 3 or 4 years ago, or whenever Scotland 3 happened. It was a good hostel and so I thought I’d stay here again. In the day I come back to Scotland, I’ll surely spend more time staying in and exploring Pitlochry. I’m very impressed by that town.

My train ride was a good one, uneventful with a train change in Perth. Nothing worth reporting, really. The gal sitting across from me didn’t wanna talk- so I closed my eyes and got about 15 minutes or so of sleep. I read my book for most of the other time.

I got a message today from my friend Neil, who I met on Shetland a few stops ago and he says he wants to plan a road trip in the US sometime in 2012. That would be crazy awesome! I hope we can work something out. I have a few great road trip plans.


This afternoon I met a guy from Korea. He’s staying in my room at the hostel here. His name starts with a ‘J’ and sounds something like ‘Chin Huak”. I don’t dare try to spell it though. I already am destroying it each time I try to say it. He’s currently a student here in the United Kingdom and he happened to have 10 days off of his classes, so he took a little trip up here in the north. He tells me that all his friends here can’t say his name right, so they just call him “Bro”. I thought that was funny.

Chin “Bro”
Back on Arthur’s Seat

Chin and I hung out tonight a while and walked around Edinburgh. This was his first day here, and it was fun to give him some advice on where to go and what to see while he’s here. The hostel here seems to be full tonight, or at least our room is. This is quite a change from my experience in Pitlochry. I didn’t have to share a space with anyone while I was there.

Scotland 4: Day 29

Pitlochry, Scotland | 16:51

Today has been great! I woke up after trying my best to sleep in for a bit. I got a shower and headed out to try and find a barber or salon. I found a really cool looking place to get a haircut, called Sweeny Tod. A beautiful name for a barbershop, huh? The coolest thing is that it is right next to a butcher shop. I’m not even kidding- I had to take a picture. The only problem was that today was a bank holiday- yesterday was Easter Sunday. I may have to get my haircut when I get back to Edinburgh.


I walked around the town for a bit and found breakfast. At the hostel, they offered cereal and toast and stuff for about 2 pounds, but I wanted something warm. I found an excellent little bistro/restaurant and had a traditional Scottish breakfast (minus the black pudding, of course). I headed back to the hostel for a few minutes and decided to head back out and see if I could find that haircut somewhere.

Low and behold, Sweeny Tod was open! I went inside and he was just finishing up with some guy’s cut- I was soon in the chair. The guy working there told me that his name was Will Robertson. I had initially planned on having Will just shave my head. My beautiful fake blonde hair had been growing out, and I was starting to get the brown roots with the blonde top, and I wasn’t a fan. Will told me that he thought it looked cool and that he wanted to turn it into a mohawk. “What the hell!” I let him do what he’d planned to do. He shaved up the sides with no guard, and to me, it looks like a cross between a military cut and a mohawk. I think it looks pretty cool!

When he was done with my haircut, I noticed a newspaper clipping of something having to do with the popular U.K. show “The X Factor”. We started talking about music and I told him how I liked to sing. Next thing I know, he whips out his guitar and starts playing me all these songs that he’d written. I thought they were good, a couple of them I thought were great and I could picture someone singing them on the radio. We sat there for about a half-hour while he gave me my own private concert. It was so cool! People were walking by the barbershop and they could hear the music so they’d sit in front and listen for a bit. They’d look in at us like we were some exhibit or something. It was quite funny. Will’s band is called “Stone Angels”- I’ll have to look them up when I get back home.

Next, I went for a walk. Just outside Pitlochry, there’s a beautiful little loch called Loch Faskally. I followed a trail around it- it turned out to be a beautiful spring day and it was so refreshing to be out in nature for a bit. This has quickly become one of my favorite stops in Scotland. Such a quaint little town, about 2500 people according to the 2001 census. So green and lovely, too. If I get to come back to Scotland again, I’ll definitely come here again!


After my hike around the loch, I stopped to get some ice cream on my way back to the hostel. It’s been nice to sit and relax for a little bit. After this rest, I plan on heading back out to get dinner somewhere. I just watched the Disney movie Tangled. It was pretty good!


Dinner was at a restaurant called McKay’s. I had a half chicken with mashed potatoes. Okay, chicken is great, but when they leave all the veins and ugly parts in the bird, it’s a bit less appetizing. I did an excellent job working around all those parts, though. It was pretty good.


I hate to leave this place so soon but am back on the train again tomorrow. I wish I had the time and the money to stay longer. After all, when the agent at Glasgow airport stamped my passport, he did tell me that I can stay up to six months. That would be sweet! I feel like it’s almost time to head home and get back to work.

Scotland 4: Day 28

Saying Goodbye to Thurso (At the Train Station)

Thurso > Pitlochry | 12:29

I’m hungry. I hope that they have the trolley service on this train because even though I woke up early and ate some cereal at the hostel, it didn’t take. I’ve never been to Pitlochry, I’m excited to see another new place. I remember the very first time I took the train up to Inverness from Edinburgh, years ago, seeing the sign for Pitlochry and wondering what was there- I guess I’m about to find out. The only bad news is that I’ll be stuck on this train for the next six hours. That’s almost a coast to coast flight in the US. I need food.

Pitlochry, Scotland | 22:22

I left the train with these directions to find the hostel: “Go to the town center and you’ll find the hostel.” I was a bit worried that Pitlochry was going to be like a dinky little village where there’d be nothing to see or do. I wandered for about 5 minutes from the train station, found what I thought may be the town center and sure enough. There was the hostel.


I met a few people staying at the hostel. There’s a guy who lives further south in Scotland. He’s here looking for work at the moment. One of the girls who works at the front desk is here because she fell in love. She met this guy when she was about 18 years old and he was actually married at that time (scandal?!). They happened to have the same group of friends and she got to know this couple. Years later, his wife left him and this receptionist realized that they’d grown to love each other like family. So after a time, it became more than that. Now they’re a couple.

There are a couple girls here from Poland and I’ve met four people from Austria here. This is quite a nice hostel. One of my favorite that I’ve stayed in up to this point.

Scotland 4: Day 27

Thurso, Scotland | 22:04

Today was a bit of a bummer. It rained and rained, and other than grabbing lunch to go, I didn’t get out until about 17:00 or so. I found dinner at a pub/restaurant. It was good, but not great. After dinner, I’d planned on walking back to the beach but remembered that I needed to get my check-out information before the front desk/chip shop closed. I also wanted to visit the barber.

The ground level of the hostel is a chip shop

I’m not an expert when it comes to dying my hair. I wish it would last longer, however. It’s only been a few days, and I can already see brown roots. I have a newfound appreciation for those who keep their hair an unnatural color, but keep it looking natural. That takes talent (and more money than I like to spend). I was on my way to get my head shaved tonight but couldn’t find an open barbershop.

Since Minesh and Paul are gone, I didn’t want to go hang out in a pub by myself, so I stayed at the hostel. Today was basically me- sitting around watching TV and a movie on the iPad.

Scotland 4: Day 26

Inverness > Thurso | 10:53

I just had to say goodbye to Inverness. I love this place, but it’s time to see some more of Scotland. I’m excited to go north. My destination is Thurso, which is almost as far north as you can go while staying on the mainland. Not sure what there is to see or do there, but I guess I’ll find out.

I slept okay last night. At about 01:00, my roommates came in. They were very loud and somewhat rude. They kept turning on the light, then leaving the room, so I’d have to get up to turn out the light, then they’d do it all over again. I finally (nicely) told them to knock it off, and they did. While I was getting ready this morning, I might have been a little louder than was necessary.

Thurso, Scotland | 16:54

Thurso, Scotland: Walking to my hostel.

I can now say I’ve been to Thurso, Scotland. Thurso has about 9000 people and seems like a lovely town. I checked in at my hostel and met my roommate. He’s a 60+-year-old Scot who doesn’t have much to say to me. Here’s how it went down:

Me: Hello. How are you?

Him: –

Me: I’m Dave from the states (I usually don’t introduce myself as ‘Dav’ when I’m abroad because that just opens up an entire conversation. I don’t mind the extra chat, but ‘Dave’ is a time-saver.).

Him: –

Me: Okay, well, I’m going to get some dinner.

I wonder what this guy’s deal is. I mentioned him to some others staying here, and they told me he’s like that with everyone. Maybe he’ll open up to me tomorrow.

My Room at the Hostel

I walked to the local beach, which was quite lovely. There were people (mostly kids and teens) out playing in the surf, and they have a nice little setup here. What a beautiful ocean! I’m not sure if this is considered part of the North Sea or if it’s considered the Northern Atlantic. Afterward, I explored that town for a while.


I also met Minesh, who is from India and Paul from somewhere here in the U.K. They’re on a bike ride that started at John O’Groats, and they will ride to the bottom of England. That sounds fun and exhausting! I’d love to do something similar one day.


I had a great time hanging out with the guys tonight. They’re fun guys and I found out that they’re doing this ride to raise money for a charity- something to do with muscular dystrophy or something like that. That is very commendable! I hope they raise a ton of money! 

Minesh and Paul

I have two new roommates now- two brothers from England. I’m not sure why they’re up here. Hopefully, we can chat tomorrow.

Scotland 4: Day 25

04.21.11 | Inverness, Scotland | 19:49

I woke up this morning and felt the need to go for a walk-a loooong walk. I I woke up this morning and felt the need to go for a long walk. I walked through town, bought some bread, bottled water, M&Ms, a subway sandwich, and hit the road- I walked to Loch Ness. I want you to be impressed because I did all this in new shoes.


At the loch, I found a big rock to sit on and had lunch there on the shore. It was so peaceful and relaxing to put my feet into the water. I walked (mostly limped) all the way back to the hostel. When I got back, I googled my route, and one-way was 6.6 miles. I think that comes to like 13.2 miles walked today! I’m pretty proud of that, especially with my limp!

For dinner, I walked to Iceland, a local grocery store, and found an enormous chicken asparagus pie. It was delicious, but I only ate half and ended up giving it to one of my hostel mates. Tonight I’ll be packing my bag, getting ready to go to my next destination in the morning.