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Larry and Holly in Scotland

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Day One

 
Off we go...

            Larry and I got up early in the morning. After we'd had some coffee, a friend of ours gave us a ride from our apartment to the Bahnhof (train station) downtown. It was slightly before sunrise, and a bit cool out. Larry and I waited on the platform for the train to arrive. We were both excited to be on our way. I still couldn't believe that in a few hours, we'd be in Scotland.

            We boarded the train and had a bit of a tough time finding somewhere to sit. Eventually we found an empty compartment and settled in. We had the area to ourselves for a while, then had to share.

 I love watching the countryside go by. The early morning sunlight was that beautiful deep orange-gold, bathing everything from a low angle.

We arrived at Frankfurt airport and boarded our plane to London without incident. It seems that traveling from one European Union (E.U.) country to another is fairly simple, probably much more so that traveling to and within the U.S. We still had to wait in line for passport control and to go through the metal detectors, but there were no body searches and we didn't have to take off our shoes.

We did have a small problem at London Heathrow airport. It seemed that the passport control desk was understaffed, so we had to wait a while. Also, we heard one of the airport employees make a rude comment about the U.S. It was tempting to say something to this individual, but Larry and I decided it would be best to turn the other cheek.

We finally boarded our plane to Glasgow. I brought along the book, Fellowship of the Ring to keep myself busy. I was amused to see that the man sitting next to me was reading it as well.

The flight wasn't long. We arrived in Glasgow and picked up our luggage. It was exciting to actually be in Scotland! It was also a relief to be in an English speaking country again. Granted, a lot of English is spoken in Germany, and Larry and I do speak some German. However, it's just relaxing to not have to navigate a language barrier.

We went to pick up our rental car. The man behind the counter was nice. He had a very thick Scots accent. Actually, a lot of people around did. It was wonderful just listening. We had to ask the rental car guy to repeat himself a couple of times, but it wasn't too hard to understand him. It is funny that even though we all were speaking English, it all sounded so different! (It was still much easier than trying to decipher a completely different language.)

We got the keys to the rental car and headed out to the lot to find it. Naturally, it was the car farthest away! Our car was a Vauxhall Astra. It was silver and shiny and new. It was the first time Larry had driven a car with the steering wheel on the right side. I must say he's a lot braver than I am! After we got in and got oriented, we were on our way. Larry did a fabulous job driving.

The traffic signs were interesting. It was a bit confusing at first. The signs were the standard European signs that we're used to, however speed limits were in miles per hour, instead of kilometers per hour. Also, they have mostly round-abouts rather than traffic lights. Seeing a sign with a circle or oval and a bunch of routes branching off in all directions is a bit intimidating at first. However, in no time Larry was cruising around them like a native.

Directions in hand, we made our way towards the bed and breakfast where we would be staying, the Easter Glentore Farm. We drove through Glasgow via the motorway. Glasgow looked awfully industrial. One of our guidebooks said the city had gone out of its way to reinvent itself from its industrial image. We visited the city later on in the week to see for ourselves.

It was a beautiful day. We had good directions to follow, so we got over to the bed and breakfast pretty easily. When we got there, there was a note on the door. The proprietor seemed to have stepped out to run an errand. However, the note indicated we could go around back and find someone to let us in. Before we could do that, the proprietor returned. We met Elsie, one of the owners of the B&B. Elsie was a warm, friendly Scottish woman. She got us settled into our room, and then invited us to relax in the lounge and have a cup of coffee or tea.

The lounge had a large window that looked over the countryside. The room itself was a comfy, cozy living room. It felt lived in, with plenty of family wedding pictures on the walls. The clear glass coffee table had all manner of interesting things to read, mostly on the local area, researching clan names, and the sport of curling. Apparently Elsie is quite the curling enthusiast. In addition to the books on the subject, there were also little decorative representations of curling stones here and there.

Elise offered us coffee and tea, along with "biscuits" (cookies), and freshly made shortbread. Larry had coffee, I had tea. The tea was wonderful (Brodie's is the brand). The shortbread was buttery, delicate, and delicious. It all made for an incredibly tasty and relaxing break.

Our other host, Alastair, came in and introduced himself. We chatted a while. Alastair and Elsie are husband and wife and run the farm and B&B. Alastair's accent was thicker than Elsie's and sometimes it took us a second or two to understand what he'd just said. It was really odd to sometimes have trouble understanding our own language.

After our tea and coffee, we went back to our room to decide what we wanted to do next. Our room was nice and cozy and clean. We had our own bathroom that had a very funky shower with extremely low water pressure. The bed was comfortable. We had ample closet space, a small sofa, and a small desk that could be used for a nightstand. We also had coffee and tea service in the room if we wanted it, along with a little bowl of candies. In the drawer of the desk were various pamphlets and information about the area.

The B&B itself seemed cozy and lived in. There were another two rooms for guests, in addition to the lounge, dining room, kitchen, and our hosts' room. Everything was clean and tidy, yet homey.

After our refreshments, we decided to drive around a bit. I saw the first of many road signs that I hadn't seen before: "Tiredness kills. Take a break." Ok! Duly noted! There also seemed to be many, many daffodils lining the sides of the motorways, growing here, there, everywhere. They made a bright and cheery addition to the motorway.

Out in the countryside, the land was pleasant, green, and rolling. There were a lot of farms, mainly for sheep. I absolutely loved watching the sheep. It was lambing season, so there were lots of cute little lambs dotting the countryside as well. I had the best time looking at them as we drove by.

As we were driving around, we heard Gaelic on the radio. It was fascinating to Larry and me, since we've both studied languages. Gaelic doesn't sound like anything else we'd ever heard. It seemed fitting to listen to while we drove around.

Allen Park South Church

We decided to go to Stirling, since we were both interested in it and it wasn't far. We found a place to park on a side street, then walked towards the tourist information office. The very first picture I took in Scotland was of Allen Park South Church. We didn't go in or anything, I just thought it looked interesting and I wanted to start taking pictures.

It turns out that the tourist info. office was closed. We decided to just walk around a bit, and maybe find somewhere to eat dinner. Stirling had a mall, and a pedestrian walkway. Since it was a weeknight, it seemed pretty quiet. The streets were lined with shops and pubs. We went into a place called, "The Filling Station." It turned out to be American themed! Oh well. It wasn't all that great. The food was ok, but the service wasn't.

After dinner we went back the car and drove around for a while. We got turned around here and there, but Larry pointed out that's the way to get to know the place and to learn our way around. During our week in Scotland, we actually logged over 900 miles on the rental car! (Good thing we had unlimited mileage!)

We got back to the B&B just as it was getting dark and thick fog was rolling in. We went back to our room and cleaned up before bed. Our window faced a back yard, and beyond that was a fence separating the yard from the farm. This was a sheep farm, and there were plenty of sheep. During the night we heard the occasional, "Bah!" We actually found it quite soothing.