Thursday, December 15, 2005

Honeymoon in Scotland: Day 5 to 7

We woke up in Balloch.

I won't say it was morning, as it was still dark, and we had to skip the second "B" in B&B as our host wasn't awake yet. On the plus side, traffic was light for our drive into Glasgow and back to the airport. We had to take a toll bridge over the river on the way. (Side note: Tam hates bridges, and Scotland has it's fair share of them, which was a constant source of amusement for me) We returned the rental (goodbye Peugeot 307) which I had finally started driving well. I should probably mention that our trip to Scotland wasn't 4 days long. We were meeting our friends Kelvin and Marie-Eve Bear who were flying in that morning. I worked with Kelvin at the RCMP detachment in Carlyle, Saskatchewan, and they had been planning on a trip of their own around the same time as we were, so we decided to do some travelling together. Anyway, after a short wait, the Bears arrived and we hopped a cab into downtown Glasgow. We stayed at McLay's Guest House, which I would not recommend. The lift (read: elevator) was big enough for two people with 1 bag each. But you had to be hugging. I'm serious. The keys to the rooms were the old skeleton key style from the turn of the century (read: last century), and the door to our room looked like perhaps the police had kicked it in on occassion. But luckily, the actual insides of the rooms was worse. We dropped off our bags and went for a coffee. The Bears were pretty jet-lagged, so they decided to grab a few zzz's before continuing on. Recalling our first day, we didn't have a problem with that, so did a bit of window-shopping in downtown Glasgow. After giving them a few good hours, we met up again and decided to do some sight-seeing. Glasgow is a city of art and architecture. We stopped at the McLennan Galleries, and I was able to see an original Rembrandt called "Man in Armour" . There was plenty more, of course, but that was my favourite piece. Leaving there, we walked...and walked...and walked...and eventually made our way to St. Mungo's Cathedral. The Cathedral itself was impressive. We went inside and took some pictures, though due to low lighting, they didn't turn out the greatest.
A graveyard was situated right outside the entrance, and the gravestones were laid flat on the ground. Time and weather had all but worn away the epitaphs. Next door was St. Mungo's museum, where I was able to see an original work by one of my favourite artists, Salvador Dali.
The piece was "Christ of St. John of the Cross". I wasn't overly fascinated with the rest of the museum, so I spent most of my time there just staring at the Dali painting, while the others looked around. Cool. Deciding to give our poor feet a rest, we took the bus from the Cathedral to the university area to look for a place to eat. Ashton Lane was recommended as a street with a lot to offer. We found a place called the Loft which had been converted from an old balcony cinema and had a movie theme. The food was good and affordable. Another long walk took us back to near our hotel, where we had a few drinks at the Driftwood Bar before calling it a night.

A mediocre breakfast greeted us the following morning prior to our departure. With our large backpacks stuffed and strapped on, we made the journey to the train station and took the ScotRail to Edinburgh. There was a bit of confusion on arrival, as we had to find someplace to eat, someplace to sleep, and figure out what we were doing. The food court at the Prince's Mall became our dining choice, after which we grabbed a shuttle to the Globetrotter Inn (hostel) where we would be staying. We dropped off our bags and took the shuttle back downtown. The scenery was great, as you have a nice view of the Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle, and Arthur's Seat from downtown.We went to Rose Street and found a pub for supper, and another for further drinks, before grabbing the shuttle back to the hostel for the night. The hostel had a little pub of it's own, so we had a few more nightcaps there as well. Most of the hostel patronage is of a younger variety, and a few were there enjoying the night as well. One Scottish lad was considerably intoxicated and kept saying "Beer me!", and treated everyone in the place to a shot of Jaegermeister. Good times.

The next morning, after some cereal and a little laundry, we went out to catch the shuttle. We gave up our seats to some others who had to get in to catch a plane, since the Americans who were last in line wouldn't give up theirs. While we were waiting for the second shuttle, "Beer me!" showed up and we all had a good laugh as he didn't remember much of anything from the night before. He just had a friend call in for him at work, saying he had been hit by a car.
We finally got downtown, and after a coffee at Starbucks (I hate Starbucks....sorry Ann), we proceeded up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. We toured the Castle for a few hours, seeing the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the prisoner of war jail and the War Memorial.
There were also some great views of Edinburgh, given the Castle's elevated position. Tam and I were sitting outside at one of the military museums waiting for the Bears when we saw the actor James Cromwell and his wife walk by. I considered walking up and asking for a photo, but am not the type to want to bother someone on their personal time. I made eye contact and gave a nod and smile, which was returned, and it was left at that. The Bears weren't overly impressed when told about our celebrity sighting, as they had no idea who James Cromwell was. Leaving the Castle, we went back downtown and to supper at the Standing Order bar. It was busy, but the food was good and reasonably priced. After dinner, the Bears went to shop for towels (not supplied by the hostel), while Tam and I waited outside on Rose Street. While standing there, James Cromwell and his wife walked right passed us again, and he gave some money to a homeless guy down at the corner. Tam tried to snap a picture but only got his back, in the dark, far away, and it was blurry. Once again, the Bears were unimpressed when told....but I was oddly reminded of the Polkaroo. We took the shuttle back to the hostel where I finished laundry and watched some television.


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