Sunday, August 11, 2019


     Upon our arrival we decided to do the Rick Steves' walking tour of Glasgow. This took us first to City Hall and its famous staircases that have been featured in scenes of numerous films.

     Glasgow appears to be a progressive city. They renamed the street the South African consulate was on "Nelson Mandela Street" during the time of apartheid which meant all mail addressed there had that included in the address.

   Glasgow became a twin city to Havana, Cuba and Bethlehem, Palestine (not Bethlehem, Israel). Northern Europe seems very empathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

   The rest of the afternoon we spent walking- familiarizing ourselves with the city.

    For dinner we went to Obsession, an Indian restaurant. Although it had recently updated its interior, it was not pretentious. The food was excellent. I had Lamb Patia and I won. I also had a Swedish strawberry/lime cider.

    The next day we went touristy by taking the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. The guided tour was about 1 1/2 hours but our hopping made it an all day affair.       

    Our first stop was St. Mungo's Cathedral, the only Gothic Cathedral standing in Britain. During the Reformation when Cathedrals were destroyed, the tradespeople of Glasgow surrounded it and prevented its demolition.


 We also went to the necropolis nearby.

     On to Tennent's Brewery for a tour. It was  a lot of fun  as well as being informative.

    Our next stop was Kelvingrove Museum which is described as Glasgow's Smithsonian.

    We also visited the botanical gardens which had a multitude of greenhouses.

    For dinner we ate Vietnamese at the Hanoi Bike Shop- recommended by Rick Steves and very good.

    In the morning we picked up our car and headed north. First stop was the "Devil's Pulpit", a rock in a a stream in a gorge.

    Next was Buchanan Castle which is abandoned and off limits. Teresa demanded that we cut through the fence and explore anyway. Somewhat dangerous, but it worked out.

    We traveled along Loch Loman to Inverary  Castle which is well restored and very popular. It was a Campbell stronghold though.

    Next to Kilchurn Castle which was in pretty good shape. Teresa made friends with some sheep.

    We made it to Oban just in time for the tour of the Oban Distillery, a whisky producer. Again we  were lucky with our guide.

    After a couple of restaurants turning us away we ate at Coast. Teresa had two vegan dishes and citrus cake with ice cream. Shane had longuistines and halibut. I had chicken supreme. All good- Shane and I had pretty good gelato after.

    Next morning out of Oban we stopped at a coliseum-like building that was never finished. As it was up on a hill it afforded some nice views.

     Then it was off to Dunstaffnage Castle and chapel which was  assaulted  quite a bit in Scottish history and it was well-explained.

     We passed by many locks on the way to Stalker Castle which was on an island.

     From there we went to Glen Coe which is famous for its scenery and also the massacre of the McDonalds by the Campbells. We climbed up a mountain for some good views.

     We were early for the Hogwarts Express train coming across the viaduct  but stayed to take photos.

    We also got pics of deer grazing in a nearby meadow.

    Dinner was great, Teresa and Shane had chicken gnocchi which they thought was fantastic but after trying my pork stew admitted I won. My draft Thistly Cross cider was the best I have ever had..

     The morning started with breakfast at our B&B. For me it was pancakes, bacon and egg. Shane had another full Scottish breakfast which included Haggis, which he enjoyed.

     First stop was the Bonnie Prince Charlie statue viewpoint which overlooked the train viaduct also. This area seemed to have a fondness for the Bonnie Prince and there was a Catholic church nearby.

     On to the ferry to take us and our vehicle to the Isle of Skye. The scenery there included mountains and waterfalls.

     We had a stop in Sligachan to see the Auld Bridge. There was a footrace up and down a nearby mountain. We took a rather long hike up a slope. We also ate our picnic lunch outside Seamus Bar complimented by a Thistly Cross I shared with Teresa and Shane had a Blackhouse.

    On to the Fairy Pools. Sort of like Plitvice Lakes with small pools instead of lakes, much smaller waterfalls, less foliage and no buses.

    On to our chalet which was a tiny single-standing building. We went to Seabreeze for dinner. Teresa had salmon and noodles. Shane and I split a seafood platter for two- 40 mussels, 8 longuistines, 2 slabs of salmon, 5 small potatoes and a salad.

    We got Magnums in a grocery store on the way back.

     The next day was a glorious Isle of Skye day- bright sunshine and the air conditioner was on.

      We first went to Portree ostensibly for breakfast but ended up spending an hour taking in the sites in and from the harbor city.

     The day was mostly for the Trotternish Peninsula. The first stop was the Old man of Storr, a devil's heel type rock which has forever stood on end. We decided to take the long climb to get better views.

    Next was the Lealt Gorge which had a waterfall but the scenery around it stole the show.

    On to my favorite of the day- Kilt Rock, pairing a waterfall with a unique cliff formation (shaped like a kilt) in the distance.

     Next was the one lane- two way road to get to the foot of the Quiraing, a series of mountains that again required a lot of climbing but rewarded you with spectacular views.

      We then went to Dunvegan Castle, home of the McLeod clan.

     Our last stop was Dun Beag Broch Fort, an Iron Age installation which was used at least through Viking times.

      On our way back we decided to stop again at Seamus Bar in Sligachan because they had Thistly Cross on tap. Upon arriving we decided to eat there as it being Sunday, many restaurants were closed and it was tough enough to get reservations. I had a burger with fries and split a large caesar salad with Shane. Shane had the steak and ale pie while Teresa had a side salad and a falafel burger.

     In the morning we had an enchanting breakfast at the Wee Bakery and we drove to the mainland over a bridge.

     We stopped at Eilean Dolan Castle which had some well explained history. I charmed a docent into allowing me to take an inside photo.

Then east to Loch Ness and then north along it to Urquhart Castle.

     Finally to Culloden to go through the museum to see what led up to the battle and how it transpired and then to wander the battlefield.

     After checking in to our B&B in Inverness we went to the 27 Bar & Kitchen where Teresa and I had steak and Shane had lamb saddle. Ice cream was next and lastly to a pub with live Scottish music. Teresa was happy.

     Our first stop the next day was the site of the Clava Cairns; stone calendars and burial sites of Iron Age folks.

    We made a brief stop at Car Bridge to find breakfast.

We then south through Cairngorms National Park and stopped at the Scottish Crannog. They had constructed a very impressive Iron Age abode on an island holding one home. We had a tour that took us inside the large building that housed up to 20 people plus animals. The house was supported by pilings driven into the river bed, We also saw how that civilization spun wool and wove into material, how they cooked and otherwise survived. 

    We then went to Drummond Castle to view its famous gardens and we did the woodland walk.

    On to Stirling where we checked into our B&B. That night, upon the suggestion of our host, we had great pizza at Napizza. I had anchovies, capers and mushrooms, Teresa had sausage and rocket and Shane had sausage and Parma ham. Shane and I had ice cream after meandering through the old city center. I found a door that reminded me of Aunt Mary.

    We started our next day with a walk up to Stirling Castle, the most significant castle in Scotland. Because of our pass we were literally the first ones in.  We spent 3 hours there which included a concert by a South African choir.

    Next was Doune Castle which was used for all the castle scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and was Winterfell in Game of Thrones. The audio guide was by Terry Jones and was quite humorous.

     We then went to the unique Falkirk Wheel which used very little energy to hoist a boat in water up (and drop one down at the same time) in a place where there was a great disparity in water level between 2 canals.

      Last was the Helix, massive statues of horses' heads.

      We then drove to Edinburgh to turn in our car. Traffic was awful but we handled it in a group effort.

      We walked to our apartment as that was quicker than getting an Uber.

     For dinner we went to Zara Mediterranean in Rose Street. Shane and I had a mixed grill, Teresa a grilled chicken. Unbeknownst to us they came with rice and salad and in the meantime Shane ordered fried feta cheese, Teresa a Greek salad and I had garlic cheese bread. Too much food but it was very good. We then walked a round a while, including on the Royal Mile.

    In the morning we walked to Edinburgh Castle and took the guided tour, then visited various buildings and museums in the castle. This took 2 1/2 hours.


   We then started walking down the Royal Mile, making numerous stops at churches, museums, side streets and ice cream shops. 


    We made it down in time to tour the new Parliament building and then get an audio guide tour of Holyrood Palace and the ruins of the abbey. Our tour ended with a walk through the gardens.

     We had tapas for dinner. They were pretty good but still not as good as pintxos.

     Our last full day of the European part of our vacation began with a city bus ride out of town to tour the Craigmillar Castle. It was nicely preserved and a favorite of Mary Queen of Scots.

     Again on the bus to Calton Hill to see its monuments and the views from there.

     Our walk to the National Museum was interrupted for a stop for lunch. The museum was quite extensive and well presented. Our tour only covered part of it.

     After a break for gelato we headed to the Scottish National Gallery which was very impressive- from Italian Renaissance to Flemish to French Impressionists.

    For our last dinner in Scotland we went to a nice nearby Thai restaurant. Teresa and I had lamb; Shane had beef, all very good.

   The trip back had some hiccups regarding our tickets but it worked out. We had to take the train to Glasgow in the morning for our flight and I had time to hit the Celtic Store. 

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