Actual Travel: Scotland, Week two.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

 
Mackintosh House Glasgow
Ah, look at me in a semi-timely manner getting the week two of actual travel, week two of our Scotland trip shared with you!

If you remember week one, we were on a whirlwind tour planned by John Grant, the Chairman of Glenfarclas Distillery, named Distiller of the Year for 2023 by the way.  I mean still, it utterly boggles my mind that John and his lovely lovely wife Ishbel spent a week of their valuable time with me and my cool woodworking friend Scott.

It was unreal. 

Unreal.  Fun.  As I stare off into the distance reflecting.

Truly, an unbelievable chance that I am forever grateful for and will be forever graciously thankful for.  And flabbergasted.  It still makes my jaw drop.

In case you missed it, here are details on how this trip came to be.

So I know this is a repeat from part one but here's a map of our Scotland travels.

my travels through Scotland shown on a map
It's not much help for week two, honestly.  The loop at the bottom was Scotland week two via ScotRail which I highly recommend.  Week two:  Edinburgh --> Faroe Islands --> Edinburgh --> Glasgow --> Edinburgh --> home.

Oddly, we didn't see a whole heck of a lot of Edinburgh.  Lame, right?!  Must go back.

Right so week two.  We had decided at the planning stage hey, let's tack on an additional week to cram as much Scotland into our souls as we could.  We were on our own for this week.

Originally we talked Edinburgh, Glasgow, and popping around to other destinations but then I got a bug in my rear realizing how close the Faroe Islands were.  And as I mentioned, I'll do a separate Faroe Islands post.

Ok, so Sunday morning, John and Ishbel dropped us off in Edinburgh late morning.  Once I cleaned up my face, and as we were too early to check in, we asked the hotel if they would kindly hold our bags.

And they did.  And, being an American, I was surprised as American hotels are not typically as accommodating nor friendly this way but they sure as heck are in Scotland.  

Immediately we set off on foot.

Now, normally I am a planner.  Not a rigid planner but one that picks out a bunch of things ahead to see, hoping to sprinkle them throughout the time.  Consulting Scott, instead we opted to book hotels then mostly wing it.

There's something to be said for both forms of travel.  Planning = setting specificities; Winging = discovery.

Royal Mile Edinburgh
We walked The Royal Mile up and down, up and down.  At the top, we bought Edinburgh Castle tickets then wandered down to Palace of Holyroodhouse then back up for our Castle tour.  The Queen had just been in state at St. Giles' Cathedral which we missed.

Yes, the Royal Mile is touristy and typically I'm touristy-avoidant but here, I was eating it up.  Could not get enough of the touristy gift shops, the bagpipers, scarves, everything.  What came over me?!  Scotland.
 
holding owl on Royal Mile
Me and my new owl friend on the Royal Mile, heh.  Scott wanted me to hold this heavy gorgeous fella and it was super cool.  Who's the guy behind, heh?  Oh wait, it's a picture of me, oh my!
The Castle was definitely interesting, definitely crowded; we didn't do it hardcore, just meandered.  I'd say go.

heading into Edinburgh Castle
Heading into the castle grounds with Scott there on the left.

view of Edinburgh from castle
View of Edinburgh from the Castle grounds.
Mimi's Bakehouse for the best scone ever.  

Mimi's Bakehouse scone with clotted cream and black currant jam
Holy crap was this delicious.
And somewhere in our Edinburgh time, we stopped at The Milkman for breakfast baked goods.  Hot chocolate everywhere.  Mmm, all so so so so so good.  Like revelatory.  I was near dialing up British Airways to cancel my return flight.

The Milkman Edinburgh
Our feet tired, we strayed into The Canons' Gait for tasty frankfurters and later sauntered into The Malt Shovel for a cider

Next day, more Royal Mile briefly, started a Water of Leith trek then panicked about time as our Faroe Islands flight was at four.  Had to pare luggage, store bags, and get to the airport.  By store, I used an app called Bounce.*

Fast forward a few days to Thursday, touch down, grab bags, pause for breakfast at Waverley Station, and we're right off to Glasgow.

Just watching daily Edinburgh life unfold around us here, taking it all in while noshing.  Volume up for the excellent jam.

Glasgow is where we seriously packed on the steps, walking everywhere alllll day.  That Friday, we walked 28,000 steps alone.

Ok so but Thursday, we walked up to the Glasgow School of Art only to discover I didn't do my research:  the Mackintosh designed library burned in 2014.  Holy duh, omg.  Doh.

We drown our sorrows at Mackintosh at The Willow then walked Sauchiehall Street, hit The Admiral Bar near the hotel for dinner of Mac and Cheese and, hm, I forgot what Scott had.  A burger I think?

scone at Mackintosh at The Willow
Mackintosh at The Willow's scone and hot chocolate.  mmmm

Mackintosh at The Willow
Mackintosh at The Willow.
Friday was a big huge day.  We walked through Kelvingrove Park, saw parts of University of Glasgow, then the day's #1 goal:  The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian.

University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
It was so surreal to see Charles Rennie Mackintosh's work in person, I was nearly in tears.  All my college/grad school studies right before me, in person.  It was almost an out-of-body experience.  A guide, turns out, was from Indiana not far from where Mike is from, so she was extra generous with her time.

After a week plus of Scottish and a few days of Faroese, it was wild to hear Indiana-twang!

dining room at The Mackintosh House
The dining room at the Mackintosh House.
Next we walked around the Botanic Gardens then headed east over the River Clyde, finding ourselves at the Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street.  

We were too late for a tour of the Glasgow Cathedral and unfortunately our feet too tired to walk uphill to the cemetery.  I regret not pushing onward but man, it was a steep climb for this flatlander.

The next day though, we did the Cathedral tour after a breakfast of Tantrum Donuts, both of which were impressive.  We then wandered some more, popped into a Lidl to see what it was about (where I should have grabbed tasty items but again, my three-wheeled twelve-ton suitcase....)

Cathedral Glasgow


Tantrum Donuts Glasgow
Tantrum Donuts.  A must go.
At this point we were quite pooped, goodness.  We grabbed some sandwiches at a Sainsbury, noshed in a park, then caught an earlier train back to Edinburg where we took a tram over to the airport hotel.

Here was our worst meal of the trip along with the worst pillows.  Heh.

Too, I was feeling all the emotions right then at our dinner table.  All.  The nervousness at the top of the trip, the joy, elation, the steady jaw-to-floor awe, the excitement, anxious for Mike and Finn at home.  A long flight home and future jet lag.

Melancholy for having to leave such an unbelievable country that we barely scratched the surface of.  Grateful for the opportunity, so so so thankful for the generosity and kindness of everyone at Glenfarclas.  

A wisp of sadness that the anticipation of delivering the bottle was over, the trip was over, the bottle no longer with me.

Happy and sad at the same time.  I was excited to get home despite not wanting to leave one iota.  I needed a nap.  And to let my burnt tongue heal as holy heck, the Scots like their food screaming hot!

So Scott and I packed up one last time and hobbled on over to the airport on foot.  We stocked up on some candy bars, a couple Irn Bru's, I grabbed some magazines, and in quiet reflection, I gazed out that airplane window as we flew out of Edinburgh headed for Heathrow.

on plane headed to London
sniffle....
All told, these two weeks, Scott and I walked over 177,900 steps.  Yes.  Thanks, Apple Health app for keeping tabs on our happily sore feet.

What a trip.  

Don't forget to come back for the Faroe Islands travel segment!  I'll be sure to link here.

Hey, by the way, sorry I missed a week.  Things have been bumpy around these parts.  Finn had a turbulent butt day and I was forced to take him to the ER again where he ended up in ICU for a night.  We brought him home with more questions, even fewer answers, feeling at sea.   

Back again a week later for a new calcium-reducing treatment and that has helped, he's doing better.

He was fine and then bam, zero fine.  It's crazy.  Yes, we're in an unyielding state of stress and fear.


*The Bounce link is a Bounce affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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