Category Archives: Scotland

Goodbyes in Glasgow

All good things must come to an end, and the day came when Natascha returned to the Netherlands. Our little reunion was brief but wonderful all the same. Before she caught her plane, we visited Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, lunched at a nearby restaurant and did some window shopping at a mall near the airport.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is quite unique and took me by surprise. It houses a variety of art from different periods, artists and styles, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, clothing and more. There’s also a section on the natural history of Scotland complete with interactive games for children and learning stations. Another part of the museum displays clothes, armor and weapons. Best of all, like many museums in the United Kingdom, admission is free.

At the mall, I found a great souvenir for my mom. It was a silver Celtic cross pendant and necklace set. I also bought a Celtic necklace and another necklace/earring set made by a Scottish designer for myself. They were pretty, on special and small enough to carry around so I was quite happy with the purchase.

Before long it was time to drop Natascha off at the airport for her flight back home. We were all sad to see her go but had many happy days in the future to which we could look forward. Even before she left, we were planning our next get-together (not surprisingly both Gill and Natascha voted for a reunion in Hawaii).

The following morning, Ross and Gill dropped me off at Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow on their way to work so I could get my bus back to London. This coach ride wasn’t such a drama this time, and I made it back to London without a hitch. I walked the short distance from Victoria Coach Station to the Tube and was off to my hostel.

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Driving with Miss Megan

This morning the sky was blue and the sun was out, and this phenomenon was something that we could not take for granted, so we decided to take a road trip to St Andrews for some sightseeing. Gill, Natascha and I hopped into the car along with Megan, Gill’s dog, and away we went, leaving Ross at home to his own devices.

Megan appeared to enjoy the car ride and alternated between poking her head out the back window and between the two front seats to check out the view. For lunch, we stopped at a roadside food truck. Natascha, ever the health nut, was not too pleased by the choices, but Gill and I happily dug in to all that greasy goodness.

Unfortunately, there was a road accident that forced us to detour and getting to St Andrews took longer than we thought. When we arrived, the clouds had rolled in and there was a chill in the air. We parked near the St Andrews Links and didn’t allow the change in the weather to stop us from exploring the city.

As we strolled along, I really enjoyed looking at the buildings. They seemed so majestic and almost imposing with their dark, aging stones. Many towered several stories high and had a strong sense about them. Some homes lined the road on a cliff that overlooked the North Sea, and I could just picture the amazing view of storms rolling in or watching early morning fog rise off the water from the front windows.

When we got to the main street, I found a golf shop with all things St Andrews. I knew this would be the perfect place to buy my dad a souvenir as it is the home of golf after all. I picked up a St Andrews golf cap for him, which turned out to be the first real souvenir I’ve purchased throughout this entire trip.

It’s tough to collect memorabilia when you’re limited to a 20 kg pack and traveling for so long. I guess that’s where the photos and memories come into play. This blog helps a lot as well, even though it’s difficult to keep it going when all you really want to do is travel.

I also managed to pick up a pair of peep-toe wedge slingbacks for myself. If there’s one thing I’ve missed the most about being on the road for so long is the lack of variety when it comes to footwear. I miss my shoe collection at home so very much! I’ve managed to survive with hiking boots, work shoes (first a casual walking shoe, then two different ballerina flats) and slippers (or flip-flops, jandals or thongs depending on where you’re from). As you can see, that’s not very exciting and it’s what I’ve had to live with for ages now. So these wedges were a much-appreciated treat to myself.

After a great day of exploring, we took a break at a small café with views of the sea. It was much too cold to really enjoy the view, especially when it started to rain on us, but we made the best of things. It was fun just hanging out with friends, chatting and laughing together.

When we returned home, we saw an amazing sunset. The purple, pink and orange colors that filled the sky were breathtaking. It reminded us of all the sunsets we saw together in Australia and allowed us to reflect on just how far we’ve come since then. Good times with good friends is all you can really ask for in life and we were lucky enough to have them both.

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One Day in Edinburgh

With only a day to explore Edinburgh, Natascha and I made the best of it by visiting Edinburgh Castle, strolling down the Royal Mile and taking refreshment at a pub or two. A day wasn’t nearly enough time to thoroughly enjoy all that the city has to offer, but it served as a great introduction and whet our appetite for a repeat visit in the future.

After a leisurely train ride in from Falkirk that passed through lush green lands and nearby towns, we arrived in the middle of Edinburgh and set off toward the castle. We didn’t pre-book any tickets so we hoped for short queues. When we finally climbed Castle Rock, the hill upon which Edinburgh Castle sits, we nearly turned back as the line wove back and forth like a ride at Disneyland. However, we’d already come this far and I really wanted to see a man in a kilt, so we queued up with the rest of the tourists. Luckily, the day was turning out to be wonderful with blue skies and the bright sun shining down on us.

Once we got through the main gates, we were met by a guide who gave us a brief history and tour of the place before leaving us to our own devices. At last, a man in a kilt! Perhaps I should’ve been more specific though as he was a bit old and a tad grey for my liking. Haha!

The castle is built like a fortress on an extinct volcano, which provides the natural protection of steep cliffs on three sides. The vantage point that this created allowed guards to see anyone who approached. Canons sat at the ready and poked their noses through large holes in the wall. I was simply amazed by the architectural feat of constructing such a large, multi-faceted structure completely of stone.

St. Margaret’s Chapel, found on the castle grounds, is the oldest building in Edinburgh and dates back to the 12th century. It is the tiniest chapel ever and seems capable of holding only a few people at a time. The stained-glass windows are very beautiful and close enough to touch.

After the chapel, we visited the dungeon and got a glimpse at what life would be like for a prisoner of war. We also saw their living and sleeping quarters where hammocks hung above cots. This was drastically contrasted with the room that held the crown jewels. The crown, scepter and sword of state are the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles.

After Edinburgh Castle, Natascha and I browsed the shops and market stalls set up along the Royal Mile, the main street through Old Town. It’s filled with interesting little nooks and crannies full of Scottish delights. As we walked along, we came across what seemed to be a gay rights parade as colorful rainbows flew high and proud.

Feeling a bit peckish, we stopped in for a pub lunch. We both got massive burgers and chips. With our bellies full, we wandered over to New Town and conducted a bit of retail therapy. Of course, I couldn’t really buy anything but the window shopping was nice. And to wind down the day, we hit another pub for drinks and more chatting before catching the train back to Falkirk.

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