So here begins our Scotland story!
This vacation was (my brother) Kevin’s idea! Genius.
He proposed that we all (me and Andrew, mom and dad and K’s girlfriend Chelsea) meet him in the UK during his month off from his government contracting job in Afghanistan.
Between various finagling – it turned out our parents were able to get a timeshare in Scotland for a week!
And then our parents, Kevin and Chelsea went on to Ireland (and Andrew and I went home)…. So since Andrew and I only had 1 week there, I volunteered to plan the Scotland week.
I’m a planner.
I got my Rick Steves Scotland book – he has never steered me wrong – and read it cover to cover.
Since everyone else was pretty non-committal, I didn’t want to plan anything too rigidly.
Not like when we went to Italy and had very specific times for guided tours and things … Nope.
This trip I had rough days planned out … a long with ONE guided tour booked for the afternoon we were planning on going to Edinburgh. The rest of the time was totally flexible – which is good since my dad finally gave an opinion once we were over there.
So! Thursday, August 11 Andrew and I left LAX about noon, headed to Edinburgh (via Newark, NJ) with only a rough idea what we would be seeing, how we would be getting around and how we would be spending our time ….
7 days in Scotland with the Hann family …..
Our flight landed at Edinburgh International airport around 930a….
We landed at Edinburgh about 930a -> breezed through customs -> picked up our luggage and then off to find our ride.
For an international airport, Edinburgh is surprisingly small. Almost like Burbank.
There is really only 1 terminal. Only 3 or 4 doors in and out of the airport (for both arrivals and departures) and the car rental hub is a short walk away. So easy.
Kevin met us at the airport …. at the car rental hub.
I wish I had a photo of our first glimpse of him:
Tall, lanky guy in shorts; red-blonde hair growing out a bit in loose curls (the ‘Hobbit hair’ he had in high school); red-blonde goatee getting a bit long with a definite need of some trimming and cleaning up on the sides.
I love my brother. He’s always a joy.
The car rental hub is just a short walk away from the airport, and Kevin was sitting waiting for is in the small waiting area.
He had been in Edinburgh for about 4 or 5 days already, but didn’t rent his car until this Friday when we arrived.
Which means we got to witness him trying to figure out how to drive on the “wrong” side and roundabouts! PLUS he rented a manual transmission! He only got honked at twice on that first driving day….for drifting into the other lane or going too slow. Or both.
Once we met Kevin and got the car, it was still only about 11a and we had several hours before we were due to meet Mom, Dad and Chelsea (all flying together) at the airport/car rental.
Kevin drove us into the city of Edinburgh, passing the pub (The White Lady) where he had been staying and telling us all about hsi time: seeing shows at the Fringe Festival, making friends at pubs and walking around town …
So, we decided to park, walk around and find some coffee.
Parking in Scotland is … interesting.
It’s unclear if there are any rules or guidelines. It seems like (unlike in the United States) you may park on either side of the street. Which means that if there are any 1-way streets it is potentially impossible to identify them at a glance.
So the trick was to to find street parking in Edinburgh… but not anywhere that Kevin had to try to parallel park. Luckily, I still had some British pounds from my trip to England in 2009 so Andrew and I had plenty of $ to help with the paid parking.
We parked and walked a blog or two and found a cute little coffeshop serving breakfast.
coffee, scrambled eggs, toast and fried tomatoes
then back to put more money in for parking!
We walked a bit further into the city ….
(it was drizzling on and off this morning)
(that’s Edinburgh Castle on the top of the hill in the distance)
We found a park just next to a church (St. Cuthbert’s, I think), just at the foot of the Edinburgh Castle rock.
Of course, Andrew wanted to walk through the church’s cemetery. That boy cannot get enough of cemeteries.
I think we were around Prince’s Street.
Once the three of us decided we didn’t want to pay any more for parking, we still had 3 or so hours to kill.
…. so we went to find a pub, of course!
Some place out of the city proper where we could get some drinks and sit and relax for a few hours without paying for parking.
Kevin found a place called “Centurion” just outside of town, and parked in a residential neighborhood nearby.
I got a coffee, Andrew got a Guinness and Kevin got a sandwich (or “stuffed roll”) .. .. mostly because he asked about food, the bartender went through the trouble of bringing out the tray of sandwiches and Kevin felt obligated.
So, there we sat for almost 2 hours with horse racing on the TV….
Eventually, it got to the point that I could barely keep my eyes open (approaching 24 hours awake) and there is only so much we can drink.
We had about an hour still to go, so it was off to the airport.
Short-term parking log.
Parked and slept in the car.
True story. I got just enough sleep to make it the rest of the day.
At one point, Kevin and Andrew got out to go meet the others … and I stayed in the car. I woke up again when they came back (with Chelsea) and the 4 of us drove together to Aberfeldy and to our ‘cottage’ at Moness Resort.
Keving got GPS for the car – which was helpful – but for whatever the reason, it took us on tiny winding roads (assuming that it is ‘shorter’) rather than on the larger main highway (which HAD to be faster).
That first night driving to Aberfeldy it rained.
Between the rain, the driving on the left and the tiny (tiny) winding roads, it very much felt like this was going to be a high-stress trip. At least in terms of getting around town.
We got to Moness… checked in… found our ‘cottage’ and tried to settle in….
(Where we stayed – Aberfeldy – is in the middle)
We got there first, followed shortly by mom and dad in the Mercedes he rented.
The resort has a formal(ish) restaurant and a pub (and takeaway) …. along with typical resort-y things like a pool, DVD rentals, etc.
Seeing as it was 8p by the time we all finally got there… we elected to eat at the “pub” (before they close at 9p) and go to bed…..
At dinner, Andrew and I decided to share a ‘ham and pineapple salad’
Salad it was NOT
Instead, we got a plate with a few leaves of lettuce, a slice of tomato and a couple slices of cucumber in the corner.
Plus a scoop of coleslaw, a hard-boiled egg, pickled beets, a big slice of ham and 2 slices of pineapple.
No set plans for Saturday – just sleeping in and then “we’ll see” …