Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Mom's Away

This is what happened when both of my sisters left the house at the same time. One baby saying, "Bye, Mom! Bye, Mom!" and the other sucking on his hand, whining a bit wondering where his mom is going. They were standing there for about five minutes! It was so stinking cute! Then, we had snacks and everything was fine. These boys LOVE popcorn! Oh, and one is wondering how much cookie he can get in his mouth at once.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm home. My vacation was wonderful, and I had a fantastic time. More pictures to come, hopefully sooner than later. But, I am home. I definitely know that I love living in America, and more specifically, Utah. Maybe this is where I'm supposed to be because no matter where I travel, I just love coming home to here. What a beautiful and clean state I live in. Lucky me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Today we got up early and took the bus across town to attend church. Church was from 10 to 1, and the people were very friendly. The ward was an older ward, with only just a handful of children. The lessons were wonderful, although it was exhausting listening to the Irish accent for three hours straight. A few of the older sisters that we talked to had visited Salt Lake City and one had even lived there for forty years. She was born here, lived downtown Salt Lake for most of her life, and moved back to Ireland to retire. There was also a sister missionary there from Hyde Park in Logan. I guess it just goes to show that it's a small, small world after all.
After church, we just hung out at the hotel, napping and reading, and then I went for a walk a bit later. Pretty uneventful day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Giant Excursion

Today we got up early, again, to go on a tour to the Giant's Causeway. Our tickets said that our bus departed at 9am. Well, when we got there at 8:50, they said, "Oh, it may be about 9:45 at this location." So, we walked over to the other location and were told, "It will be about 10 just around the corner." So, bascially, we just stood around forever trying to figure out where our coach was leaving from. Who knows where they were. Maybe they were just fittering about. Thursday, when we came in from the ferry, one of the bus guys said everyone in Scotland runs late. I guess he really wasn't kidding.

I love Asian tourists. While we were waiting, there was a group of Asian tourists who all quickly piled off the bus, took about 200 flashing photos while saying, "Ohhh . . . ahhh . . . ohhh," and then quickly climbed back on the bus, drove about three blocks, and did the same thing. They are so cute and funny to watch. Plus they are all about 5 feet tall. I feel giant. I kind of wish that I could be on their tour bus.

We got started on the tour at about 10:20 and stopped soon after that to look at another castle. We only had ten minutes, and by the time everyone got off the bus, we had about five minutes left. I didn't even get off the bus because I have enough castle pictures, and this castle wasn't that impressive. Our tour guide said that many of the guides joke about ABC tours: Another Bloody Castle. That made me laugh a bit.

We drove down to a small seaside town called Carrick-a-rede. There was a rope bridge that we could cross, but I didn't do it. We didn't have a ton of time there, and I was feeling a wee bit car sick. Our bus had problems with the air conditioning, and it smelled a bit like a gym locker. It was nice to walk along the cliffs of the beach and just get some fresh air.

We finally arrived at Giant's Causeway where we had lunch at the Causeway Hotel. After, we walked down the trail to the beach and causeway. It was beautiful! I wish that we would have spent the entire day here instead of going anywhere else! We were there for about 2 and a half hours, including lunch, and it was only enough time to do the first part of the trail. That place is just enormous! Here are some pictures and a short video of parts of the trail along Giant's Causeway.

Here are the Basalt Stepping Stones.

This is me relaxing on The Giant's Boot.

I know, I need to do a slideshow! That will be later for those, if any, that are interested.

Here are some pictures of a castle called Dunluc Castle. We didn't have time to walk down to it, only to take pictures. Sad! This is one that I would have liked to go in. Maybe because it's old and falling apart and not modernized. Misty, I know you will like that because it's kind of like erosion. :)

On the way home, I basically slept the whole way. Just more mountains and rolling hills, and one non-carsick girl.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Friday, September 11, 2009

Today, I slept in! Yes, I think that sleeping in and naps are underrated. I think they are especially underrated when you don't feel well, which is the case today. I have a horrible chest cough. Hopefully I feel better soon and haven't picked up some strange foreign disease from the UK. Anyway, it was nice to sleep in because every day we've been up early and out doing something. I like to just relax on vacation.

At about 11, I walked down to St. George's Market which is a craft market that is held on Friday's in a corner of the city centre. It was actually a craft market and food market. I walked around looking at a few of the crafts, but there was nothing that I was crazy about. Then, I walked through the food sections. I have never seen so many types of fresh seafood in my life! I'm pretty sure I had the deer in the headlights look. There were squid, octopus, all types of shellfish, crabs, lobster, monkfish, salmon, prawns, shrimp, and a lot of things that I had no idea what they were. I think that I'll have to actually try more seafood one of these days. It would have to be in a city that is by the sea because I want it to be fresh! Today is not that day, but oh well!

After spending a few hours walking through the market, I bought a sandwich, soup, and rolls and came back to the hotel. Basically, the rest of my day went like this: lunch, sleep, sleep, drink, sleep, sleep, dinner, sleep, sleep, TV, sleep. Yep, I basically slept all day. I really needed it, especially since I was feeling so crappy! I hate it because I didn't come here to sleep, but when you're sick, you're sick. I can't tell if I'm getting better, but the sleep sure helped!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Land, Ho!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today we rode the ferry from Stranraer to Belfast. The journey took about 2 hours and was calm the whole way. I was disappointed that we couldn't stand up top or on the sides. We could stand on the back of the ship, so here is a picture of that. It was pretty noisy though!
We took the hop on/hop off bus from the airport and around the city for the tour. It was the worst tour ever! We were sitting on top because it was a nice day. Then, they got on the expressway, and it was freezing! I had my hoodie zipped up and tightened around my face because it was so windy that my hair was practically braiding itself and the wind was turning my ears purple with cold.

Even though it was freezing, here are some of the things that I did learn. Belfast was the port city that built the Titanic. We saw the dry dock where the ship was built. The guide said, "Even though the Titanic was built here, we insist that it was fine when it left. That ship had an English Captain, a Scottish navigator, and hit a Canadian iceberg. We had nothing to do with it's sinking."
Other lame jokes, or slow torture, given by our guide:
Q: What's red and bad for your teeth? A: A brick.
Q: What's brown and sticky? A: A stick.

We got to see the Irish Parliment building. It was huge! Apparently, during WWII, the building was covered with manure, poop, and mud to hide it from the bombers that were flying over. The guide added, "If they would have opened their cockpits, they would have smelled it from a mile away." It is quite a beautiful building. There was heavy security, too. Our bus was searched, and for a minute I thought they were going to take our backpacks, but they didn't.

We drove through the town, and basically saw a bunch of murals and blown up buildings and car parks where the buildings used to be. Our guide said that during the civil war here about 10 years ago, if a building was blown up, they just turned it into a car park (parking lot). Apparently, Belfast has the best city parking of any large city around these parts.

The tour was basically a short history tour of the fighting that went on here during the civil war. We were told about all of the groups that were fighting: IRA, IRC, etc. Then, the guide said, "Even though many of these groups are no longer around, there is one group that is still going strong here in Belfast. It's the KFC, and their leader, the Colonel, is working hard to blow people up." Cheesy, but a bit funny. I admit, I laughed.

We drove by this church which has the biggest Celtic cross in the world. However, they also have a huge spire that was added to the building called the Hope Spire. This was added to remember the victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States. It's interesting to see and hear what other people around the world think about this event. We talked with a couple about it on the train the other day. I guess I didn't realize how much other people in other countries were impacted as much as they were. I guess it's because we all could have been on those planes or in the towers.

We truly live in a wonderful country. I love it here, but I love home more. I miss the beautiful Rocky Mountains and my beautiful state more each day.

What a day! First of all, the numbers just line up. September is a great month for numbers. I like it.
It's exhausting listening to people speak in a foreign language! Yes, I know that they speak English here, but with the thick accents, it takes extra brain power to listen and process what people are saying! More then once I've had to say, "Say that again," or "Slow down. I'm American." Usually people just laugh.
I had part of a traditional Scottish breakfast this morning. It consisted of a baked tomato, mushroom, potato scone, and a fried egg. I say part of a breakfast because I just couldn't eat it. I'm feeling sick lately. It's like a got bus sick and never got over it. I just woke up sick feeling. Blah.
We walked a bit around Loch Lomond today. The weather was beautiful for once! I actually felt the warm sun on my face! We walked to the pier and saw a few of the boats. We saw a group from Glascow College learning how to kyak and canoe in the loch. When we walked by about two hours later, they were still there! It makes me feel better about my canoe mishaps in the past.

While on the train for about four hours, we were able to see a lot of scenic Scotland. Very rural and hilly. I love the mountains. I love the rolling hills. And life is a musical.

We took the train from Balloch to Glascow to Ayr to Stranraer where we are staying the night at another bed and breakfast. Our train pulled right out onto the pier, where the line ended. It was beautiful! On recommendation from a local, we went to a Chinese/Cantonese place for dinner called Sun Kai. I had the orange chicken, and it was like breaded chicken in orange juice with pineapple. It was suprisingly quite good. Probably the best dinner that I've had yet in Scotland.

Tomorrow we're off to Belfast! Sorry, pictures later. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the Road Again

Monday, September 7
Today, we rode the bus. Exciting and new, I know. After doing our laundry, we took a bus 2 and a half hours south to the town of Fort William. The same route we came home on yesterday. Yes, I was extremely bus sick. No, I didn't barf on the bus. However, I have reaffirmed my decision to have purchased a car and be contributing to the rise of greenhouse gases.

We had dinner at a small pub called Loch Iall. I had a chicken breast with BBQ sauce, chips (fries), and coleslaw. It's only the third time I've had a sit down dinner or lunch since we've been here--9 days now! Yesterday, we didn't want to have to buy food on Sunday, so we had apples, cheese, and bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The day before that, we had cheese and bread. I'm pretty sick of cheese and bread. I actually would love a nice salad or a big plate of veggies!
Well, it's about eight o'clock and the town has gone to bed. So, since I'm not going out to a pub, I guess I'll just be here at the hotel, watching bad British comedies and drinking hot chocolate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Today we rode the Hogwart's Express . . . or the Jacobite Steam Train. You decide. We rode it to Mallaig, which is right on the coast. It was so cold and windy! Here are some pictures and videos of the ride and standing on the seashore.

Our train got back at 4, and at 5 we caught a bus to take us to the outskirts of Balloch. I have never been so close to throwing up on a bus! I think our bus driver thought he was a race car driver. Two plus hours on a narrow, mountainous road in the rain is not my idea of a good time. Hours later, as I am sitting here in my bed at the B&B, I'm still trying not to loose my earlier lunch of fish and chips. I could not be more excited to get on another long bus ride tomorrow . . . or something.

It's All True

Sunday, September 6, 2009
Today we took a tour to the Isle of Skye. We were on this tour all day--and I'm not kidding--from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. It was the longest stinking beautiful bus ride I've ever taken in my whole life! Vomit.

We started out of Inverness and headed North. Our first stop was to see a mountain range called The Sleeping Maiden. You can see her feet, knees, boosom, and face. I didn't think it was worth getting out of the bus to photograph, but many people did. Our bus driver, Allison, had this to say about the mountain's name and those who named it: "Personally, I think they had a wee bit o' whisky."

We headed on up into the highlands. The tour bus had a narration as we drove along, and it was talking about the main industry in the area. People could be in four areas: 1)Farming, 2)Tourism, 3)Walkers, or 4)Stalkers. He went on to explain all of the industries, with walking being catering to those people who like to walk and hike through the highlands. He then went to say, "And when I say stalking, I don't mean obsessively following celebrities. Stalking refers to hunting and killing the 50,000 of the 300,000 red deer population in the area." So, basically, stalking is hunting, but it was funny nonetheless.
Speaking of stalking, our next stop was at a hunting lodge/hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was a beautiful place where the walls were decorated with stag busts from the 1920's to the 1930's. Out back, there were a couple shetland ponies who fascinated the Asian tourists that were with us. They were even more fascinated with the fact that I got the ponies to come up to me and let me pet them. My secret? An apple core from my breakfast snack. That outside adventure didn't last long because, surpise, surprise, it started to rain. The rain here is such a fine mist, you almost mistake it for snow. But, it's wet and cold and constant, so we hopped back on the bus.

The house in this next picture is the old ferry captain's house for the Strome Ferry. This ferry was in operation until the current roads were built, but is no longer. The sign says: Strome Ferry (no ferry). Go figure. Anyway, this house is apparently seen in many pictures and paintings throughout Scotland.

This bridge, the Skye Bridge, connects the Isle of Skye with the mainland of Scotland. It was built with the same architecture as the main bridge in Sydney, Australia.
The next picture is of a shell of a castle called Armadale Castle of the Donald clan, also known as MacDonalds (not the food chain!). From what I read, most of the castle was destroyed by a fire, but they are working on eventually rebuilding it. In the meantime, the ruins are being overtaken by beautiful plants.

Next, we stopped on a beach where there were also ruins of a castle. Here I am on the beach with the ruins behind me. On the beach, we saw a lot of mussles and some type of red squishy snail like creature, but without the shell. I asked our driver what they were, and she said she didn't know and proceeded to squish one to find out. Yeah, it was just a squishy red something. I'll have to google that later. She wanted everyone to take a small rock with them or something from the beach. She said she had this vision of a piece of Skye all over the world, but I was not carrying a stinky piece of rock in my bag. Nope, not doing it. I told her I had photos. She eventually let me on the bus.

We had a bus of photo-happy tourists. Seriously, we had to stop so everyone could take pictures of this Heilan cow. We probably spent ten minutes there with people taking pictures of this cow. Me? I stayed on the bus. Shelley asked me to take a picture, so I used my handy dandy camera zoom and took this picture. Moo.

The roads were so narrow! Most of the way, it's single lane with a passing place every tenth of a mile or so. We had a couple scary passing places with a few other vehicles!
I was amazed at how far the tide had receeded from high tide to low tide. Here we are at another stop, Isle Ornsay. It's known for its whiskey distillery and art gallery. Here is a picture of how drastic the tide change is during the day. Also, one of Scotland's oldest lighthouses, built by the family of Robert Lewis Stevenson.

Next, we stopped at the famous-most-photographed Eilean Donan Castle. The castle is mostly ruins and has been rebuilt sometime during the 1900's. Basically, I don't know much about it, but I do know that it was beautiful.

Then, we stopped at some old abandoned bridge and saw a stone gazebo, bridge, and a raging river. I don't know exactly where we were or whatnot because I may or may not have been sleeping. Remember? Bus=vomit.

Then, to end the day, we drove along the shore of Loch Ness. That's right. The one and only. Here is a picture of the beautiful loch, and if you're still reading, I think you should be rewarded. Don't worry, I saved the best picture for last. Now, I know it's been rumored that this is hard to photograph, but it's actually true! I had to grab my camera so fast! Here she is: Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. Have a look. Cool, huh. You can see the body at the bottom and the neck to left.
Just another day in Scotland.

Locks of the Loch

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today we took a bus to the village of Fort Augustus. Actually, we took a bus to the village of Invergarry and then waited an hour, and then caught the bus back to Fort Augustus. Yep, that's right. We missed our stop. Who knew? They just stop and drive and expect you to know when to get off. I'd been been paying attention, but didn't see any signs for the town until we were just past it. We were only seven miles away, but there was no footpath to walk, and it was in a very woody area, so we chose to wait 50 minutes for the bus. Then, I had to explain to the bus driver that we were stupid Americans and had missed our stop and please could we ride for free back? He was very sympathetic to our cause. Here is our bus stop in the middle of nowhere.

When we finally got to Fort Augustus, we went to a shop called Iceberg where they blow glass. I watched a man blow a small vase and also a small figurine of Nessie the Loch Ness monster! It was pretty cool. I bought a small necklace of a teardrop of blown glass.

As I was walking out of the shop, I noticed the road was gone. Yep, they were bringing two yachts into the canal locks. The locks go from the end of Loch Ness up to Moray Firth. There were about six locks that I could see without walking the length of the canal. It was awesome to see the locks working and the boats moving through. The sections emptied and filled rather quickly and the locks moved quickly. For the lack of a better word, it was just neat!

Tomorrow we are going to the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, another castle, and other places. I feel kind of grumpy and crazy like, and I think it's because I'm so tired of traveling! I just want to relax and spend time doing nothing instead of go-go-going all of the time. Oh well. I guess I can sleep when I'm old or dead. :) We tried to find a church, but there are none around here. No branches or wards anyway. We're just planning to go in Belfast next week. We did buy food for tomorrow so that we won't have to buy it on Sunday. That's a good compromise.

Scottish Oddities

What's so hard about making hot and cold water come out of the same tap? Seriously people. At most places, hot is on the left side of the sink, cold is on the right. If you want some combo, you have to like grab some cold, and then try to get a little hot. The hot water is boiling hot. Your other choice is to plug the sink, fill it up with the temperature you want, then wash, and unplug. That's just a lot of hassle to wash your hands. Plus, who wants to fill up a sink and wash where tons of other people have washed? The whole system is just a bit weird. Plus, at places where hot and cold come out together, it's like hot then cold then hot then cold like it can't decide.

There is gum everywhere on the streets here! The sidewalks look like they are paved with small cobblestones, but really, it's just old gum. I saw a sign for a gum bin (a litter bin just for gum) that said, "Throw your gum here. Help save 30,000 pounds a year in gum removal." Seriously? They spend that much just removing gum? It's a serious problem. I'm baffled that people just spit their gum out on the ground. I guess they would just expect to step in it a lot, also. I seriously think they should consider not selling gum here.

A girl taught me a new Scottish word today. It is faff. She said that it means to fiddle about, messing around and not doing what you should be doing. For example, if my students were chatting instead of working, I could say they were faffing about. The less extreme version of faff would be footer (but it sounds like "fitter" the way they say it). So, you could be footering about all day instead of being productive.

I also learned that you can go skiing in northern Scotland. However, you would always want to call ahead to make sure they actually have snow. A guy on the train, Tim, told us that the highest mountain point in Scotland was between 4 and 5,000 feet high. We giggled a bit about that one. He also told us that the best place to see Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, was in the gift shop.

The Scottish really don't drink that many soft drinks. The only real choices are Sprite, Diet Coke, Coke, and Fanta. Oh boy, these people like their Fanta. I got a bottle of so-called orange Fanta, but it's pretty much yellow and tastes like our Squirt. It's really not that great. Good thing for Sprite! Really, they have their own soda, Irn Bru, which tastes like bubble gum. I was told that they wanted to market it in the USA, but the FDA wouldn't approve an ingredient. Go go FDA. I'm not sure I would approve it either. Grape soda? Anyone?

People here carry an umbrella like we would carry our purses or cell phones. People always have umbrellas in their hands. I can totally understand why, as it's been raining about 90 percent of the time that we've been here. I think that we have had a total of 5 to 6 hours of sunlight. Of all the things I bought for this trip, I've used my umbrella the most. I don't like it. I thought that I could live in a city like Seattle, where it's always raining, but I now know that it's not the case! It's pretty gloomy!

By the way, I think the mullet is coming back. At least in Scotland and maybe the UK. I have seen several while here, and had to stare at the back of one on a bus for about 10 hours. This whole trip, I just didn't want to look like a scrounge or a camper, but apparently, everyone here looks a little scroungy, thrown together, and damp. They look as if they just got up, threw themselves together, and off they went. Maybe it's because they have to deal with rain every day, and getting ready is just not worth it. Maybe I'm just vain.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just another day in Scotland

Well, I have lots of updates, but they are on my computer. So, until I find a wifi connection around here, that's where they will stay. I'm currently doing laundry at a launderette in Inverness, Scotland. Oh, how I love having clean clothes. I think it revitalizes a person to wear clean clothes that smell fresh.
We've been traveling like mad, or at least it feels that way. At least today is sunny! I can actually wear capris and a t-shirt and not feel cold. It's the first day of really good weather that we have had. And we are spending most of it on the bus. :(
Today we are traveling to a small town where we will stay the night, and tomorrow we will take the Harry Potter train! Woot woo!
I can't believe the trip is half way over! Everywhere I go, I think of how beautiful it is, but I still miss home. I just love Utah (and America). It's so beautiful!
My time is running out, so hopefully I will be able to put up my real posts and pictures soon. Cheers!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rain with a bit of Sunshine

I don't entirely remember what day it is. :) That's the beauty of vacation, I guess.
Today brought better weather. We actually saw the sun shining for a few hours today!
This morning, Brian of the B&B made me a fried egg and sausage for breakfast. I love sausage, but not Scottish sausage! It was not so great. After breakfast, I chatted with Brian a bit about how to get around the city, and told him that I noticed they do long-arm machine quilting (Mom--this post is for you), he proceeded to get his wife, Carole, who took us out back to the quilting shop. She showed us how to work the long-arm quilter and let us practice. I wrote my name. She said that people come for holiday and bring their quilts, and she shows them how to finish the quilts and teaches them. Then, people can do it themselves. Who knew! I should have brought my finished quilt tops to Scotland. :) Then, she took us to the local fabric shop. It was small, and I didn't want to buy anything, but I felt I should because she took us down there! We have way more of the same fabric in the U.S. but oh well! I bought some buttons that will hopefully match a quilt I'm working on.

Anyway, then Carole dropped us off at the William Wallace Monument. Anyway, Brian and Carole were extremely nice. It's fun to get to know local people and have them tell you more about the town. We left them a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It wasn't where we were going to stay, but ended up being the best place for us!

After walking back to the B&B from the monument, we picked up our backpacks and walked into town. I definitely packed too much. Ugh! We were going to store our bags at the bus station, but all of the lockers were full. We walked through town, and ended up eating lunch at a little place called the Shake Bar. We met a guy from Turkey who spoke with a Scottish accent. He was quite hilarious. Part of me thinks it was because I am also funny. :) I had a panini for lunch with a Scottish soft drink called IRN BRU. It tasted like bubble gum. Actually, it tasted almost exactly like Inca Kola from Peru. Weird, I know. It was not good, but it was a drink. We actually came back later and had shakes--a caramel shortbread cake shake--and he laughed again at our accents. He kept saying, "Good" but it sounded like "Gud" and we were all laughing. I know, it's probably only funny if you were there. I was, and it was funny.

Now, we are on the train headed to Inverness. The train takes a little over two hours, but has been delayed because of flooding in different cities along the way. We should get there tonight (Friday) at about 8:30pm, or something depending on how many delays we have. We're currently stopped right now. :)

Caution: Slippery When Wet

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pretty much all day I've been trying to keep myself upright while walking through the streets of Edinburgh and Stirling. It's been raining nonstop all day, and the cobblestone streets and cement walkways are so slippery in the shoes that I'm wearing. Try balancing yourself while carrying a 30 pound backpack. I know, it's worse than carrying a small child! I obviously overpacked! I just about threw out my back trying to stay upright. I may or may not have had two Scottish men smirking at my efforts to stay upright.
Today we checked out of our hotel, the Cairn Hotel, in Edinburgh and caught the 11:05 bus to Stirling. We rode the bus for about an hour. For the last part, there were two old ladies sitting in the seats in front of me, and I swear they were speaking another language. Come to find out, they were just speaking with the thickest Scottish accent that I've heard yet. Seriously, it was like, "Blah blah blahbbity blah washing machine blahbbity blah blah." For the longest time I couldn't tell if they really were speaking with a thick accent or just speaking in a different language and sometimes in English. I think the farther we get into Northern Scotland, the less ability I have to understand people.

In Stirling, it was raining. Surprise, surprise. We left our bags in a locker at the bus station and walked around town a bit. I had an empanada type pastry, called a pasty, for lunch. It was nice to have something warm after being soaked. We pretty much walked all over and climbed the back of the hill to the castle. The maps we had were not to scale and just sucked. We got lost and ended up walking all over which probably would have been okay had I not been wearing slippery shoes and my leg didn't hurt so much (old injury). Basically, I felt pretty miserable all day because I was cold, wet, tired, wet, hungry, and wet. It was fantastic.

After a bit, we caught a taxi to take us to the B&B, and it's a good thing because we surely would have been lost! I asked our taxi driver what he liked to do around town and places to eat, and I couldn't understand a word of his response. I just nodded and said, "Oh. Uh huh." There's that awesome ability to understand people coming back.

For dinner, we took the recommendation of our host at the B&B, Brian, and went to a local place called The Birds & The Bees. I had fajitas for dinner. They were excellent! The we walked back to our B&B where we went to bed. Not an exciting day. I didn't even take any pictures. So, here are some of my favorites from earlier in the week. One is Edinburgh, the next is a small church in Bamburgh, England, and the last is also in England and is me in a phone booth (I was trying to look through the glass that was not tinted) with the Bamburgh Castle behind me. Dorky, I know.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

To England, I Say!

Yesterday was an adventure! We began the morning by climbing the Scott Monument. That's right, 287 stairs straight up a winding, narrow--No, I mean NARROW--staircase. It was kind of scary because it was raining and pretty windy. But, the views were nice, and now I can say that I've done it. In fact, I'm number 54,714. :) Here is a picture of my certificate of authentication, the winding stairs, the monument from below, and myself on the stairs as seen from the landing.

Next, we boarded the train at Waverly Station here in Edinburgh and took the 50 minute ride to Berwick-Upon-Tweed where we then proceeded to catch a bus to the small town of Bamburgh, England. On a small side note, our bus driver was very friendly and quite funny. We talked to him a bit, as we were the only ones on the bus. We rode up top, even though there is no ventilation because we wanted to have the best view. My favorite part of the ride? Going through a town called Pot-a-Doodle-Do. :) Here is one of the coolest things we saw on the way.

Here we were able to tour Bamburgh Castle and walk along the beach of the North Sea. Yes, I went in up to my knees. It was freezing. It was beautiful, refreshing, and relaxing. We ate at a local place called The Castle. I had a BLT (adventurous, I know) and salad. We pretty much spent the whole day getting there, being there, and getting back. We spent about four hours in Bamburgh. While there, we walked through this cemetery where the prominent family name (and apparently local heroes who were old shipping captains) is Younghusband. Interesting!

Now I can say that I've been to England. The English countryside was absolutely beautiful and was exactly how I pictured it.

Our train coming back was 20 minutes late! Not a big deal, but it got quite cold waiting on the train platform in Berwick. I don't think I particularly like trains because they kind of give me a bit of motion sickness. Throw in a bus, and I was about done for. :)

When we got back to Edinburgh, it was raining. Surprise, Surprise! On our walk back to our hotel, we stopped and got take away from a place by our hotel. The guy that helped us was from Brazil and it took a bit for us all to understand each other. I ended up with a chicken carbonara at his suggestion. It was pretty good.

When we got back to the hotel, and after I'd eaten my dinner, I was basically comatose! I pretty much went straight to bed and slept until seven this morning. The sun has a funny way of waking me up.

Today, we are headed to Sterling where we will stay one night, and then tomorrow we will be off to Inverness for a few days. The forecast for the next seven days: rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, and rain with a bit of sunny.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Castles, Monuments, and Plaid . . . Oh My!

Today we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked.

We started the morning by climbing Calton Hill which gave us a nice view of the city and surrounding islands. We saw the National War Monument, which was actually left unfinished and modeled after the Parthenon in Rome. We were also able to see out across the Firth of Forth and see the sea around Scotland. Say that five times fast. We then proceeded to make our way across the city to Salisbury Crags, a hill type mountain that is an extinct volcano, a place that is the home of Arthur's Seat (whatever that means). Anyway, it was a very steep hike! Here is a picture, and if you look closely, you can see people climbing the path up the side. The views were beautiful, but it was very windy and a bit chilly!

Next, we took the hop on/hop off bus to the Edinburgh Castle and toured it. We were there for about 1 and a half hours. It had some pretty awesome architecture and was enormous. However, many parts of the castle are still being used as meeting places and private living quarters, so we didn't get to see as much of it as I would have liked to. It seems like all the old buildings here are either abandoned or being used as something else, which in reality makes sense, but I just wanted to see old buildings as such.

After the castle, we walked around some more and went to a Tartan shop where we watched a man work with a machine to weave wool material for kilts. It was pretty cool and kind of loud. It took forever for the machine to make the finished material, and they told us that a kilt takes between 7-9 yards of fabric. Wow. That's a lot of plaid!

We didn't make it up the tower with all the steps today, but probably tomorrow. We were going to go under the city, to the catacombs of sorts--the famous Mary King's Close--but, I didn't want to pay for it today, so I didn't go. Maybe I'll feel like it tomorrow. I feel like such a tourist going to all these attractions. Yes, I know I am a tourist, but I just like enjoying the city more than paying for attractions. Proof that I am actually in the city and not just posting random pictures:

We then came back to the hotel where I proceeded to read and take a four hour nap. I know. Then, we went to dinner at this local restaurant away from the center of the city that was called Vittoria. It was a little Italian place that was delicious. I'm sure at one point or another that our waiter thought we were stupid Americans. He asked where we were from, and I said the United States. He looked annoyed like, "Yeah, I knew that," and so I said Utah. He said, "Oh, is that by Hollywood?" I said, yeah. About 800 miles close. :) (I was just guessing). He had no idea where Salt Lake City was, even after mentioning the Olympics. Oh well.

That's about all for today! Plus, I only had to get out my umbrella once and got sprinkled on three times. Pretty good for one day!
On a side note . . . Yesterday, we had fish and chips for lunch at the Prince Street Mall. The guy who was taking our order was talking super fast. I just looked at him when he asked if we wanted a side of mushy peas--because I had no idea what he said--and he replied, "You want me to say that again faster?" By that time I had processed what he said, laughed, and told him no. He was quite the funny guy. Then, there was this older lady that was ordering, and when she got her order she said, "Am I feedin' the whole place?" :) She had an enormous piece of fish on her plate. These people are funny.