My First International Trip
Guys, I’m 42…no, wait…43, and I finally took my first international flight. Sure, we’ve been to Canada lots, and on a cruise of the Caribbean, and we’ve even walked to Mexico and back. But we all know that for Americans, Canada and Mexico don’t count as “international” travel, and a cruise is a cruise. All great experiences! But there’s something different about flying over the ocean and leaving your homeland behind.
I know it’s only the UK – where they don’t even speak a different language (although the Scottish brogue occasionally sounds like a different language) – but Scotland is another country, it’s not in North America and I had to fly here. So just let me have my moment, ok?
Now, in the spirit of my popular Cross Country series, I shall commence blogging about our cross Scotland road trip.
Our first flight left Boston at 9:30pm and arrived in Iceland at 6:30am Iceland time.
Turns out, my favorite quote of the day occurred on the plane to Iceland:
Christina: Mom, what language do they speak in Iceland?
Me: I don’t know. Viking? Ask Dad. Maybe he knows.
Christina: Hey Dad, what language do they speak in Iceland?
Doug: I don’t know. Viking-ish
This is what our kids have to deal with. Also, we’re so cultured.
We disembarked onto the tarmac (which we’d never done before, so that was cool) and stepped outside to a… um…let’s call it “refreshing” 46 degrees!. (So yes..I’ve walked on the paved roads of Iceland!) A shuttle bus transported us to the terminal where we discovered that our connecting flight was delayed. And we had to stay at the Iceland airport for FOUR hours instead of one. (Not cool.)
I instantly fell in love with the beauty and simplicity of the Iceland airport. Sleek. Modern. Minimalist. Why don’t I decorate my house like this? I asked myself. About 15 minutes later, I realized that “sleek, modern and minimalist.” also means “sparse, confusing and uncomfortable”. This is why I don’t decorate my house like this, I remembered.
Suddenly, my bond with the Iceland airport became more of a love/hate thing. Why? Minimal food selection with nearly all ingredients listed in Viking plus a gluten allergy equals M&M’s and popcorn for breakfast. Also, those sleek, modern chairs were sleek and modern because they were metal. (Yes. Metal.) Count me grateful that we didn’t have a NINE hour layover like the woman next to us. But, to my surprise, after not sleeping all night on the plane, Christina and I managed to nap on said metal chairs. So fatigue #ftw!
We arrived in Glasgow at around 1:30pm Scotland time, breezed through customs (it is only Scotland after all) grabbed our luggage and then a rental car for the drive to Edinburgh.
Car travel here totally freaks the girls and I out, because, of course, they drive on the left side of the road. Thank God for Doug and his recent work assignment in the UK, which has provided him plenty of practice. I honestly don’t know how he does it…especially the roundabouts. We all jump and gasp and cringe and laugh a lot.
Our Hotel and (Not So) Mini Bus
When we arrived at our hotel, The Dalmahoy, just south of Edinburgh, Doug’s parents were outside to greet us. (Yes we planned this. No they didn’t surprise us by crashing our vacation. Looking forward to seeing the country of our ancestors together!) And there was a wedding at the hotel with full Scottish dress and bagpipers. They’re so Scottish here in Scotland!
We’ve been feeling a bit spoiled by the hotel staff. But I guess after staying at the Marriott in Manchester, England for three weeks out of each month for the last six months for work, Doug made some connections. They gave us a huge suite titled “His Lordship’s Room & the Morton Suite” with two bedrooms, an office and two bathrooms. What?! We even have a heated towel rack! Too bad we’re only here for three nights because I could definitely get used to this.
Right after we arrived at the hotel, Doug and Steve (his dad) went to pick up our mini-bus, emphasis on the “bus” part and not so much on the “mini”. And guys, it’s CANDY APPLE RED!!! We wanted black…or white even…but nope. We got Candy Apple Red.
In our defense, because we are changing hotels every two to three nights, we needed something big enough for six passengers, each with two weeks of luggage. And in Europe they basically offer three kinds of cars: compact, miniature and Gi. Freaking. Normous.
Here’s a visual for your viewing pleasure.
You can thank us later for upholding our nation’s reputation for being big, loud, imposing and kind of crazy.
Favorite Part of the Day
A lady at the front desk recommended The Bridge Inn for dinner. When we called to make reservations, they were booked but told us to come try for a seat in the bar. When we arrived the bar was full, but one of the waiters said “Party of 6? Are you the Thompson’s?” I answered, “No,” and he said, “Well, we had a party of six, the Thompson’s, but they’re over 30 minutes late and we have no phone number for them.” Then he pointed to a table all set with menus and candles and said, “We’ll just give you their table because they’re a no-show. Does that work?” Ummm..yes!
So we sat right down at a table all ready for us! (The Thompson’s never showed so it didn’t get awkward, thank God.) The service and the meal were outstanding. Which included gluten-free fish and chips and vanilla rice pudding. As my nephew Ryder would say D-LISH! I think American fish and chips may be ruined for me now. Truly. Oh and everyone loved their food, even the non-g-free peeps. If you’re ever nearby, eat here!
After dinner, we explored for a little while, took a few pictures and returned to our hotel. A beautiful end to a very long day…or two.
I’m writing a day (or two) behind so coming soon: Highland Games, Campbell Castle, Stirling Castle, Scotland weather and more.