Monday, June 12, 2017

Continued from...
Part 1 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/02/my-journey-to-scotlands-cities.html
Part 2 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/next-stop-edinburgh-scotland.html
Part 3 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/72-hours-in-city-of-edinburgh.html
Part 4 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/a-real-introduction-to-history-and.html
Part 5 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/the-haunted-graveyards-and-underground.html
Part 6 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/04/a-tour-of-edinburgh-castle-and-solo.html
Part 7 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/04/farewell-edinburgh-hello-highlands.html
Part 8 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2016/11/making-my-way-to-lovely-isle-of-skye.html
Part 9 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/05/so-long-for-now-beautiful-isle-and-onto.html
Part 10 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/06/lessons-in-scottish-history-and.html



My last morning in Scotland was hectic despite the fact that, thankfully, the hotel fire alarm did not go off during the night.  I quickly showered and was disappointed to discover another issue with the room; a shower door that only closes half way and therefore results in the entire bathroom being flooded.  I had to pass it off as not my concern as I was in a rush to catch my plane.  Besides, there were so many issues with the hotel room that I just couldn't be bothered to deal with the front desk anymore by that point.  


I ate a quick breakfast before checking out and made the five-minute walk to the airport.  How on earth a five-minute walk turns out to be actually twenty is beyond me.  There I was walking while half asleep, cold and carrying all my luggage after being told the hotel was a five-minute walk from the airport.  That's quite the exaggeration.   In case you're wondering, I gave this hotel one star on Trip Advisor and I don't even think it deserved that for the inconveniences I endured. I wish I could say my misfortunes that morning ended there but sadly, things only got worse.

I checked in for my flight and made it through security with more than enough time to find somewhere to relax and have a coffee.  I went to my gate and checked my flight status, found a Starbucks that wasn't too crowded and, with my hazelnut latte in hand, took a seat in the corner.  I was about half way through my latte when I noticed that my shopping bags with the scarves I had bought for my sisters and my coat were nowhere to be found.  Thinking I might have left them near the counter when I was ordering my coffee, I asked the barista if she had found anything but she hadn't.  I raced through the airport backtracking ever step I took since I arrived, asking anyone who would listen if they spotted the items anywhere.  I spoke with a security guard, a woman working in the duty-free shop and even someone at the main security area.  No one had found anything.  By this time I was hysterical.  The scarves were not cheap and I made a significant effort into finding just the right ones.   The coat was one of my favorites and it too was not cheap.

I frantically wandered around in circles looking everywhere.  I'm must have roused suspicion in some people as I was getting some strange looks.  I was also worried that if someone found the bag unattended, I could be in some trouble.  When I spotted two police officers chatting near an exit, I approached to let them know the situation but didn't make it to them because something on a nearby bench caught my eye.  There, sitting in plain view surrounded by people waiting to board their plane was my untouched belongings. I bolted towards the items and grabbed them from the chair while loudly exclaiming "I must have left this here hours ago".  The look on the faces of everyone in the vicinity said it all; who is this crazy woman grabbing unattended belongings from an airport bench and why is she talking to herself.  Thankfully, no one alerted security and I boarded my plane soon after without incident. 

The winds must have been in our favor that morning because it took an hour and a half less time to fly from Glasgow than it did to fly in.  The only eventful thing to happen on that flight was a flyover of of a large and snowy landmass.  I looked out my window at a large white landmass and could see waterfalls and a river and mountains.  My mind went blank as I tried to figure out what the landmass could be.  Iceland?  Newfoundland?  Nope, Greenland!  Now I guess I can say I've been to Greenland...or at least that I saw it from above.   

I arrived in Halifax earlier than anticipated so I had to wait a few hours for my shuttle back to Cape Breton.  Other than a bit of bad weather in the Scottish Highlands, one bad hotel and the fact that 9 days in Scotland wasn't long enough, the trip was perfect in every way and I hope to return to Scotland again in the near future.  









Monday, June 5, 2017

Lessons in Scottish History and an Eventful Final Night

Continued from...
Part 1 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/02/my-journey-to-scotlands-cities.html
Part 2 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/next-stop-edinburgh-scotland.html
Part 3 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/72-hours-in-city-of-edinburgh.html
Part 4 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/a-real-introduction-to-history-and.html
Part 5 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/03/the-haunted-graveyards-and-underground.html
Part 6 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/04/a-tour-of-edinburgh-castle-and-solo.html
Part 7 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/04/farewell-edinburgh-hello-highlands.html
Part 8 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2016/11/making-my-way-to-lovely-isle-of-skye.html
Part 9 - http://anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca/2017/05/so-long-for-now-beautiful-isle-and-onto.html


On the last morning of my tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, I found myself having a lovely breakfast with my American friend before we parted ways. She was leaving with the rest of the group that were headed to the Orkney Islands later that day while the rest of us, me included, headed back to the cities.  As we said goodbye and wished one another well, it never occurred to me to ask for her contact information or Facebook info until later.  I guess some people are meant to enter your life for a short time and be gone again, leaving only memories.   

Later that morning, the rest of us headed to the Battlefield of Culloden. The drive there was quite long but we had the opportunity to witness some more of Scotland's fabulous scenery. Along a long, desolate country road, we stopped to take in some of the most spectacular scenery I've seen on the entire trip and we even got to see some deer and pheasants.

We arrived at the Battlefield of Culloden in the early afternoon and started our tour with a walk-through of the indoor museum and exhibit.  I didn't know all that much about the famed and brutal battle but after I did that walk-through, I knew everything there was to know including just how devastatingly brutal the battle was.  I was particularly disturbed by the 3D movie that was shown on all four walls of a fairly large room at the end of the exhibit.  It was a very realistic reenactment of the battle.  Standing in the middle of that room with scenes of the recreated battle happening all aroud me made it seem like I was right there in the middle of it all. After brushing up on my knowledge of one of Scotland's most famed battles, I stepped outside onto the actual battlefield where, On April 16th, 1746 around 2000 men lost their lives in a relatively short amount of time.

There were quite a few people wandering the battlefield that day but despite the crowds, it seemed eerily quiet.  The kind of quiet that caused goosebumps to form on my arms and the hair to stand up on the back of my neck.  Against a gentle breeze, I slowly walked along around that vast stretch of land where so many lost their lives.   A hand-held device and headphones with dialogue about the battle was handed out to everyone before they began their walkabout of the battlefield.  I took one with me but didn't use it.  I separated from the group and walked the battlefield alone, at my own pace and without the noise pollution of a robotic-sounding guide in my ears.  I felt this was the best way to get a feel of the place and to envision what transpired in that exact spot almost 300 years earlier.  As I walked, the realization hit me that the Battle of Culloden is not only a part of Scotland's history, but also a part of my history.

Before heading to our final destination, we made one more stop at the location where The Battle of Bannockburn took place in 1314. We got a brief history of the battle, the battlefield, the huge statue of Robert the Bruce and a lesson in the historical inaccuracies portrayed in the movie Braveheart. 

It took about an hour to drive back to Glasgow.  I requested to be dropped off there so I wouldn't have to travel from Edinburgh to catch my plane the next morning.  After saying goodbye to Andrew and the rest of the group, I exited the bus into one of the cities busy squares where students and workers on lunch break hang out and tried to find a bus to take me to my hotel near the airport.  I figured it would be easy to get there from downtown Glasgow considering how easy it was to travel from the airport to downtown when I had first arrived in Scotland.  Alas, that was not to be. It took me over an hour to find the right bus stop and than to find the right bus.  And that was just the start of my travel woes that evening.

I booked a room at the Ramada Glasgow a few weeks in advance of my trip and was in contact with staff several times before I boarded my flight to ask general questions about directions and the like.  I confirmed my booking before arrival and even received an email from the hotel with the name "Ramada Glasgow" in the email and I was told the hotel was only a few minute's walk from the airport.  That evening, I got off the bus near the front of the airport and went inside to ask the help desk for directions to the hotel.  I was provided with a map and some vague directions before going off into the night.  I followed the directions and watched for the landmarks marked on the map and followed it exactly to the spot where the hotel should be...and it wasn't there.  I walked around some more thinking I took a wrong turn.  How hard could it be to find a hotel in such a small area, right?  I walked and walked and walked until I was exhausted and frustrated beyond belief.  It started to rain.  It started to downpour.  I got wet.  I was starving.  All I wanted to do was check in to my hotel and and rest up for the long journey home the next day.  I started walking in the other direction.  I turned down another road and another and I tried to find someone to ask for directions but no one was around.  I started to get a little scared as it was getting darker and I was alone in the rain in an area where there weren't a lot of people in a foreign country where I didn't know anyone.  Finally, I spotted a service station in the distance.  I walked towards it.  

When I finally arrived at that service station, the young man at the counter had no idea what I was talking about.  He did, however, tell me to check with the delivery driver who was pumping gas because he would probably know the area best.  I don't normally approach strangers in this manner while traveling but I was desperate and willing to do anything just to get in a warm, cozy, dry bed ASAP.  I asked him if he knew where the Ramada Glasgow was and he did!  I also normally don't take drives from strangers while traveling but my desperation caused me to have a lapsed in better judgement.  Fortunately, he took me straight to the hotel, or at least to where the hotel used to be.  We stopped in front of a Courtyard Marriott and he swore up and down that this had been the Ramada Glasgow not long ago.  He was so sure of it, he told me to wait in the car while he went inside to ask someone where it was.  This is when I discovered that the Ramada Glasgow had changed its name to the Courtyard Marriott. Once I knew for sure I was in the right place, I thanked my driver profusely and entered the hotel lobby ready to rip a piece of someone but I was too tired to fight it.  I checked in and was finally headed to my room in preparation to unwind for the evening.  Except, that is not exactly the way things went.  

I thought that not being able to open my room door with my key card and not being able to get the lights working in the room would be the only minor things I would experience that evening.  Boy was I wrong.  My first mistake was realizing I was hungry and going downstairs in search of something to eat.  I didn't feel like having an entire large meal so I went in search of the convenience store that was listed as one of the amenities of the hotel.  When I was unable to locate it, the lady at the front desk informed me that all that was left in the store that evening was in the room behind her - a bunch of empty shelves.  My stay at the Ramada Glasgow - or should I say the Courtyard Marriott - wasn't off to a good start and it didn't end there.  After I had to shell out more money than I wanted to order a meal from the hotel bar and restaurant, I sat down to enjoy what should have been a peaceful meal after the hellish evening I'd experienced.  That peace was shattered before my fork even made it to my mouth by the sound of a fire alarm going off and staff running around in a panic seemingly not knowing what to do.  While some staff members ran around like chickens with their heads cut off, I approached the front desk to ask the scared-looking receptionist what was going on.  All she told me was she didn't know, it was being looked into and the alarm had been going off like that all day.  Lovely.  So much for a good night's sleep.  Fortunately, the alarm only went off one more time and I was able to sleep soundly until my alarm went off at 5am. 






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