May 16 Greenock, Castle Culzean and Ayr

May 16

Greenock, Castle Culzean and Ayr

Greenock, Scotland is a seaport and about an hour from Glasgow. At one time, it was a busy ship building community.  Now, it and the surrounding area is more of a resort area, with vacation or summer homes for people who work in Glasgow. It is also filled with “a, b, c’s”: another bloody castle.”

And that was our quest for the day – a trip to the Culzean Castle (pronounced “cul-een – the “z” is silent). The drive to Culzean took us through small towns and villages around the river known as the Firth of Clyde. It was a nice drive and we saw a few castles, both restored and abandoned, and lots of sheep.

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The Culzean Castle is the seat of the Kennedy Clan and is beautifully restored. There are different areas around the castle, including a deer park (complete with deer and pheasant), forest paths, a swan pond, a walled garden and, of course, the castle itself. The castle is beautifully decorated with artwork and period furniture. I loved the kitchen, although it was really more a display than a working kitchen, it was still interesting.

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We had several hours to wander through the house and the grounds. There is also a restaurant that serves fresh, locally sourced food, gift shops (where I *may* have found a Highland Coo and I definitely found a Scottish apron), toy store and a second-hand book store.

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On our way back to the ship, we drove through the town of Ayr, and past the birthplace of Robbie Burns. Our guide regaled us with a portion of Burns’ poem about Tam O’Shanter and we saw the old church and the bridge which were prominent in this story. We had some time to walk around Ayr and see the Tam O’Shanter pub. Since it had been a long day of walking, I found a coffee shop where my mom could sit and we could have something to drink – she had tea and I had coffee. I also looked at some tartans in a woolen shop, but none were right for my clan or anyone that I know.

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We got back in time for dinner – wouldn’t want to miss that! I had a wild mushroom tart, and antipasta plate, prime rib, black forest cake & limoncello. There was a guitarist performing in the Piazza area of the ship, so mom and I sat and listend to him for a bit.  Then, I sent her off to bed while I went in search – again – for a nice bar.  This time, I went to a place called the Explorer’s Lounge and sat at the bar. Caiprihinas were on the menu, so I ordered one and watched a band do 50s and 60s music. I also learned that much of the staff for this ship was new – many starting new contacts at Southampton. The drink was good, and my “new” bartender learned how to make it from the senior bartender on duty.

I wandered to another bar, were there was supposed to be ballroom dancing. They had a duo playing there, but hardly any dancers. I was joined by a gentleman who bought me another drink and we talked a bit. Then, I headed to a third bar – just to see if there was more going on – before heading back to my stateroom.

It was a nice day in port and at sea.

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