Category Archives: Scotland

I is for Inverness

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One of my favoutie things to do when I travel is to simply walk and see what draws my attention in a new place. This is exactly what I did in Inverness, Scotland. I did not try to find the infamous Loch Ness Monster but there were plenty of souvenirs celebrating Nessie (I did add to my apron collection!). Instead, I walked through the town, had a great lunch, and, of course, took lots of pictures. It was a very relaxing and beautiful Spring day.

On the Inverness Castle grounds, I found bunnies (and a bird)!

And, of course, I found a whiskey shop and tried haggis for lunch (which was really good!).

Here is more on my visit to Inverness.

May 20: Edinburgh

May 20, Edinburgh

We sailed into Queensferry and the ship dropped anchor near the railway bridge. It was going to be another fun-filled day with the ship’s tenders. Yeah! My mom wanted to tour the Royal Yacht and I wanted to experience Edinburgh on my own, so we split up for the day.

Her tour of the Royal Yacht was interesting. She got to see the both the working areas of the ship (machine room, bridge, etc.) and the formal rooms.

Royal Yacht
Royal Yacht

She was really impressed with the formal dining room that could seat 54 people for a formal meal. After her tour, she went on a drive around Edinburgh – and said that she saw me walking around the Royal Mile.

After my fun-filled tender ride (why not sit up on the top – it’s just a little breezy and damp today, nothing to worry about!), I got on a bus that took a group of us to the centre of Edinburgh.

Ship's tender
Ship’s tender

After a brief introduction into the old and new towns using one of the Hop On, Hop Off tours, I spent the day wandering around the Edinburgh Castle and then walking down the Royal Mile. The castle is impressive, standing atop a massive rock formation. As you can imagine, there are also great views!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Castle guard
Castle guard
Castle guards
Castle guards
Royal Mile
Royal Mile
St. Giles
St. Giles
View from castle
View from castle

Next to the castle, there is the Whisky Experience where you can even go for a ride in a whisky barrel. Needless to say, there are several whisky shops along the way. I continued my search for Stag’s Breath – and finally I have my prize! The man who sold it to me did not believe how hard it was for me to find it. I told him my sad tale, including someone trying to “fool me” into an inferior product. He laughed and said he was glad my search was over (it fits nicely in my new tea cozy, so it shouldn’t break on the say home).

If you want to get a kilt, this is also the place to go. Every other shop was a kilt maker, including another HR shop. Then, there were all the souvenir shops. That pretty much describes most of the Royal Mile.

There is some interesting architecture, especially with how the buildings have different numbers of floors in the front and back, however after a bit, I got bored with seeing the same shops. And, while Holyrood Castle lies at the opposite end of the Royal Mile, it was closed because Queen Elizabeth’s son Prince Edward was there attending an official meeting of the Church of Scotland. So, there was no real need to walk the entire mile, so I wandered off, thinking I might go to the gardens along Princes Street. By the time I got there, the weather had shifted and it was bloody cold. So, another change of plans brought me to a coffee shop for an espresso and lemon cake.

Eventually, I made it back to the ship in time for our special dinner reservations at the Italian restaurant, Sabittini’s. This restaurant is located on deck 16 at the aft of the ship. Mom and I had a perfect view of the railroad bridge and watched as the ship slowly left Queensferry. Dinner was excellent. The fresh-baked bread served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; the pasta topped with a mushroom sauce that was amazing. My main dish was a veal chop cooked to perfection; mom choose “lobster three ways” which she really enjoyed. Dessert was a limencello “bomb.” It was a lovely way to end our day in Edinburgh.

Queensferry Bridge
Queensferry Bridge

More than anything, though, I need a sea day!

May 19 Inverness, Scotland

May 19 Inverness, Scotland

I sent mom on a tour of the Scottish highlands and Cawdor Castle. I headed out for a day exploring Inverness. Cawdor Castle is where Duncan dies in MacBeth – except that the castle did not exist at the time! So much for legends. Mom says is is a beautiful castle with lovely gardens.

I went exploring in Inverness. The old city is very compact and easy to walk. There is a lovely walk along both sides of the Ness River that include a cathedral and the Inverness Castle.  Along the way, I watched a couple of men fly fishing in the river and I saw a nice Celtic Cross monument. Someone offered to take my picture, I refused the picture, but we had a lovely chat about what he did wearing a kilt at the CN Tower (hint: it involves the glass floor and he’s “a real Scotsman”).

I got a treat at the castle. It is a beautiful building that dominates the city and is in use as a justice building, but the gardens are somewhat accessible and full of bunnies!

I stopped for lunch as decided I had to try the haggis – it seemed important. They served it with a malt whisky cream sauce. Not sure if it was because of the sauce, but I quite enjoyed it!

I also found the Hector Russell shop in Inverness – and took a picture for Heather. The Whiskey Shop tried to tell me that they honey whisky they had for sale was similar to Stag’s Breath. I told them it was not even in the same league. So, I’m still searching for what I consider the “drink of the Gods” (aka Stag’s Breath honey-whisky liquor).

The Victorian Market is in a very nice old building, but I really did not find much in it. There are a lot of interesting pubs, throughout Inverness.

 

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.