A Travellerspoint blog

June 2019

Scotland Slowly, Day 2

A Few Wee Drams on Islay

Hello friends!

Joe and I are in our comfy cabin after a very full day, and it’s not even dinnertime yet.

We began the day with the Wake Up Call at 0700. And, yes there is a Wake Up Call over the loud speaker, in every public and private spot onboard the ship (it cannot be turned off). Granted, we were warned, but still it’s a little unsettling for a voice to just show up in your room.

We got up, put on some workout clothes and went up to the gym for a very quick workout (a healthy back requires planks every other day, at least). Then, a very quick breakfast, because breakfast ends at 8:00. No lazy people allowed, unless they want to be hungry lazy people.

Back to the cabin to shower, dress and get our things together. The normal tours started loading up at 8:00, but Joseph and I had signed up for the whisky tour of Islay (pronounced EYElah). Our tour group was not slated for leaving the Ocean Endeavor until 8:45.

Since the announcement regarding weather told us that the passage from the ship to land would be a bit choppy, we found our wet gear—wet bags for storing our stuff and rain pants. Rain pants are the only required clothing on an Adventure Canada cruise (they distributed rain jackets and rain boots when we boarded).

We learned on our first Zodiac trip why those rain pants are required. Without them, we would have been soaked to the skin. It was quite choppy with a lot of water coming over the edge. But, at least it wasn’t raining as well.

Our group, about 24 people total, got organized into vans and off we went to our first distillery, Bowmore. Why not a wee dram at 10:00 in the morning??? Just the thing to get the day started.

Then, it was off to Ardbeg, where we were treated to an excellent tour, learning all about the whisky making process. The tour ended with an opportunity to try FIVE different whiskys. Here’s part of our group and a few of the bottles:
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After Ardbeg, we traveled to Lagavulin, where we enjoyed another lovely and informative tour. After the tour, we were able to try three different Lagavulins, including one that is available only at the distillery. Here is one of the rooms at the Lagavulin distillery:
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So far, so good. The weather was beautiful today, clear and sunny.

I can’t say that I’ve been convinced to become a champion of Islay whiskys, which are generally smoky and peaty, but there were a couple of the Ardbegs that were very nice, with mellower peatiness.

A couple of random thoughts on the good side:
1. The crew is really great. Very professional and helpful. Getting in and out of the Zodiacs can be tricky, but the crew makes it very easy, even in rough conditions.
2. The crew is thoughtful. When we returned to the cabin this afternoon, we found a nice anniversary card signed by everyone on the crew.

I also have a few random thoughts on the not so good side, but I’ll share them when the cruise is over. Overall, though, Joseph and I are pleased and we are enjoying ourselves and our adventure.

Slainte Mhath!
Susan

Posted by ORWAT 09:45 Comments (0)

An Unexpected Upgrade

What Suburb of Toronto Are You From?

Hello Friends!

We are finally on the Ocean Endeavor, in a much nicer room than we expected. Essentially we went from a broom closet to a two-room suite. Very spacious and very welcome.
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But, we started the day by getting organized in Glasgow and then going by bus to Stirling Castle. It was a gorgeous day in Scotland. Just a few clouds and temps around 60. We had a lovely visit to Stirling. Here are a few photos:
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After an hour and a half at Stirling, we boarded our bus. We were on bus #2, but since bus #1 was having difficulty rounding up its passengers, we ended up bus #1. Because of port permit issues, we did not go to Oban to board the Ocean Endeavor. It was Fairlie instead.

And, instead of leaving around dinnertime, we left the port around 9:00, because of some lost luggage that a passenger or two experienced. Joe and I spent a great deal of time exploring the ship, getting fitted for rain boots and a rain jacket, learning about the ship and our journey, meeting the staff, and spending time getting settled into our little two-room suite on deck 4. Here are a few photos from the ship:
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And, coming to grips with the fact that most of the people on this cruise are not only from Canada, but from one suburb or another of Toronto. Eh?

Now, it’s time for bed. The wake up call is at 7:00! But, instead of going with most of the rest of the ship, Joe and I will be with a small group visiting distilleries on the island of Islay.

More later.

Slainte!
Susan

Posted by ORWAT 14:45 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

We Meet the Expedition Team

And a few last thoughts on Glasgow

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View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello friends,
Joe and had a wonderful dinner last night at a restaurant called the Mussel Inn. Thank you again, Peter at the Glasgow Marriott, for the recommendation. We completely enjoyed last night's mussels from Shetland, with blush tomatoes and pesto:
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Because it was the day before the longest day of the year, it was light until very late. Here's a photo outside the restaurant, around 10:30pm:
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Glaswegians are a funny bunch. There is a strange tradition of putting traffic cones on the heads of statues:
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Perhaps we should bring this to central Maine?

Glaswegians also clearly enjoy messing around with language and titles, like the "Purrple Cat Cafe," "Lettuce Eat," "Kilts and Kocktails" and, of course, the "Mussel Inn." Ha ha ha.

We got up bright and early this morning, and by bright and early, I mean really mean bright and early. There wasn't much in the way of "night" last night. We had an early breakfast, packed up our stuff and headed to the lobby for the Adventure Canada orientation meeting. We survived that meeting, along with about 170 other passengers (which means the cruise is not quite full). We then put our luggage where we were told, and now we await our bus. And wait.

The bus will stop at Stirling Castle on our way to Oban. Joe and I visited Stirling in 2004, when we traveled to Scotland with the kiddos, when Joe was teaching in the Colby, Bates and Bowdoin program in London. We have a lovely photo of Margaret from the top of Stirling, with the Highlands in the background. I think Stirling was one of those castles that fed John's early obsession with castles, knights and armor-- an obsession he has outgrown. Alas. I think.

We are looking forward to getting settled on the ship, and learning more about tomorrow's adventure, on Islay. Joe and I have signed up for an Islay whisky tour. Although Islay whiskys are generally not on the top of my list of favorite whiskies, we are looking forward to a tour of a distillery, or two or three.

For now, Slainte!
Susan

Posted by ORWAT 01:08 Archived in Scotland Tagged glasgow adventure canada Comments (0)

Glasgow, Day 2

More Outlander, Graduation Day and a Possible Dead Parrot

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View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello friends,
It's been another fun day in Glasgow. First, let me give a big shout out to Peter, the Concierge at the Glasgow Marriott. He helped us find the delightful restaurant where we ate last night, Ardnamurchan, and the Pot Still. We'll be heading off to dinner at another Peter recommendation this evening.

For today, Joe and I decided to go full on tourist and got tickets for the Hop On/Hop Off Tourist bus. Not a bad decision, it turns out. The first thing that we saw from the bus, that we probably would never have seen on our own, was the Swim and Dive Mural in honor of Glasgow's hosting of the Commonwealth Games:
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We decided that our focus of the morning and early afternoon should be the University of Glasgow, so that's where we headed first. It was graduation day at the University of Glasgow. Here's the piper, who led the parade of faculty and new graduates:
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For you Outlander fans, we saw the area of the University that stood in for Harvard in Season 2:
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For you Harry Potter fans, the University has a real Hogwarts vibe going on:
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We also visited the Hunterian Museum and discovered this painting that reminded us of the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch:
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Then we strolled down the hill, to the Kelvingrove Museum. We had a bite of lunch and then enjoyed an organ recital while we strolled around the museum:
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Back on the Hop On/Hop Off bus and we headed to the other side of town, and back to the Cathedral. We arrived too late yesterday afternoon to visit the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art and we wanted to check it out. It's a small museum, but does a nice job of outlining and displaying the various religious traditions of Glasgow.

Then it was back on the bus for a bit more Glasgow. We got off to wander around the "pesky zone" (pedestrian friendly zone) before heading back to the hotel. Now we are resting up for dinner and perhaps another pub visit. But, we can't be too reckless. We meet up with the group that will take us on the next phase of this adventure, at 8:00 am (having already had breakfast by that time and ready to put all of our stuff on their bus).

We are not at all sure how much blogging we'll be able to do from the ship. Photos may be difficult for at least part of that time, but we'll try to send out some information about what we are up, for those of you who are interested.

Slainte!
Susan

Posted by ORWAT 10:46 Archived in Scotland Tagged glasgow outlander Comments (0)

The Death March Gains a Whole New Meaning

Glasgow, Day 1, Part 2


View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Our afternoon death march headed in a whole new direction, with a walk to an actual Necropolis. But, it started with a visit to the Glasgow Cathedral. We discovered some lovely parts of the Cathedral:
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And, then we visited the parts of the Cathedral that were used for the filming of the Second Season of Outlander!!!!:
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Then, it was time to visit the Necropolis, which offered its own interesting sites, along with beautiful views of the Cathedral:
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We then walked along endless parts of the city, stumbling upon the acting school where Sam Heughan went to school:
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We had a lovely early dinner. I had halibut and Joe had the venison stew:
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And, then off to the Pot Still we went! The Pot Still is a fabulous whiskey pub. We tried several whiskys. I'll include information on those later, maybe tomorrow. But, we also had a lovely chat with Bob and his wife. Their godson was married at Memorial Church 15 years ago, ten years after we had been married there! We had a great time with Bob and his wife, whose name escapes me, and their friends.

So far, Glasgow is great!

And, we are still married!

Slainte Mhath!
Susan

p.s. Please don't correct my grammar. Whisky hate grammar.

Posted by ORWAT 13:22 Comments (1)

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