Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Great Scots!

Three days in Scotland has almost converted me. Like Ireland, Scotland has been perfect...but in a slightly different way. The natural beauty of Ireland is what really got me; in Scotland, it's the stores. I could come back and spend a vacation just in Glasgow shopping for days. You know, if a journalist's salary supported that kind of lavish lifestyle.

We started Monday morning early by flying from Dublin to Glasgow, having a quick breakfast in the Dublin airport before boarding. Once we landed, we took a bus from the airport to the city station and walked the few extra blocks to our lovely hotel, called Thistle.

We lounged in the room for just a little bit, trying to stay up-to-date on Kate's pregnancy with BBC & various news stations. Kate still working on it, we left the hotel and walked down the road outside, full of shops and little restaurants. We stopped at a place called Biggar's for lunch (my suggestion), which was a great little coffeehouse playing American tunes from the '90s.

And I said, what about Breakfast at Tiffany's?

Following lunch, we took another open-air bus tour of the city (because why not?), during which Jeanine got to see a lot of gorgeous historical landmarks as well as some fantastic shopping streets. Up to this point, the only real shopping we'd done was for groceries & souvenirs, but what's a trip to Europe without getting some great clothes? We didn't get any that day, but I wasn't going to forget.

After the tour, we decided to head back to the hotel to take it easy for a brother and dad swam in the hotel pool, I read, and my mother took a nap. Once the guys got back and showered, we all went to dinner at a fantastic French restaurant a couple blocks down from the hotel, called La Bonne Auberge. This roughly translates to "The Good Inn" in English, but believe me when I tell you that title is greatly underselling it.

This restaurant was magnificent. I can't remember the last meal I had that was so great. French cuisine is pretty much always marvelous, as far as my experiences have proved, but this was exceptionally exquisite cuisine. I had fish with Cajun spices on a bed of au gratin potatoes for my main dish, and ordered creme brulee (my love) for dessert. Flawless, I tell you. Flaw-less.

Anyway, after dinner I floated back down to earth long enough to cross the street and enter CineWorld, the largest & tallest cinema anywhere in the world. About 15-20 stories tall, this building is impossible to miss walking down the street in Glasgow. We saw Monsters University finally, and it was just as great as the first....a little less heartwarming, but much more hilarious.
Day 2 in Glasgow: Monsters University hadn't ended until late Monday night, and of course we stayed up late watching the news (Kate had had her baby boy just before our French dinner!), so Tuesday morning we enjoyed a day of sleeping in late. Like, 11am late. It was a nice (if lazy) change of pace. We watched the news again in our PJs, showered, and then hit the streets for a late brunch.

Not finding any place that would make a seemingly exceptional breakfast at noon, we headed back into our new-found favorite coffeehouse, Biggar's. I then consumed about ten pounds of pure sugar by making the mistake of ordering Belgian waffles with syrup, which I assumed would come on the side. No no, with syrup in fact means they drench your entire plate in syrup (& powdered sugar--an added bonus!) before setting it in front of you to eat. Well I was hungry, so I ate it. And now, in totally unrelated news, I probably have diabetes.

I'd tell you what happened after breakfast, but it was all a blur. Let's just say, shopping happened. FINALLY, shopping happened. I got some lovely little things I didn't think I could find back in the states, including the most precious peach-colored dress ever (personal opinion, but also fact).

Shopping led to us hopping back on the bus and riding across town to the Necropolis of Glasgow, right by the Glasgow Cathedral. And if there's one thing I love more than shopping, it's probably walking through 300-year-old cemeteries. Sincerely, I looove cemeteries, and this was probably the most gorgeous I've ever entered, even more than the ones I visited in New Orleans, pre-Katrina.

Instead of explaining this in words, I'll simply show you with pictures:

All in all, it was one of the best days of the vacation. We caught the last bus back to the shopping street, and I stumbled upon a small taco shop called Pinto. We hadn't had Mexican yet on the trip (they do not have Mexican foods in Ireland, as confirmed by Adrienne), and this was a pleasantly delicious surprise. The Irish may not be big on Mexican cuisine, but the quesadillas in Scotland were muy excelente.

This morning marked our third in Scotland, but sadly we've now left Glasgow. We caught a train this morning at Queen's Station from Glasgow into Edinburgh, just an hour's ride away, and being here is slightly like being in a Van Helsing film. All the tall steeples outlined by the sky and the many small, dark alleyways (called "closes") do the trick, giving the city a somewhat spooky feel (which I absolutely love).

After taking our bags to the hotel, we walked around the city, which was again heavily populated with cute stores full of precious things I felt I couldn't live without, so we stopped in several of them before getting lunch at a place called Southern Cross Cafe. We ate outside and had a great view straight down the road, perfect for people-watching (mwa-ha-ha).

We decided to burn off that lunch by touring the Edinburgh castle, an enormous fortress at the end of the road that's comparable to Edward Scissorhand's home. Inside the walls, we got a breathtaking view of the city below, saw the Crown Jewels of Scotland, and the room where King James VI was age 1, he became King of Scotland, and by the time he was 30 he'd become King of England. You could say he was doing alright.

Following that tour, more shopping ensued, then dinner at a French pastry shop called Patisserie Valerie (how cute is that?) before we joined a night tour of Mary King's Close. Mary King was a woman who lived in Edinburgh in the 17th century, and a close, as you recall, is another word for narrow street or alleyway. There are many of them in Edinburgh, but the ones from 400 years ago were covered over in the 19th century by the city chambers. The street level was moved up, and now all those former homes are musty, dank, hollow chambers underground. We went on a 45-minute tour with a tour guide who acted and dressed as a resident of the close from the 1600s. It was somewhat creepy and so much fun. My whole family loved it.

Now, we are back at the hotel room, preparing for bed. Tomorrow, we plan to ride a yacht and visit a dungeon. And, perhaps, go shopping again. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment