"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Well, here we are. Our last full day of the trip. And since our Sunday of the trip wasn't particularly eventful-- other than walking around Andrea's neighborhood, having a delicious breakfast at a cafe down the road, and visiting Tesco (the grocery store) to pick up last minute souvenirs--this will be my last Scotland recap. Sometime next week I'll post a link round-up of all the links I found helpful in planning for our trip, but mostly...this is it.
We're at the end of our amazing trip.
In case you happened to miss some of the days, here are the posts in chronological order:
Saturday, March 31, 2012: travel to Iceland
Sunday, April 1: stuck in Iceland
Monday, April 2: Edinburgh
Tuesday, April 3: Saint Andrews & area
Wednesday, April 4: William Wallace & Stirling Castle
Thursday, April 5: Scottish Highlands
Friday, April 6: Iona & Mull
...and now we're at Saturday, April 7, and it's exactly a year ago today that we were flying out to Scotland.
You can't even imagine how much I wish we were flying back there again, or even that we had another trip planned there. But hopefully someday we will visit Scotland again!
Ready for today's adventures? Here we go!
Always important to get our bearings:
Yesterday we traveled to Iona (J) and then drove around Mull (I). Today we'll leave Mull, and drive towards Glasgow (A), making a stop at Inveraray Castle (K) on the way there. We'll see a couple lochs (lakes) today, and they all have proper names, but none of them stick in my head except Loch Ness (for obvious reasons) and we never even visited Loch Ness because it's farther north than we wanted to travel.
After a delicious breakfast--no, not the traditional full breakfast; we already did that!--we are on our way towards the ferry terminal.
We say goodbye to the Argyll Arms Hotel where we were treated quite well. It definitely didn't have the charm of the B&Bs, but it was clean, the food was good, and everyone was very nice. Hooray for having excellent accommodations for our entire trip!
On our drive towards the ferry, we decided to make a quick stop at a foreclosed castle and wander around the grounds.
We had seen it yesterday, and remarked about it to the main guy at the Argyll. He told us it was for sale. "...for a million pounds. If you happened to have a million pounds laying around, you can buy a castle. Of course, then it will take the rest of your money to keep it going." Which evidently is what got this particular castle in trouble: expensive upkeep.
Well, no time for castle shopping. We have a ferry to catch!
We ferry across the sound, back to Oban, where we get some lunch, some candy to take home to the girls, and a coffee for the road.
I can vouch for their coffee: it tastes just fine. I have discovered from Andrea, however, that they are quite limited in what syrups they offer. So the next time you have your salted caramel mocha, be thankful. Because Scotland doesn't have it. They have castles, though. So you know. Maybe it evens out.
On our drive to Glasgow, we are undecided about whether or not we want to visit Inveraray Castle, which is right on the way. We decide that we'll stop to at least get pictures.
Now is that a gorgeous castle, or what? The castle is fenced off, so if we really want to take a good look at it then we'll have to pay admission.
After a bit of indecision, we decide to take the tour. Andrea has already toured Inveraray and said that, yes, it was a good tour.
Inveraray Castle is the home of the Duke of Argyll and his family. In fact, as we were walking around outside we saw the kids jumping on the trampoline out back. I bet this is a fun place to live.
The tour inside was very well organized, showcased lots of history, and had lots of royalty-related memorabilia.
At just over 63 feet, Inveraray Castle has the highest ceiling in Scotland. Muskets and other arms dating back to 1740 are all over the walls, and I have to say, it is quite the entrance. Funny story behind the pictures: no photography is allowed inside the castle, but I thought I would just take a couple of this room because it was so cool. I slyly pulled out my iPhone and quietly snapped two pictures.
Andrea saw me, and was properly horrified. "Steph! No pictures!" I think she was afraid we'd get kicked out of the castle--which possibly we had been warned ahead of time was a possibility--and so the little sister shamed the big sister into putting her camera away. Well, not shamed enough that I'm embarrassed about telling the story. I still think it's a funny story.
A few more pictures and then we are on our way to Glasgow.
These are two of my favorite pictures from the trip, so the stop at Inveraray was definitely worth it.
All good road trips must come to an end eventually, and early afternoon we roll into Glasgow. We had been hoping to spend all of last Sunday there, but these things happen. What do we want to see most? Andrea's school and her neighborhood.
We drop our stuff off at Andrea's flat, and walk to the University of Glasgow (or Glasgow University, as it is also called).
It is an absolutely gorgeous evening!
For all the castles scattered throughout Scotland, unfortunately Glasgow does not have one. They have a bit of a complex about it, but you know what they do have? The fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. In Scotland, only Saint Andrews is older.
They also have a connection to Harry Potter movies. The spires of the main building (above photo) were the inspiration for Hogwarts. The catacombs were also a set-piece in one of the movies (they tried to film in the catacombs but the lighting was poor, and I've also heard that the university didn't like a lot of Harry Potter filming going on there).
As a Harry Potter fan, it was fun to be in Glasgow knowing that several of the places ended up in the movies.
Glasgow University also has Lord Kelvin as an alumnus. He did important science stuff. Stuff I don't know anything about, but people do. Smart people! Good job, Lord Kelvin.
You know what other important person is connected with Glasgow Uni? My sister!
Here she is sitting on the steps of her academic building. Yay English majors! You are awesome.
A little more walking around...
...before we make our way to Ashton Lane (last Harry Potter reference: Ashton Lane is said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley; okay, I'm done now).
Ashton Lane is a trendy little street that has lots of cute restaurants and a movie theatre. We have dinner, and then end the evening by watching the movie "Hunger Games," which just happened to be the book that Jason and I read on the flight over to Scotland.
And there you have it. Our trip to Scotland.
We had road trips and castle tours, landmarks and movie trivia; we ate amazing food, took ferry trips, and walked along ancient paths.
We went to celebrate our fifteen year wedding anniversary.
We went to visit my sister.
We went because we were lucky enough to have the means to go and the graciousness of those who watched our kids. I didn't want to waste a single moment of it because I thought, I'm not going to leave my children and spend lots of money to travel halfway around the world without making the most of it.
Obviously, we didn't do everything, but we did a lot.
Hope you enjoyed all the photos and stories. To relive the trip, even reliving it a year later, was great fun. It really was one of the best trips I've ever been on in my life.