* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Duplicity of Maps and a Dash of Scotland

Walk in Inverness
Since they don't have Thanksgiving here, Christmas decorating starts in earnest right after Halloween/Samhain/Guy Fawke's Day.  Plus, with all that train time, I began wondering if we might indeed make it to Hogwarts.  What says Highland Christmas like Harry and the Potters playing Wizard Chess?

Obligatory Scottish thistle picture
It took us roughly 12 hours to get from Reagan National to Dublin, when you include the time changes.  That was around 3380 miles covered via 2 plane flights and a taxi ride.  It took about the same amount of time (maybe a touch more) to get from Dublin to Edinburgh.  Milage varies by route but I think we went about 395 miles covered by ferry, 3 trains, and a taxi.  We then rode trains for at least a few hours most days as we went on to Inverness (Loch Ness) and Glasgow.  A friend told Allen that we made the mistake of looking at a map like Americans.  After all, how long could it possibly take to travel a quarter of an inch?  We are thinking that no matter how interesting ferries and trains sound, we are taking a plane for our Englad trip later this year.

The children actually held up as well as we could possibly expect and we saw loads of interesting scenery.  I found the experience pleasant with brief flashes of lovely.  But, it's likely even better if everyone can walk AND carry their own bag or, at the very least, agree to a moratorium on temper tantrums around the time you have to haul everyone and everything on an epic 4 minute dash to catch the next train.  We had quite good luck with ferries and trains until the very end and when we had bad luck things went as well as they could.  Allen talks about this on his blog.  FYI- purse, et al were returned safely to me today!

The last thing Allen wound up booking was our hotel in Edinburgh so we were locked into a day.  For reasons we never did figure out, every single hotel was booked up except the Waldorf Astoria.  I suggest everyone stay in a Waldorf Astoria at least once in your life.  If a hotel room can feel luxurious with 3 young children and a freshly bathed winter coat steaming on the towel warmer (Megan is apparently prone to seasickness), you have truly achieved hotel greatness.  Charlie proclaimed the next hotel (along the lines of a Day's Inn) much more luxurious because he and Megan both had their own cot.  Noah had a "fancy bed" (hotel pack-n-play) at each location and was happy to sleep in them.  Allen and I were stunned.

Doctor Who is in Glasgow?
There was a Dalek in Inverness
but I can't find the picture
I have gotten to a point where my ear doesn't distinguish American and Irish accents unless I'm actively listening.  Both sound "normal."  Allen has apparently taken it one step further and said that he thought Irish and Scottish accents sounded about the same.  I take his point but I found them quite distinct.  I found them similar to the difference between a lemon square and a key lime pie.  Both have that tart citrus note but distinctive finishes.  The Highland Scottish accent sounded almost like a stutter at times with great effort being put into the second syllable and various phonemes.  I find the Irish accent to be more rolling with it more likely that whole syllables or phonemes just aren't pronounced at all rather than being forced.

My favorite part of Glasgow was the breakfast spread at the hotel.  The Scots take their morning meal seriously with a yogurt bar beyond belief, full cold cut spread, haggis, egg and black pudding among other things.  (We do the Hilton Honors program and really like it.  Free breakfast (among other things) at all Hilton family hotels.  This would have been around $75 if we all paid.)  Yes, that is REAL whiskey I added to my porridge not a flavoring extract as I assumed.  I had a warm belly that day.  ;-)

Real Whiskey, cream, and brown sugar.
Tasty porridge!
The UK pound coins all have mottos engraved along the edges representing Scotland, Wales, and England.  The Scottish motto is "No one provokes me with impunity."  There was a hard edge to the Scottish Highlands.  You got the distinct impression that if you were to thrive here, you had to want it.  The Scots were forcibly transported to North and South Carolina during the Highland Clearances.  The Carolina Smokies likely felt at least somewhat familiar.  But, I was much more strongly reminded of the scenery of Upstate New York.  I suspect that the Smokies give over to farming a bit less begrudgingly than either the Adriondacks or the Scottish Highlands, though.

It's all about proper footwear
I had been very worried about how cold it was likely to be in Scotland.  Interestingly, even though the temperatures were quite low, we felt about as warm as in Ireland and indoors tended to be warmer.  The only thing we can figure is that it was a drier cold.  There was a bite to the air but the cold didn't seep into you the way it does in Dublin.  It was the first time I could remember actually feeling quite cozy and not longing to immerse myself in a warm bubble bath.  Our home in Dublin seems to always be a bit chilly.  We keep tweaking the hours the heater runs but even after hours, you still want slippers and a blanket.  Thus, I was delighted to get my Christmas present a bit early.

No comments:

Post a Comment