This was my third trip to Scotland within a decade, two of which were to visit daughters at the University if Aberdeen. This trip, we drove 1256 miles, mostly the Northern Coastal Road, slept in 8 different hotels or B&B’s, and took 1023 photos. BF was driver extraordinaire, Katie acted as super navigator and I claimed the back seat, nose pressed against the window.
Scotland is blessed with beautiful scenery. Mountains and jutting crags by the seaside are one of God’s best ideas. Throw in a tiny cottage, miles of stone fence and a heard of grazing sheep and you’ve got Scotland.
Our decision not to prearrange most of our overnight lodging worked out fine. We had one close call, “no room in the Inn.” Inverness, Capital of the Highlands, Easter weekend, no reservations, no way. After multiple phone calls and knocking on several doors, we gave up jumping back on the windy road north. Persistence rewarded us with a night in our favorite B&B of the trip: Chrialdon Guest House, Beauly. I love staying in B&B’s. What better way for a traveler to connect with a local than to knock on her front door and ask to stay all night? We lucked out. See picture of BF, Katie and me with Isabelle, proprietor and her son.
Having a slightly fluid schedule allows for serendipitous encounters like the one we experienced on Easter Sunday. Having secured our bed in the small North Coastal town of Thurso, feeling the need to stretch a bit before dinner, we set out for a walk. We happened upon an old cathedral just as the 6:30 evening service was began. The sign read “all welcome.” Hoping for a pipe organ and a rousing chorus of “Up From the Grave He Arose,” we slipped into the back row. Yes, they had a pipe organ which was played for only two songs by a little, old lady who struggled a bit, but the majority of the music was accompanied by a 3-person praise band with more heart than skill. We were totally fascinated, however, by the old, Scottish gentleman (picture #3) who sat in front of us singing every song from his soul, and the tiny, elderly Scottish preacher with a precious accent who spoke for only a few minutes.
As a foodie, my favorite meal of the day in Scotland is breakfast. Traditional Scottish breakfast includes a starter of assorted cereals, fruit, and toast followed by “cooked breakfast” consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, haggis and black pudding. BF and Katie braved the haggis, I passed. Tea comes piping hot and coffee is not brewed, but served in a tiny glass carafe, grounds afloat, with a little filter that one uses to push the grounds to the bottom of the pot before drinking. It’s a fun novelty, but I was glad to return to my “filter coffee.”
Following a wonderful adventure, the low point of our trip came while standing in the Chicago airport, exhausted, staring at the huge rip in my all-time favorite suitcase, enduring American Airlines announcement, “your flight to Indianapolis has been cancelled.” Three planes, three barely consumable airline meals, three security pat-downs, and twenty five hours after our wake-up call in Aberdeen, our by taxi pulled into our driveway. Barely inside the back door, we dropped our luggage, two worn out pups, and crawled into our Sleep Number bed.