Day 2 and 3 – Getting Settled
Friday afternoon when we landed we met the kids and picked up our rental car from the airport. Our son, Kevin had already been in Scotland for a couple days and had a rental car too. We decided that we’d pay for an additional driver for each car so that each of the 3 couples would have the freedom to go somewhere on their own if they wanted to. It turned out to be helpful on a few occasions and the fact that a car that seated 6 people (plus luggage) would have had to be quite a bit bigger, we were glad that we didn’t get just one vehicle for all of us this time.
The experience of driving on the left side of the road with the driver on the right side of the car, was quite a culture shock for the guys, especially for Terry. Add to that the fact that the rural roads in Scotland are VERY narrow, have virtually no shoulder, are often lined by stone walls and sometimes are no more than one lane, it makes for a stressful drive. Fortunately our son-in-law, Andrew LOVED driving. Here’s a pic of him practicing in a parking lot before he went on the road for the first time. The next day he went out driving by himself and tried to find the narrowest roads he could drive on, just for the fun of it. The week they were with us Andrew always drove and Kevin drove a lot of the time, even though I don’t think he enjoyed it as much as Andrew. Then when we were in Ireland Terry came down with a cold and felt pretty crummy so Kevin drove almost the whole time there too. [We were thankful that the guys were willing to do that.]
Our home base was in the small town of Aberfeldy, right in the heart of Scotland. The 6 of us were staying at the Moness Resort in a 2 bedroom time-share (with a sofa-bed in the living room). We had a functioning kitchen which saves on time and food costs when you can prepare a few of your meals at home instead of eating out all the time.
On Saturday we all slept in a bit to try to catch up on sleep after our long travel days. We envisioned a relatively low-key day since we knew we needed to acclimate to the new time zone before the schedule got too busy. The plan for the day was to drive about 15 miles to do a bit of exploring in the town of Pitlochry. The young guys wanted to check out some of the whisky distilleries there and the rest of us just wanted to start discovering Scotland. When we got there we went to the Information Center on the main street and asked for information about how to find the distilleries. After we started walking Amy wasn’t feeling too well, so she decided that she didn’t want to do a long walk. I volunteered to stay in town with her since I didn’t have a huge interest in whisky and we sent the other four off on their adventure.
[Note: Whisky is spelled without an “e” before the “y” in Scotland, but with an “e” in Ireland – and in the U.S. since my spell check keeps highlighting it as a misspelled word.]
Here’s a photo (above) that Chelsea took on their hike (and I hear it was quite a hike) to the Edradour Distillery. This happens to be the smallest distillery in Scotland. You can read more about their story here. Since I wasn’t with them I don’t feel qualified to write about it, but I’m hoping that Terry (or someone) will give us their account of the hike and the tour that they went on.
While they were exploring the world of whisky, Amy and I visited Victoria’s for a delicious cup of tea on their outdoor patio (note the Rick Steve’s Scotland Tour Guide on the table). Afterward Amy decided to go and nap in the car and I spent some time exploring the shops.
Here are a few of the sights.
I thought these guys in kilts looked authentic until I heard them speaking German. Not sure if they were trying to blend in (which they didn’t) or if they were there for some other reason.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD: I visited a few other stores, but nothing really jumped out at me that I HAD to have. Then I spotted The Scottish Deli and their sign in the window that read “Scotland Deli of the Year 2011”. Despite Scotland’s reputation for having relatively bland, boring food, I had to see what this little place had to offer. Inside the cozy shop that could only accommodate 2 employees and a few customers I found some wonderful surprises. The huge blackboard behind the counter listed about 30 different sandwiches available. There were unique treats like Smoked Local Duck with Chilli Jam or Dunked Local Smoked Salmon with Star Anis & Pink Peppercorn Mustard. It was such a creative variety that I was disappointed that it wasn’t meal time. I vowed to bring the gang back to have a meal here or to order some of their picnic lunches to go.
While I was there I wanted to at least pick up some cheese and crackers that we could all enjoy in the room. I browsed the various artisan cheeses in the case and asked the woman behind the counter to wrap up a Scottish Gouda as well as an Isle of Mull Cheddar to compliment the crackers I found. Then it was time to pay. The register was in a corner of the deli area with a counter about 2 feet wide and there was already an older woman being served by the young man behind the counter. She was having some difficulty with her bag and needed to have her items transferred to a new one. Simultaneously I was paying for the cheese and crackers at the same small counter. Soon the older woman was finished and walked out of the store. Since I was waiting for them to give me my cheese, I stood at the counter, finalized my payment and looked at the clerks.
They looked at me as if to say, “I think we’re finished. You can leave now.”. But I still didn’t have the cheese that they had wrapped up behind the counter.
I’m sure I looked puzzled as I stood there and finally asked, “…my cheese?”
They both looked at each other and blurted out, “Oh no! Mrs. McDougall must have taken it!” The young woman tore out from behind the counter, ran out the door and down the street shouting for Mrs. McDougall while the young man apologized profusely about the missing cheese. A few minutes later the young woman returned, a little out of breath, with my purchase. She apologized again, we all had a good laugh and all was right with the world.
Before we left town we headed for their grocery store, which was probably equivalent in size to a Fresh-n-Easy Market in Arizona. We picked up food for one dinner, breakfast each day and a few snacks and drinks for the week. With the itinerary we had, we knew that we wouldn’t be home much at meal time and we were right. We planned the food perfectly, with just enough to get us through the week. Here are some of our treasures. Bramble preserves (which could be blackberries or raspberries – delicious), Crumpets (these remind me of an English Muffin that’s not sliced-very tasty) and Ginger Crinkles (a crispy ginger cookie or “biscuit” as the Scottish call them).
TRAVEL TIPS TODAY:
1. Rethink the automobile: We have spent a majority of our vacations in the western United States which are filled with wide open spaces and sprawling cities where a car is almost necessary. In older areas on the east coast of the U.S. and “across the pond”, we’ve found that a personal vehicle isn’t always required because so many sights are within easy walking distance of each other. Plus sometimes its more hassle than its worth…with parking woes and navigating congested streets…consider other dependable modes of mass transit and walking, of course.
2. Every meal doesn’t have to be at a restaurant: Depending on your accommodations, it might be possible to buy a few items to keep in your room to save on eating every meal at a restaurant. You can also think about picking up a sandwich as takeout from a deli and enjoy your meal in the park. We usually plan to eat no more than 2 meals a day out. Often a late breakfast and early dinner work out well. Then, if needed, an evening snack in the room will hold you over until the next day.
How do you handle your meals when you travel? Any tips for saving money without starving?