Monday, May 31, 2010

National Lampoon's European Vacation

...well, just Scotland really...and Amsterdam for a few hours.

I've finally gotten around to posting some of our trip. This will have to be broken up into 2-3 days per blog given the amount of things we did.

May 14: As usual, my procrastination left me scurrying around getting things done the day we left (copies of passports, mailing back the books I didn't want from the book club, etc.). I took Dagan to school, walking him all the way to his room instead of dropping him off out front, and tried not to cry on the way back to the car. It's a whole different ball-game leaving the kids to go out of the country.
My mom drove us to the airport with Ian and Bronwen as co-pilots. Ian did okay saying goodbye but Bronwen was scared of the drop off area (dark and loud-the same reason she hates parking garages), and she got a little tearful when we left. I choked back emotions that were probably big bright signs on my face, and we went inside to check our luggage.
I started "The Gargoyle" by Andrew Davidson @ the airport. Thoroughly enjoying it. Dark humor, medical stuff, the hint of a love story...all good ingredients. John tried to finish up "Dragonfly in Amber."
Incoming storms delayed arrivals which made our flight a half hour late. Luckily we had a three hour layover in St.Paul. The flight was okay-small plane, no kleenex, no paper towels, and no ice. But thanks to the continuous flow of cold air up my jeans, I never needed the ice to cool me down. An hour into our flight, I realized what I'd forgotten to pack-my decent blouse for dinner at the castle. Bummer. So, I told myself I'd surely find something to wear before that night. I'm lucky that's the only thing I forgot.
During our layover in St.Paul, we stopped at Itasca Grill and had nachos and Beer (well, I had beer-John is stubbornly not drinking though I'm not sure why). The Jalapeños were laced with ninja fire, so I picked mine out. Didn't want to be stuck on an eight hour flight with the green apple trots! Talked to my mom, and she said it was pouring in Nashville. They had to wait thirty minutes outside Dagan's school, because of hail, before allowing the kids to leave. Talked to my dad, and he informed me we "might even see some Americans [bands] while you're there." I passively agreed to search out said American musicians. Called Erin to see how their flights were going. She and Scott were just getting to Nashville airport, but so far there were no delays. All good, for now.
After we settled into our seats on the plane, our neighbors just behind us started getting ready. I was blessed with a pre-teen Dutch boy behind me. He must have had a thousand things to put away because every minute I felt him open the pouch behind my seat and let it snap back in place with a thud. It literally happened 20-30 times. This would be a very long trip at that rate. Thank the Gods he stopped...eventually.
I read a bit and tried watching movies. I gave up on the latter due to our position over the wings/engines preventing me from hearing anything through the earbuds. I finally attempted sleep after dinner was served thinking a belly full of food and a beer would put me out. Wrong. I must have woken up every thirty minutes. No rest for the weary, just like home.

May 15: I woke up for good at 09:00 (Amsterdam time) to find ice on the windows, and beyond that-the ocean below us. Still not there...
Had a breakfast snack before landing. Got our tickets transferred since they didn't print our boarding passes in Nashville. Then we were off to find the mini-museum (Rijksmuseum). Pretty underwhelming actually. I was expecting more pieces, but there were maybe 15 total. It was nice though. Got some coffee at Starbucks, checked my email and updated Facebook to let everyone know we'd made it that far. Didn't do any shopping since we would be back in a week for a much longer layover.
The flight to Glasgow was quick. After getting through the passport check we got our bags and looked for Erin and Scott. The plan had been to ride to the B&B in Edinburgh together. Their flight landed at 14:53 and ours at 15:30. We looked for over an hour, but without cellphone service to call them, we left for the bus station. It was a pretty drive, and I was amazed at how similar the landscape in the Lowlands of Scotland was to Tennessee.
Our B&B was the Burns' House. We found out from her, that Erin and Scott had missed one of their flights and wouldn't be in until late. John and I lugged our bags up to the third floor (this will become a theme for our travels), and set out for dinner. We met Brenda & Jenn, the other third in our tour group, in the hall. They'd been there since the night before and showed us to the eateries. Since we couldn't get our calling card to work, we stopped off at a Wifi hotspot and sent my mom a message that all was good, and we were safe in Scotland.
(below-the view from Burns' House B&B)

We ate dinner @ The Footlight-more pub than restaurant. Burgers, chips, and Amstel Light X2. Feeling more than exhausted, we went "home" to bed at 21:30 with the sun just beginning to lower in the sky. Mrs. Burns told us Erin and Scott had made it, but we just missed them going out for dinner. Oh well, I was too tired to be good company anyway.
The thing I learned about B&Bs in Scotland (in general)- very little water pressure and extremely hot water.