Saturday, July 26, 2008

A wee bit of Scotland

While I thoroughly enjoyed everywhere we stopped, there were certain places that were very difficult to leave. Where I just did not want to get back on that ship. Pretty much anyplace in Scotland fits that description--and I felt the exact same way when I was there 2 summers ago.

What I could not get over was the number of people, and I'm sorry, but it was mostly women, American women, who complained endlessly about the weather. Here's an idea: if you want a vacation filled with sunshine and heat, avoid the British Isles.

There were only 2 days out of 14 that had no rain...but only one day when I really felt I needed to use an umbrella. That was the day we were in Edinburgh--which is a city I'd love to go back and explore. The castle was amazing--museums aren't really my thing, but the view of the ancient city, even in the rain, was incredible.

And there are always beautiful flowers and lush greenery to be found pretty much everywhere...even in car parks.

The only disappointment was the fact that I was unable to make it to the Cath Kidston shop there. We went past it on the tour bus, but the shuttle buses that were supposed to be at the dock to take people into and out of town never showed up and we were warned that cabs aren't always easy to come by on a Sunday.

The disappointment soon faded as we cruised up to the highlands. As a kid I loved poring over maps and atlases...I remember seeing the Firth of Forth and finding that name particularly amusing. Well, here we are on the firth and that's the famous Forth bridge.
Later we got on a bus and drove through the countryside and saw the gorgeous just-blooming heather...and hills and mist and water...

Next we went to the town of Dornoch. Normally any place that meets with Madonna's approval might cause me to roll my eyes, but I can certainly see why she chose the Dornoch cathedral for the baptism of her son. Here's the side of it--couldn't get a pic of the front without including a bunch of tourists in the shot, and I prefer my photos tourist-free.

The town is so charming--like something out of a movie.

Next to the cathedral I found this wonderful bed and breakfast (pictured at the top of this post).I took a pic of the sign in case any of you want to make a reservation--not sure if you need to be fluent in Gaelic or not.

I was told the house is about 200 years old. Sigh...

The shopping was nice in Dornoch as well. I got a cute wool tartan/leather bag at a shop called Jail--you know, it used to be the jail?

My dad insisted I get back on the bus and then back on the ship...which is probably for the best, but I can pretty much guarantee that if my father hadn't been there to make me, I'd still be there today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm back! (well, sort of)

Yes, I'm back home...and I brought home a super cool souvenir from the ship. A REALLY NASTY COLD. Cruise lines have many positives: they do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and provide neat tours. It's a terrific way to get a taste of what an area is like so that someday you can come back for a more in-depth visit. Without involving another cruise ship.
One of the downsides? The number of people who don't let being sick interfere with their vacations. If I had a nickel, or a euro, or some sort of pence for every time I was directly coughed upon, I could now be ordering all the items from the UK that I'm convinced would make my life ever so much better--starting with a conservatory.

But that's enough complaining.
For now, anyway.
Everywhere we went was wonderful. I've got a long list of places to visit again someday.

And to set the record straight, Melvin didn't really go with me. He gets seasick.
I was invited by my Dad so that he'd have a traveling companion--for awhile anyway--I'm home, but he'll be on that ship for 3 more weeks!

I really dislike flying. Just ask Pam. She probably still has my claw prints in her arm from the first time we flew to Houston.

However, the flight to Amsterdam was wonderful. The plane was immaculate and roomy. Couldn't spend much time being nervous because flight attendants were constantly passing out food, drinks, and warm towels.
Not to mention the fact that I was able to sit in comfort watching one of my all time favorite shows, Top Gear!

I'm pretty sure that's Ireland down there below the wing of the plane, but if I'm wrong, you can let me know!

After getting on the ship in Amsterdam, our first stop was Newcastle, England.

The tour bus took us through the city, where I got this picture that I knew I'd want to research later. It's actually now a museum, which I didn't know at the time--all I knew was I loved the odd little girl.

Next stop was Durham Dales. Here are some photos from a simply wonderful garden.

And this gate? Don't you think Anne needs one of these?

Next we went to the charming village of Corbridge--where I went completely nuts over this shop window!

The shop is perfectly straight--I was the wonky one, but hey, it was raining, people!

There are lovely flowers absolutely everywhere...sigh...

More later!
Time to go back to bed for awhile.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

We're on vacation!

We're flying to Amsterdam tomorrow...where we get on a ship and have an adventure!

We'll be visiting England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

I'd better hurry up while there's still room in the boot for my suitcase...Melvin is famous for packing way too much stuff for these sorts of trips.

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