After five weeks of travelling through foreign countries it was nice to finally land in a place where they speak English….sort of. Our tour of Scotland started in Glasgow and stalled before it even began, as we spent three hours at the airport waiting for our delayed luggage to arrive. To compensate us for the delay, the airport staff provided us with meal vouchers to be used at the pub. All was forgiven once we tucked into our first dose of classic Scottish pub grub - hearty pies and a healthy serving of haggis (if you could ever call haggis "healthy"). As a result of the delay we saw none of the city on Day 1.
Much like Day 1, little of Glasgow was seen on Day 2 - this time it was an all-day tour of the West Highlands which took us from the grey, rain-soaked capital city. And what a diversion it was! The Highlands made us question everything we thought we knew about beautiful landscapes. From the nannas and homemade shortbreads at Inverary, the never-ending pristine waters of Loch Lomond (the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain), the fresh (as in still alive when your order) seafood lunch at Oban, and the unspeakable beauty of the "Three Sisters" (mountains) of Glencoe, the West Highlands rendered us speechless. And if you know Jess and I well you'll appreciate just how hard it is to shut us up!
The experience was made all the more enjoyable by our tour guide, Stephen of Timberbush Tours. Stephen is the quintessential Scotsman - humourous, affable and never more than 2 minutes away from a cheeky and inappropriate joke (ask me about them offline and I'll happily make you laugh til some wee escapes). Stephen littered the journey with historical anecdotes, personal stories and a great selection of Scottish music; i.e. the Proclaimers "500 miles" and some bagpipe songs. Sadly, no Biffy Clyro songs were in the mix (look them up if you haven't heard them. You're welcome). No seriously, it was great listening and it added an atmospheric touch to the jaw-dropping sights confronting us from our bus window.
Stephen also had a competition running on the bus to decide on a name for his new tour mascot: a massive plush toy Scottish Highland cow (you know the ones, they look like a cow with an emo haircut). After inexplicably knocking back my nomination of Phil McCracken, Stephen awarded the prize to Jess for her suggestion of Mooney (Get it? "Moo"ney). For her efforts Jess took home a mini Scottish Highland Cow plush toy of her own - because what we really needed to add to our already overflowing backpacks was a dust collecting plush toy that will act as an all-you-can-eat buffet for the moths in her cupboard over the next 15 years…
Our final day was spent running errands and exploring the city centre separately. For Jess, that meant raiding the local bakeries and going to a warm and dry bookstore. For me, it meant comic stores, record stores, guitar stores and finding a portable wifi device for our upcoming campervan trip through England. For the record, the wifi device hardly ever worked when we needed it to. That's why you're reading this blog four weeks after the events actually occurred.
Next stop: Stirling