Sunday, July 13, 2014

Men in Plaid

June 20th - June 27th. After two weeks in Ireland we flew to Edinburgh, Scotland - home of clan Campbell. My Day family heritage is equal measures Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh so I was with my people, but we are really faux Campbells. Michael's mother was fortunate to marry William Campbell after Michael's father passed away when he was very young.  However Michael's wonderful stepfather passed on some very important Scottish values to his young Danish and Portuguese son that have been the foundation for our our own family values.

We flew to Scotland on Ryanair. An airline to be avoided if you ask me. We were at the mercy of some very convoluted luggage requirements that forced us to buy an extra carry-on bag to avoid excessive checked bag fees by complying with their generous carry-on weight allowance. I guess a tick in the plus column was having the chance to do a little Spring cleaning of our belongings. We still brought most everything except my favorite condiments like good olive oil and mustard.

Ryanair also lands at the airport furthest from Edinburgh. Like an hour-and-a-half-city bus ride  further. But one thing we often have is time so no stress on our end. We spent $6.00 for the journey into town (one of the top ten bargains of the trip) and settled in on the top level of a double-decker bus and had a birds eye view all the way.
The view from our front row seats on the bus from the airport.
A sign sighted from the bus offers deep fried Haggis balls. I need to research before I take up that offer. 
We were dropped right across the street from our apartment where we were met by the host's parents. They were very jolly, and very proud of their son Dario with his lovely flat and his 'fab' job. However, it soon became apparent that he needed a wife, and his mother is bound and determined to find him one. She even asked me if I knew any lovely American girls that might be willing to move to Edinburgh. He is handsome -so let me know.

Here's a link to his flat:  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1916313

A van parked outside our door - they'd better be more than good at what they do!
The pub where prisoners could have a last pint before they met their maker.
It truly was a great apartment.  We found a well equipped kitchen with a little breakfast nook - and the best flat screen TV yet! We were all set for watching the rest of the World Cup matches - made even better with BBC's world-class coverage. It's a good thing we were within walking distance of the city centre because with three matches a day we had to pop out to see the city when we could or duck into sports pub (poor us) to catch a score. It was fun to keep track of the results because of  our family pool - but it turns out I have really came to enjoy the game! Who knew?

My first and only World Cup bet £10 on the USA
Our free walking tour took us throughout the city centre including parts of the Royal Mile, the castle and some sites that inspired J.K. Rowling as she wrote Harry Potter in a upstairs coffee shop. Her perch overlooked a foreboding cemetery and a coal blackened, gargoyle covered building that was once a home for orphans but became the public school her children attended.

Our walking tour group. What a great city to explore through history.
The grave site of Voldemort where Harry Potter fans leave letters daily.
Never pass a Mr. Whippy truck without stopping. It's the best soft ice cream on the planet.
Classic Mr. Whippy - dense vanilla ice cream stuck with Cadbury chocolate stick.
Edinburgh is a manly city even though the men wear skirts. Muscular soot-covered buildings loomed everywhere and statues of great men sat (usually on horseback) in most every square. There were secret doorways, narrow alleyways, and hidden gardens. There were large churches with massive spires and an imposing castle carved into the stone hillside overlooking the city.

Back to men in kilts. I love the look - and it is very, very manly (and sexy) when you see it worn properly with all the right accessories. We are not talking Utilikilts with Sub-Pop T-shirts here.

No doubt an ancestor resplendent in the family tartan
Along the Royal Mile - with the Queen's Summer home, Hollyrood Palace, at one end and the castle at the other, beautiful gardens shops of every kind flanked the sides. I am fond of Marks & Spencer, especially the food hall, so I was happy to find a huge one in the heart of the city. Since we really only buy things that can be consumed, food and beverage browsing is my retail therapy.

I did try haggis - and it was good, but it smelled like a barnyard!
Michael spent an afternoon at the Scottish Lawn Tennis Club where years ago he organized a pre-Wimbledon tournament to allow some of ProServ's best players, including Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe to get some practice on grass between The French Open and Wimbledon. He met with the current director who knew of the event and gave Michael a lovely coffee table book commemorating 100 years of Scottish tennis that included a section on The Bank of Scotland Grass Court Championships held between 1987 - 89. Mr. Campbell was 'chuffed' as they say here.

Michael worked with some of the best, and nicest players while at ProServ.
Staying in the sports mode we took a day trip to St. Andrew's to revisit the golf course where the British Open is played every five years. For the first time we traveled with a tour company by mini bus. It was just right for this outing. There were 16 passengers on board along with an engaging guide who took us through a seaside village and a fishing port on the way, and stopped in a quaint village for a stretch on the way back. We had three hours in St. Andrew's and that was plenty of time to watch lucky amateurs (make that wealthy amateurs) have a go at the Old Course.  Also tme for a pub lunch, a wander along the seawall, a stroll through the college campus and some time at the Abbey ruins. It turns out we were there on graduation day - so there were many St. Andrews graduates decked in robes and garters being photographed by proud family throughout the village. St. Andrew's is where Kate and William met and I could have bought the commemorative plate to prove it, but just like the tennis book, it wouldn't have made the weight cut.

The rich kids putting-out to finish their round at St. Andrews.
Michael enjoyed revisiting this magnificent course
There's always time for lunch!
A peek into the grave yard at St.Andrew's Abbey
The week went by quickly and soon we were off to Oslo, Norway! As we head to the finish line of our year as Senior Nomads, our travels are looking more like a grand finale -  bursts of short colorful stays in several cities including Oslo and Helsinki followed by stops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Then home to Seattle through London on July 24th!

Nomads on the move!
The Queen Anne house is rented through the end of December, so our nomadic life will continue ... so the blog may never end! Look for more posts, more often over the coming weeks.

Debbie and Michael Campbell
Senior Nomads

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