Day 238: Magisto Movie – Scotland Trip

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Today’s first is brief, but not quite as simple as I thought it would be! Ever one to learn about new technology, I downloaded a new app called Magisto and created a movie titled “Scotland Trip 2014”.

I could upload only 30 pics for the movie. It was difficult to choose! I selected a representation of each lovely day spent in that beautiful country. Next I chose a style. Travel Mode seemed like a natural fit, although to be fair, I didn’t look at any other choices!

I added my own musical selection. The background music HAD to be bagpipes, of course. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers song Celtic Bolero was perfect. Listening to the song brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat while making my heart beat faster. Quite an emotional response.

I’m happy with the finished movie. I wish I could have uploaded twice as many photos. Overall, the app was easy to use and creates a fun movie.

Here is my Scotland trip, captured in one minute. I’m still learning, apparently, how to get the video on YouTube and on here. However, the link works!

Scotland Trip 2014

Day 228: Journeys and Meetings

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The trip to Scotland officially ended today. We flew out of Edinburgh about noon, their time. But my journey continues!

There are so many precious memories that I’m carrying home with me. And insights and realizations to ponder and allow to deepen before sharing. It was a magical trip. Life, itself, is magical!

We landed in Newark, NJ, back in the US, at 2:16 pm, in spite of leaving Scotland at noon. To our bodies, it felt like 7:16. Jet lag began!

Of all the places in the US that our flight could have arrived, Newark was the city. And we had a five hour layover. An opportunity presented itself for an amazing first. I have had a dear friend, for seven years, that I met though social media. Yet we’ve never met in person. Today, as I journeyed homeward, I met my friend Mark Semple for the first time.

Mark and I connected all those years ago through an online site of Mike Dooley’s called The Village. I was looking to connect with people who were aware and growing in their spiritual journeys. We did connect, immediately. Mark coaches others, journeying alongside offering wisdom, support, encouragement and sometimes a challenge.

I coached with Mark for a time. One day he issued a challenge to me that shifted my life. He said, “Step up into the Cindy-shaped space that only you can occupy, and BE the person you are created to be “. I knew that I often pulled back from being fully myself, choosing to get by unnoticed. Mark’s words came to mind often. I accepted the challenge. I began to occupy that space that was mine alone to inhabit, more and more. I began to shine!

It has been an amazing continuing journey. I am grateful to have Mark as a traveling companion. We share ideas, beliefs and the joys of life. Very soon, we will collaborate on several projects, offering perspectives and insights we’ve learned along the way.

Mark and I have not sought a meeting. Our friendship is not dependent on proximity. We’ve always had the attitude that at the perfect time we would meet, if we were meant to. That perfect time appeared in connection with this trip, which added to the magic. It was surreal to see this person who has been so important to me AND hear his voice at the same time!

I am completing this blog post as we are in the car, headed for Joplin, after arriving by plane in Tulsa, OK. We are nearing the end of our journey, having traveled more than 4500 miles today. I am full of gratitude for all that I experienced. And I am full of anticipation for where the journey is taking me!

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journeys end

Day 227: Shopping on the Royal Mile, Fringe and Saying Goodbye

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Today marked our return to Edinburgh and our last full day in Scotland. We said a fond “See you again soon” to Wilson, who made our stay in Lauder so pleasant. And boarded the bus bound for the city.

As if blessing us, the sun shone all day, occasionally sliding behind a fluffy cloud for a moment, only to reappear and stream golden light onto us and Edinburgh. It’s the only day we had here without rain.

Arriving in Edinburgh we made our way to the Hilton near the airport, in preparation for flying out tomorrow at noon. But this was not a day of relaxing. After we dropped off our luggage we took a bus back to Old Town. We wanted to savor every moment of our time left in Scotland, and each of us had a list of purchases to make. Mindy and I also wanted one last afternoon tea in this bonnie land.

When we first arrived in Edinburgh, from Glasgow, I didn’t notice a big difference in the feel of this city, other than an ancientness in Old Town that I didn’t feel as deeply in Glasgow. However, after spending several days in Lauder and the Borders, where life moves at a wee bit slower pace, I immediately felt the shift in energy when the bus pulled into the bus station. It wasn’t a bad energy, but a surge of strong busy energy, connected to thousands of people.

Nowhere is this bustling energy more apparent right now than on the Royal Mile in the heart of Old Town. The Fringe Festival is still going strong, continuing until August 25. It is the largest art and entertainment festival in the world and has been held each August for the last 67 years. Performers from all over the world showcase their talent in more than 3,000 shows. While venues for shows are all over Edinburgh, many performances take place in buildings along the Royal Mile or in the open air in the streets in and around the Mile. Performances range from singing and mime to plays, comedy routines and musicals, from the spectacular to the downright weird!

As we approached the Royal Mile on foot, the bustle and busyness and noise came out to meet us, rolling over us like a wave. Thousands of people were shoulder to shoulder on this famous strip of road as performers took to the streets, sidewalks and makeshift stages. We divided up. Harry headed to a store he wanted to visit while Mindy and I started on our shopping lists. Amazingly, our first two stops provided exactly what we were searching for.

Mission accomplished, except for buying Scottish tea to bring home, we gathered Harry and began the search for a spot to settle for afternoon tea. This proved more challenging than we thought it would! As Harry would gladly testify, we walked a long time, looking for just the right place, only to push through the throng and discover we’d made a huge circle, back to where we had started. Not finding a new shop to try, we returned to a restaurant we had eaten dinner at earlier in the week and had a late lunch followed by a simple tea. It was perfect actually. After our light meal we had a cup of tea and a bite of bakewell tart, which was a deliciously tart cake with fruit filling and almond flavoring.

We again split up to complete our shopping, Harry to buy a book while we girls headed to a tea store. We are serious about continuing afternoon tea when we return home. We previously bought Scottish cookbooks and today we bought Scottish tea. I can’t wait to have afternoon tea in my garden at home.

I have to admit a pang and tear filled eyes as we walked away from the Royal Mile. It’s not because I don’t want to return home. I do! And I’m exited to see my family and friends and jump back into the real estate business. No, the brief moment of sorrow is in feeling the separation from this beautiful place I love so much. But more than sorrow, I feel gratitude and joy for this wonderful journey that has so deeply connected me with my roots, with this amazing country and with new friends. I drank in all that I could and the trip feels completed. I’ll carry this experience in my heart no matter where I am. I look forward to my next visit, and bringing others with me who want to share the journey!

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Day 226: Exploring Lauder and Melrose

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After a very exciting and emotional day yesterday, seeing Thirlestane Castle for the first time, we opted for a relaxed day today, walking around Lauder, taking pictures. In the afternoon, we visited the nearby town of Melrose, home to the Melrose Abbey.

As every day has begun in Scotland, we had a great breakfast. Our “homebase” in Lauder has been the Lauderdale Hotel, which is so fitting. In the US, my maiden name of Lauderdale is uncommon. If I run into another Lauderdale, I know we are kin! It’s wonderful to see the names Lauder and Lauderdale everywhere in this burgh.

The Lauderdale Hotel is a small, comfortable hotel, with a cozy pub and top quality restaurant attached, that has the feel of an inn. Actually, it has the feel of home. Owner Wilson McKay works long hours to make sure of that! The staff is friendly and helpful, the rooms are exceptionally clean and well set up for a short or long stay. And there’s a pretty sitting room to gather in, gardens out back, and a dining room for guests to enjoy a complimentary breakfast. We enjoyed chatting with Wilson last night after dinner. When he heard I wanted to try haggis, he suggested a small one for breakfast. Wilson not only cares for his guests and oversees the smooth running of the hotel…he also bar tends and is the breakfast chef! As promised, I had a wee haggis for breakfast this morning, along with a fried egg and two pieces of Scotland’s wonderful bacon. The haggis was delicious!

After our breakfast, we wandered about Lauder, snapping pictures and stopping in a few stores. Lauder is a ancient and beautiful little burgh, snug in the rolling hills of the Borders. I love the stone buildings and cobbled walkways and streets. It’s not hard to imagine life here hundreds of years ago.

There are records dating back to 1124 that mention Lauder as a kirk-town, kirk being the Scottish word for church. What began as a fort near the town was given to the Lauder family and they in turn sold the structure to the Maitlands in 1587. This fort transitioned into Thirlestane Castle as it was added on to over the centuries. The history and antiquity in this town, in this area and indeed, in all of Scotland, amazes me. It makes me gawk a lot as I walk around!

Our charming host, Wilson, told Mindy about a fabric shop in the nearby town of Melrose. In the afternoon we took a taxi to the home of the Melrose Abbey and had a look around. Melrose is another beautiful small town. Tall rock walls surround the Abbey on one side and part of the town. Mindy was able to buy 100% wool by the meter at the shop Wilson suggested. We enjoyed a walk along the main street in Melrose and had a delightful early afternoon tea at Russell’s. The dark clouds that had been gathering unburdened themselves as we sipped our tea.

We experienced our first heavy rain since we’ve been in Scotland. Although we pulled our hoods up and sloshed through the rain to visit several more shops, alas we had to cancel our visit to the Abbey. That experience will have to wait for a return trip.

For return I shall. I love this country and this little town of Lauder in the Scottish Borders. Last night I dreamed I returned here to live, working to connect American Lauderdales and Maitlands with their homeland, marketing for Thirlestane Castle and the burgh of Lauder itself! What a dream!

Walking today, I realized that several things that are true about me have deep roots in Scotland. My love of land and working the earth, of water, of growing trees and plants and flowers, are traits, gifts, carried genetically to me from this wild country. Everywhere I looked today, in Lauder, in Melrose, there were flowers blooming in vivid, riotous colors! Flower boxes, hanging baskets, tiny front gardens, seemingly random patches of earth, all filled with luscious flowers. No wonder I am transforming my own backyard back home into a garden. I am responding to an ancient desire that has been imbedded in my DNA.

There are other truths I’ve discovered about myself during my stay here that I will take home with me and ponder for a while. I’ve had beautiful “aha” moments and great clarity and my love and appreciation for Scotland and her people has deepened. It’s almost time to fly home. There has been such joy in this journey. I won’t say “goodbye”. I’ll say “until next time”.

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Day 225: Thirlestane Castle

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A very long time ago, a wee lass with the last name of Lauderdale, heard about a far away place called Scotland. Listening to stories about this place and hearing that her family came from a little village called Lauder ignited a fire in her heart, even though to her limited understanding, her family consisted of a daddy and a mommy and younger sisters living with her. Stories of a castle that still existed sounded like a magical fairy tale, and that magic enchanted the wee lass and created a strong desire to see this place. Today, half a century later, with the fire still burning within her, the grown woman stood at last before the castle, which was magical indeed, and felt such gratitude that in writing about the experience, the feeling could not be contained and leaked out of her eyes.

Oh what a long journey this has been, from my first longing to see Scotland and be in Lauder, to the actual experiencing of it. All the time melted away today as Mindy, Harry and I arrived in Lauder. I have loved every moment of my journey through Scotland. And yet at the back of my mind, the mantra of I am going to Lauder has reminded me of the experience to come and the fulfillment of a dream.

Being in Lauder, feeling the ancient roots of my family’s heritage, walking the village street, seeing Thirlestane Castle and wandering through its rooms, knowing the portraits of long gone men and women are connected to me is not only the pinnacle of this trip, it is the pinnacle of a lifetime journey to get here.

The Lauderdales of America are connected to Clan Maitland of Scotland and the Border town of Lauder through a single ancestor who traveled to the United States long ago. For 700 years Thirlestane Castle has been home to the Maitlands. A long line of earls has arisen from this place, with the current 18th Earl of Lauderdale, Ian, residing in London. The 2nd earl, John Maitland, became the Duke of Lauderdale and was a powerful man in Scotland and England. The castle is currently resided in by Gerald Maitland-Carew and his family.

As a child, and later as an adult, hearing and reading about Scotland, the castle, earls and a duke, were fuel for my imagination and my desire. Going to Scotland to see it all for myself was a matter of when, not if. For years, a corner of each of my vision boards has been devoted to images of Scotland, a visual reminder of a childhood dream that grew as I grew. How amazing, during this year of firsts, that the opportunity arrived with an invitation from my cousin Mindy to travel to Scotland with her and her son, Harry. Mindy’s mother and my father were sister and brother, Lauderdales who passed on that Scottish blood to us, and have now both passed out of this lifetime. Mindy and Harry have dreamed of Scotland all their lives as well. I can’t imagine anyone better to live out this experience with than these two.

It was surreal today, standing at the castle, taking pictures outdoors with my camera. We slowly moved through the rooms that are open to the public. In the large paneled library, I saw an old black and white photo of a Maitland who looked like my dad. There is such history there, and a sense of time moving on, highlighting, briefly, this earl, that countess, this family. Time still moves on. The castle has faced decay and the threat of ruin and has needed extensive restoration, which continues today.

I felt small, to be in such an ancient place. In quieting my mind’s chatter I could hear the echoes of generations of people living, in joy and in sorrow, within the thick walls. I could feel the connection, their souls with mine. And I left a part of my spirit, my energy, simply by being there, to merge with the family memories that flow through that grand place.

I am a Scot. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, I have arrived at the place where I started, and have known it for the first time. I came home. And I will carry home back with me to Missouri, as an ember that continues to burn in my heart, until I return again.

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Day 224: Edinburgh Castle

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The focus of today’s first was a visit to Edinburgh Castle, in the heart of Old Town. At the top of the Royal Mile is the gate to the castle. With a sense of awe we passed through that massive gate and entered a different world.

Once through the gate, it’s like being in a small city. A small fortified city. Built upon volcanic rock and overlooking both Old and New Towns, the castle of Edinburgh is an imposing fortress. Some sort of structure has sat atop that hill for more than 2000 years. From its vantage point, the castle has never been taken by force.

We opted to take a guided tour, rather than just wander around. Our tour guide, Jonathan, had a Scottish accent and the look of a Scottish laird with his red hair and beard. It was blustery and cold today so Jonathan sported plaid slacks rather than a kilt.

He expertly guided us through the castle grounds, relating stories and interesting facts. At the highest point, near the great hall and residential quarters, he set us free to explore.

Mindy and I had already spied our next stop…the castle tea room. Harry is good natured about our new obsession with afternoon tea and indulges us. And obsessed we have become. We have a good breakfast early in the day and then we skip lunch and have afternoon tea instead, which traditionally is between 3:00-5:00. We then have a late supper, between 7:30-9:00. We have wholeheartedly adopted the customs of this friendly group of people!

We enjoyed our tea and getting out of the cold wind for a short time. Mindy and Harry left to investigate the Whiskey Experience shop while I chose to remain in the castle.

On my own, I climbed the tower to view the Honours of Scotland, the royal crown, sword and sceptre. Our guide had explained how, in 1707, after England and Scotland united, the Crown Jewels were hidden away in a secured vault until they were rediscovered by Walter Scott in 1818. The pieces are on display now at the castle, along with the Stone of Destiny. Scotland’s first king, David I was crowned sitting on this large chunk of sandstone. All the kings of Scotland have been crowned thus. When Scotland united with England the Stone of Destiny was moved to Westminster and the kings and queens of England have been crowned with the stone beneath their throne. For 700 years the Stone of Destiny remained in England. It was recently returned to Scotland. The Scots will allow the stone to return to England for any future crownings but our guide told us, fiercely, that the stone will never again be away from Scotland for such a long period of time.

I stood before the Stone of Destiny and felt Scotland’s rich heritage so deeply. I wanted to touch the stone, as a way of acknowledging that I too am fulfilling my destiny. Alas, the stone is encased in glass, protected as it should be. It was enough to hear the story and see the stone.

I visited the residential palace and saw the room King James VI of Scotland and I of England was born in. It was a small room for a man who became so important. I also visited the chapel of St. Margaret, which is the oldest building in the castle complex. The original castle was destroyed in the 1300’s and was rebuilt in sections. I stood the longest on a battlement overlooking New Town as it marches down to the water, the Firth of Forth. So many have stood where I stood and looked out over the city during the past 2000 years. I felt such a kinship with the Scots. My ancestors. My people. Nearby a Scottish flag curled around the flag pole, temporarily snarled. I stood and willed it to catch the breeze and unfurl, so I could capture a picture. As I stood, camera ready, the wind picked up. The flag rippled and twisted and patiently, I waited. With a loud snap it untangled and unfurled, flying unfettered above the castle. I captured the image and smiling, wound my way down through the stone passageways to the gate. I didn’t shout it out, but in my heart rang a cry of freedom!

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Day 223: Exploring Edinburgh

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We have been very much on the move today, as we explored the city of Edinburgh. After a lovely traditional breakfast, courtesy of the Halcyon House, we grabbed our rain gear and headed out on foot.

We learned so much by taking the sightseeing bus in Glasgow that we made that our first priority this morning in Edinburgh. We saw Old Town and New Town in Edinburgh. It made me smile to find out New Town began to be built in the 1700’s! Our tour guide, Stuart, was fun and informative. The hour long tour was a great overview of the city and I loved the stories connected to each section. It amazes me, the age of this city. In Old Town, with its narrow streets that barely accommodate a bus and structures built of mixed stone, it was very easy to imagine how it looked hundreds of years ago.

On our second loop through the city we stopped in Charlotte Square at a book fair, where I purchased a book of traditional Scottish recipes. I need those to create my own afternoon tea when I return home! We then visited the Scottish National Museum and enjoyed an hour of looking at the exhibits. It was very moving to see the works of artists I recognized such as Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Da Vinci.

Our next stop was the Royal Mile, that stretch of road that has Holyrood Palace at one end and climbs to Edinburgh Castle at the other. We decided to save the castle for tomorrow. Instead we visited shops and had afternoon tea at the Hub Cafe and wandered through the crowds, watching street performers. For August is the time of festivals in Edinburgh. There is a National Festival that includes art and performances in ballet, theater, opera and other classical forms. There’s a jazz festival. A book fair. The military tattoo. And what the locals call the mad festival, the Fringe. This can include anything beyond the ordinary! The impact on Edinburgh is huge! People are everywhere! One cab driver told us the city’s population of 500,000 doubles during festival time. I can believe it! It’s a party atmosphere, all over town!

After a brief rest back at the hotel, we returned to the Royal Mile for a late dinner and the Haunted Vault Tour. There are rooms and sealed up closes, or alleyways, beneath Edinburgh. In the 1980’s some of these places were discovered and excavated and explored. Because of the darker history of these subterranean rooms many spooky stories have arisen. We enjoyed a tour and the theatrical storytelling of our guide. As old as this city is I have no problem believing there is still plenty of interesting energy lingering about.

We put in a full day of exploring today! Tomorrow is another opportunity to discover more about Edinburgh and the lovely people of Scotland!

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Day 222: Train to Edinburgh

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Today we traveled across the country of Scotland, from Glasgow to Edinburgh. I enjoyed my time in Glasgow. The people were warm and friendly and helpful. I enjoyed chatting with Colm, our wonderful concierge, the man at the kilt shop who directed us to our first Scottish pub, and Ian, our fun tour guide who introduced me to the Highlands. Glasgow is an interesting city with much to see and do and a very active night life. I only know that from walking back to the hotel after dinner each evening!

We bid the city farewell at the Queens Street Station as we boarded a train bound for Edinburgh. I loved traveling by train. Huge windows on either side of the cars offered splendid views of the countryside. Inside the train car, I enjoyed watching a family, also headed to Edinburgh. Their brogues added so much charm to the conversation between the mother and her wee son, Miles, who I guessed to be about three years old. I’m in a different country, where the people speak with a delightful accent and use different words, and yet family life is family life, everywhere. The mom and dad were taking their two girls and their boy to have a fun couple of days in the capital city before the summer holiday ends and school begins again. I smiled many times over the antics of the children and admired the patience of the parents.

In an hour we were getting our first glimpse of Edinburgh! I spotted the castle as we entered the train station. We will visit Edinburgh Castle tomorrow or possibly Tues. It is raining today. Not a heavy rain but a steady gentle rain. We opted for a cab ride to Halcyon House, where we will be in residence for the next three days.

What a charming place is Halcyon House. It has the feel of a bed & breakfast. The establishment is located in a long row of connected hotels, much like townhouses, on a quaint street not far from the Royal Mile. I was thrilled to get to the room and see a walled garden behind the the house. I will be exploring and enjoying that garden during my stay here.

Mindy and I had our cup of afternoon tea in the beautiful lounge provided by the hotel. By the time we left to walk around the area, it was dinner time. At the recommendation of the gentleman at Halcyon House, we wandered down the hill to Elm Street where there were many small restaurants to choose from. We’ve selected a different type of restaurant each evening. Tonight we dined at a small Chinese restaurant, where our meals were extremely good! We have yet to eat haggis, but we are saving that experience for Lauder, Scotland.

I am sitting in the lounge, typing this blog post on my phone. Out the large window, the rain continues to fall softly and beyond the street there is a park and more streets with ancient buildings lining them. Edinburgh has the feel of antiquity. The buildings in this part of the city, called Old Town, are made of stone. It boggles my mind to think about how many years this town has existed. Tomorrow, we have much to do and see as we explore Edinburgh. In this moment, however, I am so content to sit here by the window and be lulled into daydreams by the rain.

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Day 221: The Highlands

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What a magical day. On our last full day in Glasgow, we didn’t actually spend much time there. Instead, Mindy, Harry and I boarded a Rabbie’s tour bus early this morning and headed north, into the Highlands.

I was in high anticipation as we left the city behind. We had a great tour guide, named Ian, who drove our bus and narrated the trip, sharing stories about Scotland’s Highland history. He pulled the bus over several times, on the way to our final destination, Loch Ness, so we could take photos, stretch our legs, or have a meal or snack.

The weather was typical Scottish weather, however I’m learning what that means. The sky would cloud up and we would experience gentle rain for 10 minutes, at the most, and then the dark clouds would scurry on and the sun would pop back out. We were fortunate in that those brief rain showers happened during times we were riding in the bus.

Our first stop was Loch Lomond. The mist still lingered over the surrounding hills as we disembarked. The tranquil beauty of this loch surrounded me as I stood on the shore. I was delighted to see my first thistle, Scotland’s national flower, growing near the path where I stood.

Our next two stops were to admire the mountains that appeared as we entered the Highlands near Glencoe. The sun had returned as we stepped out on our second stop. We were in the presence of a mountain with many ridges and peaks called Bidean nam Bian. One of the main features is a group known as the Three Sisters, three steeply sided ridges that extend into the glen. They were so impressive and so beautiful, and being one of three sisters, the name appealed to me. As I stepped forward to take pictures, the haunting sound of bagpipes filled the air. Amazing. A lone piper stood nearby, playing skillfully. I could barely breathe. The majesty of the sisters, water cascading down the green face of one, and the sound of the bagpipes echoing over the glen brought a chill down my spine and tears to my eyes. It was absolutely stunning. Our guide Ian told us as we boarded the bus again that that was the way bagpipes were intended to be played, outdoors where the sound could roll away down the glens.

We stopped for lunch in Fort Augustus, on the southern most tip of Loch Ness. I’m surprised my neck still worked properly, as I spent my time in the bus moving my head from side to side, looking at the gorgeous landscapes through the large bus windows. I was captivated by what I saw: tall rugged peaks and rounded tree or grass covered mounds that reached amazing heights, forests that were so lush and dense that when I peered into their depths there was darkness beneath the branches, in spite of the sun shining above, creating a fairy tale world that took on reality before my eyes, and masses of heather in bloom that covered whole hillsides. I needed the lunch break. I could barely take it all in.

During lunch our talented tour guide joined Mindy, Harry and me and as we ate I asked him questions about what’s currently happening in Scotland. Next month, on September 18, the people of Scotland will vote on whether to stay a part of the United Kingdom or to become an independent country again. It was evident what Ian wanted even before he spoke….he wore a blue band in his wrist that says, simply, YES. He spoke with conviction and passion about Scotland’s future. It was wonderful to listen to him share and then be able to offer an American perspective on their historical moment. We became friends after that and I will be watching, on September 18, to see the outcome.

At last we arrived at Loch Ness, the long, narrow, deep loch that is famous for sightings of a creature that has affectionately become known as the Loch Ness monster, or Nessie. We boarded a large boat for a water tour of the loch. While we didn’t see Nessie, we enjoyed the fresh brisk air and the serenity of this mysterious loch. This was Harry’s boyhood dream realized and Mindy and I were honored to share the moment with him.

We headed back to Glasgow, by a different route, that took us through Inverness where we spotted the city’s picturesque castle looming above, and made a last stop in the quaint little town of Pitlochry. I fell in love with this town! Mindy and I had a late afternoon tea at a charming place called MacKenzie’s, and then had a short amount of time to wander down the street. There were well kept old buildings lining the main street and blooming flowers in the tiny front gardens and hanging from baskets everywhere. I was enchanted. Mindy referred to Pitlochry as Scotland’s Eureka Springs and that captured the look well. We both agreed we wish we would have had more time to explore.

We arrived back in Glasgow at 8:00 pm, 12 hours after we had departed. We three were tired but loved our outing today. I will cherish this day. When my eyes could no longer take in all that the Highlands offered to me, I opened my heart and spirit and received at a soul level. How powerful and mystical that experience was.

Robert Burns, Scotland’s poet, wrote,
“My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.”
I think I left a part of mine there today as well .

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Day 220: Exploring Glasgow

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Today, after a long night of sleep, we were up early and feeling like ourselves again. Before we set out to further explore Glasgow, we had a hardy traditional breakfast. Our plates arrived laden with bacon, which looked more like ham or Canadian bacon, sausage, an egg, baked beans, tomato, flat bread and black pudding. I jumped right in by trying the black pudding first and it was excellent! The whole breakfast was and gave us the energy we required for a full day of getting to know Glasgow.

Our friendly and extremely helpful concierge, Colm, pointed us in the right direction to locate a post office (the best place to exchange currency) and gave us £1 off vouchers for the City Sightseeing Glasgow bus. For £11 we saw the entire city and learned of her rich history. There were 28 stops where we could hop off and later hop back on without paying an additional fee. We toured the city and on the second time around got off at several points of interest.

First stop was the Glasgow Cathedral, and located behind and above it, the Necropolis. The cathedral was beautiful, full of history, medieval looking. We slipped downstairs into the crypts to look around in the hushed atmosphere. There is still an active congregation that meets in the cathedral.

Back outside we climbed the hill east of the cathedral to the Necropolis. This city of the dead is a Victorian cemetery established in 1833. 50,000 people are buried here although there are only 3500 monuments. Many of these memorials are massive. Apparently Glasgow’s wealthy were laid to rest here. I’ve never seen such amazing stone statues and structures as stood in long curved rows in the Necropolis.

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Our next stop was the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. We spent a pleasant hour and a half wondering through the exhibits. There was much to see and learn about Scotland’s art, history and natural sciences. There were also paintings by Monet, Rembrant and Salvador Dali. They had an impressive collection of arms and armor.

On we ventured, as the day wore on, to the Willow Tea House. Mindy and I especially wanted to experience an authentic afternoon tea. What a delight! Our afternoon tea consisted of Scottish breakfast tea, 4 varieties of finger sandwiches, scones with butter and strawberry jam, two kinds of cakes and shortbread cookies. After our large breakfast we had skipped lunch. This was a welcome interlude, both for refreshment and to rest weary legs. Mindy and I agreed we could get very used to this daily practice!

From the tea house we walked to nearby shops to browse while Harry visited a gaming store. The rain that had held off gently fell. I think I’d have been disappointed if we hadn’t experienced the famous Scottish weather. Rain doesn’t affect the Scots, and it didn’t slow us down. From this street of shops we found our way back to the hotel.

What a wonderful day! We learned so much, could understand the soft Scottish brogue better and felt comfortable finding our way around the city. In fact, walking to dinner tonight, someone stopped ME and asked for directions. I knew how to direct them successfully to George Square.

Several times today, as we toured this ancient and great city, I literally pinched myself to make sure this was real. For so long I have desired to visit this country, this homeland of my heart and soul. It is very real and I am loving every second. Tomorrow we head north to Loch Ness and the Highlands. I look forward to the rugged beauty we will surely find there.

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