18 April 11 Edinburgh
Oh, my! Woke to a swollen, itchy eye this morning. Took my antihistamine & if it doesn’t improve, once I’m in Glasgow, will probably take a Benadryl…
Other than that, it’s 8:30 and all I need to do is check emails, turn in my key and get a cab to take me up to the train. I’ll check the times & which track then wait for the next train.
LOL…what I’d forgotten about these tickets, is that you can catch any train you like…the ticket is for the whole day. So, I caught an earlier train (was supposed to catch one close to 11am…took the 9:26 instead. As I walked to the platform, I remembered that I didn’t turn in my borrowed power adapter — it’s sitting on the little table in the room. How irritating…I just lost ten pounds to that lapse in memory, and that puts me very tight on money till I can get to an exchange to change from euros to pounds…
Several people had told me that I must see Glasgow. That it is beautiful, majestic, etc. So, I am really looking forward to it! On my way, now and the first stop is Haymarket, not more than five minutes out of Waverley Station. There are some absolutely beautiful homes right up against the tracks. Not the norm for the states. The homes abutting on the tracks in the States would be so much less desirable, tenement living. All the posh homes would be far from the noise of the tracks. But these are beautiful, well cared for homes, with nice little yards and gardens.
Today is a wee bit cloudy — little sheets of puffballs with bits of blue sky sneaking through here and there. It has been weather I could not have planned for better. So little rain had dampened my path — I am delighted to say, but I really don’t care what weather comes…it is all good.
I’m already into farmland, not that far from Edinburgh, really. Fallow fields and some with well established green.
I’ve tried to take shots from the train, but have failed miserably. The seat available to me has my back to where we are going and at the first seat in the car, so I really can’t catch things in a timely manner. So, I’ve decided to just do my ‘snapshots’, or glimpses, in words:
field upon field, partitioned by long winding stone walls
little puddle of a pond along side the tracks at the base of a sheer stone wall, mostly dead-looking branches hanging over, some tiny sprouts of green beginning to bud out on parts of one branch
the edge of a small town with house after house, almost identical is design, nestled up next to each side of a river, with a beautiful arching stone bridge reflecting beautifully in the water below; a field just beyond fully covered in green
new bits of green popping up on swales of rich brown tilled soil
red tiled, steeply roofed homes clustered together creating a tidy little neighborhood
much newer construction amidst not so old (1960’s?)
tunnels that put pressure on my poor allergy-prone ears, but popping out one with trees and shrubs above, rickety wood stair case running crookedly through brambles and trees to the tracks — for pedestrians, or railway workers?
We’re coming through Falkirk High now. Oh, my — this is a large thriving town, with a mix of old and new, spires from very old churches rising above it all — except for one monster high rise, so out of place
more well kempt, long skinny lots with homes, laundry out to dry
cows grazing and lazing; and scottish broom with their bright yellow blooms doting fields; a large pond with ducks
finally, horses! I think of my friends, Marji & Nan and smile; corrals and stables–oh, what I would give to get out and get a good smell of that lovely aroma
abruptly, I see major construction on an interchange — gone as fast as it popped into view
beautiful, large, stately stables & home with horses everywhere
sheep dotting a green field, with remnants of stone outbuildings scattered here and there
Now entering Croy, and my weary eyes are tired, so for the last bit, I will save you from further descriptions. ^,^
Upon arriving at the Glasgow train station, around 10:45, and grabbing my taxi to the hostel, I saw so much new married to only a few older buildings that is was disheartening. I was ready to turn around and get back on the train. As I approached the hostel, my hopes were lifted at least slightly when I saw an increase of ‘ancient’ architecture. But, the City Center (where the station is located) is really very much more modern than I am interested in.
About a half-hour walk from the train station — I am so glad I took the taxi! And I keep forgetting that these old building don’t have elevators. Stairs — lots of them — greeted me. Stairs up to the front door, stairs up to the luggage room…I am glad my knee is not bothering me. My hostel seems to be at the top of a knoll…so if I go out, there will be an uphill journey to get back. And then, stairs up to my room…later.
With my luggage in the storage room (room won’t be ready till 2 pm), I wandered down (key word, that!) the street into a magnificent garden: Kelvingrove Park, part of Park Circus — I’ll post several photos of the park and the map showing what is where — neat. Beyond the park is the oldest university in Glasgow: Glasgow University.
In the park, there are a multitude of lawns, trees, flower beds bursting with color, paths, a walking bridge over a river and a pond with ducks and other water fowl. The park is built on a bank. Remember I said the hostel was at the top, well, the park is on the hillside that takes you down to the City Center. Long walk down, and hopefully a less steep way back up.
With the map given to me, I made my way through the park to the main streets, heading to the post office, where I could exchange my euros to pounds — and was glad to see it was at 0% commission — Edinburgh exchange I went to charged 6 pounds…ouch!
Money exchanged, I wandered further towards City Center, reluctantly. I found a pub — O’Neil’s — for lunch. Pretty Irish, yes? LOL…preparation for my next two weeks ^,^ Chicken & Mushroom Crock Pot — sounded good to me & oooh, was it! Chicken breast with mushroom & brandy sauce, served with colcannon (mashed potatoes, onions & cabbage mixed together), topped with Irish cheddar — all for three pounds, 49 p. Oh, yes — and a half pint Smithwicks beer for a wee bit more. Perfect.
Here’s a lesson: my taxi fare was 6 pounds & the driver conveniently didn’t have change for a tenner >.< I’d already handed him a one pound coin as tip when he handed me the change back with his “sorry, don’t have full change” — planning on keeping the amount he’s short. So he ended up with a very flush tip. Next time, I’ll use my change to make it exact.
The Irish ballad music is quite soothing…not too anxious to leave. I think I may just wander back up (hoping to find a route not as steep as the one through the park) to the hostel.
Saw a photo of Albert Einstein and Sir somebody, noting that they were standing outside Einstein’s home on Park — that is somewhere near the hostel… ^,^ Always liked Einstein.
Back at the hostel, recouped my energy (somewhat) and have decided that I am not going back out. Too tired. Think the train ride, my walk around Glasgow, the bite on my eye and my antihistamine & decongestant are taking their toll on me. Plus, the disappointment of the big city atmosphere and lack of old-world charm. Not what I really wanted, so ready to move on.
7pm — just spent two hours on the internet, pretty much trying to figure out my itinerary. Train website bumped me, so I’ll just do it in Belfast…train every two hours, so no big deal. There’s no room in Galway, so I’ve decided to stay in Dublin, using it as base and do day trips out to all of the places I want to go to. If I get tired, perhaps I’ll move on to Shannon sooner. But, for now, Dublin for six days, then a train ride to Limerick, bus or taxi to Shannon & collapse for the night, repack, shower & be ready for my plane ride in the morning (I think it’s morning) — only five minutes by car to the airport ^,^
For now, I am going to retire to my room and get all comfy. I’m tired. Too much cerebral work today, on top of the walking I did.
Oooh — got too early of a start! Had breakfast, packed up, checked for an email confirmation to correct my mistake (double reservations in Dublin), checked out, got a taxi and am now spinning my wheels at the Glasgow Central train station. Having a lovely cup of green tea as I type…my train does not leave until 11:42, so I have a bit of time. It’s not even on the overhead boards yet, so no clue as to which platform I should go to. I’ll give myself till about 11 and go check the boards.
I did buy postage and mailed my first post card — LOL — trip is almost over, so it will be interesting to see who makes it first: the card or me ^,^ It is airmail, so I would hope, the card! I had to buy four stamps, so, three more lucky people will get postcards, I guess…I’m not one for sending postcards — as you can see, I like to write, so postcards are too limiting for me. I could just send cards willy-nilly, saying dumb things like “wish you were here”, so people know I’m thinking of them, but really, I have thought of almost everyone at some point or another–something I see triggers the thought and I smile. People around me must think I’m a bit bonkers…but I don’t care.
Ouch! They just did a test for a fire alarm (nicer ringing–two-tone, though still loud–than the shrill siren in the states). Then they did a “voice test” — lol…as if that was necessary. Oh well. Everyone in the cafe I’m in was laughing and mocking the “voice test”. I think they even shut it off in the cafe, because it stopped so abruptly inside, but continued outside.
I keep being drawn to scarves. A tenner will buy a beautiful scarf — that’s about 15.50 US. Nice, but I’m acquiring too many, I think…and besides, they are either made in London or India. I’m in Scotland. I think I’ll wait till I’m in Ireland and see if I can get something local.
I’ve caught the news a couple of times since I landed in Scotland and the economy here seems to be doing as badly as in the US. Their elections are coming up in May and there is a contest between politicians (as usual) to see how many votes they can draw. At stake are many public service jobs (sound familiar??), which will effect some towns in Wales heavily — upward to 30% population is in the public service areas & they are spending less to prepare for possible job losses, which is hurting the economy badly. Listening quietly to locals talk has been very informative. I do not profess to be terribly “politically savvy” but everything I hear (little about the US, but I’m sure it’s nearly the same) points to a turn around not coming soon — seriously.
And that alarm keeps going off randomly (never finishing the announcement), so it is being ignored. Wonder what would happen in the case of a real alarm…the boy crying wolf too many times makes people oblivious to a real problem, eh? Ah — still part of the “testing” — they just announced the testing is over — LOL.
Just past 11am & my train is not posted on the overhead yet, but by the looks of it, within the next 15 minutes or so, should be up there. I have a reserved seat for this journey, as do I on the ferry (cushy, if I do say so on the ferry ^,^ ) But I’ll have to dash to make the train to Dublin, I think, or wait for two hours. The ferry area is nice, so it wouldn’t be too bad a wait. Just two hours from Belfast to Dublin, then to the hostel…can’t remember the check in time, but shouldn’t be more than an hour (maybe my room will be ready early ^,^ )
But, I get ahead of myself. First, Stranraer. I can hardly wait — QUIET little town–such a lovely change of pace from all of this big city stuff. Guess I really and truly am a country girl at heart! ^,^
11:20, well, posted as “on time”, but no platform # yet. Probably another 10-15 minutes before I can board…
LOL…was actually late…”delayed” for about five minutes — probably got underway just before noon, which is fine, since I am NOT trying to make the StenaLines ferry connection today. There are quite a few that were pacing & making phone calls to say the train was late and they may have to take a later ferry. So glad I decided to wait so I would not be in the same position.
Now, this is truly beautiful country! Beautiful, expansive and loads of sheep and cattle. And you know it’s spring time by all of the lambs frolicking in the fields or hovering close to their mothers. I am seeing so many sets of twins — more than I thought was normal, but who knows…one set waggin’ tails, butting at teats, looking for a taste of mother’s milk.
Don’t know how long I’d survive this far afield froma town, but I do love this part of Scotland.
Tomorrow. StenaLines, then look for a connection down to Dublin (I believe they run every hour or two, so no big deal.
While waiting, I’ve run across a mom & her 18 month old boy (a cutie) that live in Skye, visiting grandparents one last time before they make the move to Minnesota (she is from Seattle, married to a Scot)…he is hoping they will be “home” before their son starts school…at least Minnesota has an excellent school system if they get “stuck” there. LOL… They are on the same train, but will be getting off earlier than I — I’ll be going to the end of line.
Arrived! Stranraer train station is right next to the StenaLines. And I saw exactly where I need to go tomorrow on my way into town to the Swan Inn…nearly at the other end of town! LOL. I will definitely be taking a taxi to the ferry in the morning. The want passengers to arrive one hour before departure, so I need to be there by 8:30am. It’s less than 5 minutes away — by car…with luggage, it took me about 15-20 minutes, asking directions along the way.
My room’s not quite ready, so I’ve been roaming around the children’s park (very beautiful & well kept) and now just waiting a few extra minutes before going in. The husband was mopping up the pub portion of the Inn — food & spirits downstairs, rooms to let upstairs. Thankfully, he allowed me to drop my stuff & promised to take to my room for me — WONDERFUL! No hauling up a flight of stairs (poor guy…my stuff is deceptively heavy — no one thinks an “old lady” would be hauling around so much weight!
My room is cozy, plenty of room, with a tv, refrigerator & food for my continental breakfast & tea (or coffee). I am happy! I took pictures. At some point I will post these at Flickr.
8pm and completely settled in after a very nice shower. TV going, to get caught up on news (though, not US news, by any means) and non-timed (yay) internet access. Will be back to paying for my time tomorrow night… So, if I get around to it, I will post pictures tonight. That is, unless I get too tired. I went to bed last night at 8:30 & was afraid I’d wake during the night…LOL…I slept till 5:30, rolled over and slept till just before 7am! Worked out well.
So, I’ve bored you long enough & time to get on with choosing which pictures to post to my Flickr page (you can access from my photo page on creationsbydjamesonsmith.com — maybe even from the home page)