Tea, Dives & Zombie Attacks…Doug does Scotland

Dear Journal,

It’s me again, Doug, and you’ll never guess where my adventures have taken me next! I am up in Boonie Scotland! It all started with a mysterious phone call..

You see when the Queen calls you it doesn’t just come up on your caller ID as “The Queen”. Instead it is a very round about and complicated procedure involving lots of personal questions to verify your identity before she actually gets on the phone. Do you think she has to go through all of that just to call up Prince Charles? Anyway, I was on the train heading north from London when my phone rang. It seems her majesty is up at her summer home in Scotland and was wondering if I would like to stop by for tea. Having no previous plans I figure why not (as if I would have actually turned down the Queen!). So I ended up at the Palace at Holyrood sitting in the gardens with old Lizzie herself. It was quite an exquisite place! We then joined a procession up the Royal Mile and were treated to a tour of the Edinburgh Castle!
I stayed up on Castle Hill and that night, on Her Royal Majesty’s recommendation, I took in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Their performances count as one of the 4 events that make up Edinburgh Festival. I didn’t realize this was such a big thing, but they set up a giant grandstand right in front of the castle and over 200,000 people come to see them during this one week!
The show was awesome, featuring marching and music, a lone bagpiper on the castle walls and a firework show at the end!

Inverness seemed like the place to go next. I’ve always wanted to see the Scottish Highlands and the famous Loch Ness. One of the main sites of the area, other than the Loch itself, is the Urquhart Castle ruins. They were a neat place to explore! While perched on a crumbling old wall having a rest something in the water caught me eye. It could have been a wave. It could have been a duck. It could have been nothing at all! But there was this overwhelming suspicion building in my gut that it had been so much more!
I hired a boat to take me to the deepest part of the lake but soon discovered that sitting on the surface would get me nowhere. It was surprisingly easy to find a dive suit in the Loch Ness area…building one my size doesn’t take much material. Once back on the water with my air hose hooked up I plunged into the deep on a quest for answers. Periodically is sent out sonar waves, watching for any irregularities. And boy did I start to get some big ones! A little more exploring revealed a cave. And in that cave…Nessie! Imagine, the Loch Ness Monster hiding out in a cave for all these years! Much to my surprise I seem to be able to speak Monster. Nessie told me how she likes the life of mystery but allows glimpses of herself because she likes the attention. It can get kind of lonely in the bottom of the largest lake in the UK! I told her I have a friend back home names Plesio and I thought they’d get along well. She liked the sound of that and I think I will bring him along on my next visit.
(That was Plesio last summer when we visited Jurassic Forest.)

I thought I’d round out my visit with a trip to Glasgow. Now Glasgow’s sites are a bit more wide spread than some of the other cities I’ve been to so I decided to use one of the Sightseeing Tour Buses as a means to get around. One of the stops of the tour had to be moved because George Square, right in the center of town, was closed. Apparently there is a movie being filmed there! I found myself thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool to see a real movie being filmed!” so I hopped off my Hop On/Hop Off bus and headed into the square.
Now the next part was kind of a blur but almost as soon as I reached the barricade holding the fans back from a crazy warlike wreckage of cars someone was over telling me I was perfect. Perfect for what? I barely had time to register that I was to replace a sick extra before I was rushed through hair and makeup and wardrobe and thrust onto a real live set! They told me to act like zombies were attacking…so I went a little bizzurck. I worried it had been a little overdramatic but Brad didn’t think so. Who is Brad you might ask? No not Brad Kummer but Brad Pitt! The heartthrob himself! He complimented my work and gave me a few pointers to use in future scenes. The moral of the story? Look for me in World War Z!

Well that’s all from Scotland. Until next time, here’s a hint of where I’m going next:

Keep Smiling,

They’re like wearing fuzzy dreams!

If you have been waiting all day for a super exciting post well…this isn’t it. Sorry but to be honest today wasn’t very big day to talk about. We did meet some interesting people though.

We started in the rain in Glasgow. For everything to run smoothly for today’s travels we ended up having a rather late train out: 11:42 am vs a normal 8 or 9 am train. Our bus tour ticket from yesterday was actually good for 48 hours so we used it to get ourselves to the train station. Todays train was quite full one so we didn’t get our 4 person table seat to ourselves like we normally do. We ended up sitting with a really nice couple. He was from Edinburgh, she was from London and now they live by Glasgow. He was really awesome about pointing out things to look at out the window and she had some interesting insight into the differences between Scotland and England (and Scots & English people). They however got off at a stop halfway to Stranraer (our destination). After that we did our usual train things: journal writing, mahjong, drop 7 and sleeping in Beans case (that girl just can’t stay awake in moving vehicles…she should have no trouble on our night trains later in the journey).

In Stranraer we transferred over to the ferry. It was super easy…literally walk out of the train station and your pretty much in the ferry terminal. Our rail passes didn’t give us a free trip but they did provide an excellent discount. Our 2 tickets combined ended up costing less than one full price ticket! The ferry boats were crazy nice! There was a cafeteria, a bar, a coffee shop, a kids play place, an arcade, a casino & a nail saloon. That’s without even mentioning the ample seating, where every seat was super cushion-y, and 3 areas where they had movies playing. Like we said, crazy nice! We did have one negative though…the ship severely lacked outside deck space. There were 2 tiny balconies at the back of the boat (one smoking and one non) and that was it! We are the girls who spent the whole ferry ride from Vancouver to the island doing laps around the boat in the rain in January…we like deck space!

Upon arrival in Belfast we found our research into which buses to take was all in vain. The buses don’t run to the ferry terminal on Saturdays. Lame! But the man standing next to us asked we and another lady if we wanted to share a taxi to the same bus center we had intended to go to. This time he was from a small town by Belfast but had been living in Edinburgh for the last 6 years and she was from the Dublin area but had just moved to Edinburgh this month. Again they were super nice and very curious about our trip and how we were finding things here.

Our Belfast hostel is probably the smallest place we’ve been in so far when you look at the number of beds it has. But in contrast, it’s the largest room we’ve been in so far with 8 beds. And its looking like it might be full tonight. Lucky we have earplugs and are such good sleepers!
(Kels, we know you’re waiting for hostel pictures and those are coming soon…just be patient!)

Now by this point you’re probably thinking, “At least I’ll get to hear about their awesome supper”… Well, now we must admit we actually had Chinese food for supper. The whole ferry ride we could smell Chinese so it became an overwhelming craving. We ended up going to China China, a place right by our hostel, and having an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. Back to exciting British food tomorrow…we promise!

After supper we had to work off a little of our ginormous supper so we went for a wander around the Queens University, the Botanical Gardens and the other areas surrounding our hostel. The parks here make us laugh. Instead of football goal posts or dried up hockey rinks you find courts/set-ups for funny games like cricket & lawn bowling. We also walked by a posh party that had something to do with polo. Oh the sports they play here! Anyway, our first impression of Ireland: it’s green and the people speak in awesome accents (Kristin thinks it’s her favorite accent!). As a happy update Justine wasn’t feeling in tendinitis pain during our walk! She was however feeling like her shoes were rubbing the skin off her heel.
(You might think that photo is just a reused one from Glasgow, but no they just have the same structure in their Botanical Gardens…that’s why we took this picture.)

Basically to sum up the day: we entered country #3, Ireland! Stay tuned tomorrow to find out how it goes…

Love, Luck & Lawn Bowling

PS. If you were bored by us we have one word of comfort…a little friend of ours was using IgPat to do some typing of his own today…

No Nessie so we’ll switch to Brad

Thanks for the participation with our earlier challenge. Congratulations to the Padget Parents and the Kummer family (who will count as one until Alexa leaves home, then it’s Lex & the Kummer Parents) who each earned themselves another 2 points! And yay for Kristin who has joined the running with her first 2 points! And no that’s not talking about yours truly writing this blog but a fair young lady from up north who we love dearly!

Here are the actual answers for anyone curious & wanting to learn:
1. Baikal
2. Tanganyika
3. Superior
4. Michigan-Huron
5. Malawi
We also accepted the Caspian Sea because although it had oceanic properties, it is an inland body of water.

What fun point challenges are! Keep your eyes open…there might be another one coming at you very soon…

Today’s train ride was 3.5 hours. Justine slept and wrote in her journal while icing & elevating her foot. Kristin wrote in her journal and played mahjong. Not thrilling stuff but we need to pad this entry a little to keep to from being too short.

Our arrival into Glasgow went swell. Kristin had been worried this would be one of the trickier hostels to get to since it wasn’t in walking distance of the rail station. However Glasgow has a handy subway system (and it is called the subway here!) that we popped out of just 2 blocks from the hostel. This underground was a breeze after London as it was really just one big circle…kinda like the LRT: one route, choose a direction. The hostel is nice. We have a tiny 4 bed room…emphasis on the tiny but with only 4 people max in it there shouldn’t be a problem.

Arriving in Glasgow we didn’t really know what there was to do so we hoped on the Crazy Tourist Sightseeing Bus Tour. We hoped on at the University of Glasgow and rode the loop for an hour and forty-five minutes.
So basically in Glasgow, we didn’t do much but we saw lots of things. These included a lot of museums, some churches (one was all ancient and burnt looking), some shopping centers (one with a crazy glass pyramid roof) and some lovely gardens within the city. To be honest we never actually got off the bus, it was just the Glasgow by bus today. We did learn a few things though, like that they used to do major ship building here, including the Queen Mary (we’ve been there!). Also they’re building a six start hotel and although they already have multiple theaters they are building yet another one as all of the existing ones are pretty much booked up for the next 10 years.
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The most exciting part of the loop was the closure of their main city square. This square has been closed down because Brad Pitt is currently filming his film World War Z here. We didn’t get to see Brad Pitt but we did see lots of people dressed in military uniforms and a set that looked like crashed cars.

We wandered through the university a little when we got off the bus.
The problem with Glasgow is that everything closes at 5pm…not giving you a lot of sightseeing time when you only show up here at 1pm. The university was nice, with some old buildings. In contrast to UofA the ugliest buildings were the Engineering ones (called the James Watt building as he actually went there!). They really need to find some oil in this area, then their engineering schools could get some money! At this point it started to rain so we found refuge in a pub across the way. Here’s tonight’s supper:
Yes, those are burgers…how very North American of us. But you may notice we had tea with them and even put cream & sugar in it as the British do. Also check out our British pudding course:
Sticky Toffee Pudding! Yum Yum Yum!

Random Observations:
– There are no stop lights that go over top of the street here. We had noticed this before but it didn’t come to us until today that it was probably because double-decker buses would hit them!
– There really are snack trolleys on trains 🙂 “Anything off the trolley dears?”

Highlights of the Day:
1. Sticky Toffee Pudding…good call Dylan 🙂

So to finish off, we have come to one big conclusion today: Although Glasgow is a nice city, if it can have a sightseeing bus tour, so can Edmonton! We think we are equally exciting for visitors.
So here’s your challenge: help us name the sightseeing stops of the Edmonton Hop On-Hop Off Bus Tour! We will give one point for each stop you name, however they have to pass our strict set criteria based on our tour experience…so no, Valley Blades will not count as a stop Bradley! You will only get points for original spots, meaning the first person to name a sight is the only one who gets points for it.
Get researching, get creative and get embracing your Edmontonianism (yes, we just made that word up). You have till we publish the day after tomorrow to get your submissions in.

Love, Luck & Limited Time,