Archive for December, 2006

04
Dec
06

Polar Bear Badge

Nathan on bridgeI guess I should start off by saying that I am not fully the camping type. I enjoy being outdoors in spring like weather, also, I just hate the whole you need to bring this and this and this and this, and the bathroom so not convenient, and you have to put your shoes on just to go to the bathroom… UGH

So, this week-end… I took the oldest camping with his webelos. They are checking out local Boy Scout Troops for crossing over. Last night, I camped out and it was 29 degrees! I sooo deserve my brownie points.

It was all so worth it seeing my son do this! Crossing a two rope bridge. I’m so proud.

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04
Dec
06

Scotland Pictures!

18th holeKilt FactoryHolyrood Abbey RuinsFlat Stanley

Flat Stanley ~

Flat Stanley is a character from a book that my youngest read. They made Flat Stanleys at school and sent them out to travel the world. His Flat Stanley travelled across Canada, from Vancouver to Montreal via train, and did his lil Scotland tour. He is now on his way to India, even tho his head is about to fall off!

04
Dec
06

Scotland (Lond winded… unedited… )

So, this is my Scotland trip in a mini unedited novel. It will of course be checked for spelling, and grammar as time goes on, but it was important to get the main ideas down.

After the countdown had almost been completed, down to 1 from 121 days, my cousin decides to drink more than a bottle of wine all by her lonesome. This trek to San Antonio, normally takes an hour and half, took more than three. We we running for the plane!

I can’t seem to find the words that can even begin describing the things I’ve seen and exprerienced this week. The hustle and bustle of the city is energizing, even in the cool rainy evenings. It was hard to stay in knowing there were so many things to be seen. Leaving the city, though, is where I found the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. The Highlands were truly beautiful.

Right after we landed, we took a taxi to our guest house. The owners of Sonas Bed and Breakfast made you feel like family. The rooms were small, but clean, and welcoming. I loved the beds, I slept very well, which says a lot. My cousin and I were the only room on the bottom floor. It was nice to be able to come and go and not bother the other guests. After checking in and meeting Dennis and Irene, we hopped a bus to Princes Street. The bus is a pound for each trip, that’s about two US dollars. We wised up quickly and invested in a weekly bus pass. It was 13 pounds for the week, and well worth it.

Princes Street was neat, it was like the New Town’s main street, very active and full of life. We window shopped for a while and had dinner at a Chinese Buffet. I know what you are thinking, we travel for 13 hours and we have chinese food?!? But, in our defense, Granny was tired and it was close. The Bobbie said it was, “Cheap and Cheerful” at 8 pounds per person, which was 16 us dollars!! CHEAP, I think not, I had heard that the price of food was costly, but to me, it was outrageous, when you go from pounds to dollars. We dropped Granny back off at the B&B, and my cousin and I took off to paint the town red. We went to a coffee house called the beanscene.uk.co, and had the best five dollar hot chocolate ever, and then went to find a local pub and check things out. We found the Saltire off of Rose Street, that had a very cute bartender. My cousin was hooled and tipped him quite nicely with each drink, only to find out you don’t tip bartenders in Scotland. We were lucky and found our bus back to where we were staying. We slept well in our small room that night.

On Sunday, breakfast that came with the room was a full Scottish breakfast. This consisted of eggs, fried or scrambled, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, french toast, and tea or coffee. What a wonderful way to start your day. Irene was a wonderful cook! Every morning I was stuffed and ready to begin my journey. Next, we went around town on a cheesy tour bus outfit. The operators and tickets salesmen we very rude. The tour dropped us off at the Royal Yacht Britania. I was suprised that I enjoyed it. On the yacht, the queen slept in a twin bed! There was room for a larger bed in her room, but she chose a twin. Prince Phillip, also, slept in a twin in a seperate room. The largest bed on the yacht was the bed in the honeymoon suite, where Charles and Di slept, and also, President Clinton and Hillary. I don’t think it was a queen bed, though. I really enjoyed seeing the Queen’s desk.

That evening, my cousin and I were off out on the town again! We ended up at a comedy club. Some of the comedians were great, of the ones we were able to understand, but we honestly didn’t understand half of them. The Po Na Na was next. It was a small club off of Fredrick Street. The set-up was nice, and the bartender was way cute. Of course, he reminded me of someone near and dear to my heart. I loved my drink there, a Long Vodka. I wonder if I will ever have another one of those. We took a cab home Sunday night because it was very late, rainy.

I wanted to find Nessie, so on Monday we took a tour. It was through the amazing and beautiful Highlands! I have never seen landscape like this. I took so many pictures because I don’t ever want to forget the beauty of it. I had heard that they breathtaking, but seeing it on my own was the proof I needed. We had a traditional Scottish lunch, steak and ale pie, at this quaint cafe off of Loch Ness. The pie was superb, and the view of the Loch proved to be more than I even imagined. Even in November, it was worth seeing, and travelling 350 miles over the Scottish countryside. Our tour guide, Davy, was brilliant with his accent, and very cute, to boot. My cousin kept saying our granny had a crush on him, but I wasn’t going to admit that I did too! He told wonderful stories, long winded, but kept our interest with his excitement of telling them. We learned so much history and geography of the Highlands because he was a geography major, and that extra was thrown into his tour. We saw Glencoe, waterfalls, a dam releasing water full force, Loch after Loch. It was a long day, and it was nice to get home to a nice warm and cozy room.

Holyrood Palace was next. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see this, but since we were travelling in a small group, I went along cheerfully. I had seen what I wanted to see, Nessie’s home, and the Highlands! Holyrood Palace was interesting, especially since the Royal family still uses it. We couldn’t take pictures in the inside, which was sad because we saw some things I would have loved to share, like the King’s bed, and the thrones. The tapestries were ancient, and looked fragile.When you think about the work that went into them, so long ago, without modern technologies, you just know that it took a long time for one to be completed. These were massive and huge and depicted scenes from all FOUR continents! Four, love it, they were that old.

A long walk up the Royal Mile was next, this was the main road in the Old Town. I found the suviniers I wanted, some Scott Green Ancient tartan. I picked up a sash and a scarf. YAY! I never did find my shawl, but I will order one when I get back home in the States. I loved looking in all of the small tourist stores. It was so much fun, even though, they really all carried the same things. In the end, we walked up and down the Royal Mile about five times, sometimes shopping, other times not. The Royal Mile is called the Royal Mile because the Castle of Edinburgh is at the top and Holyrood Palace is at the bottom, and the Kings and Queens of Scotland would walk it from one end to the other. My cousin and I spent the night in, enjoying the warmth instead of going out in the cold damp streets that evening.

Since, the first day, breakfast has changed. Instead of a full Scottish breakfast, I’m now having porridge, glorified oatmeal, with bacon, toast and mushrooms. I can’t get enough of the shrooms. We spent Wednday afternoon, at the top of the Royal Mile, at the Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh is the only capital city without a river running through it, so without the castle Edinburgh would not exsist. The view was spectacular. The castle was a great view. Flat Stanley came out and took pictures, he was out at the yacht, too. He sat with the cannon balls, and tried to fire Mons Meg, the giant cannon. At 1 o`cock, everyday, except Sunday, and Christmas, and Good Friday, the cannon is fired, and let me tell you, you think you are under attack! We saw the Scottish Royal Jewels. The history behind them is captivating, and they were as majestic as the British Royal Jewels in London, there just wasn’t as many of them.

We took quite a bit of time on our trip talking to bus drivers, and seeking directions. Now, one would think that getting directions from a bus driver would be quite easy, but in Scotland that just wasn’t the case. I’m sure with more time, and more experience we would know which bus goes where, and how to figure that out without asking, but since we were here a week, that just wasn’t the case. So, here is the scenerio, three of us at a bus stop with maybe 10 other people waiting, chances are it’s rainy and cold, and a bus comes to a stop. We let the others who know where they are going get on, and then my cousin and I would decide who was going to go ask if this bus was going where we were going. So, the designated asker would approach the bus driver, and the other two would look on, always full of hope that we had got it right and this would the one we would get on. Sometimes, the asker would pull out the bus card and the others two would run up so not to delay the bus. Other times, we could just feel the rejection and feel so dejected when it was the wrong bus and we were going to have to wait a few minutes longer. Good thing the busses came through with constant regularity.

Because the trip through the Highlands was such a success in all three of our opinions, we decided that we needed to take the St. Andrews/Kingdom of Fife/aka fishing villages of Fife tour. Sad to say, it was not nearly as good as the Loch Ness tour. The driver was old, and had no umpf to his stories, and his Scotish Brogue was non-existent, the weather was horrible. The cousin and I walked around for the three hours we were allowed, and enjoyed ourselves. I felt bad that Granny wasn’t keeping up, and didn’t want to walk around with us. We had lunch at a very fun cafe. The cousin took picture of the washwoom, so that should say enough. I am glad that I saw St. Andrews, though, the castle ruins were captivating with the sea off in the distance. I know that I will enjoy being able to say that I have been to the St. Andrews Golf Course, and have a picture of the 18th hole. It’s really hard for me not to share about going to Scotland, even if others call it bragging about going to Scotland.

The final day was exciting. I was ready to think about packing and heading home, and running around seeing the final stops. The Princes Street Gardens, and the oldest floral clock in the world, that really works! The candy store that had too many people for me to go in so I just took a picture, and a final walk about the old town. Cousin’s grey cloud followed us, though, because I was finally about to have dinner at Kildares, and it was closed, the sign read like this, “Due to unforseen circumstances we will not be opening today.” I mean seriously, grey cloud GO AWAY.

I loved Scotland, and travelling around places I had not been. I would love to go back and see more.