We awoke Monday morning ready to set off on our biggest adventure to date: a journey to the Scottish Highlands that would end with my first hostel experience at “Chase the Wild Goose Hostel” in Fort William. As much as I was eager to see what it was like to sleep in a large bunk room among 12 strangers (or what I’m affectionately calling ‘camping’), I was more looking forward to seeing the rolling countryside and beautiful views promised by our guide book. Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak and Loch Ness were two attractions summoning us, but to ruin the ending of yet another dramatic tale, we never got to see them.
Dan and Andrew set off to secure our rental car, a manual with a driver’s seat on the right, that only Dan was skilled enough to captain. After sparing me the bumpy (er, smoky start), we loaded our luggage and began our trek on the wrong side of the road northward. Thankfully the Scots are less aggressive than the Brits and we found our way without issue. Dan was an old pro and navigated many a roundy (or roundabout) with ease. As we crossed the river we even spotted a rainbow; a deceptive sign for what awaited us on the other side. After a brief nap on my part, I awoke with a start and Andrew said, “Welcome to Narnia.” Without warning, it had become a shocking winter wonderland outside and we couldn’t see fifty feet in front of us! Navigating Chicago weather is bad enough, but add in narrow streets, large trucks, and a backwards driving situation–too much! We exited the highway to gather our bearings and after our brief park, Andrew and I found ourselves rescuing our small Vauxhall wagon from the snow with a valiant push (#thankyoucrossfit); the manual gears requiring Dan to hit the gas. Without data or the confidence of a radar map, we opted to forego another 2 hours in the stormy weather only to arrive in Fort William whose main appeal was spending time exploring outdoors. Instead, we made our way back down to Perth, the closest true civilization, and logged online to quickly form a backup plan. With only a 75 minute commute to our third Scottish destination, Glasgow, and the precipitation pacifying us as only rain, we planned an early arrival to our hotel.
The most fun thing about our hotel is the option for a triple room, or three twin beds closely set together. Last night, Dan slept betwixt Andrew and me and we were thankful for a place with reliable wifi (I’m sure you’re catching a theme…) and free breakfast in the morning (another theme…). Upon a recommendation from a friend who spent some time living in Glasgow, we dined on £6 1/2 kilos of freshly-caught mussels steamed in shallots, garlic, and cream and homemade bread at Mussel Inn. Befriending our local waiter supplied us a fabulous recommendation to visit Pot Still across the street, a bar boasting over 600 whiskeys, of which we sampled a few. My favorite quote of the night was when Andrew, upon realizing Dan was nursing his pour, said, “Is that beard glued on?!”.
As much as we were sad about missing a planned part of our trip, I think we can all agree that we made the right call and are enjoying our time in another big city. Dan and I are about to check out a CrossFit gym here before meeting up with Andrew for lunch and the local sites.
Tonight we hope to see some music, a trademark of Glasgow, and may find ourselves back at Pot Still for another round…