Editors Note: Twenty-six-year old-Will Garrett and his father Edward sailed on the Scottish Highlander luxury barge operated by European Waterways earlier this month. Will filed a daily report and these will be published this week.
DAY 1: Detroit to St. Paul
My trip began by leaving DTW (Detroit) and traveling to Minnesota (where my father lives) so that we could start our journey to Scotland together. We had an uneventful evening and retired to bed early …wanted to be ready for our journey to Scotland tomorrow!
DAY 2: Travel To Ireland via MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) Airport:
The route to Scotland took us over the northeastern part of Canada, right below Greenland, and across the Atlantic Ocean. It was amazing to see just how delicate and beautiful the tundra is in this part of Canada. I gazed out the window until the sun faded away behind us.
After 8-1/2 hours we finally began our decent into Amsterdam international airport. It was the biggest airport I had ever seen — it must have taken 20 minutes just to taxi to our gate. After leaving the plane we stopped at a pub called Murphy’s in the airport that allowed smoking and I ordered a “breakfast bap” which is a fancy term for an egg and sausage breakfast sandwich.
My father and I both enjoyed an ale as well and decided we would head off to catch our next flight right in to Edinburgh. This flight only lasted one hour – it seemed we were landing minutes after takeoff!
We were greeted by a true Scot at customs; we explained we were here on “holiday” and he let us right through. We hopped a cab to our hotel and checked in, so we could clean up before sightseeing. We chose to stay in the city at the 4-star Novotel Edinburgh Center. This is located in the heart of Edinburgh, close to Edinburgh Castle as well as shopping and nightlife, and is quite modern, with wireless internet, satellite TV, and a restaurant with international cuisine.
The hotel itself is not four stars, in my opinion – I would not go back for many reasons – among them the size of the room, the bathroom and the air conditioning. We were both tempted to take a nap but pushed through the tiredness, knowing it would be much better to force ourselves to stay awake until night to reset our internal clocks for our time here in Scotland.
We toured the streets on foot and got a great view of Edinburgh Castle looming on the cliffs above. The grandness of the castle cannot be explained in words; it’s reminiscent of the medieval castles I had only seen in movies. Once we reached the castle I must say I was slightly disappointed at the fact it was such a tourist attraction — all the streets leading to the castle were lined with trinket shops selling everything from Scotland buttons to refrigerator magnets. The castle was still magnificent, but it really took away from the nostalgia and authenticity that I had always believed medieval castles to have.
We walked through the small stone corridors of the castle, including the king’s private quarters, which had 20-foot ceilings and three fireplaces — each big enough to fit one of those economy-size cars you see driving the cobblestone streets of downtown.
After the castle we had lunch where I had my first taste of haggis and black pudding. I had heard they were horrible, so I was hesitant to try either, but I tried both! I must say the haggis was delicious, but the black pudding must be somewhat of an acquired taste. (Haggis is a dish containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced with onion and other ingredients).
We spent the remainder of the day walking the streets of Edinburgh, stopping for the occasional coffee, as we admired the architecture of this medieval city. We then retired to our room for a much needed good night’s sleep.