Jul 092005

Some quick notes on the hotels we stayed at during our visit to Scotland:

Queens Guest House: top floor room, under slanted roof. Shower in room, toilet in separate room, also slanted roof. First night: Wet Wet Wet concert at Stirling Castle, clearly hearable through the skylight. Not unpleasant. Throughout the night some noise from drunken people. Next Saturday morning car across road had 2 garbage cans on its roof. 5 channels on tv. Hair-dryer in room not present.

Whinpark Inverness: Nice room, and even though we got there a bit early, they had it ready in 5 mins. Shower low pressure, but ok temperature & size. View of flat roof. Little or no noise. 4 channels on tv. Breakfast was good & quick with a choice from every possible permutation on the eggs, sausage & bacon theme.

Loch Ness lodge hotel. Room ok. Small bath room. 3 or 4 channels on TV. Bed-radio out of order. Window view (& sounds) of parking lot. thin walls: you hear all from hallway, and quite some from adjoining rooms & upstairs. Yup, half the night I got to enjoy snoring noises from the room upstairs… The bathroom had a bath with shower. Finally some good water pressure available. But I was less happy with the not-always-constant water temperature, and with the fact that having to stand in a bath tub while showering is not perfect either.

Eyre guest house Edinburgh: they actually put us next door, in the Arendale. Nice place. Top floor. Bed as good as other places, but not as good as Stirling. Weird: a remote control right next to the TV, but the TV doesn’t react to it…! 4 channels. Quiet environment. Quite noisy shower, but good temperature & pressure, the best so far. Hairdryer in room not present.

KinGraig Nice place, good room. Honesty bar outside the room with all kinds of drinks for normal (between store price & bar price) price. The toilet seat seemed to have some trouble with our weight and broke (there was already a crack present though). Fixed in no time by the owner himself, who introduced us to the concept of a ‘Glasgow screwdriver‘. 5 Tv channels.

Best bed: Stirling
Best shower: Edinburgh. (based on water pressure & constant temperature.)
Friendliest proprietor: KinGraig! (although most of the others are VERY close seconds)

Jul 092005

We got up bright & early and were all packed at 7am. We went downstairs and had a quick ‘continental breakfast’. The only other early risers were the ‘All Blades’. The taxi arrived right on time at 7.30, and after a short & quick drive we arrived at Prestwick.
We did pass a large police convoy on the way, at least 10 vehicles. Maybe 1 of the G8 leaders departs as well this morning…?
No sign of any police inside the airport though. Checking in was quick & painless, although the M/77‘s had to come off again… Bought a couple of Guinness polo shirts in the tax free.

Jul 082005

Breakfast good & quick. After breakfast when we were back in the room I noticed to my embarrassment that I still had the key of Ardenlee in my pocket! After we reported our small toilet problem we got on the bus to Ayr. First priority there was finding a post office so that I could mail back the key. after this had been accomplished, we wandered a bit through town, and ended up at the beach. Here we could see the Isle of Arran, a couple of kilometres off the mainland. We then passed St. Johns tower. A sign there states 'visitors are always welcome' but the entrance fence has a large lock & chain on it… we then checked out the stores in the centre of town. Had a coke at Burger King.(originally I'd hoped for a milkshake, but the ice machine was out of order, we were told and yes, it appeared a bit bombed out… More window shopping. Bought some books at Bargain Books. Had a bite at Pumpernickel. Nice 'loaded garlic bread' & 'strawberry sundae'. We took the bus back to the centre of Prestwick, and did some booze shopping at Neils off sales: a couple of bottles of Wallace whisky liqueur, a bottle of Drumgray, a miniature bottle of Old Course Clubhouse whisky for Leif, and 4 miniature bottles of Glenfarclas whisky for the lads at the office.
When we returned at the hotel we ran into the owner who informed us he'd picked up a new toilet seat/cover for our room, and he asked when it would be most convenient for us for him to install it. We told him it was up to him, and then were told he'd do it right away if that was ok. Well, of course it was! Before he came I settled the bill with him, which went quick and easy. He even arranged a taxi for us for the next morning and promised us a 'continental breakfast' before the normal weekend breakfast time! 5 minutes later he came to the room and installed the new seat/cover with a friendly chat & a smile (and a 'Glasgow screwdriver' as he referred to his hammer). He also told us that all police activity we saw earlier today was probably due to George W. Bush departing from Prestwick today. (the presence of Air Force One there until today would explain all the police we've seen in Prestwick since our arrival here on thursday.)
In the beginning of the evening we had a great dinner at The Pinewood in Prestwick. Sidenote: the menu also had 'Dutch Coffee' on it, which would contain a liqueur named Kummel. Since I'd never heard of it I inquired about it. The waiter showed me the bottle (and offered me a free tasting which I chose not to bother them with), and then the mystery was quickly solved: Kummel is a Danish drink, not a Dutch one…! I chose for Gaelic coffee instead. By 7.30pm we were back in the room. More news on the London bombings on TV, and after that a classic: 'the man with the golden gun'. I enjoyed the movie with a 0.5 litres of Strongbow.

 Posted by at 23:47
Jul 072005

First another good breakfast. Then we packed up again and checked out. We grabbed a cab to the bus station at St. Andrews square. There we put our suitcases in a locker. We took out some more cash, and headed for the City Sightseeing. Here we were told that because of the canceled services yesterday our ticket would we valid today as well. So we got on for a full ride, and then some, so that we got off near the castle and begun walking ‘the Royal Mile’. After a while we stopped for Haggis at ‘the Mitre’: very tasty! Here we also became aware of the terrorist attacks on London. Afterwards: back to the cat gallery so that M could buy a T-shirt. Then we decided to head for the bus, and got tickets for the 3pm Motorvator.
In Glasgow we noticed that the X77 shuttle would leave in 3 minutes so walked straight on. This bus took us to downtown Prestwick. There it was 5-10 minutes walk to KinGraig. After a rest & some news updates we went out for dinner. We ended up at ‘the Red Lion’. Police vans kept on driving by in both directions at irregular intervals. There was even a period that the corner by the pub was guarded by to policemen with sub machine guns. We don’t know why Prestwick is getting all this attention… After a full dinner (mixed grill) we returned to the hotel. We got something to drink from the honesty bar & watched some TV, including an episode of ‘House’, which I really liked.

 Posted by at 22:44
Jul 062005

Yet another traditional English breakfast. After that we headed for the sightseeing tour (with first a stop at the Cat Gallery). This time we got off at Edinburgh Castle. We spent a couple of hours visiting most of it, and also witnessed the daily 1pm canon shot. From the castle we also observed a small demonstration in Princes Street. After we left the castle (by this time there was a drizzle coming down) we took a short walk down ….. Street, looking for a place to eat. We ended up at ….. The food was very good there. I enjoyed a nice salmon. When walking out we saw on a TV that London got the 2012 Olympics assigned. When we left ….. the rain was really pouring down. We checked some souvenir shops, and then the Christmas store. After that we’d hoped to get on the sightseeing bus again, but since it never showed we ended up in the White Hart pub. After a coffee there still no sign of the bus so we decided to walk back to Princes street to check with the sightseeing agency office. On the way I bought the full original ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ & the original ‘the Italian Job‘ on DVD at Virgin Megastore. The sightseeing agency office turned out to be closed because of expected unrest/trouble in town. We then headed for first the train station, then the bus station to do some checking for our trip to Prestwick. After that: time for ‘dinner’ at McDonalds. this was of the usual ‘quality’… 😉 Since the evening was still young: time to go to the pub. First Milnes pub. Quite quiet there, but a nice place nonetheless. We then continued in the direction of our B&B, and stumbled upon the Hard Rock café Edinburgh. Here i had a couple of Foster’s while watching the final Live8 event, the Final Push on TV. Especially interesting was the part where it was clearly raining cats & dogs at Murrayfield and there was no sign of rain outside the window of the Hard Rock! After 3 pints & some shopping in the (not-so-cheap) shop of the Hard Rock, we went back to the B&B, to watch the rest of the concert.

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