It was a quick and simple task, naming this blog entry Scotland Here We Come, but the reality is that getting to Scotland from Vancouver is neither quick nor simple.
Our vacation began like many others, with a much-appreciated lift to the airport from our daughter Jennifer, where we checked into the Fairmont Airport Hotel. When we have an early morning flight, we treat ourselves to a night at the airport hotel so we can literally walk down into the terminal the next morning and check-in for our flight. The real treat for us is that whenever we stay there, we have dinner at one of our favourite restaurants in all of Vancouver – the Jetside bar. The food is stunning, the service is excellent, and the views of downtown Vancouver and the airport (in action) below us, are usually an added bonus.
On this occasion, we were curious as to what that view would look like, as the lower mainland and Fraser Valley (where we live) have been blanketed in smoke for the last few weeks from the fires burning throughout the province. After a few days of cooler temperatures and some light rain, the smoke has begun to dissipate, but you can see from the picture below that there is still a layer of smoke enveloping downtown Vancouver.
Our waiter told us that just days earlier, the trees to the right of the picture were not even visible.
Over dinner we talked about where we had been and what we had done on previous anniversaries, and believe me when I say they covered just about everything imaginable – from a bowling night at Thorncliffe Bowlerama to a stay in Burlington General Hospital (one of many knee surgeries for me), and from inexpensive dinners at whatever dinner we could afford (plus a babysitter), in our early years, to magnificent vacations on the eastern Seaboard of the US (our 25th), a month in London (our 30th), and now for our 40th, were heading to Scotland for a month.
During the course of dinner, Mary suddenly remarked that it had been two years to the day since she had taken a flying tumble down the stairs in our Langley home (tangled laundry in the feet) and broken her wrist. Thankfully, she is fully recovered from her attempt to fly on her own, and we both remarked that this August 29th was bound for much happier memories.
As we went to bed on Tuesday night, August 28th, we set our hotel alarm for a 6:15 wake-up call for the next morning and that night’s sleep was virtually the last we were to have for the next 29 hours!
From the time we left Vancouver on Wednesday morning until the time we arrived in Glasgow on Thursday afternoon (local time), our journey included 12 hours of flying time on three different flights; 7 hours of airport wandering in Toronto, and London, and of course, the 8 hour time difference between the west coast of Canada and the UK. The only sleep we had during our 29 hour trek was a turbulence-addled two hours in the middle of the night as we flew from Toronto to London.
There were no hiccups or misadventures along the way, just good old-fashioned fatigue. Our car rental pick-up in Glasgow went smoothly. and Mary handled the drive into downtown from Glasgow airport to the downtown Mariott as easily as spreading butter on toast.
The weather on our arrival in Glasgow was mildly overcast with temperatures around 17 degrees celsius. Once we had checked in (at 3:30 local time) we knew we had to try and stay awake for a few more hours in an effort to adjust to our new time zone. So, we went for a slow walk in the immediate vicinity of the hotel and reminisced about our earlier visit to Glasgow back in 2008. It didn’t seem that a great deal had changed in the downtown area that we were quite familiar with, except for one surprise we had as we rounded the corner by the Glasgow Central Train Station.
Yup, a touch of home right in the middle of downtown Glasgow.
We made our way back to the hotel and after a quick sandwich and a much-needed cup of tea, we went up to our room and by 7 o’clock, we were both sound asleep!
In my next blog, I’ll tell you about our first full day in Scotland, a day that included a visit to the home of the Paisley Tartan, a stop at one of the most iconic golf courses in the world, and a tour of Robbie Burns Birthplace Museum.