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4/6: Bed & Breakfast

Given that we'd paid for our breakfasts at the Imperial Hotel, we figured we might as well get out of bed in time to eat them. We didn't bother showering first. My hair doesn't lend itself well to that. Ah well.

Breakfast was a "serve-yourself" hot and cold buffet that included scrambled and fried eggs, sausage, slices of black pudding, fried bread that was no longer hot and a bit too crisp, as well as canned fruit and some cereals and juices. The black pudding was pretty good; if you don't know what it is, and the idea of haggis bothers you, you don't want to know. It was at least a notch above the buffet breakfasts served in many hotel lobbies. Tomorrow's breakfast in Portree is likely to outshine them all.

Creaky floors and even a creaky bed woke me up several times, but it wasn't too bad. I feel rested. A couple of decent nights' sleep in a row was a good idea.
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4/5: All your instincts are useless... and dangerous

Today was my first day driving in the UK. I admit I was petrified at the idea of driving on the left side of the road, in the right side of the car, after years of developing instincts that would not only be irrelevant, but could be disastrous if they cut in at the wrong moment.

The first bit, driving out of Glasgow as we tried to find the right highway to get us west, was quite nerve-wracking, partly because I was also focused on trying to figure out where we were going. Good thing I wasn't alone; Denise makes a good navigator.

But, after driving nearly all day, I'm very comfortable with it. the rest of Saturday...Collapse )
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4/5 Aiming for Lagavulin

We really didn't feel like getting up this morning, after a series of pretty short nights, so we reset the alarms and slept until 9:40 instead of getting moving at 8. (Denise corrects me; she got up at 9.) Just as well, it turns out. After we drove around trying to find our way out of the Glasgow area, and then made our way over to Kennecraig, site of the ferry to Islay, it turned out to be somewhat pointless anyway. There are only three ferries a day, and when we arrived at 2 the next wasn't until 6. Had we arrived in time for the 12:30 ferry we'd have discovered that it would have cost about 100 pounds (around $150) to get the car, and us, across to Islay. Had we in fact gone, we'd have learned that all the distilleries are closed on weekends.read more...Collapse )
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4/4: What language was that?!

Most of the people we've encountered in Scotland have spoken recognizable, and mostly understandable, English -- with varying degrees of Scottish accent. The man who sat down next to us in the Irish pub in Glasgow, though, was really tough to grok. He was probably about 70, was certainly slurring a bit, no doubt had his vocal clarity affected by his false teeth, and had a thick accent. The result was that only a fraction of what he tried to say made it through. Denise caught more, probably partly because she was closer to him. He seemed to find it more amusing than frustrating, though, so we had quite a fun conversation.

Of course, he was certain he'd seen me in there before, and refused to believe that we'd only just arrived in the country that morning. Surely that was me in the same pub last night...
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4/4: Navigating Glasgow

Fri 4/4

This is really the point at which it becomes obvious that we're winging it. We got an admittedly last-minute reservation for Reykjavik, but arrived in Scotland with literally no itinerary other than our flights, and a reservation at a bed & breakfast for the night of the 6th, thanks to a strong suggestion from mrama.More Glasgow...Collapse )
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4/4: Lavatory thoughts

I think it was Robert Heinlein who wrote in one of his essays, many years ago, that for all of our engineering wizardry, there was no good reason our home plumbing should have remained the same for a century. It really is effectively unchanged in the US, at least, since the advent of a single faucet combining hot and cold water in the sink.Read about lavatories...Collapse )
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4/3: Exchange rate doesn't tell the whole story

A dollar buys roughly 75 kroner, the Icelandic currency. It's a bit distracting to have nearly everything in hundreds or thousands of kroner, but I guess that helped to distract us from the fact that everything is really expensive in Iceland. I suspect it's partly that the dollar is weak or the kroner is strong at the moment, relatively speaking. But our chicken kabobs (basically fast food sandwiches, great though they were) and tiny Cokes were over $20. more on kroner and cell phonesCollapse )
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4/3: Meeting Ivar

Luckily, I found a way to get online, to see if Ivar had responded to my last-minute request for his telephone numbers -- the key items that I should have started out asking for first! He'd responded, and on Thursday afternoon I tracked him down.

Ivar and his wife, Asta, two of the members of the former USS Saga, took Denise and me out to dinner at a nice place we'd spotted just down the street from our hotel. Denise and I both had the lamb, one of the restaurant's specialties and, Asta told us, one of the most traditional Icelandic dishes on the menu. They both joked that they were sick of lamb, having grown up in families where lamb was served every Sunday -- cooked exactly the same way, week after week, year after year. Read more...Collapse )
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4/2: Iceland... land of many tall women

For a tall guy who finds height a nice trait in women, Iceland is wonderful. The population isn't all tall, but a significant portion is tall, just as a significant portion is blond or light-haired. (Denise and I, both dark-haired, are in the distinct minority, though I commented that she blends in well with her blonde-streaked dark hair. Many of the dark-haired women we saw seem to have tried changing that trait to one degree or another.)

Unfortunately, Iceland is cool and cloudy this time of year, almost invariably; the brown of winter hasn't yet given way to the green of summer; and it rains a fair bit. So, there wasn't much to see nature-wise (though we did have some impressive views of the mountain ranges surrounding Reykjavik), but we did some exploring of the city.Explorations...Collapse )