November 11, 2007

Scotland, finally!

Posted in Exploring tagged , at 5:39 pm by Lauren

I say, “Scotland, finally!” for a number of reasons. First, we’ve been back from Scotland for over a week, and I’m just now writing this. Luckily, Mary, our hostess, inspired me to take notes while I was there. Secondly, I’d been wanting to go to Scotland for a long while. Allen and I thought about honeymooning there, and then there’s the draw of the Outlander series. (Those of you who have read them will laugh when I say more than one person told me to say hi to Jamie and Claire.) Finally, this was our first vacation since I got here, and what’s the point of living in Europe if you’re not going to explore every nook and cranny?

We took Ryanair to get to Scotland. I remember taking Ryanair from France to London when I was staying in Montpellier. If I’m not mistaken, I took the train to Nimes on the way out, flew to London Stanisted, then flew back through Carcassonne. I have vague recollections of it being very inexpensive, like $50 for the round trip flights, and less than that for the trains. Either I was deluded or Ryanair has changed. We booked our tickets through them because it seemed so inexpensive, but then the additional fees began piling on. It cost 6 euros to check in at the ticket counter. I couldn’t check in online because I don’t have an EU passport (though we did save the money with Allen). It’s another 12 euros to check a bag, so we decided to take all carry-on. That is, we thought we were only taking a carry-on until I realized I’d left my cross stitch scissors (the sharp ones that cannot go on planes) in my purse. We checked our bag. (Lovely Mary and Iain mailed them back to us from Scotland to save us that expense on the way back.) But the biggest additional expense was the bus to Paris Beauvais airport! Round trip it cost us 26 euros each, or almost a total of $76! When all was said and done, our transportation cost almost $200 each – no longer a bargain exactly for a four-day weekend. I had to remind myself that that would be a reasonable ticket cost for anywhere in the States. Not cheap, but reasonable.

But enough with the complaining! We were going to Scotland! Hurray!

The first thing I should say is that we were very, very fortunate in our hosts. Mary and Iain are friends of Allen’s family, from the time when Allen’s mom did an exchange with Glasgow University. In fact, Allen’s mom is their older daughter’s godmother. I had met Mary and Iain when they came to Stephanie’s wedding, and at the time (and since) they extended an open invitation for us to visit them in Scotland. We knew we wanted to be sure to see them during our year in Europe, so we chose Scotland for our first trip! After staying with them, I can confirm my initial impressions: Mary and Iain are the most welcoming, generous, and considerate people I have ever met.

The first night, they picked us up at the airport around 11:30 pm. We were already appreciative that they didn’t mind us coming in so late because the tickets were cheaper, and we figured we could get going right away on Wednesday that way. When we got to their house, Mary brewed some tea and gave us Scottish shortbread and blueberry muffins they’d picked up especially for us Americans. What a lovely gesture. They must have been tired, but they stayed up talking to us for a little while before ushering us off to bed and insisting we leave the dishes with them. And that was just the beginning of our trip, made infinitely more wonderful by their hospitality.


1 Comment »

  1. Scott Parker said,

    I have enjoyed reading of you exploits, is does remind me of being in Germany for two years with no prior language or location hints. You both will have many unplanned and planned adventures, hopefully all pleasurable. Talk to you soon, Scott.

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