Tag Archives: internet

Getting to Scotland

 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

As these things go, of course Tom’s computer stopped working. There was a deadline to be met before we left and the HP PC was finally dead.

Michael had given Tom his old Mac from 2010.  There was nothing wrong with it, other than being several versions old.  I wanted to be able to easily transfer files to the Mac, in case I ever got the PC working again.  (Insert evil laugh here!)

I started upgrading the OS which seemingly took forever but work needed to be done so my 2015 Mac was commandeered.

Thankfully, all the important files are in the Dropbox so work could continue.

Most of this day was hectic, getting Tom set up on his “new” computer.  He’d had it for a while but never really used it.  Now, it was essential.

I knew we were flying through Amsterdam and this video started appearing on my Facebook feed.  I’m never a good flyer and I don’t think I could have made it though this Amsterdam storm:

Friday, August 7, 2015

The new/old mac finally finished the OS upgraded. Because this computer hadn’t been used with Dropbox before, it was taking forever to index files. We packed it up anyway. Who knows what kind of internet we would have in Scotland anyway.

I got my Mac back.  Hooray!  There had been some discussion of Tom using my computer on the trip and I’d take my older Macbook Air but that changed just before we packed up.  Hooray, again!

Earlier in the month, I’d had some biopsies done.  The one in that post was the one I was “traveling with”.  If anyone looked in my carryon bag, they’d see mostly bandages, Neosporin, other medical stuff.

Luckily, I’d checked out the temperature in Scotland and found that the high was usually about 60° so I’d packed actual long jeans and shoes instead of my regular sandals.

We left for the Dulles airport about 3.

There was some ticket confusion.  Our ticket said it was Delta, so the taxi driver dropped us off at the Delta area.  They sent us off to KLM instead.   The kind ticket agent moved us around so we could sit together – and checked our bag all the way through to Edinburgh.  Hooray!

I had been a bit worried about picking up our suitcase in Amsterdam and taking it to the next gate but that was no problem now.  Major yay!  A note for the future – our new dermatologist, the one who is doing the biopsies, travels often to Scotland and leaves from Philadelphia – direct to Glasgow.  If/when we get to go back, I’ll look into that or going from New York.

I followed directions and got through security just fine with no one finding my secret medical stash.  Tom, OTOH, had stuff in his pockets…

We still got to the gate with plenty of time to spare since our flight was at 5:30 Eastern Time.  The times are going to get confused since Amsterdam is 6 hours ahead and Scotland is 5 hours ahead.

Our flight was fine – one of those planes with 8 rows of seats across.  2 by each of the windows, an aisle, then 4 in the middle.  The seats were quite comfortable, near the restrooms, had USB jacks.  We got dinner and breakfast as well as a snack.

We arrived at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at 6:42 am on Saturday (their time, 12:42 am our time).  We wandered around the airport a bit and came across V!ZZ!T D-Pier (the D-Pier means D Concourse).  This store is sort of an airport Walmart.  They seemed to have a bit of everything, including a small grocery store.  I could have gotten wooden shoes but decided against them.

From the T-shirt selection at V!ZZ!T, I learned that marijuana is legal in Amsterdam.  The local maps also showed exactly where the red light districts were located.  When I got home, I mentioned this to my mom who said that they’d been on a tour of Amsterdam which included the red light district.

Amsterdam is a brave new world but we weren’t there long enough to leave the airport!

Our “Delta” flight, AKA KLM left for Scotland at 9:55 am (3:55 my time).  I wasn’t sitting with Tom this time.  When filling out Customs paperwork, I noticed the passports of the 2 women I was sitting with.  One was from China, the other from Brazil – all of us on our way to Scotland.  What a small world we’ve become.

We arrived at Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport at 10:25 Scotland time – 5:25 am, my time.  Customs and Immigration were a snap, as was getting our suitcase.

The rental car was an absolute fiasco.  I had reserved one online through a company William Shatner advertises.  I didn’t know the names of any rental car companies in Scotland and the price of this one looked good so…

We went outside the airport and walked what seemed forever to the Car Rental Centre.  We got there and it was buzzing with people – probably all off our plane.  The circular enclosure was filled with car companies like Avis, Alamo, National, Hertz, Budget, all names I knew.  The name on my reservation wasn’t there anywhere.  Tom went to one of the desks and they had no cars available.  All the others had long lines.

The phone numbers on my reservation paper didn’t work, possibly because I was using my cellphone and calling from the states.

I left Tom with the bags and set off looking for a pay phone.  Finally found one by the far exit.  We had no coins so we tried using a credit card.  There was no central information number that we could find.  Basically, we got nowhere with the pay phone.

Tom went back in the building and was gone so long I was considering what my options were.  He finally came back and said he’d rented a car from Europcar, as well as a GPS.  The price was considerably more than our nonexistent other car.

It took quite a while to find where the car was located in the huge lot but we finally found “our” silver KIA.  Being a newer car, the windshield was slanted so the GPS couldn’t be used.  It didn’t talk anyway, so I’d have to be looking at it all the time.

We turned on the car and it had a built in GPS already – which did talk.  I set it up for where we were going – Macdonald Craigellachie Chalets, Dalfaber Village, Aviemore, Inverness-Shire PH22 1ST Scotland.  Naturally, It couldn’t find that so I settled for Aviemore PH22 1ST just to get into the vicinity.

edinburgh-aviemore

It seemed we drove forever and there was lots of traffic, which the GPS called “Attention. Traffic situation ahead.”  Ok, how do we get out of it?  There’s no way out. :(

We stopped for lunch (or dinner, or breakfast?) at a Dobbie’s Garden Center we’d seen off one of the exits after we drove past the Kingdom of Fife and the Firth of Forth.

Dobbies Garden World Kinross had a nice little restaurant/tearoom and we got to sit by the window.  I ordered coffee americano which is your basic coffee with a shot of espresso.  I don’t really remember what I had to eat but I think it was a sandwich of some sort.

Continuing on the M90 we saw a guy in a roadster with no roof stopped by the side of the road with a huge golf umbrella covering him and the inside of car.  We also saw a couple people camped just off the highway.  Apparently, they were living there for a while because I got a picture of them and their tents when we were heading home a week later.

We got off the M90 towards Aviemore and started looking for the Macdonald Craigellachie Chalets.  We went by the  Macdonald Aviemore Hotel which wasn’t it. Our GPS took us through town.  We missed the turn, crossed a railroad crossing  and made a U-Turn near some sort of golf course.  We went down the little road and ended up in an industrial complex.  I guess that’s where the Aviemore PH22 1ST was.

When making the U-turn, I’d seen a dark brown sign similar to the one on the  Macdonald Aviemore Hotel and thought they might be related so we went back there.

That place was  Macdonald Spey Valley Golf & Country Club.  We parked and went inside to see if they knew where the Macdonald Craigellachie Chalets were.  The desk person didn’t know but asked someone else who said we were in the right place. Go figure.

Apparently, they call where we stayed Luxury Woodland Lodges at Macdonald Aviemore Resort.

Their description:

You’ll find our 4-star Luxury Woodland Lodges nestled amongst Macdonald Aviemore Resort‘s ancient Caledonian pine forests. Our 18 deluxe Highland lodges combine luxury with outdoor living; after a day of adventuring in the surrounding mountains, store your bike or skis in the woodshed, order a pizza delivery from Giovanni’s – our onsite Italian restaurant, and settle into your woodland home-from-home in front of a cosy wood-burning stove.

Enjoy long summer evenings with a drink on your private deck, take a stroll to one of the resort restaurants nearby or for the more energetic take a walk to the Craigellachie Nature Reserve. Alternatively guests have use of Spey Valley Leisure’s 25m indoor pool, complete with wave machine and flume.

Each of our lodges sleeps up to 6 people in three en-suite bedrooms. Lodges include:

  • Living Room with flat screen TV, DVD player
  • Gallery Kitchen with a 4 ring hob, microwave, fridge, toaster, Nespresso coffee machine, tableware and cutlery
  • Breakfast Table with 6 chairs
  • “All-in-one” cupboard with iron & board, high chair/travel cot for the “wee ones” and vacuum cleaner

Ground Floor – 1 King with WC, Bath and separate shower & 1 Twin with WC & Shower

First Floor – 1 Double with WC & shower

  • Beautiful pine forest setting
  • Sleep up to 6 people
  • Storage for bikes, skis etc
  • Luxury bathrooms with separate showers
  • Access to 25-metre swimming pool
  • Free Wifi Powered by The Cloud

 

My description is somewhat different.  Part of it will show up later in my Trip Advisor review.

First off, there were spiderwebs. Place could use some work. No phone, key didn’t work, Internet didn’t work.

We had trouble with the keys opening the door.  There was no phone, so Tom went back to the main building to get a maintenance person to help us.  The Maintenance Guy showed us how to work the keys. I figured out wifi. Still no phone.  I took some pictures of the exterior and interior.

It was so cold out and in.  I went in the various rooms and turned the little heaters on.  Only in the bedroom could we control the temperature.  The other rooms were on and off.  The bathroom was heated only by a heated towel rack.  I was picturing myself getting out of the shower, losing my balance and grabbing for something, that towel rack and being fried.

I was exhausted and took a little nap. Tom watched the  tv and it blew a fuse. We didn’t realize that until next morning when fridge, microwave didn’t work.

We ventured into town to go to the Tesco grocery store.  One of the first items I came across was haggis pizza which we didn’t get on general principle.

I was too tired for dinner so I just  had Scottish breakfast bread, similar to Bajan salt bread. Tom had popcorn.

At bedtime, I was still cold so I took the comforter from “Michael’s room”.  We called it that, even though we knew he wouldn’t be there.  That room ended up being our walk-in closet since there wasn’t much space anywhere else.

 

 

All pictures from today

https://flic.kr/s/aHskiJg5pj

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday was a big rush of things.  We had agreed to skip breakfast due to time constraints, which was fine with me since I never/rarely eat it anyway (I know, I know – most important meal of the day)

As planned, Michael arrived at our hotel and we put luggage tags on his backpack, made sure we had everything packed up and got an Uber.  Tom had checked us out and we went out the door and into the Uber with all our luggage.

The ride to the temporary Steinway Hall was pretty fast and we got there about 10:30 or so.  The doors were locked but Michael’s teacher arrived a couple minutes later and we were inside.

Eddie Strauss, Sales Manager, let us use the freight elevator to haul all our luggage to the second floor/mezzanine where we could leave it outside the Henry  E. Steinway Recital Hall.

Although this is a temporary location while their new facilities are being built, it is very beautiful.

…temporary location at 1155 Avenue of the Americas.

This short-term “pop-up store” will allow Steinway to remain open as the new headquarters is being constructed, allowing for continuous service to its customers.

Steinway, well-known for handcrafting the world’s finest pianos, will now have a gallery space that encompasses approximately 18,000 s/for both retail and showroom, and a small concert hall that caters to the world’s most prominent pianists.

via Steinway Hall, Temporary Location. | MaryO’Studio.

Michael played Johann Sebastian Bach’s Italian Concerto.

This video certainly doesn’t do his performance justice!

We played the first two movements of Peter Warlock’s Capriol duet (also, the video isn’t the best quality):

Speaking of video quality, Eddie told us that the new Steinway Hall will have professional recording equipment in the recital hall and that will make things much better for the future.

We left Steinway about 12:15 and took an Uber to the terminal. The driver left us at the terminal by the Gem about 12:35 but it was an easy walk next door to the Breakaway terminal at Pier 88.

We left our checked baggage and went through the terminal process very quickly. We never even had a chance to sit down and we were on board by 1:00. That was the fastest I have ever boarded any ship.

The Garden Cafe was crowded but we found a table without much effort. Before we finished eating, it was announced that the cabins were ready. Our cabin – 9918 – was fantastic! It was a bit tight for the 3 of us but we made it work.

The balcony was the best part. I had chosen an aft balcony on 9, starboard. We had 2 loungers, 3 chairs and 2 tables and plenty of room to move them and ourselves around.

Looking up to the other decks, we could see from the angle that ours was larger than the others above us.

There was a lot of storage but some was tricky to find. The bathroom was a good size, as was the shower. There were more shelves in the bathroom than usual and I liked being able to leave my  stuff in there. I had read that there was no conditioner in the showers so I brought my own.

I also followed advice from Cruise Critic and brought magnet hooks for the walls and those were great for hanging hats, card lanyards and so on.

The end tables on each side of our bed were pretty narrow but we made that work. The lights beside the bed were a little high up, so I’d have to get up to turn mine off. Luckily, I read a Kindle before bed so I never really needed to use the bedside light.

Our luggage arrived before 4:00 pm which was really nice.

I had been concerned about going on a ship this size but there was really no problem. The elevators were crowded the first day but after that, no big deal. I would like to point out that we mostly always took the stairs going down and walked up if it was only 2-3 decks.

We got the unlimited internet package and it was well worth it for us. On other cruises, I would get the max minutes and always be watching the time – and I would still often run out at the end. I am the web master for a couple companies so I need to spend some time online each day. This internet package was a life-saver for me and we were able to share it between the 3 of us.

We also made good use of the iPhone iConcierge app. We used it as a messenger to let others know where we were and we made reservations for 3 restaurants and 2 shore excursions with it. I also checked how our account was doing. That cost us $7.95 per phone and was well worth it.

While we were waiting to “set sail”, there was a beautiful monarch butterfly that flitted from the next balcony over to ours.  Butterflies always remind me of my good friend, Alice.  I have a monarch butterfly as my phone background.  I’d like to think that this butterfly was a reminder from Alice to have a wonderful trip.

Then, right after sail-away, the traditional First Nap :)  Our bed was great, very comfortable king sized with 2 pillows each. 

Tom went out to a meeting, something that he would do at 5:30 every day.

We ate our first dinner in the Garden Cafe, followed by Guest Relations to get band aids, antiseptic and distilled water for Michael’s CPAP machine

Then, off to an early bed. Our steward, Bradley, turned the couch into a nice bed for our son.

Slideshow of some of our pictures:

All pictures for Sunday:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskaL6Nk7

All Cruise Pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/6795k6

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