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.
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.
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
Costa Rica, Day One: August 15, 2014
We got up at 3:30 am for our trip and to walk Mimi. She didn’t seem to mind at all that it was still dark out. My stomach felt queasy so I didn’t have anything to eat – or any coffee. Oh no! Without coffee, there may be a headache later today.
Our taxi arrived on schedule at 4:30 – things are going well…so far.
Our flight was only 37 minutes which was a good thing because our second flight was 3 terminals away, another security check and only 2 hours. The plane was very small so we had to give them our “carryon” luggage to pick up later on the tarmac.
For such a short flight, it was pretty smooth. We landed at JFK, picked up our luggage, literally on the tarmac and weaved our way through makeshift canvas walkways to try to find the Delta terminal. Very crowded. Finally left security there, went outside to try to find the AirTrain. Lots of stairs so the rollabout suitcases had to be carried. The signage wasn’t that great, either so we had to ask for help – several times. We finally made it to the JetBlue terminal with a bit of time to spare.
The next flight was smooth, too. HOORAY! I’m not good with turbulence to say the least. If someone is screaming, it’s always me. The row of young women in front of us and behind us thought that the flight was an airborne bar. They had been drinking before the flight and continued during the flight. The steward even ran them a tab, something I’ve never heard of on a plane before. The ones ahead of us were watching a show calledPaternity Court on TV and it was quite hilarious, apparently.
At some point, as we were landing, they were looking at the map and thought that we were 4147 miles above sea level, rather than feet. Apparently we were coming in from outer space.
On the jetway, heading to the terminal, one revealed that she had been smoking vapor cigarettes in the bathroom.
I hope they have a wonderful 10 days here – if they remember any of it!
The airport went smoothly, very similar to Barbados with Customs and Immigration. Lots of people offering to help (for tips, of course) but we knew where we were going and were able to weave our way thgouth the crowd.
We found the van for Avis. As soon as I got in, the headache struck, big-time. A combo of no coffee all day and the air freshener in the van. It was so strong, even I could smell it.
Our trip to Avis went well. I got several Extra-Strength Tylenol in me. Our car is a black Nissan sedan. We’d requested manual but they didn’t have any. That turned out to be a good thing later.
The rental agent, Douglas, set up our GPS unit to take us to our condo and we were off. We found Coco Bay Estates and got through the security gate which consisted of a guard, an orange cone and a stop sign (arrete in Spanish)
Check-in went well, the people friendly and helpful. We followed their van up to our place for the next 2 weeks. I say “up” because our place is carved out of the side of a small mountain. The road has several hairpin turns. The final one to our place involves a hill and at the top, you can’t see the road or anything coming below. AARRGGHH
Here’s a PDF of our site_map. Our parking spot is on the 4th level of “Segovia”. We had to take an elevator down to our place on one – 102. There was a sign in the elevator that said if the power goes out, it will reset itself. Uh-oh.
The van driver showed us into our place and around, although some of the stuff turned out later to be untrue. One the surface, it’s very nice here with 2 big bedrooms, each with it’s owh bathroom. There were only 3 hangers for the 2 bedrooms so we could have 4 people here, sharing the 3. There are no drawers for storing clothes so I stacked up my clothes on open shelves in a walk-in closet.
A nice living-room area with comfy sofa, washer-dryer, nice patio with glass doors in every room. The A/C works well. Hooray!
I fell asleep for a nap almost immediately.
We decided it was time to go get something to eat. Turns out, the restaurant here closed at 3pm. <sigh> We would have had to drive there, anyway. The roads look unsafe to walk on, even without the hill. So, we decided to go into town to a grocery store. It was about 5pm local time (7 at home) and dusk. We retraced our steps from earlier and saw a grocery store. This was a very local store, everything written in Spanish, which was to be expected, but we had trouble finding things – we never found peanut butter. We did get hangers, though so we now have 13.
When we got out, it was completely dark. People walking in the narrow streets, and riding bikes…and we got lost. We must have missed a street or 2 and our GPS wasn’t recoginzing any of the items I tried typing into it, in English OR Spanish. Our place wasn’t listed under lodgings. At one point, had we continued on the street we were on, we would have driven into the Pacific Ocean.
We were both getting very testy. I had a little headache still, was hungry from not eating all day (that earlier stomach queasyness) and exhausted. It was 10 pm (midnight our time) when we stopped at a small pizza place. Our waitress spoke Italian so she couldn’t help us with directions at all but pointing at the menu got us a pizza. From my long-ago Italian college class, I was able to dredge up enough to get Tom an orange juice. I just went with agua. She was able to find another patron who knew enough English to give us directions.
We changed our order and got the pizza to go. Back to our place, gathered up some of the groceries – the ice cream was melted of course. Into the elevator (no AC) and it wouldn’t move. It took a few minutes but we finally got that going. Into our place and Tom went back for the rest…and called me from the elevator. It was stuck so I went out in my barefeet to push the elevator button from the outside to make it move.
When he went back for the rest, he walked up and down the 4 flights of stairs to avoid the elevator.
Finally, about 11:00 (1 am, our time), after putting the groceries away, we had cold pizza for dinner.
I entered the info for WiFi do finish up my “church work”. The computer showed a strong WiFi signal. Excellent. Except it didn’t actually connect to the Internet.
Luckily, I have a data plan on my iPad and I’d added some Global Minutes. I used that as a hotspot to connect my computer to the internet and finish that work.
Off to bed and dreams of my mother scolding me for sleeping too late.