Tag Archives: Macdonald Aviemore Hotel

Scotland: Strathspey Railway

scotland-day2

 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What a difference a good sleep makes!

I slept well and work up 5:30 (1:30am at home). I took some beautiful sunrise pictures over the mountains. One was of fog rising off River Spey.  I posted that on Facebook and one of my friends said that the water used in the making of her favorite whiskey came from that river.  Hmmm…

From Wikipedia:

The River Spey (Scottish Gaelic: Uisge Spè) is a river in the northeast of Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, as well as the third longest and fastest-flowing river in Scotland. It is important for salmon fishing and whisky production (MKO’Note: Looks like my FB friend was right!).

 

After taking the pictures, I napped a bit.

I went to get something out of the fridge and found the power was off – and to the microwave.  That was the fuse we’d blown last night.  Tom found a stepladder and the fusebox.

At 11:00 we went to the main building for a little talk about what to do here in Aviemore and the surrounding areas. We met Gina, the general manager, and Jean who has lived in Boat of Garten forever. When I mentioned we were going to the Edinburgh Tattoo on Wednesday, Jean said her partner’s father was Black Watch so he can wear the colors.

I asked about Strathspey Railway and CairnGorm Funicular.  Jean said it was too foggy today for the funicular so we went to Strathspey Steam Railway. It goes from Aviemore to Broomhill by way of Boat of Garden.

The directions to the railway were to go past Tesco – where we’d shopped last night! – and it was on the left.  We drove back into town and found that parking was at a premium.  Tom parked by the Macdonald Aviemore Hotel since we figured we were family 🙂

We walked down hill from our parking spot to the train station and over a bridge.  I got some good pictures of the train from that bridge – and some photos of the engineer backing the train up.  We were able to get tickets for a train leaving in about 15 minutes.  For the way up to Broomhill, we sat near the front of the train.

 

strathspey-railway

We’re “train people” and this trip didn’t disappoint. The steam train went through Boat of Garten and turned around at Broomhill.

It was interesting at Boat of Garten when a couple bike riders stopped and took pictures of us – while we were taking pictures of them.

It was a nice, relaxing trip and I slept most of the way back. We saw River Spey again, sheep, cows, old rolling stock, people on bikes.

From http://www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk/the-journey/

Join us for a truly memorable trip through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, in the stunning surroundings of the Cairngorms National Park! Explore the areas along our line further and discover exactly why the Victorians brought a railway line to this unique area in the 1800s!

It’s roughly 15 minutes of train travel between each station, with a full return trip lasting between 90 minutes and 2 hours (depending on which Station you start your journey at).

You can split your journey up if you wish! Take the morning train in to Boat of Garten and explore its stunning surroundings and take the last train of the day back in to Aviemore!

The Strathspey Railway's Santa Express departs from a wintry Aviemore Station

Aviemore

The first departure point along our 9 and a half mile line is Aviemore (we’re at Platform 3 of Aviemore Station!) It’s located in the heart of the Monadhliath and Cairngorm Mountains and is the perfect base for those that love the outdoors and glorious sights! Once the train takes you past the modern architecture of the town, we steam you through heather-clad moores and woodland and alongside the majestic River Spey. 5 miles away lies our second station at Boat!

Boat of Garten

Boat of Garten

As you enter Boat of Garten (also known as The Osprey Village) you will see one of the area’s finest courses at Boat of Garten Golf Club, originally built by locals and railwaymen! The RSPB observation hide at the Osprey Centre lies just 3 miles from the village and it’s certainly worth a visit during summer, when these magnificent birds return from the warmer climates of Africa! There are also plenty of walk and cycle trails, perfect for families, couples or groups exploring the area! The newly opened 1896 Gallery and Cafe is also definitely worth a visit! Be sure to stop off and have a look!

Broomhill

Broomhill

5 miles of glorious steam travel from Boat heading north brings you to our Broomhill Station, the current terminus of our line. The Station originally served the nearby villages of Dulnain Bridge and Nethy Bridge on the original Great North of Scotland Railway line. The forests in this area offer real diversity – there’s plenty of wildlife and nature to explore here! And the views from Broomhill are AMAZING! Make sure you get off the train at the Station, get some fantastic scenic pics and meet your engine driver, fireman and get some photos on the footplate!

Our unique heritage railway boasts an incredible history and our line was the first to come to the Scottish Highlands, back in the mid 1800s. The future of our Railway is also of great importance! We’re working very hard to realise the railway’s dream of returning steam trains to Grantown-on-Spey!

 

 

 

 

We went back up the hill to the MacDonald Hotel to gets something to eat but there was no open restaurant. A Trafalgar tour bus let some people off but they seemed to be the only ones in the hotel. We walked around complex. Nothing. Went in shopping center. No food.  We did get a couple t-shirts so all was not lost.

cairngorm-hotel

 

We walked back down the hill and into town. We stopped at the Cairngorm Hotel for a nice lunch. Coffee americano (Normal with 2 shots of espressos), of course.  The coffee came with a small bit of shortbread (I think mine is better! ).

I got the senior meal of roast lamb (I wondered if it was like the seafood restaurants where you can choose your lobster – if I could choose one of the sheep I saw from the train), new potatoes, potatoes which had been mashed, formed into an oval and lightly fried, puréed carrots (maybe senior meant can’t chew. I thought it was smaller portions). Gravy. And peas which I avoided. My meal came with dessert so I had sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, ice cream and whipped cream.

Tom had an omelette with chips (french fries)…and peas. Ice cream for dessert came in a waffle cup with whipped cream and pirouette cookie.

The buffet on Thursday features haggis so we probably won’t be back!

Just a note here – sometimes, Cairngorm is spelled CairnGorm, sometimes Cairn Gorm, sometimes Cairngorm – all the same mountain as far as I can tell.

At this point, I realized I hadn’t put big bandage over butterflies and I’d been walking all day. Hooray!

We learned we couldn’t add a tip onto our charge bill for lunch. It had to be added before they ran the credit card. The waiter couldn’t take American money and the hotel staff couldn’t, either. They suggested changing money at the post office because it had a better rate than the banks.

We went across the street to find an adaptor since the ones we brought weren’t working. Got one and headed home.

Nap!  I woke up about 7. Tom at 8. We found our new adaptor was for people going to the states from here.

I got one of our original adaptors working and started charging phones.  This adaptor was only good for 2 pronged plugs so we used it for USB connections only.

We had another adaptor I’d bought specifically for this trip, as well as a 2-to-3 prong adaptor for the computers.  I got very excited about this and set it up, plugging in an extension cord, then the 2-to-3, then plugged the adaptor into the wall.  Too much – blew that out.  <sigh>  Now we can’t recharge the computers.

We went out for a little walk, then had spaghetti for dinner.

A Sinatra pretender on BBC Proms.

And bedtime!

All today’s pictures:

 

https://flic.kr/s/aHskfd1sYy

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

%d bloggers like this: