A Scottish Vacation

Part 1 – Glasgow

An unpolished on the road edition!

I arrived safe and sound in London after an uneventful flight. The best sort of flight really! Plane rides should NOT be interesting. They should be boring, dull and safe!

My next step was to get from Heathrow to Euston Station to catch the Caledonian Sleeper to Glasgow. This was accomplished by taking the Heathrow Express to Paddington (£25)  You can buy the ticket at the information kiosk near the entrance to the train station. The return ticket is cheaper than two one-ways but it needs to be used within a 30 day period. From Paddington, I took the Hammersmith-City line to Euston Square and walked the 500m above ground to Euston London. I was worried I was cutting things fine only having 4.5 hours to get from Heathrow to Euston but in the end I made it within 2 hours of landing and sat around waiting. Incidentally, you don’t need to buy a ticket for the subway – you can use any bank card that has a chip as your ticket – just remember to tap on and off.

The overnight train journey was a good way to travel, although I did not get much sleep as the train was noisier than anticipated. They give you earplugs but I didn’t find them till the morning since I put my bag on top of the little amenity pack. I had a couple of glasses of wine in the dining car and chatted with two older ladies going to the Isle of Aran and some younger men who were doing the West Highland Trail – a 95 mile walk.

It was then an easy walk from Glasgow Central to the AirBnB in York Street. I’ve added the link ( https://abnb.me/S2ovefVHEX ) to the property here. Rona was a wonderful host and the room very comfortable. It was very well appointed, in a great location and Rona was very helpful and friendly.

I spent two days in Glasgow using the Hop on Hop Off sightseeing bus. I made a point of getting around to as many of murals that make up the Mural Trail as I could but time beat me.

These photos and videos show some of my adventures

Glasgow is a splendid city. If you are into Victorian architecture its is certainly the place for you! The people were friendly and there was certainly enough to do for 3 – 4 days. The museums and galleries run by the council are all free so don’t be shy about visiting. I didn’t get to them all in the time I had missing out on the Riverside Museum among many others.

I have now picked up a rental car and the road trip begins!

(Sorry for the long list of photos. Posting on the mobile version gives you very few options.)

Planning a Scottish Vacation – Episode 4

A map of Scotland with Acamera and passport

I have booked the flights! Yes it’s still months to go but since I was using frequent flyer points and they only set aside a limited number of places for award tickets I decided to get in early. So a nearly free flight!

This video discusses why I have chosen to fly with Korean Airlines even though they are not always the cheapest or the most direct route to my destinations. I think being loyal to this one brand has been worthwhile. I am a member of the Morning Calm Club which gives me access to the Prestige Class Lounge at the airport and priority baggage handling as well as extra baggage limits. I have had one free upgrade and now the “free” ticket. It was free except for taxes and the fact that I have flown with them for eight international return trips!

I have also recommended an app called Tripit, which aggregates all your travel information into one place which you can access from any device or computer. So even though I still have my trusty printed spreadsheet; I also have this electronic version that sends me alerts if any flight/booking details changes.

Next episode,  I will have the itinerary pretty much finalised.

Delayed flight leads to writing bonanza

I got an email from Korean Airlines to tell me my flight the next day was going to be delayed by two hours. It was nice that they let me know. It was late on Boxing Day – a public holiday in Australia. Even though I knew the limo company would be closed, I sent them an email “just in case”  to  try and change the time of my airport transfer pick up. Thankfully, they got back to me and we agreed on a new time. Then I got another email from KAL to say the flight was going to be another two hours late. I didn’t want to muck the limo people around with another change so I just resigned myself to the fact that I would be at the airport SUPER early! My pick up would be eight hours before the flight. The transfer company has a policy of getting you to the airport 3 hours ahead of time because of the vagaries of Sydney traffic. It normally takes an hour to get to the airport and then check in, immigration clearance and the security check might use up another hour. I was looking at 6 hours to waste airside before boarding. Sigh!

I stepped out of the minibus and sniffed the air. I love that first whiff of AvGas when you are close to the airport. Apart from the fact you have suitcases in tow, and a passport in your hand, it’s proof you are going somewhere. The heady kerosene-like odour that tells you the tarmac and turbulence are not too far away.

The second clue you are travelling is the queue. As a seasoned traveller (LOL) I sometimes get impatient in these queues and run an internal commentary. Come on people!! You know you need photo ID to get your boarding pass. Get it out of your wallet before you get to the counter.You’ve just been standing in a line for the last 30 minutes watching everyone else hand over their ID. We could be saving about 50 seconds per transaction here if people were ready. What? Repacking your bags NOW? FFS you had all morning to weigh them.

Breathe Robyn! Breathe! You are going on holidays! Just grab a coffee, sit back and watch the people go by.

People watching

The first person to catch my attention is a ¾ age man (you know – older than middle age but not yet old) in his hipster aqua shorts with pineapple print. Then a Russian (judging by the language – Baltic at least) with the close to pornographic photo of two women being ….ah…. friendly… on the front of his t-shirt. I wonder how he got through immigration with that on? The brash, very well dressed Yanks float past in their matching boat shoes, white fedoras and navy jackets.  No doubt on their way to the first class lounge. The mums with toddlers asleep on their shoulders trying to kick their bags along.  They’ve invented trolleys love… I think to myself.

All this, backgrounded by Mariah Carey singing Christmas carols.

I move on, walk around for a while and then get another coffee. I am waiting for my phone to recharge after plugging in to one of the new charging stations that are everywhere in the airport now. No need to sit on the floor and unplug the drinks machine these days. I quickly switch back into people-watching mode. A young woman in front of me is talking on her phone, wearing  earphones,  her free hands are waving wildly in their air. Whoever is on the other end is clearly keeping her amused and she laughs and giggles. So sweet to watch. The young fellow to the right of me is using his phone as a mirror and is picking his zits…Ewwwwwww.

areoplanes through a round window

My phone has 2% to full charge and I still have three more hours to wait.

I listen to the announcements and wonder what happens to those  who are called out as the last people to board? They must have checked in? Did they change their mind and decide not to go? Was there some sort of family tragedy which kept them from flying out? Where they in the car accident that had caused the traffic jam 5 km out of the airport?

More people watching!

There are two African-American guys standing in the line at McDonalds. One has a big guitar like keyboard around his neck and the other has big gold chains, short spiky dreadlocks and gold reflective sunglasses on. They look like they should be famous. Perhaps they are just wankers. A Muslim man walks past with 4 daughters – so many weddings to pay for!

At  noon I decide it’s close enough to beer o’clock and buy a glass of wine which turns into two and hallelujah – it’s time to board.

All in all, the waste of time was productive. I wrote three blog posts. Researched part of a family history I wanted to write and made up character arcs for some of the interesting people who have walked by. Who knows, perhaps I even featured in another bored traveller’s diary.

View across Sydeny airport toward the city