Thursday, July 19, 2012

Scottish Delicacies!

So between my jetlag and running around I have, as usual, been rather negligent in writing about any of my experiences. I am now taking advantage of the train ride to Edinburgh to jot down a few things using my iPad. After several years of dragging a computer around with me on my travels this is the best little device ever invented!

 The Scotsrail system is a remarkable experience! £26 return from Prestwick to Edinburgh. The trip takes about two hours in total with a connection in Glasgow where you need to change stations either by taking the shuttle or a quick stroll. I opted for the walk and ended up just in time for the 1200 train. The trains are very comfortable with large seats, little tables and snack carts. I am sipping a wonderful cup of tea and eating shortbread as I type!

Me with some of the Arran wildlife and scenery
I am very much enjoying my solo traveling on this trip. Yesterday I went to the Isle of Arran which is just off the coast. This little land mass has been inhabited for thousands of years by a hardy group of people. A young couple I met on the train, who haled from the island told me that there are roughly 6000 residents of the island spread out amongst ten or so villages. The ferry ride is from Ardrossan to the village of Brodick. The island is well known, apparently for its sheep, cheese and biking paths. You can join groups for some extreme cycling experiences but being more of a sedate, pedal at my own pace type person, I decided to rent a bike for the day and toddle about. A fellow on the ferry told me to go to the Shore hotel just down from the Ferry and the proprietor would set me up for the day. Sure enough I managed to get a decent mountain bike and helmet with a minimal of fuss for £15. No deposit, no VISA, no ID....I guess he figured that I couldn't get too far on the island and his bike was safe. Although the day was a bit overcast, it stayed dry and it was a lot more comfortable than riding in 35C heat at home! I mainly stayed on the coast road which was flat but did attempt a few little trails. The island is full of trails of varying levels for avid cyclists to push themselves to the limit but I really think pushing yourself to the limit, especially on holiday is really overrated! I doddled along and did the obligatory drive past the castle - there is pretty much a castle wherever you go in this country so I decided to cheap out and not pay the £12 to do the standard tour. I headed up the coast and passed a cute little village called Corrie. The scenery was amazing, the weather was cool and dry and best of all, there were no bugs. Usually when I'm biking at home I can swallow at least half a pound of little critters! I stopped by the little heritage museum and although these types of places are usually targeted towards the under ten crowd, I must have found my inner child because I was actually quite amused for an hour or so. It was nice to be able to read all of the little plaques and not have to worry that I was holding anyone up. I stopped by a little bakery on the way back and had an amazing chicken, leek and mushroom pie. I could definitely love on the pies here in Scotland!

When I alighted (my Scot word of the day meaning "got off") the ferry in Ardrossan I followed the crowd, not knowing where I was heading, asked a couple of people for directions and was thoroughly ignored - turned out they were part of a tour from France...I spotted a train and asked a young couple walking ahead of me if I should take this train to get to Prestwick. They were headed to Ayr so they told me to just follow them. I got lucky and managed to do the whole trip, on two different trains at no cost. You buy the ticket on the train, when there is no booth at a stop, but I managed to avoid the collector on both trains!

When I got back to Prestwick, Karen kindly made me a cheese toasty...another one of my favourite Scottish delicacies!

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