Friday, January 13, 2023

upcoming NEW adventure - but first.... Scotland

So COVID stole two plus years of my life and you can bet I resent it.  I am heading into 70 in less than two years and I don't have that kind of time to give up. So now that we are quintuple vaccinated (you read that right) and have had COVID twice it is not the boogey man it once was.  I have on my traveling shoes and plans to make up for lost time. 

Last summer we listed investment property and this past fall we listed our Florida home. In reality this was some time coming but the straw that broke the camel's back was the weekend last summer when the SCOTUS released four opinions in four days. in the span of those four days - they decimated Roe v. Wade, locality laws for gun control, the EPA's authority, the native American justice system, not to mention the issues with voting rights.  So I turned to Phil and said "That's it... I am so over living in this America." 

Within a month we had contracts on two of our larger buildings and within four we also had a contract on our Florida (read RED state, fascist governed) condo.  We are heading out.  We will have a permanent US residence in Chicago with our "forever home" in an elevator building in a neighbor hood with a walking score in the high 90s.  Meanwhile our winters will be in Europe.  For now, Spain will be our destination.  We leave soon for six weeks of immersion Spanish language classes in Sevilla, Andaluc√≠a, Espagne. We will follow it by some exploration of the southern coast around to Valencia in search of future destinations for winter locales.

The condo here is scheduled to close in about 10 days.  We are taking two cars north, full of our stuff, and then heading back here to a rental to entertain guests from Germany for a  few nights and then we are off to Spain.  When we return we will head north in a rented van to bring the remaining things we want to take back home with us.  Arriving mid April as per our usual schedule. so our new adventure is right aorund the corner.

It is high time we got back on the road and Phil has always wanted to live in Europe so this seems like it will be our next big adventure.  We're not getting any younger - so why not!

Meanwhile, since I have had a hiatus from posting for virtually all of COVID... well actually it sort of started in the fall of 2019 before COVID came, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had mastectomy November 2019. and of course four months after that COVID had us all in the bizzarro world of washing grocery bags from delivery services that brought what they could find given the "supply chain" - words we became acutely aware of that winter/spring/into summer/fall..... awaiting a chance to get in line or drive counties away to get a vaccine shot!

My recap for 2022 was published in the last post - but I wanted to detail a few things about the year- especially since we waited so long to go to Scotland.  We originally signed up for the trip in 2019 for 2020 dates - which got put off for 2021 and then finally 2022 and we were GOING!

We lived through the summer of airline and airport hell- look at the records- it was horrendous- people stranded everywhere - no employees working in the airports - flights delayed or canceled "supply chain" "the great resignation" you name it.... reasons and excuses - and more reasons and excuses but no solutions of course.

Weirdly the business class was only a quarter to a third full on the flight from Chicago to Dublin

So we arrived into Dublin where we were to connect with our short hop flight to Edinburgh- 

Sorry that one was delayed by two hours - no ground crew to load luggage- and then it turned out to be a barbie jet mini- so no bin space - they took my carryon bag and gate checked it, but wouldn't return it to me at the plane side- have to go to baggage claim- but no one working in baggage claim - bags from three days ago just sitting there - abandoned.... no seriously no one! 

This photo was of the baggage area- but the customs was completely deserted as well- not one single person working... smugglers - pay attention here...

After a more than two hour wait, our flight's luggage was unloaded and we were off in search of a cab. LOL fat chance- no one at the cab stand so an enterprising person set up a place to order an uber into the city and you paid them and they lined you up - so another 30 minute delay.... Luckily we had planned ahead being seasoned travelers and were in more than a day early before meeting up with anyone. We did have to cancel our reservation for dinner as we wouldn't make the time... but they were lovely and when we called later they said they had a table for us they had saved when someone else had canceled ( same problem.)

Our first night in Edinburgh - dinner- 

Eton Mess- a regular choice of ours in the dessert menus- 

the next morning as the sun rose at 4 AM - the view from our hotel room window

our first breakfast- of course Phil ordered the full Scottish - with the haggis

so we did little besides find a place for lunch and catch up on the sleep and get fresh air with a short walk- I was exactly four months post knee replacement surgery and still gaining strength and movement- 

But the next afternoon we met the people we would do the first part of the trip with- had dinner and went to a comedy club (some very funny people on open mike night) 

Then the following we morning we were off with touring - starting with the Castle - which you can pretty much see from everywhere in town and that was followed by lunch on our own in the Grass Market

and dinner at the Kitchin- which we reserved months in advance- it was an excellent meal but not the best we had in town- more on that later- 


The next day was touring New Town and dinner at Dean Banks which was beautiful but still not our favorite of the places we ate!

The following morning we were off to the Highlands- where we saw spectacular scenery and visited a distillery on an island and went to the Isle of Skye and the saw the spectacular Fairy Glens. we stayed in a cute village called Plockton and heard music several nights at different venues - all more like sessions than concerts. 

Our next stop was Inverness (lovely smaller city) and Loch Ness (big disappointment but I guess you had to do it). We ended our touring with the small group, with a day filled with castles and Culloden the battlefield and dinner and a concert at our driver/guide's home outside of Stirling.

After returning to Edinburgh we met up with Angela and Lee for a number of days together.  we let them tour what they wanted in town, and met up for evening meals and an occasional site - like the Georgian House Museum.

our one lunch with Angela and Lee- a tapas place where we had eaten our first lunch and liked well enough to go back!

After that we found the best place in town to eat lunch and its sister restaurant the very best place for dinner- 

our number one choice for dinner in Edinburgh!

So we headed out and back home to Chicago - having fallen in love with Scotland! Cannot wait to return there- it took us far too long to get back for this second trip - so maybe third time will be sooner- fingers crossed

From the air on the way into Dublin- fewer issues with the return flight only delayed by 90 minutes or so, but we made it! 

So that was Scotland- and next up I will do a brief overview of the June Europe trip where we got COVID and got a bonus week in Amsterdam! 

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