glasgow, scotland: where things went awry

theromanticHello and welcome to 2015! The holidays were everything we needed this year — relaxing, full of good food, and complete with lots of catch-up seshes with loved ones. This outcome was a huge relief, because things did NOT start off on the best foot.

If you’ll recall, shortly before our generous holiday break (thank you, European vacation standards), we made some last minute plans to head up to Scotland for a few days. We had return train tickets from London to Glasgow, a motorhome ready and waiting, and a loose itinerary planned. We were ready for adventure. And, well, to be fair… an adventure we did have.

I’ll start with a little bit of a spoiler alert, I guess — we really, really want to go back to Scotland. Nothing that happened was representative of the country itself. It was just a lot of bad luck mixed in with a dash of poor planning, and really, truly could have happened anywhere. The famous Scottish weather didn’t help matters, but it was mostly expected (not entirely, but mostly).

It wasn’t all bad. There were definite highlights — glimmers of hope that things might turn around and suddenly be amazing, and we held onto that hope until the very end. Even so, despite our best attempts to look on the bright side, I think this was officially our worst trip to date.

We arrived in Glasgow after a beautiful, early morning train ride. We were sleepy, but the train was nearly empty, and super comfy. I practically had this view all to myself!:

nap buddies on the train to glasgowThe rest of the time, when I wasn’t also napping , I stared out the window. It felt like the weather changed at each stop — sometimes we peered through a wall of rain, sometimes sun glinted off of impossibly green hills, sheep ambling about.

English Countryside by TrainI envisioned this is what our mini-week would be like, too, and got more and more excited as we approached Glasgow. We got off the train to find a bedecked train station, ready for Santa to arrive (if I were Santa, I’d go to Scotland by train.)

We hopped in a cab to the rental company, and after a few signatures, we were led to our reserved home on wheels for the week.

And it was gargantuan.

And it was a manual transmission.

Motorhome Terror in ScotlandHis thumbs are saying yes, but his eyes are saying PLEASE GOD NO.

Yeah, so, despite living in Europe for a year+, we both still only drive automatics. The hubs is positive he selected automatic before confirming the res, but the rep assured us that’s not possible, as none of their motorhomes are available as an automatic. It didn’t really matter either way, because it was quickly becoming clear that we weren’t going to drive this monstrosity off the lot — even despite a very patient driving lesson from said rep. Just… no. It wasn’t in the cards.

Bummed that things were already changing direction so drastically, we pulled up our trusty HotelTonight app, and found the only pet-friendly hotel on the list — a Novotel somewhere in the center of Glasgow, for, like, £79 for the night. We checked in, freshened up, booked a new (automatic!) car, found a hotel for night two, and turned to Twitter for some recommendations on what to do that night, as we hadn’t planned to spend it in Glasgow.

Luckily, Emma to the rescue, and we were soon off to Ashton Lane for a little pub crawl to lift our spirits.

Ashton Lane - GlasgowWe started with light bites and pints at Brel, popped across the street for a drink at The Grosvenor, moved on to hot toddies at Vodka Wodka, and enjoyed one more round at The Wee Pub at the Chip, which was as adorable as it sounds. We capped off the night closer to our hotel with a final pint at The Butterfly & the Pig, before heading home to reorganize and prepare for our roadtrip the next morning. Although we weren’t thrilled that our trip was taking a new direction, we both felt much more excited by the end of the night, and we were ready to call it quits in favor of an early morning.

We got back to the hotel, and the hubs turned around to take Parker back out for a walk. I took a quick shower, and just as I wrapped my wet hair in a fresh towel,  the hotel fire alarm start blaring. I froze in place for, like, six million seconds. Where are my clothes? What do I take with me? What’s the code to the safe? Is this like in college where it’s not really a fire?

Suddenly, I heard yelling out in the hallway and realized that first of all, I cannot die in the Glasgow Novotel, of all places. Second of all, if I did, in fact, die in the Glasgow Novotel, Jeff would KILL me.

I sprung into action, and as I went to throw on the nearest clothes I could find, I kicked my Frye boot clear across the room with my left foot, landed on my right foot, and re-slammed my left foot against the foot of the bed. All while yelling every curse word I knew, natch.

Frantic voices were still echoing from the stairwell, so I shoved on blue pajama pants, a blue sweatshirt, and… my cursed boots.

I looked demented.

I grabbed everything out of the safe (passports + laptop), and hobbled down the stairs — behind another woman who had sprained her ankle earlier that day, the second she stepped off the plane. I don’t know what sort of bad juju was in the Scottish air, but clearly, we weren’t the only ones being punished.

Scottish Fire and Rescue ServiceWe stood there shivering and trying to see or smell smoke as three fire trucks zoomed up. Finally, just before my hair officially froze and snapped off, we were allowed back inside. Apparently, someone’s water kettle had set off the alarm, so, after all that, all was a-okay. We didn’t have the patience to wait with all the fools for the elevator, so possible-broken-toe be damned, we would take the stairs. All six flights.

And um, did you know that the Glasgow Novotel is connected to the Glasgow Ibis, and they pseudo share a lobby and definitely share a staircase? I know this because we took a wrong turn and sat outside the wrong room, calling the Novotel front desk and asking them to send someone to unlock our door because our card seemed to have been deactivated.

It was really fun to reenter to the hotel (six flights back down, cracked toenail and all), and explain we were sitting outside the wrong door.

And so! This was the start to our time in Scotland. And it’s a pretty good indication of how the rest of the trip went, too.

Stay tuned.


the romantic



    • January 6, 2015 / 12:50

      ha, yes, that’s the new plan. we asked for advice on twitter and from the motorhome rental co, and people came through with tons of great tips for doing it during the winter, so we had a good plan! but in the end, we were able to do more without the motorhome for sure.
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..glasgow, scotland: where things went awryMy Profile

  1. January 6, 2015 / 12:56

    You guys are such great writers that I felt like I was in the middle of a movie. It’s currently on pause (which I dislike) so I’m hoping the next post comes quickly!
    Nadine recently posted..The one with Koh Rong Island, Cambodia.My Profile

  2. Wino's Dad' aka PumpGuy
    January 6, 2015 / 16:40

    Challenges make a trip memorable. I’ll share a few in late January!

  3. Lynette Smith
    January 6, 2015 / 18:30

    Well, this certainly will be a trip to remember! And I’m sure that sweet, little Parker was absolutely perfect throughout the excitement, wasn’t he? 🙂

  4. January 8, 2015 / 13:17

    Hahaha! Oh my goodness. What a crazy start! It reminds of when the fire alarm went off on the Queen Mary in the middle of the night and my sister was in her devil lingerie.
    HotMamaTravel recently posted..2014 Top Travel FailsMy Profile

  5. Louise Peters
    January 8, 2015 / 17:37

    I am still laughing!!! The whole journey sounds like the adventures in a Silent Film Comedy.
    I look forward to the newt episode. Love you, Grandmom 🙂

  6. January 9, 2015 / 01:44

    o0o.. Glad to see you’re being a good sport about this so far. Can’t wait to read what happens next!
    Oh these are the kind of travel days that you’ll never forget. We’re looking for a car rental in Spain too. Automatics are so darn tough to come by. We should probably learn to drive manual someday too =P
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Favorite eats in TokyoMy Profile

  7. January 12, 2015 / 11:59

    I admire your tenacity and stick-tuitiv-ness

  8. January 12, 2015 / 14:11

    Gahhhh! I was stressed out just reading this. I can’t imagine having to go through it! I’m so happy you all are alive, broken toe or not. Fingers crossed for a better Glasgow trip next time!
    Natalie @ In Natalie’s Shoes recently posted..2014 HighlightsMy Profile

  9. January 15, 2015 / 14:58

    Yeah, those fire alarms from college. I always slept through those. I agree with your decision of not driving a manual camper, especially assuming you were probably heading into the Highlands? I did that drive a couple of years ago and can’t imagine driving a stick.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..30 First Dates: Romance and Travel CollideMy Profile

    • January 20, 2015 / 08:34

      yeah, once we got up there we were REALLY glad we didn’t try and force it. will have to learn another time, i guess.
      Lazy Travelers recently travel requiredMy Profile

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