Hello 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!:
The 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.
I 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.
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.
We 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.
We 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.