We had a four hour layover in Dublin . We were a bit clueless, but apparently we cleared passport control for the UK/EU there in Ireland . What a maze Dublin airport is – they are refurbishing it thankfully. Thinking that it would be a good idea to find our gate first, we headed off. Of course the gate was just about as far away from the main terminal area as possible. We got all the way down there to discover that there really wasn’t any hot food to buy. All the restaurants were back by passport control, which was about a 15-20 minute walk back the way we had just come. Oh well – we ended up with apple turnovers, they weren’t bad, but they weren’t filling at all.
After this we still had two and a half hours to wait for our flight to Glasgow . The seats in the gate area were metal mesh and they all had arms so there was no chance of sleeping although I did try. Finally we got on the short forty minute flight into Glasgow . They were charging for any beverages on this flight €2.50 for tea! That’s about $3.48 US and that’s ridiculous!
Of course our luggage was just about the last off the baggage conveyor. We threw it all onto a luggage cart and headed over to the Europcar counter to pick up our rental. There were about eight people ahead of us in line at the Europcar counter and the line just crawled. They said they were having computer problems. Anyways by the time we got up to the counter about an hour later, they couldn’t find an automatic car for us. We had changed from a manual to an automatic because of my dislocated elbow 3 weeks prior. Eventually they found us a Vauxhall Astra. It kind of looks a bit station wagon-ish, but whatever – the luggage fits! They also whacked us for a bunch of local fees that should have been included in the price we prepaid. We were so aggravated by this point that we just accepted them, I think that’s what they count on.
Europcar car pick up is across the street and eventually we found the car, threw the luggage in and plugged in the GPS (or sat-nav as it’s called in the UK ). It took forever for it to find the satellites and get the maps loaded. While were waiting for the GPS, we asked for directions so we could at least get going in the direction of Glasgow . We got on the M8 motorway and finally the GPS came on. Yay! We decided to go to the Glasgow Cathedral area and skip the tour bus of the city as we were famished and exhausted.
I had done some research online before we left and got advice about car parks near the Cathedral and I was able to actually find the correct car park! Figured out the pay and display parking thing and then walked up to the Cathedral. Glasgow Cathedral is the finest building surviving in Scotland from the 13th century. It is widely regarded as the high point of cathedral building in Europe . We walked around the main floor inside and then went down into the crypt area; it’s a very beautiful Cathedral with fabulous stained glass. There was also an area that was closed off because of a concert benefit that had all the oldest artifacts; you could pay £10 to go inside, but we decided to skip it as that was about $37 US for the 2 of us. We had a snack at the tearoom at St. Mungo’s museum. It had been sprinkling steadily since we left the airport, but when we came out of the tearoom it had stopped. I was able to talk mom into walking up to the Necropolis behind the Cathedral. What a very cool and interesting place the Necropolis is. There were so many paths and monuments. I had trouble getting the exposure right on my camera as the sun was in and out of the clouds while we were there and it got really steamy and humid.
We headed back to the car and decided to drive to St Enoch’s shopping centre district to look for a mobile phone and a UK hairdryer. After circling a while, with the GPS confusing me a bit, we found the car park. We got a pay as you go phone at the Vodaphone store and paid an extra £20 to have it unlocked; the guy that helped us was super nice and even added the minutes for us. We went in several stores looking for the hairdryer and finally got one in the mall proper at Boots Pharmacy. Seriously we had walked by the entrance to the mall several times and didn’t even see it.
We went back to get the car out of the car park – talk about tight turns it felt like both sides of the car should have been scraping the walls even though it really did fit!! We had to wait again for the GPS to come back on. We drove about 5 minutes before it did, but luckily we had gone in the correct direction without even knowing it.
We had decided to tour Glasgow in the afternoon, but to stay the first night in Melrose. The drive to Burts Hotel in Melrose took forever! There was tons of rush hour traffic and we had to go right by the outskirts of Edinburgh on the motorway. The roads are super narrow and the speed limit is 60mph unless otherwise posted. So it was like driving on Route 225 through Westford and Carlisle at twice the speed limit there! Very disconcerting driving on the left when I was so exhausted. It took a lot of concentration to stay in my lane on the correct side of the road without hitting a curb. We finally found the hotel and it even had a private car park – we would learn later how rare and awesome this was!!
We had a twin room on the 3rd floor – no lift of course! But in a beautiful historic building literally around the corner from Melrose Abbey although we didn’t realize it at first. We decided to eat at the hotel as we were just too beat to go anywhere else - jet lag had really set in. I ordered the beer battered haddock with chips. It was really excellent – mom had the same. Our room was nice, but the view was of the back and we could mostly see the roof. There was a large bathroom that overlooked the square in front of the hotel. In bed early – by 10:00-10:30, slept okay with the brace on for a few hours, then was wide awake at about 5:30am. Decided to just get up and find my iPod and noise canceling headphones and was able to fall back asleep for a couple hours.