Our tour ended in Glasgow, but we extended a couple of days to see the sights and visit a friend. Then it was home. Sadly, I said goodbye to Scotland after such a lovely trip, and couched in my farewell, “Until next time!”
May 20—along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, then on to Glasgow
Before Glasgow, we spent the morning at Loch Lomond on a relaxing boat ride around the lake. I had heard the song “Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” my whole life, yet never knew the story behind it.
Our tour guide, John, shared the song told the story of a couple captured by the English. She was the only one released as a warning to the other Scots if they rebelled.
I also found the following explanation:
“The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” is about two Scottish soldiers who were imprisoned on the Scottish border. One of them was going to be set free, but the other one was going to be executed. In Scottish legend, anyone who dies outside Scotland takes the “low road” back to their homeland, where they will finally be at peace.
In this song, the doomed soldier is comforting the soldier who will be set free. He tells them that “you’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland before ye”.
As well as this, he recalls a life full of love and happiness. He harkens back to his time by the “bonnie banks of Loch Lomond” where he met his wife, and he comes to peace with the fact that his “broken heart ken nae second Spring again” – meaning that he will never return to the loch to be with his true love, although he is going to return in spirit.”
The misty morning, such a stereotypical Scottish day, accentuated our time on the Loch Lomond—but not freezing!
When the boat ride ended, Charlotte, one of our newfound friends on the tour, told me she planned to dip her toes in the lake because of our Scot heritage, so I joined her! When we got off the boat, we found a small pier near, took our shoes and socks off and ventured to sit down without falling into the loch. And we sat, and dipped. The water was icy!
So, I’m hoping that legend says by doing that I will return!
As we neared Glasgow, I felt a collective sigh of sadness for this amiable group. During the morning, I had gathered email addresses to invite fellow travelers to a dedicated Facebook I created. We didn’t want the experience to end.
However, we had our farewell dinner that evening, but the setting didn’t work. We sat in individual booths that housed four, but this divided the group.
May 21—Glasgow—Transferred from hotel
This day, we transferred from the hotel booked by the tour to the Point A hotel, one I found and booked for the four of us. Yes, it was a deal for downtown Glasgow, but the Spartan accommodation surprised us. It had instructions on the wall that helped us figure it out.
Where was the closest? The three hooks behind the door. What to do with our luggage? Open them up and push them under the bed. A small writing desk swung down from the wall and a stool for a seat. Oh, well! You couldn’t beat the price.
The rest of the day, we explored Glasgow. We ended up in the Molly Malone Pub for a couple of hours, enjoying the atmosphere and friendly Glaswegian. Then we ended the day with a cribbage game in the Common Area at our hotel.
May 22—Glasgow—Walking Tour & Dinner with Eleanor & Jim
For our first full day in Glasgow, we had a delicious breakfast, then a ten-minute walk to the meeting place for our Medieval Walking Tour with Kevin. What a tour we had! We wove our way through downtown Glasgow, and Kevin showed us historical sights many Glaswegians regularly pass every day and don’t know about. During the tour, we learned about grave robbers. We saw the St. Mungo Cathedral with its darkened wall from years of smoke. Also, Kelvin often repeated an interesting rhyme associated with Glasgow’s coat of arms:
Here’s the bird that never flew.
Here’s the tree that never grew.
Here’s the bell that never rang.
Here’s the fish that never swam.
On the sides of many buildings, we saw massive murals.
That evening, we caught the train and rode ten minutes to Eleanor and Jim. The station and schedule was daunting, but we figured it out.
Before our trip, I visually connected with Eleanor in an International Meditation group I joined in 2022 and prior to that, in an Advent study by text in 2021. We became fast friends immediately, and I was so excited to tell her about our trip to Scotland. As plans unfolded, she invited Lin and I and Jerry and Mary Beth to dinner at her house!
What a delightful evening we had! Her husband, Jim, prepared a delicious dinner, starting with Cullen Skink, haddock and leek soup, better than what we had in Ullapool. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the meal, the camaraderie, and the conversation. After dinner, Jim pulled out his guitar and entertained us. We also found out that Eleanor does Scottish set dancing, which is like our square dancing—maybe its predecessor. What a memorable evening had!
May 23–Touring Glasgow
The next day, Lin and I met Jim and Eleanor and took the subway to the University of Glasgow, Jim’s alma mater.
First, Jim and Eleanor showed us the Memorial Chapel where they had been married. What a special moment! Then we had a delightful morning walking around the campus and had a serendipitous moment. As a retired teacher, I wanted to see a classroom. I stuck my head in one only to find a campus guard and he scolded me for being there. I let him know I was a retired teacher from the US and only wanted to see a classroom.
He quickly changed his tune and became our tour guide. We crossed a courtyard and entered a beautiful classroom with wood-paneled walls, curved worn bench seats, a massive desk in the of the room and so much history.
Our next stop, the Kelvingrove Museum, surprised us with an organ concert in the main area, so we stopped, listened and enjoyed the beautiful music. Then it was on to the Salvador Dalí painting, “Christ Saint John on the Cross,” our primary destination here at the museum.
“One of Dalí s most famous paintings is Christ of St John on the Cross. (1951) Considered his finest religious painting, it now hangs in Scotland’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery, in Glasgow’s West End and has been there ever since its purchase by the galleries director in 1952. Painted in 1951, Dalí’s iconic painting has become one of the best-loved in the entire collection, amongst Glaswegians and visitors.”
I marveled at being that close to a Dali painting, and this one so amazing—Christ floating!
From there we met back with Jerry and Mary Beth at Molly Malone’s pub for our last time all together, and a delightful dinner. We ended early so we could go back to our hotel and pack up and prepare for our early departure the next day.
May 24—Flew home
The next day our Scottish tour ended with our uneventful flight home—always a good thing! This blog gave me a nostalgic look back at a trip of a lifetime. I hope you’ve enjoyed my wandering down “the country roads of Scotland,” and maybe it ignited a desire in you to visit Scotland, my new found home!
News, News, News!
Listen to my twenty-three minute interview on Masterfesto Media Podcast with Isabel Elias about my book Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6uRX60sDFWbejTg7rZAiLn
Get your free 50-minute audio recording of Flippo! Click here for easy access!