My Thoughts · Scotland

Glasgow & Then Home! Bye Scotland

Our group at the Molly Malone Pub - last night in Glasgow!
Our group at the Molly Malone Pub – last night in Glasgow!

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

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

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.”,with%20Prince%20Charles%20Edward%20Stuart.

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.

Instructions for room features - Glasgow

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.

Train station & schedule in Glasgow
Train station & schedule in Glasgow

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.

Eleanor & Larada in Glasgow
Eleanor & Larada in Glasgow

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!

Jim playing his guitar for us - Glasgow
Jim playing his guitar for us

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.

Inside of Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow
Inside of Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

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!

Larada & Lin with Queen Victoria bust at the Selvingrove Museum - Glasgow
Larada & Lin with Queen Victoria Bust at the Kelvingrove Museum

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!

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Man sitting on grass with Flippo's book on iPad - Glasgow
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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Scotland! I Want to Return!

Home from Scotland, yet my heart lingers there! Lin and I just returned from about a two-week adventure in Scotland and what an experience it was!

We saw kilts, colorful tartans, and firths! People sampled whiskey and Guinness! Lush, green hills surrounded us with many luscious lochs, too! And the brutal Scottish history shocked me! After several days, I heard the name “MacDonald” repeated in the history retelling, and I woke up! I have MacDonalds in my family tree, so I made the connection! Also, I have done my DNA testing and I am 28% Scot, so there you have it!

Our Itinerary in Scotland

We left Albuquerque on May 9, 2023 with our good friends, Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath, and flew to Edinburgh. We spent three days there touring and enjoying the sights. On May 12, another couple joined us who used to live in Albuquerque. We all are square dancers!

The Insight Vacations’ coach tour, The Country Roads of Scotland, began on May 13 and we toured Edinburgh for our first two days. Next from there, we went north to St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness for our third day. Next, we continued north to Culloden, Loch Ness and onto Thurso, the northern tip of Scotland, for the fourth day.

From Thurso, we went out for a Day in the Orkney Islands for our fifth day—our really only rainy day. For our sixth day, it was on over the sea to the Isle of Skye, one of the lower Hebrides islands, with a clear blue sky—quite unusual we’ve been told! There, we saw up close and personal “hairy coos,” the reddish long-haired cattle of Scotland. Afterwards, on our seventh day, we headed south through the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe. On day eight, we headed along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and had a relaxing boat ride around the lake, then we moved on to Glasgow.

In Glasgow, we had an amazing treat! Last year, I met a woman from Glasgow in an international meditation group I joined. She and her husband invited us for dinner on Monday, May 22, and we rode the train out to their house. What a delightful evening we had with delicious food, fun filled conversation and music! Their hospitality abounded! Then on Tuesday, they toured us around Glasgow—the best way to see any city! Sadly to say, then we headed back to the USA and Albuquerque!

Often during the tour, our traveling companions referenced “The Outlander,” but Lin and I weren’t familiar with this TV series. WE ARE NOW! And we are watching it!

Lin Touching One of the Stones of Stenness
Lin Touching One of the Stones of Stenness–A Trip Back??

The Scots are very proud of their famous poets and authors: Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns. I found this poem on the trip and shared it with the group.

Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone


Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that's gone!

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

For “The Outlander” fans, you hear these words every episode in the introduction! Interesting! At that time, I did not know when I shared the poem!


I have stories to tell of our wonderful trip and my newfound homeland. So, as you know, traveling with me can be an adventure, so be prepared for some fun-filled tales coming up in my next posts.

Have you ever been to Scotland? Any of the places identified above? Did you love it? Are you an “Outlander” fan?

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My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 6 – Greenock & Stirling Castle–Unicorns Everywhere!

My musings about our 12-day British Isle cruise is a joyful time. As I look back at the pictures and the journal I kept, I get to relive this wonderful trip all over again. I hope you enjoy this sixth day of our adventure!

On July 26, we slept in a little and had breakfast in Windows, one of the specialty restaurants, and had Salmon Benedict, sitting by the windows enjoying the ocean side view.

The View on Deck 12

After breakfast, we went to Deck 7 and took pictures, then up to Deck 12 and took more pictures—clouds hanging over the hills! The ship moved inward to the dock with land on both sides and a wonderful morning of picture taking. We docked at about noon.

My stomach flared up in before we left and didn’t feel good all day—I just continued!

We were welcomed by a bagpiper and this big Scottish friend. Also we laughed at the welcome sign at the terminal at the door of the terminal—what fun!

Lin Shopping to Add to His Kilt Outfit!

The terminal had great shops and we left the ship early enough to have time to shop before our excursion. Lin added to his kilt outfit: a beautiful black vest, white shirt and long white socks. I joined the shopping spree and bought a beautiful jewelry set made of heatherwood: a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Lin ran our purchases back to the ship and we left.

We boarded our bus to drive to Stirling Castle, our excursion for the day. Ian, our guide, shared his Scottish knowledge for one and half hour—lots of information! We drove through Glasgow, a city’s name I knew from an Abba song, “Super Trouper!”

Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusivecrag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.

The castle was well-worth the wait! We toured several spectacular areas inside the castle with numerous fireplaces & decorative unicorn shields and/or tapestries over the fireplaces.

We craned our necks to see amazing ceilings with wooden carvings.

We went through the Great Kitchens with life-sized figurines working at their tasks, and a beautiful green view of the surrounding area. The cloud-covered day added to the mystique.

We wandered around the walkaway at the top of the castle, seeing the cemetery near by and the grand vista of the area!

Lin and I in Queen Anne’s Garden

My favorite part was Queen Anne’s garden. We wore our 2020 New Mexico Square and Round Dance Association Festival t-shirts and took pictures in the garden. The array of flowers was beautiful!

We crammed as much as possible into the allotted time at the castle: Chapel Royal, the Great Kitchens and walking around a walkway around the top of the castle.

So when I got to the gift shop, it was closed. I opened the door and begged the clerk to let me in for just a few minutes. She reluctantly agreed, so I ran through the shop and ended up buying a small unicorn—in memory of all the unicorns displayed throughout the castle!

Bridge at Glasgow, Scotland

The ride home through Glasgow was delightful, and I took a great picture crossing a bridge there. When we returned to the terminal, we checked email. Once we boarded the ship, we ate dinner quickly, so we could see the musical production in the Stardust Theater, “Rockin Nights,” a lively tradition to Soul music!

We chalked up another delightful day in Scotland, wandering around a lovely castle, loving the mysterious unicorn interest at Stirling castle and admiring beautiful wooden carved ceilings!

Have you ever had a castle experience? Do you get a sense of history when you step into a castle? Then add unicorns to it! What an experience!

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