Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Great Honeymoon Vacation, Part One: Scotland

After almost a year of marriage, we finally got our honeymoon! It was split between two countries, Scotland and Italy, and two goals: photographs and food. We succeeded on all counts!

Here are some of the highlights (when I am less jet-lagged, there will be better posts):

We drove from Glasgow to Kennacraig, where we caught the ferry to the Isle of Islay. The ferry was a bit chilly.

Scotland is cold, rainy and windy. I am in love. After suffering from reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, it was time for some gray in my weather! Islay provided plenty!

We stayed at the Monachs Guesthouse, which was lovely. Gorgeous views, balconies that would have been great had it not been raining, big comfy beds, hot tea, short bread, backgammon in the common room...and a big Scottish breakfast in the morning. Ronnie and Marie were great hosts.

The point of Islay tourism is either whiskey or bird watching. We were of the former variety. I loved this snippet from the exhibit at the Laphroaig distillery:

I like to think of Scotch as medicine, too. I'm a fan of deep, peaty Scotches, which is the reason we came to Islay in the first place, as there are 8 distilleries in an island 20 km by 20 km that produce some of the most distinctive Scotches around. I blame my choices in alcohol on my parents, who never drank but allowed me to read the Wall Street Journal at an early age. I eagerly awaited the Weekend Journal, where there was always a wine column, but sometimes about other spirits, and loved the description of the flavors and scents that only alcohol seemed capable of capturing. There will be a whole post devoted to the distillery tours and tastings, if that interests anyone. Not all of our Scotland trip was about alcohol, however. Never fear! Other fun things we did included visiting the woolen mill that Queen Elizabeth prefers...and which makes tartans and plaids and so forth for movies (Braveheart, among others). Very cool to get the tour and the cashmere scarves were oh-so soft. I found Lapsang Souchong tea in the grocery store. I'd wanted to try it for forever, and was an instant convert. It will be a great substitute for scotch when alcohol is not allowed/advisable/all gone. It's so stinky that it had to be double-bagged to travel, for fear all our clothes would smell like a bonfire gone bad! I also discovered how much I love oatcakes (like crackers). Anyone have a good recipe?

We did a lot of touring around the island and saw some excellent things, like one of the only remaining Celtic High Crosses left in Scotland, the Kildalton Cross.

Besides a variety of birds, sheep, cattle, and horses we also saw deer, a fox, and SEALS!

At the top of this road is the round church in Bowmore, with "no corners for the devil to hide in." One of only two or three churches we actually visited on the trip (Italian churches were just packed with tourists...)

I'm feeling sleepy, though the clock says it is only 8 pm. I think maybe it's time to say goodnight. More to come...


anne said...

FUN! always wanted to go to scotland, and you so nicely have done that for me :)
You and Michael might have a conversation about Scotch, peaty sorts, etc....he is something of a connoisseur, but has little actual experience...
I love the lambie photos....
lookin forward to more posts! SO glad you got to honeymoon!

Arun said...

interesting! I liked this post.

healthcare said...

Fabulos post!