SCOTLAND: “I Love Scotch. Scotchy Scotch Scotch.”
I actually do love scotch, so Scotland was an easy choice. However, I spent more time in museums and art galleries than anything else. The city also had its own art to offer.
One of the art galleries, The Lighthouse, had a set of spiral stairs you could climb. At the top was a beautiful view of the city. I only had one (technically two) mishaps with food. I walked into a cafe called Stereo, but didn’t realized it was a vegetarian restaurant until after I ordered a beer. So, I politely finished the beer and left. After I left, I decided to go to this restaurant called Mono. Once again, I discovered that I had walked into a vegetarian restaurant.
When I felt like I had already experienced plenty of the food and art Glasgow had to offer, I took a train to Edinburgh for a day to check out the sights and climb Arthur’s Seat. It was there that I met an Englishman named Dick. He told me his brothers were further up the hill and asked me to lie to them by telling them he took a spill. I actually ran into them so I did it. They sounded worried, but I only felt a little bad about it. After I left Arthur’s Seat, I walked through town and found a store called WM Cadenheads, Scotland’s Oldest Independent Bottler. If you want some genuinely unique scotch you would never find back home, this is the place to go.
One of the taxi drivers recommended Iron Horse Pub. I decided to check it out and drink a few pints. When I arrived, I took a seat at the bar and enjoyed a meal and some beers. The woman sitting next to me was an Australian tourist named Jessica. We talked, got to know each other a little and made plans to hang out the next day. At the end of the night, we went to a place called Maggie Mays and met some very interesting locals.
Jessica recommended I check out the Stirling Castle & Loch Lomond National Park tour so I booked a ticket. A part of that tour was to visit Deanston Distillery. What set this distillery apart from the others was the fact that it used to be a cotton mill. This allowed the distillery to be self sufficient by using the water wheel in the river. It was a unique distillery with some delicious whiskey.
I didn’t get a chance to visit Islay while I was there. I did, however, get a chance to try some amazing Welsh whiskey called Penderyn. When I go back to the UK, I plan on visiting Wales and Islay.
IRELAND: The Land of Guinness
I flew from Glasgow to Dublin and immediately caught a bus to Galway. This gave me the chance to check out the town closest to the Cliffs of Moher. I stayed at a hotel that was about a 10 minute walk from downtown. The woman at the desk told me to be careful walking because the young kids would jump me. She told me they wanted my cell phone. I wondered if she still thought it was 1995.
It rained the night before my tour so the cliffs were extremely muddy. I wanted to see every inch of the landmark so I walked right through it. Some Korean tourists asked me if my shoes were made of chocolate.
The tour to the Cliffs of Moher included the Burren National Park. Some tourists mistakenly thought this was the Blarney Stone. They kept taking turns performing bridges to kiss it upside down. At least they were having fun. The next day I took the bus back to Dublin.
Maybe I was just spoiled by the unique culture of Glasgow, but I felt like Dublin was really into capitalizing on tourism. This inspired me to book a tour almost every day so I could see the countryside and smaller towns of Ireland.
These tours included the Witch’s Seat, which is supposedly one of the coldest places in Ireland, and Giant’s Causeway. The tour guide provided a very riveting lore about the Causeway. He even did voices.
I left my trip to Scotland and Ireland with four bottles of whiskey. When I got to the airport, I passed the duty free shop and decided to get just one more. This $60 bottle of whiskey was only $25 because I was heading home. You can get some really cheap prices on alcohol when heading home, but don’t let that keep you from buying in the city.
I have been to Canada twice and plan to go back many times. In 2015 I went to Toronto, Ontario with my friend, Jon, for two days to see Niagara Falls and check out their version of Chinatown. My friend told me he trusted me to order the dumplings, but at the last second he asked for tripe. He said “I’ve had it before, it’s good.” He had no idea how wrong he was and it was disgusting.
I really enjoyed the short trip to Toronto and riding the subway reminded me of my adventure in Japan. Unforutnately, I had to leave too soon. In 2016 Jon and I took a trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. Right outside of Halifax is a beautiful area known as Peggy’s Cove. We woke up early to get there before all the other tourists. It was a wonderful village with a friendly cat roaming the rocks.
As we were leaving Peggy’s Cove, all the other tourists were arriving. We headed west to Ryer’s Lobsters. The lobster was caught fresh in the ocean nearby. It was $10 for a 1lb lobster and $3 for 1lb of mussels. The food was so good, we wished we bought more. With our stomachs full, we headed to Brier Island. The island has a population of 210 people. This is surprising since the island is so small. That night we ate some delicious lobster bisque and the next morning we went whale watching.
When we were whale watching, we saw the salmon farms. The next day we flew to Toledo, Ohio for work. Whenever we are in Toledo we always eat at Real Seafood Company. The menu had an option for Bay of Fundy North Atlantic Salmon. We explained to the waitress how we saw the farms the day before. She was unamused.
Jon and I decided we would keep visiting Canada every year until we have visited every province. I look forward to seeing more of the great white north. That pretty much concludes my recap on the last four years of travel. I look forward to sharing more stories.