It was time for the first day of adventures in Scotland so some proper fueling would be required to make it through the day.
I headed to the Brisket where a buffet breakfast was laid out with a variety of breads, meats, juices, cereals, and vegetables. I toasted some wheat bread, grabbed some Scottish bacon (taken from the back of the pig like Irish bacon so its similar to ham), a slice of Swiss cheese, a bit of haggis, and glasses of orange and lime juice. I turned the bacon, cheese, and bread into a sandwich while I conversed with fellow tour members, Dale, Sandy, and Judith.
The breakfast hit the spot and I must say that I rather enjoyed the haggis. It has a sharp bite to it and tastes a tiny bit like sausage. The lime juice was actually quite refreshing and I was ready for the day.
We formally met our tour guide, Marge, and our driver, David. This group was right on the ball as we were all on the bus before our departure time and left promptly at 8am.
Our first stop was the village of Luss where we would sail on Loch Lomond, courtesy of the Lomond Princess.
It was a cool and overcast day. Fog was hanging over the hills giving them an ethereal look as we took a relaxing sail on the Loch. Our captain gave us some information about some of the islands we passed and even gave us a glimpse of Loch Lomond Golf Club, an exclusive club whose members include George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michael Douglas. Membership fees are a jaw dropping 135,000 pounds a year and that doesn’t include green fees.
Our cruise ended at the village of Balmahal and we took a pleasant stroll back to the bus and I did note a few B &Bs on the walk.
From there, it was off to Glengoyne to learn about the fine art of distilling whiskey.
Glengoyne has been distilling whiskey officially since 1833 (unofficially for a few generations before that). It’s a pretty exclusive brand as it’s sold directly through the distillery and in specialty shops. We had a bit of time before our tour so our guides led us to the waterfall that served as the original water source for the whiskey. Nowadays the water from the fall is used soley for the cooling process.
At 11:40am we were brought it for a dram of 12 year old whiskey and it was potent. I felt a slight buzz come on as I sipped it during a brief film on Glengoyne’s history. Upon the completion of the film, our tour guide, Matthew, led us through the distillery.
I was surprised to discover that making whiskey is actually simple. The craft lies in how the process is applied. Glengoyne’s success is due to heating the liquor with hot air and using Spanish casks to develop the various types of whiskey they sell.
Fun fact: Way up on the hill across the road from the distillery is the home of Robbie Coltrane, best known for playing Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” films. He is a fan of Glengoyne whiskey and occasionally visits the distillery.
After the tour, we were off to visit Stirling Castle, the home of many Scottish rulers over the centuries as well as the monument that overlooks the legendary Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
We were left to our own devices for a few hours so I opted to explore the castle for myself as opposed to taking a guided tour.
It was an educational period as I learned about the history of Scotland’s rulers and the linked history of the Stewarts (or Stuarts) and the Tudors. I also visited the Great Hall, chapel, great kitchens, and looked at the lovely Royal Garden. The most interesting thing I learned was how meals were sometimes eaten. A feast was given to the king and queen who would eat their fill, then whatever was left over was given to the next most powerful person in the castle and so on with table scraps going to the lowest rung on the ladder.
We wrapped things up at 4pm and headed back to Glasgow. Jet lag was wearing me out and I didn’t have the juice to eat at a regular restaurant. After resting for an hour, I walked down to the nearby McDonald’s and picked up a French Stack meal for take away.
Normally this sandwich is exclusive to France, but McDonald’s is currently doing an international burger promotion where regional burgers are being featured in other restaurants worldwide. The French Stack was two patties, lettuce, bacon, onions, Swiss cheese and sauce on French garlic buns. Quite tasty.
From there I was left to a quiet night of organizing photos and writing and getting my luggage ready for an early departure on Saturday.