Oh, I’ll take the high road and you’ll take the low road and I’ll get to Scotland before you. . .unless of course you’ve already been to Scotland.
It was time for another international excursion and this time the road was taking me to Scotland through the courtesy of Globus Journeys once more.
I was in for another long day of travel with 2 layovers of 3 hours and 2 hours apiece. Actually, it ended up being a little bit longer as both of my flights arrived early.
This time around I used Delta Airlines to travel and all 3 of my flights were itty bitty. The first two legs used regional jets that were only 4 seats across and the international leg utilized a single decker plane with rows that were only 6 seats across (what I would have expected for a domestic flight).
As I wrote earlier, Delta was exceptionally timely as my first flight got me to Detroit 45 minutes early giving me a nearly 4 hour layover.
I have never been to Detroit Metro Airport before, but it is either remarkably well-maintained or I was in a new or recently remodeled terminal. I got a little exercise by walking from one end of the terminal to the other while I noted things to do and attempted to find a place to eat.
Since I had the time, I stopped in at the Be Relax Spa where I decided to get a 15 minute chair massage as my shoulders were feeling a bit cramped (the common complaint of a writer). I didn’t know how cramped until Shelby started working my shoulders and said, “Oh, they are tight.” As Shelby rubbed, elbowed, and forearmed my shoulders, I felt (and heard) them snap, crackle, and pop back into place.
With my shoulders now out of my ears, I decided it was time to find some dinner. I wanted something a bit different and opted for Popeye’s. They were out of the bread needed to make po’boys, so I had a 2 piece spicy chicken dinner and it truly hit the spot.
With a full stomach, I waited at the gate and read a Nero Wolfe mystery until it was time to jet to New York City.
Delta was 45 minutes early with this flight as well, so I spent the time reading at the gate and marveled at how busy the airport was at such a late hour. I was taking my first true red-eye flight as it was leaving at nearly midnight, but the airport was still hopping.
I landed the money seat for my flight to Glasgow as I got a window seat plus was seated at the rear of the section which meant I could recline the chair as far as possible without fear of disturbing the person behind me.
While I enjoyed the seat, it wasn’t quite what I hoped as the seat was pretty much up against the wall so reclining wasn’t an option and my window wouldn’t close which meant I got a blast of sunshine in the kisser which, while enjoyable, isn’t that well received when I’m trying to rest and nap. I plastered my pillow across the window to try to block the light with mixed results.
The flight was very smooth and I was surprised that they actually served a meal shortly into the flight as I figured they might wait and serve it closer to breakfast time as it was so late. I declined the meal and instead watched Green Book, an excellent film about the friendship of jazz pianist, Dr. Donald Shirley and his driver, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen.
When the movie ended, I exhaled a mighty yawn, snuggled up in my blanket, and leaned my pillow against the window for some shut-eye. I slept for about 90 minutes before some turbulence shook me awake. Knowing I wasn’t going to fall back asleep, I watched Lost in Translation with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, played Texas Hold Em Poker (winning two tables in the process), and had a light meal of orange juice, peach muffin, and honey yogurt around breakfast time.
Soon we began our descent and as we burst through the clouds, I was greeted by prime and lush farmland that was just pretty as a picture. Shortly afterwards, we flew over a couple of golf courses and finally landed at Glasgow International.
I was able to grab my suitcase and blasted through Customs as Glasgow uses a passport scanner to speed up the process. I figured I had another hour to wait as the shuttle to the hotel wasn’t scheduled to leave until 12:30pm. I was delighted to find that it was waiting for us and I, along with 8 other group memebers, were able to be taken to our first hotel of the trip: Doubletree.
Upon arriving, I was informed that check-in time would not be until 3pm unless you were a Hilton Honors Member. Since I wasn’t I was looking at 3 hours of waiting time, so I decided to explore the area.
I walked around nearby Sauchiehall Street, a famed area in Glasgow filled with shops and restaurants. I passed a department store called Marks & Spencer which I’ve learned is the place to exchange currency as they charge no commission, so you get almost market value for your money.
Spying a grocery store, Sainsbury’s, I stopped in to see if I could once more find Mountain Dew for my friend, David Sundberg, and there it was right off the bat. After getting the photographic evidence, I decided not to buy the bottle as it was large and it was written in English.
I decided to get a small snack to keep my stomach clock on a normal schedule and stopped in at a Taco Bell mainly because I was shocked to see one outside of America. I ordered a Cheesy Double Decker Taco and learned that getting something “to go” here is getting it for “take away”.
The meat was seasoned differently than the American version. Not spicier, but somehow sharper. I also noted that the regional menu also included the Volcano Burrito, a favorite of Dave’s (heck, Taco Bell is his go-to joint in general). So if you’re reading this Dave, here’s another reason to join me in my travels.
I shortly realized that my exhaustion was winning out, so I decided to sign up for Hilton Honors so I could check in early. Not only did I get the benefit of checking in early, but it has already proven a wise decision as I will more likely than not be utilizing a Hilton property for an upcoming visit to Arizona so I’m guaranteed a better rate, early check-in, and free Wi-Fi. Even better, it took a bit to get me a room, so the clerk offered me comps for drinks at the hotel bar.
Once I got my bags in place, I collapsed on the bed and took a two hour catnap. I felt remarkably better upon waking as the edge was taken off the jet lag. I wandered around the hotel a bit and then took a long, hot bath and dressed for dinner.
Dinner was held in The Brisket at the Doubletree. Already I met quite a few new friends and enjoyed some splendid conversation with a fabulous dinner that included a pureed mushroom soup, grilled ham with a sweet glaize, new potatoes, carrots, squash, sugar snap peas, with sticky toffee pudding and ice cream for dessert.
I drank a Guiness with my dinner and I used one of comps to enjoy a Grandbois. It’s a honey whiskey. I was hoping to get an Atholl Brose, a Scottish drink consisting of whiskey, oatmeal brose, honey, and cream, but they didn’t have the fixings, but perhaps another time. With the Grandbois, I toasted my friends, Val and Marty O’Brien whom I hoped would also be on this tour, but they will get to enjoy this tour in early 2020.
With a fine dinner digesting, I figured it was time to write and rest in order to be ready for the adventure that would begin in earnest the next day.