We decided to take it easy after a somewhat whirlwind tour of Scotland over the past two weeks, and spent our last day in Glasgow wandering through streets filled with gorgeous Victorian and Georgian architecture. If you look above every chip shop, pub, or souvenir store, you are delighted by bowed windows, ornately carved sandstone, wrought iron details, and stained glass. The skyline really is spectacular.
Ted and I spent the better part of the day at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery (google it!), currently hosting the really interesting Linda McCartney photo exhibition. Ironically, you are not allowed to take photos of her photos. Queen Victoria, depicted below in an 1888 marble by Francis Williamson, might have been amused.
The two highlights of our day at Kelvingrove were a concert on the 2889-pipe pipe organ (built for the 1901 exhibition in Glasgow) and Salvador Dali’s incredible painting “Christ of St John of the Cross”. The painting feels more like resurrection than crucifixion; note the lack of nails, and the way Christ seems to be rising above the fishermen below.
In the evening, Senior Discovery Tours hosted our farewell dinner. I think that as a group, we all agreed that this trip has been a wonderful and educational experience. Two of our fellow travellers presented tributes: Dorothy with a wonderful thank you letter, and June with a poem. Both were received with laughter and applause.
Our tour leader Barbara will undoubtedly be remembered for her notebooks, maps, en route bus treats (St Andrews cakes, shortbread, tablet, fudge, whisky cream, Glayva, apricot liqueur and more), the roll call by “count” from 1 to 22 every time we got back on the bus, hand-sanitizing all of us regularly, and for her patient responses to the repeated question “and what time is dinner?” I will remember her especially for little things like the strong mints she supplied to her seasick trio, of which I was a not-so-proud member.
Our driver/guide Colin made a personal connection with each of us, which goes a long way to explaining how he has connections EVERYWHERE. From restaurant staff and hotel managers, to ferry captains, store owners, and gatekeepers, all across the country, everyone seemed to know him and everyone was charmed by him. His knowledge of and love for his native country were freely shared. His stories enchanted us. His energy and sense of humour, intact after 31 days straight with SDT tours in August, amazed us. That said, nothing awed us more than his mad driving skills over more than 1500 miles (2400 km) of “interesting” Scottish roads.
As for our tour group, we could not have wished for a friendlier, more energetic, more flexible, more patient, more PUNCTUAL, more interesting, or more considerate group of 22 people. Everyone was genuinely concerned with each other’s well-being, which made even the longest days easy to enjoy.
The tour was one that had many highlights: the Tattoo, the Highlands, the Orkneys and Hebrides, castles, gardens, culture and food. What we know is that we need more time in this wonderful country. Ted and I have already started thinking about adding a month here to the end of our winter 2021 European plans – he might even have time to look up his mother’s Knox Scottish ancestry!
Our flight home is tomorrow morning. We’ll be glad to be back in Ontario for a couple of months before hitting the road again. I’m especially looking forward to fierce hugs from our grandsons, and seeing #2 son’s reactions to the selection of whisky we brought home.
Thank you for joining us on our Scottish trip. As promised, I’ll share my food notes in a week or so.