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The Scotland Diary, Day 1: Perth, Stirling and Glasgow

Here I was, thinking about what to write for my next article when I happened to dig up this diary entry from my travels to Scotland, exactly one year ago! I hope you enjoy:

What can I say about today? Today was not my best day as the lack of sleep caught up with me. It wasn't the fact that I had gotten little sleep but that I hadn't slept enough as to prepare for the busy schedule of the day, which was filled with tons of walking, adventures and travelling from city to city.

And so at 5:30 my phone rang to announce the beginning of a new day. Bring beginning dare I say, as the first thing I did was hit the snooze button! The fact that the sun was not up yet had not entered my calculations when I set the alarm the previous day and so I decided to follow its example and wake up 40 minutes later. I was a bit groggy and the morning ritual took longer than expected; when I left the hotel at 7:10 I had just enough time to make it to the train station!

I would have walked along the peer but the lack of sunlight and the array of cars occupying the streets deterred my ambition to walk over to the water. I was pretty lucky as I got to the train just in time and we departed right away. For a second there, while I was impatiantly waiting for the woman in front of me to retrieve her tickets from the machine, I was sure the train will leave without me. But luck struck and I borded the train, grabbed a seat with a table and started working on my paper for school.

The view from my window was magnificent and I regretted not looking outside sooner: we were just along the coastline and the first rays of sunlight greeted mountains and the ocean with a smile. In the overall calmness of the coach, it was the most pleasant time of the day... There was a town in view and I could faintly distinguish a castle in the horizon. I had the strange feeling I had seen this castle before and was familiar with the view. Yes, you guessed it! The town was Stonehaven.

I got off at Perth and quickly went to the bathrroom before I ebarked on the 1h busride to Striling. Before I left the station, I asked an employee where I could find said bus and was directed towards outside, followed by the words "follow the signs". So I did and arrived at semi-deserted bus station where I was left perplexed as the only bus going to Stirling departed on Sunday. I went back to the train station, not before I had the time to circle the bus station and read the schedules over and over again. To my grand disappointment, I arrived to the station in time to wave goodbye to my bus as it departed. Apparently, the right bus left in front of the train station, and my quest to search for a bus station was in vain. "Shit, shit shit!", I thought. I wouldn't have time to visit Stirling, the next bus leaving in one hour's time.

Angry at my bad luck and overall lack of orientation, I grabbed coffee and resumed to sulking in the station. I had decided to mope around in show of opposition to such an unfortunate event. After 5 tourturous minutes of watching the same coffee-shop scenery, I ventured into town realizing it was a silly idea to wait one hour inside while there was a whole new town for me to explore. (Well, maybe not whole as one hour did impose a limit on what I could see). I had one hour and wanted to make the most out of it; so I did!

I saw the town center and bought a scotch pie at a local bakery down the main road. Perth is a lovely town and I very much enjoyed sampling that delicious pie while walking towards the water. 10 minutes before departure, I hurried towards the train station, determined not to miss the next bus. I had a front seat next to the window and with the sun shining down on me I quickly drifted into sleep. Now who knows me knows I cannot possibly travel by bus or train without dozing off a little, but to my luck my nap never lasts more than 30 minutes so I had no worries of missing my stop. Stirling is a really great town, a bit medieval-looking and filled with cute shops and nice pathways to walk on. I hiked up to the castle, past the tourist info station where I grabbed a map from a very nice woman and saw the church, cemetrey and Agyll's place along the way up. The castle was way too expensive for what it was worth and seeing as I had already seen my fair share of castles, I soaked in the view and made my way towards the next destination on my map: the Beheading Stone. Little did I know that it was up a small hill and I reahced it after quite a strenouous walk (thank you legs!). Next stop on my map was the old bridge, a symbol from when the Scottish defeated the British by barring the passage and standing their ground, followed by the Wallace Tower. I had to walk 20 minutes along a busy road before I actually reached the bottom of the hill and was deeply discouraged by the short-time frame I had left to return to town as well as my backpack digging its way into my shoulders. Thus, I contented myself with seeing it from afar and waited for the bus to get me back in town where I waited for the bus while charging my phone at McD's. Google Maps and Camera-usage were the main source of battery-draining of my poor phone. McD's is pretty fancy in Europe and I was surprised I had never seen a self-service menu back in Canada.

I was amongst the last people to board the bus and the unfortunate poor souls that did not have any place had to wait for the next one and take a train. I guess my luck had turned around and made up for the "Perth incident".

The sun had began to set as we arrived in Glasgow, and I started mapping out the city's must-see attractions. I had planned to arrive in the city much sooner but did not regret the time spent in Perth. I had my heart set on visiting the museum but seeing as it was in the opposite direction with all other attractions, I felt my time would be better spent at the Cathedral. There, my amazing selfie-taking skills amazed some local Scottish man as he stared at me from his car's window. I am well aware of the Selfie-Stick non-believers out there but must admit for a girl traellig=ng on her own. having a selfie stick is the best thing that could happen (as long as I kept in mind to not poke someone's eye or block the passage while taking those grade-A shots!). Judge or not, my selfie stick is my best traveling companion; especially when you want to send your mom those "look at me mom, your baby was here!" pics.

I wandered for 15 minutes outside the cathedral, always ending up face-to-face with a dead-end alley, before I managed to get back on the right road again. Following the High Street, I reached a lovely park (who would have been so nice had I come here in the evening) and started tio feel the pressure of my battery going 4-3-2-1%. Upon entering a decently-crowded Fish&Chips place, I was greeted my extremely welcoming owners who offered to recharge my phone inthe back. Granted it wasn't the nicest place, but the late-night dinner allure where every customer knows the owner and the delishious fish and chips made had charmed me. The owners were an Italian couple, information I gathered form their thik accent and the numerous pictures reflecting Italian life hanging on the wall. I had told them at the beginning I did not have enough money for a meal but they smiled and told me to sit down. I started to right my blog as they poured me some hot tea and I had a very pleasant evening.

On the way to the bus, I stopped at Poundworld and it was in there that I found my shopping joy of the night. Poundworld is amazing; a Disneyland vs Disneyworld kind of thing. So I bought a bunch of non-necessities and headed out. When I got to the bus the driver asked for 429 pounds and my face froze. Ah the joker...

Following my slight heart-attack induced by the drivers humour, my arrival in Moffat was none too thrilling. The ride there was taken tsraight from a horror movie, and all I could see from the window was never-ending darkness. Guess the town bears it's reputation with grace, as one of the only zero-light initiative towns in the world. The bus left me stranded in the middle of a small bus station, in a quiet town, in a dark place, at a late hour. What could go wrong? Well it turns out to be me waiting 10 minutes in front of the B&B because the owner had gone to sleep. Since I had marked I would arrive at 8 instead of midnight, I felt very embarassed to have woken him up and was grateful when he opened the door.

The Bed and Breakfast was the cutest one I have ever been to. The room was heated and tidy, neatly arranged and decorated with shades of purple. The bed was comfortable and large and I laid down while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate provided by the house. Best B&B I have been to and not a bad way to end the day, might I say.


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