We finally arrived at the Glasgow airport at about 11:15am (5:15am STL). It was super cloudy and sprinkling a bit. The airport seemed pretty small compared to the others that I was in today.
I met up with my class in front of the Tesco store in the airport. Everyone was new to me expect for our instructor, Linda Williams, and Jody who sat behind me in Ethics last semester. Everyone in the group seems super nice and I feel like we will mesh pretty well.
We didn’t have to wait too long for the rental car agency to pick us up at the bus stop outside the airport. Linda picked up a 9 person van. It’s kinda scary to ride in since driving here is opposite from the United States. I keep thinking someone is going to hit us. Linda has driven this way before though, but it’s been about 13 years. Once she got use to it, she did just fine. After getting the van, we left Glasgow but, we still had a total of 2 hours worth of driving and had to take an hour ferry ride to arrive at the Lochranza Youth Hostel in Lochranza, Scotland on the Isle of Arran. I can’t wait to go to bed and snuggle with my cuddle pillow! Especially since I have been up since 8 a.m. (STL) Monday and I am working off of only 4 hours of sleep from Sunday night. I still feel pretty alert and all around ok though! Luckily, I got a good deal of my weepies and nervousness out before leaving Chicago by texting Jake.
It still feels surreal to me that I am here. I have to keep reminding myself that I am in Scotland. I usually end up saying it in a Scottish, and sometimes British, accent in my head. I don’t know why I keep narrating in accents, but it’s pretty funny.
The weather here is cold. I had gotten to use to STL being around 100 degrees and super humid. Here it has been in the mid-60’s during the day and in the 50’s or upper 40’s at night. Brrrrr!
Once we got off the ferry and had a chance to warm up in the van, the first thing we did was stop at the grocery store. The hostel here has a communal kitchen where we can make our own food. Breakfast and Lunch are the only meals they offer and you have to pay 3 and 5 pounds for them. The only grocery store on the island is a chain called Co-Operative. They have the at least 3 of them and the main store, it’s the biggest, is in Brodick where the ferry that we rode comes in. The store was packed so, everything was really low or gone. It was also freezing because they don’t have doors on any of the refrigerated stuff. Everything in the store is expensive because all there stock must be brought in on the ferry from the main land. They kind of remind me of Aldi because they always have long lines, you have to put a coin in the cart to use it and buy grocery bags and bag them yourself. There card readers are really strange too. You don’t swipe your card, you insert it into a slot at the top where you let it sit there to be read. Most of the cards here have a chip in them and that’s why they do it that way. There cashiers also sit while they check you out. Someone had mentioned that to one of them and they gave a look of terror at the very thought of standing all day at work.
The hostel is a very beautiful, 3 story, white building with black trim. It has a circle driveway with very few options for parking, so people park wherever. Once you come inside the iron gate, there is a gravel courtyard with a picnic table and a palm tree. When you walk in you immediately see the office.
The night we arrived, there was a young Scottish woman with bleach blonde dreadlocks working the desk. She is super nice and works four nights a week here. The hostel manager, Steve, spends a lot of time here too and is extremely helpful, especially if you have a Mac. I’ve had problems logging into the internet and stuff and he has helped me. Both of them have really thick Scottish accents, so it is sometimes difficult to understand what they are saying. However, it is so awesome to listen to them talk!
Down the hall from the office, is a community kitchen where all the supplies for making food are provided. Everyone is really good about cleaning up after themselves and not stealing food. There are two dining rooms. One is in the same room as the kitchen and then there is another that it off to the side and has doors to allow for a little privacy. They also have a lounge that guests can sit in to talk, read or use there computers. A lounge with a T.V. is just across the way. In between them is a computer room with two computers. There is also a laundry room somewhere too but, I haven’t found it yet. All the bedrooms are upstairs. In our group, the 4 other girls share a room with me. It has 3 bunk beds, 2 sets of cabinets and a sink. Akira, the only man in our group, has a separate room in the dorms and Linda has her own room upstairs. The communal bathrooms and showers are just down the hall. There are 2 showers and they have privacy doors.
For our first meal in Scotland, we went to a podunk bar/restaurant called Catacol in a hotel down the road. We sat there for about 30min. having light conversation and drifting off into space while wondering how much longer we would have to wait for service. There were only 2 other couples there, so there was no way they couldn’t see our group of 7. We then were finally told by the lady behind us that we had to order at the bar. Apparently, there restaurant service is a little more relaxed here. I ordered a 9” pepperoni pizza because I didn’t trust anything else on the menu. It was a lot of fish and haggis. Gross.
We got back from the Catacol and finally got to get ready for bed. It was 9:30pm when I finally got to go to bed. I had been up for 31 hours! The strangest thing about going to bed then was that there was still light out! It doesn’t get dark, dark until 10pm.
The day was all around good. I felt a little dizzy when we got to Arran. I think it was just from all the traveling. The roads here are really bumpy and I don’t think boat rides like me. The homesickness got to me a little too. I miss Jake, Strubels, Mom and everyone else that I talk to all the time. Five months is a long time and I’am scared and nervous and already missing things from home. Having to pay for internet and having a bad connection is making it really difficult to talk to anyone at home and that is making the transition more difficult.
As a side note about my day of travel…When I was flying into London, I got to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and that giant ferris wheel by the water! Just found out it is called either the London Eye or the Millennium Wheel.