Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 2, 2011

Off to Edinburgh

Greetings from Scotland – probably my next favorite place after Ireland. The bus ride from Galway to Dublin took longer than the flight from Dublin to Edinburgh. On this departure, I was in Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport, which is quite unique. The gates are segmented into sections and as you near your section of gates, you go through one way doors – which means you had better choose correctly because you can’t get back out without exiting the airport. That’s certainly a new twist, and would never work in the U.S. – if for no other reason than they habitually change gates for flights.

I flew Aer Arann (commuter arm of Aer Lingus) and it was quite an interesting airplane. It was a twin turboprop with 2 seats on each side of the aisle (most of the other turboprops I’ve flown were 1 and 2), and low to the ground, requiring only 6 steps to board.

Although it was a hike from the terminal to the rental car centre, it felt good to walk after so much sitting. Have I said I’m a sucker for a man in a kilt or with a Scottish (or Irish) accent? The guy at the rental counter was entertaining. He was surprised when I declined the GPS, asking, “Have you driven in Scotland before?” I laughed, and said I had, but GPS takes all the adventure out of a road trip, causing him to laugh. After several encounters with a useless GPS in Huntsville, Alabama, I’ve decided to rely on my own inner compass, which is at least as accurate as the GPS, if not more accurate.

Scottish signage is about at sparse as Irish, but nowhere near as challenging as Italian. When I mentioned that, he agreed, relating that he had rented a car once in Italy and would never do so again. Or in Paris, for that matter, he added, having spent a good 20 minutes in gridlock traffic going round and round the Champs Elysees until he was able to nearly force his way into the exit lane.

In case you’re wondering, I did miss my exit leaving the airport and had to go a good 5 miles (both ways) out of my way, but I consider it all part of the adventure, and it’s really amazing what other interesting spots you can find along those detours. Sometimes there just isn’t enough warning before those roundabouts and I’ve found Google maps directions leave something to be desired (‘take the exit‘ is not a helpful directive – which exit?).

I’m currently staying in a castle converted to a hotel – really cool place – check out http://www.bw-cartlandbridgehotel.co.uk from the outside – a little too hotel-ish on the inside, but I’ve seen worse. I asked the porter who schlepped my bags up the stairs if there were any ghosts. He was non-committal, saying there were stories about noises and such but it was an old building. I’ll keep you posted on any bumps in the night.

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