After 10 hours sleep, I woke to a rainy day in Dundee. Still dragging a bit, I went off to see the Victoria & Albert museum down by the river Tay. Architecturally it was a beautiful, interesting place with a large open interior.
I learned that Scotland exported ceramics including Asian themed plates to Asia in the 1880’s. Also the Scottish Imp, made by Chrysler in the 1970’s had tartan seat covers.
But the best part was the cafe. I had a delicious pea mint soup and a scone. All while enjoying a view of the river. After lunch it was pouring rain so I went back to bed. I lucked out the following day. It was sunny and perfect for exploring. Dundee is a city of about 150,000 with several good museums, three shopping centers, and a university all in the center. It is very walkable and the people are friendly and helpful. In the morning I was out before anything opened so walked around and found a lot of public art.
Dundee is home to DC Thompson and Co. comic book publishers so several comic book characters were featured around town as well as prominent figures like Queen Victoria who visited Dundee in 1844. My next stop was the McManus Art Gallery.
I really enjoyed the museum. It had art and artifacts from around the world as well as Victorian and Edwardian paintings. There were sections on natural history, history of Dundee and the history of the building itself. The inside of the building was very cool
I headed to the other side of town to see the Contemporary Art Museum near the University of Dundee. It was small and there was one in depth exhibit on a lighthouse on the Algerian coast. I bought some postcards in the gift shop and the guy who checked me out was from Wisconsin. Lots of people working, studying and visiting from other countries.
Another big attraction in Dundee was the Discovery ship. There was a museum dedicated to it and you could board the ship. Since it cost 17 pounds, and I was pretty museumed out, I decided to skip it. The ship was built in Dundee in 1901 and its first mission was to carry Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their successful trip to the Antarctic.
On Wednesday I stowed my roller bag at the Premier Inn hotel and caught a local bus to Alyth. The driver didn’t announce any stops so I was a little nervous I would miss my stop but after about 45 minutes we arrived at Market Square, Alyth. I found the guesthouse where I had reservations to stay but I got the times wrong. It was 3 pm and check in was not till 4.
I walked down the road to see the Alyth War Memorial and was taking it all in when it started to pour. I managed to find a bus shelter but not until after I was soaked to the bone. Back at the guesthouse I spent several hours trying to dry out.
Enjoyed my time in Alyth. Stayed at the Tigh na Leigh guesthouse on Airlie street. Nice hosts, clean, excellent food. They serve breakfast every day and dinner three nights a week. I ate dinner one night at the Lands of Loyal hotel situated above town on Loyal hill. Nice views of the valley and good food.
It was a beautiful day so had a nice walk along the Den of Alyth.
I stopped at a cafe in town for a sandwich at lunchtime. It was the meeting point for the local ladies who lunch group. All with their walkers in tow.
In the center of town there is a small museum only open in the afternoon. The caretaker was very knowledgeable and interested in helping people with any questions they had about the history of the area. He spent some time with me working on genealogy questions.
I arrived in London at about 8 am after an eight hour plane ride and a six hour time difference. There was a bright moon over the Atlantic. I took the Heathrow Express train from the airport to Paddington Station. Instead of messing with the Tube, I just hopped a taxi on to King’s Cross.
I enjoyed watching the masses of people posing for pictures at Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and 3/4. The line was very long. My train didn’t leave until 2 so I had plenty of time to watch them.
Trains are so much more enjoyable than planes. I had a six hour ride from London to Dundee. I met a woman who told me she had been a guest at the coronation the previous day. They had to be there early and by the time it was over they had been there six hours with nothing to eat or drink or access to toilets. It was kind of grueling but she thought it was very exciting. She saw all kinds of celebrities. She was most excited to see Kenneth Branagh. The railway gave each of us a Coronation Chocolate.
I was in first class and the guy in front of me was enjoying a free beer when the ticket lady came by. Not only did he have the wrong ticket but it was a coach class wrong ticket. She was very nice and tried to convert the ticket so he would only have to pay the difference instead of buying a whole new ticket but his credit card never did go through. Lucky for him he wasn’t going far.
The bright yellow crop growing everywhere is rapeseed which is made into oil. I was told it has an unpleasant odor.
We all took pictures of the Angel of the North. Located at Gateshead, the sculpture was finished in 1998 by Antony Gormley. it is the largest angel in the world. It is 66 ft. tall and has a wingspan of 177 ft. And it can withstand winds of over 100 mph.
There were lots of interesting buildings in Newcastle. Hard to capture them on a train. Immediately past Newcastle we ran into fog.
It was foggy off and on from there but lifted at intervals.
I checked into my hotel in Dundee, had a quick supper, drank a bunch of beer, watched the end of the Coronation Concert with Lionel Richie and Katie Perry and others. And then I passed out. I was up for 32 hours and then I was not. I’m just taking I easy today!
I am currently planning a trip to Eastern Scotland. It reminds me of the time I went backpacking in Scotland 40 years ago. I’m sure much has changed and my experience will be different. Here is a look back.
My cousin was studying in London that summer and I managed to talk her brother into going to Scotland with me. I flew in and spent a couple of days with her before her brother arrived. We didn’t really have a plan but just jumped on the next train to Edinburgh. Across from us was a family from Santa Barbara, California. The wife was British but hadn’t been back to the U.K. in 17 years. The man seemed bored to death and kept wanting to talk but didn’t have much to say. He was a carpenter. The guy sitting next to me was from the San Fernando Valley and very serious, no personality or sense of humor. Toward the end of the trip we got lucky and a Scotsman sat down across from me. When he found that we really didn’t know where we were going he started hauling out maps and planned an entire trip for us in the western islands. He told us about good places to go and it was great! He was a really nice guy. Half the fun of travel is the people you meet.
From Edinburgh we took the train to Inverness. We couldn’t get into the youth hostel so we ended up in a bed and breakfast. The owner served us tea between 9:30 and 10 pm so we met the other person who was staying there, too. He was a teacher from Hong Kong. He spent his days taking organized tours. The following day we took the bus to Drumnadrochit and walked from there to Urquhart Castle right on the Loch Ness. There wasn’t much left of the castle because it was blown up to keep the Jacobites from staying there (long story). I did not see the Loch Ness monster. Big disappointment (haha).
Back in Inverness, we went to the Old Market Inn Pub and had a few beers. One drunk Scotsman sort of latched on to us. He mainly just wanted to talk – anybody would have done but we were willing to listen. He was interesting for a while giving us some Scottish history and his very strong opinions. After a while somebody got up with a guitar and started singing folk music, which we quite enjoyed.
From Inverness, we took the bus through the mountains past glass still lakes and beautiful forests to Fort William. The youth hostel was at the foot of the highest mountain in the U.K., Ben Nevis (4,400 ft.). A New Zealander latched onto us at the youth hostel, which was a good thing because he had dishes and silverware. We were totally unprepared. I think he was homesick. We ended up taking him into town and waving goodbye at the bus station like he was our son going off to war. Poor guy. We spent a couple of days relaxing and soaking up the beautiful countryside before heading out to the west coast.
We were lucky, it rained very little that summer. The only problem we had was on the Isle of Skye. The public transport was rather meager so we were trying to hitchhike but got nowhere and, of course, it started to rain and we got soaked. Back on the mainland, we worked our way down the west coast. We spent several days in Oban and took ferries to Mull and Iona. And finally found our way to Glasgow. I fell in love with Scotland and decided I wanted to go back and tour the upper peninsula on a motorcycle …actually on the back of a motorcycle.
On the way back to London, we stopped in the old Roman town of Chester on the Welsh border, and at Stonehenge and Salisbury. It was market day in Salisbury and there were people everywhere, crowding the streets, too many people. I was tired by then. Youth hostels are cheap but you don’t get much sleep. The woman above me had snored all night. Still, I was able to enjoy Salisbury Cathedral, finished in 1258 and an impressive Gothic building. We listened to the music at evensong. By that time, I was exhausted.
We took the boat from Great Yarmouth to the Hook of Holland and a train on to The Hague, the Netherlands. We got off at the wrong station and had to walk forever but finally managed to hook up with my parents and ended up staying in their new, empty apartment.
(excerpt from Expat Alien my global adventures)
This time the plan is to go to Dundee and Aberdeen. Any tips?
As you may or may not know I am interested in my genealogy. I spend hours down the rabbit hole at Ancestry.com finding tidbits. My current obsession involves my mother’s great grandmother who came from Perthshire, Scotland. I am planning a trip to visit the place next year so it is kind of cool to read about the farms they owned and rented over the years. A bunch of them were ministers so they worked in different parishes around the area. Mostly I just want to go to soak up the atmosphere and imagine what it was like back in those days.
On another note… I found this recently and am pretty amazed by the detail. My great grandfather (this one came from Ireland) was born in Ohio on March 2, 1841. In 1861 he was teaching district school in Monmouth, Illinois. At the breakout of the Civil War he enlisted in Company C, Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and was sent to Missouri. The first battle in which he participated was at Pea Ridge. He helped to save Missouri to the Union. He was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee, and was at the siege of Corinth. In September, 1862, he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, and took part in the battle of Perryville and in the campaign of Stone River. The following spring he was in the Tullahoma campaign, then went to Bridgeport and through Georgia, and took part in the battle of Chickamauga, where he was wounded, being shot through the cheek, the ball coming out the back of the neck. He was then sent to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, remaining there till the expiration of his term of service, when he was mustered out in September 1864.
After that he taught for six more years, got married, had four children, farmed for a couple of years, and ended up in Iowa in the grocery business. He died at 66.
I actually have his discharge papers from the Army. When he died in 1907, his wife started to collect a pension of twelve dollars a month. In 1916 an Act of Congress approved by the President granted “increase of pension of a widow who was the wife of a soldier, sailor or marine during the period of his service in the Civil War, or who is the widow of a soldier, sailor or marine who served in the Civil War, the War with Mexico, or the War of 1812, and who has reached the age of 70 years”. The pension was increased to $20 per month. And then in 1917, it was again increased to $25 per month. I don’t know what happened after that. She died in 1923.
Anyway I have tons of info. I hope to put it all together at some point. Like I said, I have no shortage of projects.