Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Scotland 2014 Day 5: Dumfries and Robbie Burns

Scotland 2014 Day 5: Dumfries and Robbie Burns

Up and at 'em! We got up and had a great breakfast again, chatting with some young guys, prob a few years younger than us, who were road workers "from The North" (of England). They said they were from "Middlesborough" ("That is SO English", we responded, and got a laugh). We asked them about their hometown and they said, "Yeah, don't bother going there!" Funny fellows though and we wished them well as we headed off to the ferry.

Farewell from Dot and Don, our epic hosts!
As planned yesterday, I raced into Lagavulin and quickly bought a nice Glencairn tasting glass from them before we headed to the ferry. They opened at 9 and we wanted to be at the ferry dock for 9:15... the 5 min drive to Port Ellen gave us lots of time to spare :)

Port Ellen Harbour
Leaving on the ferry
On the ferry back to the mainland, we chatted a bunch and looked at Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. We got there and bought a Malaig to Armadale ticket for the trip up to Skye in a couple days, as per the suggestion from our buddy Robin MacKenzie who we met on the ferry trip to Islay. We stopped for petrol in Lochgilphead, got an Oreo Dairy Milk (YUP) and got some stamps at the post office to send postcards to a few people.

Lunchtime arrived and we stopped at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar near Inverary, right on the northern shores of Loch Fyne, and technically in the small hamlet of Cairndow. That place was awesome. Matt got oysters from the Isle of Mull, we got cured venison, "Roasted Turkey" salmon, pull-apart cheese bread and Mull of Kintyre cheddar. The salmon was very unusual - dry cured, hot smoked and kiln roasted, it tasted a lot like roasted turkey rather than fish. It was very different than anything I've ever tasted. We did a quick google to see if venison (deer) is Kosher, and apparently it is by most Rabbi's accounts, so I tried venison for the first time!

Wicked lunch
Talking about Kosher, that came up as the very nice girl at the desk was trying to convince me to "just try one" of their amazingly fresh looking oysters, mussels, or other non-Koshery things. I mentioned I couldn't and why, and she was so excited. "Oh!" she said, "We have a Rabbi! Our Salmon is... what's it called?... Um... Kosher!" Apparently there is a Rabbi somewhere in the area who comes by the businesses and checks the machinery for Kashrut. Amazing! We ate outside in sort of-Adirondack chairs which were kindof tall!

Weird Green Tea Beer
Onwards, and down the road we saw a sign for "Fyne Ales" and Matt nearly turned the car on a dime (a twopence?) to drive down a tiny road to this Cask Ale place. I got a tiny tasting glass of a crazy Green Tea Pale Ale!! It was good and weird. Matt got a one-off IPA. All the samples were all "on cask" and Heev was PSYCHED. It was not very carbonated, as is expected of "Fine Ale". That was fun.

And then, we drove!

We drove all the way down the coast, past Loch Lomond again, around Glasgow, and alllllll the way to Dumfries. This was quite a drive and we were happy to park and chill in the B&B for the night. Upon arrival, they had a dram of Glen Moray for us, and also we filled up Lee's Ardbeg flask with his special gift from Bruichladdich (we had a little taste cause there was extra) :) Amazing! We then walked to the place where Lee was having his bachelor party, the famous Globe Inn. We were about and hour early, so we wandered High St.

Here we are, at The Globe!
And... this place is a little TOO quiet
There was a reasonably high possibility of a zombie attack here. It was SO quiet there, and being only 7pm, it was surprising how absolutely everything was closed. It reminded me quite a bit of the set of the movie "The World's End". It was like we were right in that movie, complete with a blank-faced teenager loitering on the steps of the town square, listening to an iPod alone! I can see where Edgar Wright gets his inspiration from!

Well, definitely would have bought these boxers instantaneously if this shop was open
Fancy kilts
We continued wandering for a while and saw a lot of "charity shops" - stores which sell used goods and the profit goes to a charity (like Oxfam) -- reminded me a lot of Oxford when I was a kid! After 45 min of wandering and looking into closed shops, we rolled back to The Globe and it was bumpin'... and EVERYONE from the wedding party was there! As we walked in, the girl at the bar said, "You's want a drink, then?" Awesome. We sat down and said hello and then started the tour of The Globe.

Robbie Burns is one of Lee's favourite poets, and he's a famous Scotland icon. This was his favourite pub, and there is a lot of Robbie Burns history within those walls. Robbie's room was there where he stayed, and even where his child was born, I believe our tour guide said! A poem was hand-etched into the glass on the window which was super cool. Our guide showed us a "secret room" which was used for after-hours drinking! A tea shop beside The Globe used to have access to this room and they would sneak over after the bar had closed for more drinks. Our tour guide is also the President of the worldwide Robbie Burns society, and proudly discussed how meetings of the society happen there in the secret room.

Learning about Robbie Burns
Poems etched in the glass
Secret meeting room
After a great tour, we headed down for dinner. I had Fish and Chips, and for dessert a (huge!) sticky toffee pudding with custard!! Oh man it was so good, and so rich. I ate the whole thing which was insane, but it was really good. Still... not as legendary as that darn elusive Clootie Dumpling we had on Islay (I've been looking for one in every restaurant we go past since, I need to find another one!), but still an excellent dessert in it's own right. Great times.

Dinner time!
Fish and Chips!
Chow-down time
Man the 2 pound coin sure looks like a Toonie!
Other side of 2 pound coin
Matt and I gave Lee the flask gift, and at first he thought we were just showing it to him! We explained the whole story and how it contained an exceptionally hard-to-find/impossible-to-find whisky and he couldn't believe it. It was so awesome to give it to someone who would certainly appreciate it more than anyone else we know! That was fun.

And... off to the bar.

Good times, enjoying this impromptu band!
The whiskies were £2.50, and given that this is Scotland, their selection was glorious with 30-40 Scotches. Even then Dalmore 15 was £2.50! Crazy! A "double" was £5, and the bar girl there was freakin' awesome and poured Lee lots of great whisky to celebrate his wedding. I think we may have just about polished off that Dalmore 15! She said we should take care of him though because "If it's his wedding tomorrow, we'd better make sure he's sober for it!" We made sure to tip well with a 50p and £1 coin here and there, and I think that is generally unexpected (compared to the US where it's practically expected), which I think was well appreciated. This place totally rocked.

We sat down and chilled out for a while and watched the musicians playing at the table -- local people of all ages, just chillin' and playing some awesome tunes. This was exactly the vibe we were hoping for and man this place delivered in spades. Violin, ukelele, guitar, a singer, and an accordion... so epic. I managed to catch a little bit of it on video.

Finally, we were about to head out and some weird guys bought Lee a drink, and then invited us out to sing Karaoke. Would have been fun in other circumstances I'm sure but they were super random and the one dude was definitely approx. one drink away from falling over, so we figured we'd best just head back to the hotel and sleep. Matt and I got to the hotel, crushed the rest of the pull-apart bread from lunch, and slept like kings.

"Mind yer heid!" Well, this sure explains the night.

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