Thursday, June 05, 2014

Scotland 2014 Day 7: Fort William and Spean Bridge

Scotland 2014 Day 7: Fort William and Spean Bridge

Up at 7:45am! And... let's do this! We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and said bye to most of the wedding party and then headed out. It was just a quick 1.5 hr drive to Glasgow for Indian Food for lunch :) This trip is amazing.

The drive was pretty fast and we dropped the car in a parking lot at a mall. First sight as we stepped inside the mall? An old -school SWEET SHOP. YES. SERIOUSLY. The first thing that caught my eye were "fried eggs", gummy candies that look like little fried eggs. And then... I saw... "the strawberries"... the singlemost memorable candy from my childhood in England. I hadn't seen these in 17 YEARS and have been searching for them for ages. This was NUTS. I got Norm some as a gift... she is gonna freak out. :) So psyched.

Oh. My. Word.
Welcome back to my childhood in England
I told the girl in the shop the whole story - that I used to go to the local shop and post office in Summertown, in Oxford England where I lived in 1994 to get penny sweets, and how the small things were still 1p or 2p at that point, but bigger stuff like the strawberries and larger eggs were something like 5 or 10p, and the larger stuff like large cola bottles were always more, but were so good you had to at least get one or two. :) She was awesome and loved chatting about the candies and my memories of them, it was super fun. "Have you tried the Dracula fangs? They are lovely", she said. Haha. I bought a whole bunch of stuff and she started making a bag of Irn Bru scottish-flag coloured hard candies and said, "This is my treat." Amazing! I haven't seen that stuff in literally 20 years. It was just super awesome, and such a sweet trip down memory lane.

After that we were in a mall, so that is always fun in a foreign country. We went to Boots and the Disney Store. I was hoping to see a Mickey in a kilt, and I did actually see one.

Ach aye
We also headed to Tesco and I bought an Appletiser (yes!!!!!!!), more yoghurt (naturally) and a Mango juice by Bottle Green who make Elderflower Presse. Looking forward to trying that! After that we walked down a pedestrian mall and saw a nice M&S there, but continued on towards and Indian Food restaurant called Charcoals Grill. We got the standards, Chicken Tikka Masala and Aloo Saag. The Naan was tasty and they had great sauces. It was tasty and quite spicy, not "life-changing" like some people had mentioned the Indian Food in Glasgow was, but still very tasty.

Well, that's odd
Indian Food for lunch in Glasgow
After a solid lunch we headed back to the car and continued north towards Ben Nevis. We passed by Loch Lomond... again! In front of us on this super narrow road was a bus, and we followed it for a lot of the way northwards -- watching trucks passing the bus in front of us on this super narrow road was a little crazy.

"The turnoff" we'd seen twice before alongside Loch Lomond, this time we were finally taking the turn towards Fort William!
Oooooh that's a tiny road
A video of the tiny roads, and arriving in the Highlands:

We made it up to Ben Nevis Distillery after passing through some really awesome scenery in the Glen Coe area.

Getting to Glen Coe
Soo... this ROCKS
Glen Coe
We arrived at Ben Nevis Distillery and had just missed the last tour there. The dude was a little weird there but Heev awkwardly managed to taste the Single Malt, despite not being able to taste it without being on a tour, or something like that. Ben Nevis is an odd distillery as they apparently do not ship outside of Scotland, and some folks told us it's a little tough to find Ben Nevis outside of the distillery too. So we were keen to get some to take home. I got the "Dew of Ben Nevis" blend, as well as a Cask strength taster.

Ben Nevis Distillery
Well, probably should get some of this
Off we went from there to the Distant Hills Guest House in Spean Bridge, just north of Fort William. Oh MAN that place was nice. We checked in, dropped our stuff, and just chilled out for a bit. I sent some emails, wrote some postcards, and left Spring a message. Then, I mailed the postcards into a hedge!

Nice lounge in B&B
Post Office
Mailing some postcards into a hedge
From there we walked to the Old Station Restaurant, literally the old train station. They had a huge Gin selection for some reason, so I got an Elderflower Gin with Soda Water and it was really fantastic... tasted a lot like Elderflower Presse! For dinner I got a smoked salmon bruschetta, and some lamb.

Elderflower Gin!
Hot Smoked Salmon
As we were finishing our appetizers... a TRAIN stopped at the restaurant!! And this was no normal train, this was the Harry Potter steam train, as made famous in the movie! We weren't sure if we should go check it out, and the lady running the restaurant said, "Go have a look! People on the train love to say 'Hello' to you!" How funny. This was such a cool steam train and a local boy from the restaurant ran out to do some sort of tea exchange, swapping out a thermos the conductor had for a fresh one!

Look, a train!
People poking their heads out of the train
This train rocks
So many people were poking their heads out of the windows, looking around and smiling politely at all the onlookers. One man had a very funny quizzical look on his face, grinning at us as he ducked down to stick his head through a window that was a little too small. It was SO hilarious. This guy looked SO much like my Dad. The funny British look, the comb-over haircut, the obvious deep thoughts going on but just a funny grin is the only insight you see into what's happening... it was all completely and utterly hilarious of a comparison. Heev had noticed the same thing too, and was relieved when I said, "Man that guy sure looks and acts like my Dad!", to which Matt replied, "I was totally thinking the exact same thing! Everyone on that train looks like your Dad!" There were a lot of really Britishy dudes on the train, some dragged there by their wives, some on their own volition due to their love for trains... it was hilarious how Arthur-y everyone was. Amazing.

Here's a cool video of the steam coming out of the train:

That was awesome. We finished dinner and then headed to the Spar convenience store.

Heev having an awesome time
Great place
At the Spar, I stared at the aisle of candy for several minutes, without saying a word. Heev was wondering what the heck was going on. "So, what's your stream of consciousness right now?!" It has been 20 year since I lived in England, and there were just so many memories rushing back all at once -- winning the box of 144 Galaxy Caramels from the Oxford radio station, trying a "Lion" bar for the first time and realizing it was just a smaller version of a Canadian Mr. Big, how awesome the Dark Bounty chocolate bar was (in the red coloured wrapper) as compared to the Milk Chocolate Bounty (in the blue coloured wrapper). And especially the Cadbury's Dairy Milk and all the variants that are so totally awesome, I remember vividly the trip to Cadbury World that we went on and how amazing that was. As a 12-13 year old in England, I was at the prime age of eating as much candy as possible, and I remember it all too well. :)

I ended up getting a Ribena blackcurrant juice (man I sure remember that, it was basically the only juice we ever bought while in England!), a Galaxy Caranel, and a Lion Ice Cream.

Welcome to my childhood in England, again
We headed back to the great B&B and chilled the heck out after a long day of driving. We tried the Ben Nevis, and it was pretty light and easy-going. We also watched some random Scottish TV - some really random stuff. Apparently, there is a Scottish referendum going on, and they are discussing whether to separate from the UK?!?!?! Oh man, American News is totally failing me and has literally never mentioned this. Oy.

Anyway, after another amazing day, it was time for a good sleep!

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