Monthly Archives: June 2014

Photo Tour: Stonehaven

Photo Tour: Stonehaven


Saturday, June 7

Our waitress from the night before advised us to catch a train to Stonehaven, a coastal village with, that’s right, a castle! We received this suggestion with relief, since our only alternatives at that point involved either paying a taxi or daring to maneuver on the opposite side of the road.


The same train station that welcomed us to Aberdeen. The tracks run alongside a breathtaking coast of rocks, waves, and sheeps!


The little town of Stonehaven boasts a beach along with its castle. “Mostly people come for the castle,” the information center attendant shrugged.


Providentially and with no planning on our part, we arrived on the day when the town also offered its local fair. The girls’ performance reminded me of our Highland Dancers, of course.


After munching on shortbread and admiring the dancers at the fair, we embarked on the 2 mi trek to Castle Dunnottar.


I could have stopped for a photo at every curve in the road.


In case you were wondering, I did indeed purchase those pants in Turkey.

Castle Dunnottar: famed for visitors including Mary, Queen of Scots, and (according to legend) William Wallace. We reached it by way of a concrete staircase, which left us pondering how people had scaled the cliffs in the Middle Ages. An information center inside suggested the answer with this factoid: Ponies would carry supplies up the hillside to stock the cellars and furnish the dinner table of the owner (Earl Marischal)’s powerful family.


Stephanie and I poked our heads into almost every nook and cranny. Deep shadows cloaked surprisingly small rooms; one regarded the lonely fireplaces and imagined sleeping there in winter.


The chapel. In a dungeon nearby, the castle imprisoned almost 200 religious dissenters, who refused to acknowledge the king as head of the church, for weeks in the damp and dirt (1685).


My iconic Scottish picture. Perhaps someone who has attempted the bagpipes could explain how this gentleman managed to play ceaselessly while thanking me out of the side of his mouth?

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped to pay our respects at the War Memorial. Which war? “All of them.”


According to the inscription, the soldiers of Stonehaven laughed in the face of Death’s challenge.


Nothing I’ve seen could compare with the view on the way to the castle, but we needed a breather after that hike!


Facing the memorial, the town behind me


Facing the memorial, the sea behind me


Our stomachs demanded we sample the local cuisine: cullen skink! Although the name suggests an odorous vampire, the dish actually consisted of cream soup with smoked haddock. With the sea air in our noses and Scottish brogue in our ears, we had never tasted finer.


Away across the Atlantic, I find myself thinking of friends at unexpected moments

Photo Tour: Downtown Aberdeen

Photo Tour: Downtown Aberdeen

Once I humbled myself to look His way, I found God smiling on our trip. Our searching for activities online had proved about as effective as applying to an online dating service, so we hit the road to see what we would see.


Department stores sell ladies’ hats in the UK! This specimen won for originality.


Seagulls, pigeons, and grave monuments populate the cemetery of St. Nicholas Kirk


Inside St. Nicholas. (So, if ‘Kirk’ means ‘church,’ then “Russell Kirk” means… little red church?)


View from Union St. Aberdeen’s skyline invigorates my soul.


Spires everywhere!


Penelope, Odysseus’ faithful wife, from our favorite room in Aberdeen’s Art Gallery


On the art curator’s recommendation, we dined on mussels and plaice at the Rock & Oyster. 5 stars and all our gratitude to our waitress, who played travel agent for us and wrote up a list of must-see sites in the area.


In case you can’t decipher it through the glare, that’s an ostrich. In a kilt. Welcome to Scotland!


Father’s Day is coming soon…


An illustration of my role within the family


Sometimes they cooperate!

Today we caught a train into London; we depart for the States early tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for more photos.

Surprised in Scotland

Surprised in Scotland

1-DSC_0018Yesterday I couldn’t have been happier to find myself in Scotland. Our train snaked along cliffs and coastline to deliver us to a pleasant apartment nestled near the Aberdeen’s heart. Early that morning, Daddy and I sallied forth to secure breakfast from a local bakery. The lady sold us meat pies and threw in directions to a cafe for free. Note that the Scots do in fact employ the word “wee” as part of their daily vocabulary.

The day’s drizzle didn’t faze me; rather, the granite peaks fading into the mist harmonized with my aesthetic. For lunch, my parents enjoyed the nostalgia of street-side bratwursts. “It tastes better because you’re outside walking in the cold.”

By late afternoon, my euphoria hit turbulence. Read the rest of this entry

Landed in London

Landed in London

1-DSC_0021The bus driver slid a glance at me. I had rooted myself in front of the exit door, ear tuned to the name of my street. After two hours of dragging my luggage through tunnels and up staircases with a page of directions glued to my nose, I refused to risk a misstep in the last leg of my journey.

 2-DSC_0024 (3)Thankfully, my host had warned me of every possible pitfall along the way. Armed with her directions and my experiences of the D.C. metro, I gained her doorstep without a single wrong turn or missed connection. She welcomed me with tea, of course, and showed me to a guestroom perched on the top floor of her townhouse.  The window leans over the bed to share a view of London’s gray ceiling.

 Her little boy found my name fascinating. Soon after making my acquaintance, he presented me with a “Hello Kitty” t-shirt.  “Look, two kitties!”

Back Again: Bizarre? Bazaar

Back Again: Bizarre? Bazaar

1-DSC_0409 Two years ago, a veteran from this trip advised those of us looking ahead to it, “Do something at the beginning and end of the trip together.” Whatever it was, he suggested that the revisiting the act would help us grasp the time and changes elapsed during the three week journey.

This year we lacked the cohesion to share anything informally, but gracious scheduling allowed it nonetheless. You may recall my reaction to the Grand Bazaar. Today we concluded our second visit to Istanbul with the Spice Bazaar. Read the rest of this entry

Day 19: Gallipoli

Day 19: Gallipoli

2-DSC_0302 The sky teared up the day we visited Gallipoli. So did I.

Cemeteries bloom from every hilltop along the shoreline where the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) dashed themselves against Turkish forces. “They died before they ever got out of the water,” our guide recounted. Once on land, they continued to die for eight months before the forces withdrew to Egypt.

One of the Allied Powers’ greatest defeats inaugurated the Turkish Republic’s greatest hero: Ataturk. Read the rest of this entry