Whisky VS. Whiskey, How it is done in Scotland!

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I am taking a break from rustling scorpions and tarantulas in our new home in Tucson to continue my travel blogging posts. If you follow my Instagram then you know what I am talking about, and if you don’t then click on over for some really interesting photos!

Our next stop after Belfast were three ports in Scotland. The first stop was Greenock, a place I had never heard of before. But the first oder of business was a quick morning training run. Have to train while on vacation!

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We got back to the ship and cleaned up for the second half of the day.Β There were several options for sightseeing and we finally decided to tour Glengoyne whisky distillery. We boarded our coach that took us about 45 minutes out into the countryside.

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A beautiful church along the way

At first the distillery looked like a cattle barn to me.

 

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Once we got out and started to look around I began to notice the amazing landscape.

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It actually reminded me of the wineries we see back home in Woodinville, Washington. There were flowers all around and birds zipping through the open field.

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Then our guide came out to meet us and that’s when I knew we were someplace else!

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The kilts and the accent that I could barely understand were a definite tip off that we were in Scotland!Β 

To say these guys are passionate about whisky is a gross understatement! One has the impression that whisky is all they live for here. Our guides impressed a few things upon us about the production of true Scotch whisky. For off, Glengoyne is unique in that they are the only distillery to use water from the Highlands and age the whisky in cask barrels in the Low lands. The waterfall in the back of the property is stunning, and my pictures do not do it justice, but I tried to capture the irrigations system as it flows onto the property and is naturally filtered by the rocks and stones before it enters the production facility.

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They next spent an inordinate amount of time talking about how they smoke their barley-all I remember is that they don’t use peat. I am guessing that is important!

We were then treated to some free samples. This was a very popular part of the tour, for everyone except me, not a fan! They passed around the whisky, which always looks like urine to me and tastes like gasoline. Everyone loved it! The tour continued, after a short video on the history of the distillery which has been operating non stop since 1833. Our guide explained that Scotch whisky is the only “true” whisky and the only one allowed to be spelled without the “e”. So if you see “whiskey” it was not produced in Scotland and is therefore, by his definition, inferior! He was quite sure on that point!

We moved onto the storage facility.

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This beautiful display demonstrated how the whisky changes over time in sherry casks. There were several other such displays for aged whisky in other types of wooden casks barrels.Β 

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I loved the colorful barrels in the storage room

The tour ended with a stop in the gift shop (of course, what tour does not stop in the gift shop!) where another sample was distributed to the crowd. I took a pass as the subtle difference between unleaded and diesel are lost on me!

We hopped back on the tour bus and went onto Loch Lomond for a quick stop.

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This is the largest waterway within the British Isles, but we only spent a few minutes here. Just enough time to grab a coffee or ice cream and have a look around.

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On the bus ride back to the ship we saw this little outpost nestled in this island. It had an impressive backstory relating to strategic placement during war time, I just liked the look of it!

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That ended the day in Greenock. We next arrived at Invergordon. Again, I had never heard of this town but it was (sort of ) near Edinburgh, if you don’t mind a long bus ride. There were many sights to see and places to visit, but they were quite a ways off and we did not schedule any excursions. So, my pictures are mainly from the ship and from a run we decided to take through the small town.IMG_3199

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Looking at my run map above it appears I am running on the water. This pier is where that portion of the run took place.

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The town was quaint and quite small. Our 8 mile run pretty much covered the whole area! We should have visited a castle or gone to the Royal tattoo which is a huge festival in August, but we didn’t do our homework and missed out on that.

We set sail for South Queensferry, home of the very impressive Forth Bridge.

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The Forth Bridge was built in 1890 and was the first steel structure built in the world and is still the world’s longest cantilever bridge. It serves as a passenger railway and I was shocked that only 57 men lost their lives during construction. That is low when you consider that 4,000 men were employed and safety concerns were not what they are today. The bridge (and the other two which have been erected since) basically support the growth of the town. It is a quaint, but busy city with shops, tourism and great restaurants.

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A typical European taxi

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I love a country that has its priorities in place!

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This was as close to Nessie as I was going to get this trip!

 

These shops and buildings just screamed Scotland to me!

 

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All of a sudden it began to pour, buckets! We are told that happens in the British Isles, so it was time for lunch! We ducked into the first place we could find.

 

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Just as fast as the rain started, it stopped again and the sun came out! We went over to the The Hawes Inn which was built to house and feed the Forth Bridge workers back in 1850.

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After touring around the Inn it was time to head back to the ship. We took the tender for the short ride and I took a few last shots of the surroundings.

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Two of the tenders from our ship

 

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There is our mobile home!

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This tanker ship was getting fuel nearby

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Our departure from Scotland, next stop for me Paris, France!

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Dinning and touring in Dublin and Belfast!

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Our next port of call, after Cobh, was Dublin. I had high expectations, maybe too high. I knew I would have to settle for just a few sights and, of course, it was raining. More like pouring really, so we had a lot of wet, soggy ground to cover in just a few hours!

As we pulled into port it was obvious that the skies were not going to clear anytime soon.

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we could make out the new soccer stadium in the gloom

Our shuttle bus dropped us in the downtown area and we set out on foot for Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university founded in 1592. It is also the home of the Book of Kells. Now, I am not a religious person but this collection was penned in 384 AD, and I am a person who greatly values the written word and was hoping to see this exhibit. So we started off toward the college.

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Sights along the way

Trinity College was beautiful. I tried to get a few shots of the campus as we wandered around in the rain.

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The arrow pointing the way to the line to enter The Book of Kells

Unfortunately, the line was long and the rain was steady so the decision was made to move onto sight number two. The next stop on our walking tour was The Dublin Castle and we pointed ourselves in that direction. Along the way there were some beautiful sights lining the path.

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We ducked into a bakery and I snapped a few shots of the local yummies!

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We saw this building titled: Sick & Indicent Roomkeepers Society. What is this about?? Glad I wasn’t alive in 1790 AD!

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As we rounded the corner we saw The Dublin Castle. It was built in the 13th century on a Viking settlement and used primarily by the British until 1922 when the Irish Government took over. What is really cool is that it is a working building that is used for state functions and houses governmental bodies.

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The inside foyer was studded with sculptures.

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Many politicians have posed in front of this area.

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A portion of the tour included this gorgeous hallway.

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One room off the hallway contained these amazing books which have been painstakingly restored. I may not have made it into the Book of Kells but I was thrilled to see this display.

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Another room off that same hallway was this spectacular red room that routinely holds state functions.

 

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By now we were hungry and a little tired from all this walking around. We went out into the street to search for a pub and dry off a bit from the rain.

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We found The Bankers Lounge, which was adorable. In fact I loved the mural on the wall so much that I used it to log our run on Instagram.

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All four of us had the lamb stew with black bread. It was amazing, and I don’t like lamb! Maybe I just needed an Irishman to prepare it for me!

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This was a great way to wrap up our Dublin experience. We next moved onto Belfast, home of the Titanic museum. Our cruise ship sailed for Northern Ireland while we slept and we woke up to this view!

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We boarded another shuttle bus and were, once again, dropped in the middle of the downtown area. This time, no rain! Once again we set out on foot to find the Titanic Museum. We started down the street and I took a few shots along the way.

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There was a McDonlad’s and a KFC everywhere!

 

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I thought this clock tower was gorgeous!

 

The Titanic Museum was pretty easy to spot! The outside of the this massive building is shaped like the bow of a ship, stunning!

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I was looking back toward our cruise ship which was across the water. It was a little eerie spending the better part of the day studying the demise of the Titanic then heading back to our cruise ship!

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I did not take a lot of photos in the museum as it was dark and a very interactive exhibit. There were holograms, an Imax movie, a 3D experience room that took you on a tour of the ship and even a ride in the building! I really do recommend this museum as it was like no other I have ever been to, it was truly unique! There were a couple images that stood out and I did try to capture some of them.

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This was a poster from that era advertising for the ill fated cruise line.

There were several exhibits illustrating the accommodations for the different classes on board. Below is the third class cabin complete with holograms and a recording playing a hypothetical conversation between these two girls. They spoke of how excited they were to be going to New York.

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This map showed the voyage of the Titanic as it sailed from its construction site in Belfast to Southampton where the passengers embarked, then travelled to Queenstown (now know as Cobh, Ireland) to pick up the last of the passengers, her last port of call before the tragedy. It really struck me, when I viewed this map, how closely my trip was mirroring the Titanic’s itinerary.

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These final images of the museum were the slow sinking of the massive ship as Celine Dion sang her famous ballad from the Titanic movie (you knew that had to be in there somewhere).

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We safely made our way back to our own ship and said good bye to Ireland. There is so much more I would like to see and do here, I will definitely be heading back in the future!

Our next port of call will be Greenock, Scotland and there may be some whisky involved!