Our second day in Scotland started off rough in comparison to the first. Staying at an AirBnB where there are multiple other guests is a gamble, and unfortunately we lost the pot at our place in Edinburgh. While the hosts themselves were lovely, our fellow guests….eh not so much. I understand it’s hard if you arrive late into a city, or you are a night owl and enjoying being up late, but I also appreciate when people at least try to be courteous to their neighbors in these situations. We had a group across the hall from us who showed up around 2300 and were talking so loudly we could hear them easily through their shut door and ours. To top it off they showered and decided to blow dry their hair around the same time making sleep out of the question. So we were not exactly cheery when our alarms went off early the next morning. Another strike against the day was Erik’s previously mild cold was now in full swing making him feel miserable. But we managed to get going and grab the Scottish version of a breakfast sandwich and a coffee from Crolla’s Sandwich Bar that greatly improved our moods.
Post breakfast we circled back to get our bags, took the tram to the airport, and tried to pick up our rental car. We were about 30 mins early, hopeful of grabbing our ride a bit earlier than we planned. We weren’t expecting this Tuesday to be a madhouse at the rental car place, but turns out it was. The two people in front of us in line were laying out their complaints to the counter agents about having already waited nearly an hour for their cars, and we got the feeling it wasn’t going to be a better wait time for us either. Sadly our intuition proved true and we spent over an hour waiting for our car, and a full 40 minutes after our scheduled pick up time. We finally had to ask a manager to get us a car since it appeared we wouldn’t be getting one anytime soon. The one upside to the wait was we got two additional drivers completely free of cost. So while mildly inconvenient the wait paid off since it saved us about £200.
With our ride packed up we were off! Due to the wait half the day was done and we were ready to put some ground behind us. We were staying that evening near Tarbert so we could catch the ferry to Kennecraig the following morning. Since we wanted to see Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park we skipped the short route and took the longer, more scenic way up the A82. The road runs parallel along the base of the loch and the views are stunning!
Even though the weather was far from nice we pulled over a few times to take in the views. We transitioned to the road along the Firth of Clyde stopping in at some of the quaint villages along the banks. While we shouldn’t have been because the entire country is dotted with castles, we were totally surprised when we drove past a giant castle in Inveraray. In the mist and rain it was easy to see why so many stories about creatures in the waters persist even to this day. The whole time we were driving I was waiting for a Kelpie to raise its horse-like head out of the water at any minute.
After about 3.5 hours of driving we reached our AirBnB for the night. We were staying at the Bluebell B&B in Whitehouse, which I don’t think we can recommend enough. Comfortable, quiet, and cozy, it felt like a tranquil oasis of peace after our night in Edinburgh. Since it was around dinner time when we arrived we asked our host where was a good spot to have dinner. Sadly we were about a week too early for the seafood place over the hill they highly recommended, but they did suggest a few places back in Tarbert we should try.
The first of these was Cafe Cadora. The minute we walked in things seemed off from what she described. There were only three occupied tables but the staff behind the counter completely ignored us. As there were no signs indicating if we should wait to be seated or seat ourselves, so we opted to snag an open table after standing awkwardly in the doorway for about two minutes. There were the remains of the previous diners on it and I went to move one of the plates when the staff finally decided to act by rushing over, grabbing the plates from my hand, and rudely stating “don’t touch that, you’ll make more tables dirty.” Maybe my intention of helping was misunderstood, but by this point we were so uncomfortable we didn’t know what we should do. We sat down and received menus after another minute of being ignored, and we all felt incredibly awkward at this point. So we got up and left. On the way out we got the only smile we would see all evening from the staff as they wished us a nice night. Maybe the morning/day shift is better, but we weren’t interested in finding out. The whole thing was a good reminder of how important it is to be kind to people, especially foreign visitors. So next time you get upset with somebody if they don’t speak English well, or don’t understand a custom, put yourself in their shoes and cut them some slack. We’d all be better off for it.
Feeling very off we went searching the rest of town for dinner and stopped at the Tarbet Hotel. We went in the bar and it was a total night and day situation. The bartender was a very sweet older man who warmly welcomed us and gave us a seat. After a round of Caledonia beers we were all feeling much better and ordered dinner from the bar keep. I can’t say thank you enough to this guy for being so nice to us after the previous restaurant. The guys ordered steak pies and I had the soup as I wasn’t that hungry. Big mistake on my part, not because the soup was bad (it was fantastic actually), but because the steak pie was that good.
We have all had steak pies in New Zealand and England before so we were anticipating the Scottish version to be the same thing. Nope. The Scottish steak pie is basically a shepherd’s pie that hasn’t bother containing itself inside a dry crust, but is instead topped with a delicious flaky biscuit. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it now! After a hearty and warming dinner and another round of beers we were able to shake off our previous dinner experience and head home for the night.
Fed and happy we went back to the B&B for the night. It’s amazing what a hot shower, cup of hot tea, and a quiet room can do for the mind. We all turned in early as we were on the early ferry the next morning to start our Islay adventure. We needed a good night’s sleep as we had booked a tour at 7 out of 8 distilleries on the island over the next three days. Hello whisky!