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Austinite in the land of the Scots

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Apr 23rd, 2012, 01:24 PM
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Austinite in the land of the Scots

I just returned from my business trip to Scotland. Here is my trip report:

Left Austin at 11 AM Saturday, connected via Atlanta to Paris CDG to Edinburgh, landing at 8:30 AM on Sunday. Flight on Delta did not have individual screens for movie viewing (boohoo). Unfortunately I was mostly unable to sleep on the flight.

Left perfect Austin warm sunny spring weather and arrived to a sunny but blustery Scottish spring day. It would be the only day that didn't rain while I was there. I rented a car, first time to drive on the left side of the road. Programmed in St. Andrew and after 30 minutes heading towards Glasgow realized that my trip was 12 hours. Certainly not what I expected. So I found St. Andrews (with an s) and reprogrammed.

Even with the mistake, the drive was 1.5 hrs from that point, so total was 2 hours to get to St. Andrews. Got there around 10:30 or so, found a parking spot and then walked around. The town is fairly quaint, some nice shops here and there. I walked out to the old cathedral location, took some photos and then walked along the water. Even though it was bright and sunny/partly cloudy, it was extremely windy, I'm guessing 20-30 MPH winds. The temp was in the lower 50's so with the wind chill that makes for some cold conditions for this Austinite (the weather was in the 80's in Austin when I left).

So, not being acclimated to the weather, I couldn't enjoy it as much as I had wanted. I was getting cold and I was getting hungry, time to find lunch somewhere. I noticed a nice little cafe, decided to stop there. Had broccoli and cheese soup, a tuna sandwich, and a bottle of juice. Pulled out my laptop and checked email using their free wi-fi. Emailed girlfriend back home that I was alright. Re-oriented myself and figured out where the St. Andrews golf courses were and set my bearings on the GPS. Got to the course area and parked in the car park there. It's like 2 lbs for 2 hours and it was around 1 PM so I figured it would be plenty enough time to see what I wanted to see.

I was tempted to go to the Museum of Golf but decided to just walk around instead at that point. I walked around the various courses, taking pictures, and then I went into the clubhouse to warm up a bit. The heat was cranking quite nicely in there, I really enjoyed that warmth! Then back outside to snap some more photos and back to the car.

I allocated two hours to get back to the hotel but it only took one hour. To those that said St. Andrews was a full day, it really is only about a half day of stuff, I could have gone much further north or somewhere south, but at least I got to see it, checked it off my list.

Observations: There was one thing that I noticed in St. Andrews and that was that the women there were much more attractive than in Edinburgh. In St. Andrews they wore nice fashions and really kept care of themselves, their bodies, etc... I asked a colleague about this and he stated that it was mainly because the women there are married to very rich golfers and golfers tend to like very attractive women (and can get them). It makes sense.

I got back to the hotel at around 4:30 or so, I got to the hotel and took a quick nap. I was totally jet lagged and that fresh air had exhausted me further. At 6 my coworker called and asked me to dinner, we had dinner at the restaurant in the Marriott. By the way, the food there is awesome. I had a 3 course menu of salad, wine, swordfish, and a chocolate mousse and it was really good.

I got back to bed after that and straight to bed!

To be continued...
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 01:54 PM
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FYI, the name of the place I ate at in St. Andrews was Zest. I found that after using google for a bit!

I was in a training class the rest of the week so I can only comment on the meals I had. Lunch was catered in, so I can really only comment on breakfast and dinner each day.

I had a plan that included free breakfast at the Marriott and it was really very good. It was the standard Scottish breakfast with eggs, sausage, beans, ham, streaky bacon, assorted fruits, pastries, juices, and coffee/tea. They had an egg station as well where you can order omelettes and eggs any style you want. I highly recommend getting a breakfast deal at this Marriott, it was a great way to start the day.

The first work night we stopped at a St. Johns, a Fish and Chip shop among other things. The fish was haddock, lightly breaded and extremely crisp with no grease at all, quite nice, with chips and peas. The fish was served with a brown sauce and tartar sauce, I had to ask for ketchup but the waiter said that the traditional way was to dip the fries in the brown sauce as well as the fish. I tried that, but still wanted my ketchup so the waiter got it. The peas were crisp here, not mushy as is traditionally served. Had a couple of Deuchars IPA with the meal. Excellent, well priced, we were satisfied.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 06:47 AM
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On Tuesday, we headed to the Gala "Casino", a quaint little art deco casino. It was probably the smallest casino I've ever seen in my life. In any case, we weren't there to gamble, we had heard that the food there was wonderful. It indeed was. I had a salad, salmon, and a chocolate trio that were out of this world good. It must be one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh in my opinion.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 12:16 PM
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Wed night was a Chinese Restaurant called Chinese Manor House. Order the Kung Pao chicken there and you will not be disappointed.

Thursday night we went into downtown Edinburgh for a "team building" (read: drinking) exercise. We had dinner at the Cambridge bar along with drinks. The hamburgers and fries are delicious there. After that things start to get blurry, lots of Guinness and Deuchars were consumed
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Apr 24th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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lots of Guinness and Deuchars were consumed---------I'm shocked! LOL

Are you going to play some golf??
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Apr 24th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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"To those that said St. Andrews was a full day, it really is only about a half day of stuff, "

True, if all one is seeing is the Cathedral and the Old Course. Those of us who advised a full day also included the Castle, the West Sands, some of the beautiful fishing villages, maybe Falkland Palace, etc.

But it sounds like the weather got you down a bit and you were in a hurry to get back.
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Apr 25th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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janisj,

That first day I was a bit jet legged and when I'm tired I'm more affected by the cold. Nonetheless it was interesting to see.

TDudette,

The golf course(s) were closed at St. Andrews when I went there (Sunday). I also didn't have anyone to play with so not much of an option there. I'm not really much of a golfer anyway, I just had St. Andrews on my "bucket list".
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Apr 25th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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On Thursday afternoon I made a stop at the South Gyle shopping center to pick up some goodies for my better half and the kiddos back home. I found a box of Continental by Thorton's. That's some good chocolate!

By the way, the South Gyle Shopping Mall is a nice standard size mall with many different shops, a grocery store, pizza hut, etc... It is basically across the railroad tracks from the Marriott.
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Apr 25th, 2012, 09:08 PM
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Thanks for the trip report. It's always good to get a first timer's perspective. And, you're right, Thorton's do a decent job with chocolates.
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Apr 26th, 2012, 06:23 AM
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historytraveler,

I'm not a "first timer". Been to Scotland 4 times now...
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Apr 26th, 2012, 06:35 AM
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One observation...

Everyone always says that Americans are overweight, etc... but I never saw so many big people as in Scotland. Big as in tall and tons of meat (and fat) on their bones. People that would make Roseanne Bar look small by comparison.

I'm 6 feet tall and around 172 pounds and I felt like a midget and always a very skinny person there most of the time. In Austin, I always feel overweight, but Austin is one of the fittest cities in America.

I'm just offering up my observation. St. Andrews seemed to buck that trend, everyone seemed fit there, I presume from playing all that golf.

Also, the women in Edinburgh just didn't do much for me. In St. Andrews yes but not in Edinburgh. I felt like I was stuck back in medieval times. I don't know if they don't seem to know or they just don't care, but again, this is my observation. I'd recommend all Edinburgh women to take a trip down to London and buy some clothing and watch the models there to get some ideas about how to be more feminine...

Before the bashing begins, please note the , this is all in fun
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Apr 26th, 2012, 07:51 PM
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About the driving.

Oddly enough, I think I prefer driving on the left to the right. The roundabouts are a better system than 4 way stops, which is the purpose they serve in Scotland. My only complaint is that there are traffic circles on the Motorways. Motorways should only have exits and entrances. Overall, though, I really enjoyed driving around Scotland.
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May 1st, 2012, 08:33 AM
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My only complaint is that there are traffic circles on the Motorways. Motorways should only have exits and entrances.

You are almost certainly confusing motorways with dual carriageways (another type of major road, one step down from motorways). Motorways don't have roundabouts - though I can think of one or two special cases where there is a roundabout at the end of a motorway but only where progressive speed limits have slowed the traffic down in the approach to it.

As far as the surplus of overweight people in Edinburgh - did you check they were not US tourists?
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May 3rd, 2012, 07:53 AM
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Gordon_R,

I was referring to the end of the motorways, such as where the M8 intersects with the A720. It interrupts the flow of the motorway and causes backups.

"As far as the surplus of overweight people in Edinburgh - did you check they were not US tourists?"

These were the people I work with in Scotland and they are definitely about as Scottish as can be, with the accent and kilt to match. They weren't too blessed in the looks department either. I realize that immigration has probably been a good thing in the US, it has introduced new blood.
Usually good looking people are a mixture of two very distinct cultures producing a unique result, you just don't get much of that in Scotland I presume. This is from my (presumed) myopic point of view. But seeing as how the Scottish love to "let it rip" with their bantering, I figure a straight up assessment was in order.
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May 3rd, 2012, 08:01 AM
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"As far as the surplus of overweight people in Edinburgh - did you check they were not US tourists?"

In Glasgow, it might be the deep-fried Mars bars. In Edinburgh, it's the deep-fried guacamole.
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May 13th, 2012, 05:43 AM
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I just read this in a Scottish person's trip report: "Traveled to St. Andrews for a bit of a holiday. Kept running into this rather ugly person about 6' tall and a 172 lbs. Overheard him saying he was from Austin. I'm surprised they allowed someone that bad looking to travel overseas. The wife and I have decided not to travel to Texas if that's the kind of face we have to keep seeing...."
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May 14th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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twina49,

I think I saw that guy. He was busy eating a deep fried mars bar and washing it down with some Guinness. He was stumbling a bit (it seems the Scots let out of work around 2PM each day so they can hit the pub) so I can see why he mistook that nasty statue of Mel Gibson for a Texan. In his credit it was a bit foggy, I was having a hard time seeing through the fog as well. No wonder the Romans built that wall along the northern side of England
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