Sept 19-29 – Travels with Owen
Not really being sure when Owen, Farah and Tatiana were arriving, while walking about Edinburgh, I was pleased to get an email from Owen indicating they were checking into their hotel. I went around and met them in their lovely suite in the Sheraton. I was very pleased to see Bike Friday among their suitcases. The next day they did a short walk about and a visit to the Castle. They were as impressed with Edinburgh as I was. O and I had multiple steam bathes in the hotel spa. In the evening we walked about the old town looking for a place we could eat. Most places were packed with long waiting lines, but finally we found a nice pub and had a good pub dinner.
Sept 21-24 On the road
We took a cab to the airport to pick up the rent a car and we were off. I left Bike Friday packed away for the driving part of our trip, and so with all the luggage we needed a pretty big car, which caused some stress on the narrow roads. Owen was still suffering jet lag and so, after he had it a go for a while, I took over the driving duties. There is such a tendency to be too far left when driving on the left.
The first night we got to Oban, once a fishing village, now a busy tourist town. We had time to walk along the shore line for a while and then into town to see a few of the port facilities. I was able save a bit by staying at the Scottish YHA in town.
The next day we drove back across to the East side of the island, much along Loch Ness, visiting Urkhart (sp?) Castle along the way. We also saw some highland cattle which is a real treat. In Inverness, from our hotel we walked along the Ness River to some islands with a network of walkways.
The third day we drove south, possibly our longest day on the road, to St Andrews, where the game of golf began. What made the day long was a visit to the Dewar Whiskey distillery, where we had an hour long tour and presentation on how whiskey is made. St Andrews is all about golf . Fanatics from around the world are on one of the six or seven courses or walking the streets, with a glazed look in their eyes. We stayed in a high end hotel overlooking the “Old Course”. On the fourth and final day of our tour around Scotland, Owen and I played the “New Course” (It is only about 100 years old), with an old timer as a caddy. From there we drove to Gleneagles and registered into a county hotel and timeshare for six nights.
Sept 24-29 Ryder Cup
Our hotel was very close to Ryder cup facilities, and it is good because the access is restricted for probably 30 km all around the venue. We had an assigned parking lot and from there we walked to the entry point, which we shared with those coming by trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow, where many of the spectators would be staying. Thursday was the final practice day, but there was still a need for tight security and ticket checking. The four of us were pulled aside and before long we were facing some policemen. Owen had purchased tickets for the Thursday practice session and for the Saturday play. We were late in deciding to go so all the normal tickets had been sold out. He used his privileged position with RBC Visa to purchase (at no small price) tickets for us. The problem was that the tickets they gave him were counterfeit. We had a bunch of paper work to do; the police knew about these tickets and so Owen had to help them by providing information on who was involved in getting him our tickets. They did let us into the practice day, but we knew they would not let us in on Saturday. So Owen burned up lots of cell phone time in getting to his RBC contacts.
The next day we watched the beginning of the play on TV for a while and then headed into Perth to look around a bit. While there, at about 5:00 pm, Owen finally got word that the RBC had purchased two replacement tickets for $1500 each and were having a driver bring them to us from London. Initially we were told they would be in our hands before bed time. But they did not get there until about 8:30 the next morning. Owen and I were a bit late getting to the play, but were there for a good ten hours and saw all we needed to see. In the morning we followed Rose/Stenson vs Watson/Kucher for their game, which many felt may be the greatest match in Ryder Cup history. There were 21 birdies in 16 holes between the two teams, with the Europeans winning by birdying the last ten holes. At day’s end it was Europe leading10-6, which is almost unbeatable, as Owen had predicted, which was why he bought tickets for Saturday but not Sunday play.
Sunday’s final, which we watched on TV, was about even so Europe won handily. We met many interesting people during the event, mostly at our hotel which was packed with people from all over. We had out best conversations with a delightful couple from Glasgow. To drive the TV blahs away Owen and I did a short bike ride, which really got me looking forward to the next phase of my trip.
On Monday were drove into Edinburgh. Owen dropped me at the SYHA and we met for a final dinner at a lovely restaurant near the castle. After that they left me to return the car and to fly to London where they will spend five nights. This has been an incredible trip. It has been about 12 years since I have done a longish trip with Owen, and so that was the main thing for me. It is not cheap, going to an event like the Ryder Cup, or golfing at St Andrews, but I got to do it with Owen, so all is good. Still I have to be allowed to shudder a bit at the costs even though the Lion’s share is borne so willingly by Owen.
I am now, after a month here, ready to head out tomorrow morning on my British bike ride. I probably have time to go up to John O’Groats to do the end to end ride, but have decided instead to zig-zag sourth, hitting the four or five areas that I want to cycle through. I cant do both anymore. Again I am so thankful to Bill for putting together my bike and for Owen and family for bringing it here. They are even going to try to get my suitcase to London to help get my bike back home. All for now….