Midnight in Cupar, Scotland. The street lamps are the only lights in the Village. Everyone was asleep as it should be at midnight. After renting a car we were on our way to St. Andrews after being up for 34 hours. Portland to San Francisco to London to Edinburgh We were two hours on the road when we got lost in Cupar. Tom rounded a corner on what we thought was the way to the main road when it happened. The worst sound in the world at midnight in a foreign Country. The crunch, the curb and the tire blew.
It turns out not everyone in Cupar was asleep.
As we got out of the car, a woman walked by with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. “That’s bad, you can’t drive on that” she said. “You’re gonna havta move that car, this road is really busy in the morning and you’ll get a ticket.”
In the morning?! How would we make it til morning? At that point our marriage seemed really rocky. We moved the car down the street and lo and behold there was a light. We bolted out of the car and went into a take out pizza place that was just closing. The proprietor took pity on us. Tom tried to call Hertz. His phone message was “no carrier.” Same with mine. The extra money we had given Verizon to have our phones work in Scotland really paid off. The pizza guy pulled out his phone, dialed the number we gave him for Hertz and handed the phone to Tom. They were not happy. The Hertz person said they’d call a tow truck which would be there by 2 AM and that we’d have to come to Edinburgh Airport the next day to get a new car. The marriage got rockier.
Paul, the cheerful tow truck driver, showed up at 1:30 AM. He had a big flat bed tow truck which he winched the car up onto. We got in the cab with Paul who talked all the way to St. Andrews in his Scottish accent which was difficult to understand.
One thing he did say was “Going back to the airport tomorrow is dumb. The Hertz people are nasty there and it’ll take 5 hours. I’ll drop the car at the Kwik Fit Tire place in St. Andrews, and you call them in the morning to see if they can either fix the tire or give (i.e. sell) you a new one.” So he did. Then telling us that St. Andrews was one of his favorite places he proceeded to give us a tour at 2 AM in the morning. We saw the Castle, the University, some ruins, his favorite coffee shop and then took us to our hotel at 2:30 where we checked in exhausted.
At 8:30 AM Tom was up calling Kwik Fit. Because it’s Scotland, it was pouring rain, cold and windy. At Kwik Fit they told us it would be a few hours so we walked into old St. Andrews, took a tour of the Castle and perused some shops. It was still raining and cold, and we were soaked so a cafe sounded like the perfect answer. After Tom decided we should split a panini of tuna, tomato and mozzarella cheese, it arrived at our table. The mozzarella was not melted on warm tuna with tomatoes, instead it looked like they had dumped a can of tuna between two slices of bread, plopped a few (3) tiny mozzarella balls on top with two tiny slices of tomato. Things were not looking good. At this point I was very unhappy with Tom’s overall decision-making AND, especially, his driving. He chose to go to Scotland, he was an inept driver and now he’d selected a bad cafe and a really bad sandwich. How could I have married this guy? How can we make it to our next anniversary? Our future together looked as dark as the weather outside.
Back to Kwik Fit where they hadn’t even looked at the car yet. Finally someone took pity on us. They couldn’t fix the tire but they were able to sell us a brand new one which set us back about $320. At this point my T-Chart evaluation of our marriage showed a long list of negatives and zero positives.
After a few days in St . Andrews we drove on to Inverness. I was on the edge of my seat, extremely nervous, as the roads were really narrow, mostly curbed or with rocks right up to the edge or hedge rows covering stone walls and we were driving on the left. “Tom, watch out, you’re going to hit the curb, or a rock or something!” After about a day of this Tom turned to me and said “If you know what’s good for you, don’t say another word about my driving or about anything I may be about to hit.” “Don’t you even want me to warn you if you’re going to hit something?” I asked. “No.” After that I tried to focus on the scenery which was wonderful but it was hard.
My favorite Inn was the Corregior overlooking a Loch in Fort William. It was an old fashioned Inn, full of antiques, wonderful people, cozy, great food and a bar where Tom tasted whiskey with the proprietor. She’s looking a little crazy in the photo so I must have caught her at an awkward moment. I could have spent hours in their dining room alone which is on the left.
We also saw our first Hairy Coo (Cow) there. Scotland has unusual cows which are celebrated but we hadn’t seen one until we were on the road and coming back to the Inn when we saw them. Luckily there was a place to pull over so we did. I couldn’t get closer but they have long hair and the hair completely covers their eyes. There was a blonde Coo there also.
With memories of the Corregior Inn fresh in our heads, our next stop was Drymen (say Drimmen like the locals do) where we had the worst hotel room so far. Walking around the small but very picturesque town, we saw a hiking path we followed which we found out later would have led to a Castle had we kept going. We stopped in a little cafe called Skoosh ( the only one in town), had afternoon tea and crumpets. The most wonderful couple, Denise and Robert, owned the cafe and took us under their wing. They gave us all sorts of advice, conversation and steered us to a restaurant for dinner that we loved. We would have eaten at the hotel but this place was less money and the food was great! Proof is in the picture which is pork with Yorkshire pudding on top of it. Delicious!
Meanwhile the tire light had gone on in the car. Left front tire, the brand new one. We were losing air. After Drymen we were headed back to Edinburgh Airport where we were returning the car. It was about 50 miles away. Between Drymen and Edinburgh is the town of Sterling and 8 miles from Sterling, we stopped in a small gas station to put air in the tire. It was raining of course. The really nice gas station man looked at our tire and said “You’ll never make it to Edinburgh on this tire. It has a slit in it and is bubbling. You might make it to Sterling and there’s a Kwik Fit there where you can get a new tire.” You know the rest of this story. With about 15 miles to Edinburgh, we once again had to buy a new tire. This time we got a discount. It was only $270. Both of us remembered hitting a pothole which must have torn the tire. If you ever see Kwik Fit in Scotland on the stock exchange, buy stock, it’s a sure winner! Especially if Tom is headed to Scotland.
The end of the trip was the Lake Country in England where the scenery was spectacular. We took a train from Edinburgh to Penrith where we were renting another car. As Tom got off the train in Penrith, he hustled to get his coat and our bags but I thought he was being hasty so I took my time. Big mistake. Who knew I had only 30 seconds to get off the train? Tom was on the platform with me still on the train when the door locked and we were about to leave the station. Tom was frantically waving to the conductor and with the help of a train attendant on the platform, got the conductor to stop. They let me off but were not happy. If I had not gotten off that train the next stop was at least 70 miles away…
We had a great time in England’s Lake Country where the weather was great, the B&B’s were fabulous and we had no more drama.
I’m glad to be home!
Can anyone out there top our mishaps with your own travel mishaps?
Stay tuned for our St. Andrews $1000 round of golf. Will the fun never end?