A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: danielcatherine

Kaua'i 2023 Day 9: A Purrfect Homecoming

sunny 82 °F

Our flight was delayed about an hour and a half, so we had a drink at the airport tiki bar. Unfortunately you can no longer buy pineapples at the Lihue airport, and we hadn't bought any before, so we weren't able to bring home pineapples.

The plane ride was fairly pleasant. Daniel read a book he had bought in Mammoth during the flight, and because we had free texting we texted with Aubrey who had a lot of interesting questions and ideas throughout the flight.

We landed in San Jose and took the same shuttle we had taken to the airport back to Daniel's parents' house. Hilary ordered food from Local Kitchens, which allowed us to get different kinds of food all of which was delicious. We had a late dinner and then we headed back to Kingsburg.

It was a long day of travel, but worth it to be home and reunited with Flora and Aspen!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:25 Archived in USA Tagged aspen flora san_jose aubrey local_kitchens Comments (1)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 8: Rum Sunset

sunny 83 °F

We grabbed a quick breakfast at Sueoka's before going to Koloa Rum tasting and Gaylord's restaurant.

The restaurant is beautiful, and feels very pleasant with a nice breeze.

The food was very good. Daniel got pasta, Catherine got fish and chips. We split a dessert of sweet bread and taro bread pudding, which was delicious. Overall the restaurant was a great experience. It is in the former plantation house, which reminded us a little bit of a tropical version of Kincraig Castle.

Family Tree Farms blueberries, from Kingsburg or Reedley.

In the tasting room they had us make a mai tai, as well as taste a number of their varieties of rum. Catherine loves their rum punch, which we learned some secrets about how to make, and we bought a couple of bottles as well as some souvenirs. The rum tasting is really a fun and interesting experience.

Aubrey attempting to play Daniel's ukulele, and looking like a ukulele prodigy.

We went to Poipu Beach for a beautiful sunset, much like we did four years ago. Dalton and Austin were playing in the water, and we ran into Catherine's family as we were about to leave. It was a beautiful sunset and a wonderful evening!

After the sunset Daniel, Catherine, and Hilary went to return some "lookie boards" (boogie boards with viewing portals) that they had rented for a quasi-snorkeling experience for the kids. We then went back to the house, then walked to Brennecke's for dinner and a couple drinks. On our way home we encountered Pudge/ Sweetie Cat, who followed us back to the house and then got cozy on the cushioned chairs outside the house. We hope that he has a nice life there by the house, and that the people who see him are always nice to him.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:13 Archived in USA Tagged sunset cat rum poipu ukulele pudge sweetie_cat gaylord's koloa_rum Comments (0)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 7: Wonton Revelry

all seasons in one day 85 °F

This morning we took Aubrey, Dalton, and Austin on a birthday extravaganzo (the spelling is explained here, in our post about Aubrey's previous Kaua'i extravaganzo). This was Austin's first time going on an extravaganzo, and so it was a very special day. We took them to Anaina Hou Community Park, where there's miniature golf. It is a beautiful location with botanical gardens that you play miniature golf through. There are also plaques that outline the botany, history, and culture of the Hawaiian islands and people, which Aubrey would read.

We played several holes, and Daniel even got a hole in one! Austin yelled "I win" on the first hole, and in fact it cannot be disputed that Austin had the highest score of all of us.

It started to rain fairly heavily, so we decided to stop playing and head to the cafe. There was, however, one hole with a log which the kids were eager to attempt to send a golf ball through. So, even though it was raining we played that hole.

We went to Ally's Cocina, which was a Venezuelan food truck at the park. The kids didn't want the pulled pork (especially Dalton, who loves animals and has no desire to eat "pig meat" as Aubrey called it), but they loved the arepas (basically fried corn doughnuts, at least at this place) and the rice and beans. Austin even loved the spicy garlic and cilantro sauce.

We then had popsicles and relaxed for a while by the food truck. Our original plan had been to play on the playground, but it was hot and humid by that point and so we decided to head back to the house. The kids behaved very well and greatly enjoyed the drive and the time playing golf. They also loved driving through the tree tunnel and listening to "Ha Mele No Lilo" (the Lilo and Stitch theme song). Aubrey also wanted to listen to Taylor Swift songs, but we limited the amount of Taylor Swift we listened to. Thankfully, unlike the last extravaganzo in Kaua'i, nobody threw up at the end of it.

After a short break at the house, we headed to Hanapepe for the Art Walk. We stopped on the way to see the Spouting Horn, which is very similar to the Nakelele Blowhole on Maui.

The Hanapepe Art Walk was fun. Ed and Kate and Aubrey joined us there, and we went into a good bakery where we got some sourdough bread as well as some other shops. For some reason one booth is called "Tedious Little Things."

After Ed, Kate, and Aubrey left we went in to Talk Story Bookstore, which claims to be the westernmost bookstore in the United States. We got the chance to meet the CEO, Natalie. One of her employees told us that she bites, so we steered clear of her even though she was very cute and reminded us of Flora and Aspen.

We got food at the Art Walk: Daniel got chana masala and a samosa, while Catherine got bacon, jalapeno, and cream cheese wontons with a sweet chili sauce. We shared some sweet wontons (cherry and apple) for dessert. Daniel's Indian food was good, but Catherine especially loved the wontons. She told the lady at the wonton food truck (Da Wonton Shack) that these were "the best bites of the week." It was truly a night of wonton revelry.

Posted by danielcatherine 08:15 Archived in USA Tagged cats ceo natalie indian_food hanapepe lilo_and_stitch wonton wonton_revelry miniature_golf talk_story pig_meat Comments (1)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 6: Push, Kick, and Shove

all seasons in one day 83 °F

We started the day with a .4 mile journey to the place where Catherine's parents and her aunt and uncle are staying. The grounds of their resort include a cemetery, which is marked with some stones and monuments. It is very interesting that they would build a resort in such a location. The grounds are beautiful and overlook Shipwreck Beach.

Catherine and her Aunt Mary enjoying a pina colada (rather early in the day).

We drove to Kauai Backcountry Adventures in Lihue, where we were going to go on our innertube tour. Catherine was very excited about it, but Daniel was a bit more skeptical. It turned out that it was a three hour tour total, not three hours in the innertube. Two hours of the tour are driving through the area and hearing some of the historical and scientific information about it, and one hour is tubing through the irrigation tunnels. Catherine's dad had broken his shoulder last week while mountain biking in Mammoth. We were concerned that he wouldn't be able to come on the Hawaii trip, but he was able to. However, he was not able to come on the tubing adventure because he has to keep his arm immobilized.

Some pictures of us and the group as the tour was about to begin.

Some pictures from our drive up to the beginning of the adventure. Apparently most of this land belongs to Steve Case, who was the founder of America Online and who was from Hawaii. It was formerly a sugar plantation but the sugar growing ended because other countries were able to pay workers a lot less, and growers in Hawaii couldn't compete with their prices. We saw some wild pigs...

As well as what the tour guide called a Hawaiian Mountain Lion (a cat sitting by a rock).

Some views of Waialeale, which is one of the rainiest places on earth. It can get over 500 inches of rain in a year. There are multiple waterfalls that come down from this mountain, feeding the streams and ditches like the one we tubed down.

A couple pictures of us, and Catherine's mom, in front of Waialeale.

We weren't able to take pictures during the actual tubing adventure. We each got on our own innertube, and got in the irrigation ditches on the former sugar plantation. We had helmets with lights and we went through multiple tunnels throughout our time there. It was mostly an easy ride, with a few slightly rapid parts where our tubes would get jostled together. There were several commands that the guides would yell, including "elbows and ankles" (meaning to tuck in to the tube so as not to hit things) and "push, kick, and shove" meaning that we should push, kick, and shove the tubes around us to get loose from a jam. In the last tunnel they recommended that we turn our lights off and focus on "the light at the end of the tunnel" which was interesting: it felt briefly like we weren't moving, and then suddenly we could see the light getting closer. Once we were done tubing, we were able to get out and were driven to another place, where we had a picnic. We had croissant sandwiches and cookies, and had access to a pond to swim in (although we didn't swim.)

The kids helped Daniel pick plumeria flowers for all the women. While we were walking we found a banana plant right near the house. Dalton wanted a banana but Daniel didn't think they were ripe yet.

We then went in to Koloa and went to an ice cream shop (Catherine actually had Dole Whip and Daniel had a guava danish.) We went to Sueoka's for some groceries, and then went home and planned to walk to dinner.

We walked to Brennecke's Beach Broiler, where we got nachos, pad thai, and mai tais. There was live music and we noticed a baseball cap from Fresno State while we were there. A few years ago when we were here we went here with some of Daniel's family, so we toasted with mai tais and remembered our past times here!

Posted by danielcatherine 03:04 Archived in USA Tagged rain mountain adventure plantation banana tube ditch sandwich irrigation koloa kauai_backcountry_adventures waialeale push_kick_and_shove brennecke's Comments (0)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 5: E Komo Mai

Which means "welcome" (or "come in") in Hawaiian

semi-overcast 80 °F

Late last night Kate made two pineapple pies using fresh, Hawaii-grown pineapples. We stayed up for a while to help her.

This morning, we drove to Lihue to go to Kalapaki beach.

The kids played on the beach and Hilary, Kate, and Catherine supervised them.

Daniel and Ed went kayaking on the bay. It was beautiful, but the waves were actually pretty big when we paddled out to the opening of the Bay. It was a wonderful experience to be out kayaking on the ocean. Last time when we were here we saw a cruise ship coming in to port, but this time there was no such thing. We did see some planes coming to the airport, which Austin enjoyed watching.

Aubrey created a beautiful sand structure. We thought it was a castle, but she explained that it was a ship, a throne for a king, and a dungeon (where the king's disloyal men were being forced to eat leaves.)

We stopped at Big Monster Sushi Food Truck for lunch, and also got some shave ice (passion fruit and guava). After that we went back to the house to start getting it ready for the party tonight.

Austin claimed that he isn't a cat, but he jumped on the counter and was hiding from the vacuum while we cleaned...

Catherine got a massage/ manicure/ pedicure from Aubrey. It involved painting her legs with a paint brush and water, and matching crayons to her nails.

Daniel, Kate, and Aubrey went out to get plumerias. Daniel had already gotten one for Catherine, but we went out to get them for Kate, Hilary, and Aubrey, as well as ones to give to Katie and Mary when they came to the party. While out, we saw Sweetie Cat/ Pudge. A man walking a dog told us that in fact Sweetie Cat isn't especially sweet. He advised that we not pet her, and that she's "an attack cat." Dalton and Austin had already been instructed not to pet her, but we have seen other people petting her without trouble. It seems likely that the fact that he had a dog with him may have upset the cat before.

Catherine's parents Anthony and Katie, and Catherine's Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe, came over. We had a very nice evening. Daniel barbecued some linguica (or Portuguese sausage, as it's called in Hawaii) and we had chips, drinks, and the pineapple pie. Everyone had a great time and wonderful conversations. Also, Aubrey had made beautiful labels for all of the parts of the meal. This is Katie and Anthony and Mary and Joe's first full day in Hawaii, and so it was a nice way to start their trip and a nice midpoint to our trip.

Posted by danielcatherine 08:58 Archived in USA Tagged beach cat welcome kayak sushi lihue shave_ice linguiça kalapaki Comments (0)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 4: Turtles in Action

all seasons in one day

We had a quick breakfast of malasadas and coffee to begin our day.

After this we went to Poipu Beach with Ed and Kate and Dalton and Austin. Hilary and Aubrey were on a kayaking adventure.

There were two sea turtles on the beach. At first the water was low and the turtles were dry on the sand. While we were there it started to reach the turtles, and pretty soon the lower of the two turtles propelled itself into the water and swam away. It was also interesting to watch it navigate the ridge of rocks slightly under the water. The second turtle was starting to move into the water when we were leaving.

Afterwards we went to have lunch at the food trucks in Koloa, and then to shop for the barbecue with Catherine's family tomorrow. We went in to Lihue and shopped at the Times Market.

It's like we're in Kingsburg!

When we got back, Dalton was extremely excited. He had lost his first tooth! He ran to the door to tell us, and is very interested in figuring out whether the tooth fairy comes to Hawaii, or if there is a different Hawaiian tooth fairy, or how the tooth fairy works when you are elsewhere.

He also wanted his stuffed pineapple to sit with "the rest of the pineapple family." He asked where the one we got last night went, and we told him it was cut up in the fridge. He then said its "the whole pineapple family except the one that's cut up in the fridge."

Daniel found plumeria flowers for Catherine, Aubrey, Hilary, and Kate, more-or-less matching the colors of their clothing. Then we went to the Smith Family Luau, which we have never been to but the rest of the group have seen before.

The birdseed was meant to be thrown to the birds on the grounds, not in the line to get in. Some level of miscommunication and overexcitement about the presence of birds led to the birdseed being dropped right there in the line. The kids were delighted, but the adults and the rest of the crowd were less so, with the flock of pecking, screeching chickens, ducks, and peafowl that immediately arrived.

The grounds, which are called Smith's Tropical Paradise, are beautiful. We went on a very nice walk with Aubrey, who enjoyed seeing the birds and the flowers.

The imu ceremony, where they remove the pig from the underground oven. The speaker was part of the Smith family, who he explained are descended from an Englishman who came to Hawaii to work as a postman, and his wife who was Hawaiian. As a result, they are a Hawaiian family named "Smith." He thanked us for trusting a luau called "Smith Family." The imu ceremony was cut short by a brief but extremely heavy downpour.

We went into the main dining hall, where there was live music and drinks until dinner started.

The food was good: teriyaki beef, kalua pork, adobo chicken, poi, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fried rice, and various types of Hawaiian bread (mostly inspired by Portuguese sweet bread).

It rained heavily every so often throughout the dinner.

At one point children in the crowd were invited to come on stage and learn a hula dance. Aubrey was very excited by the opportunity, which was funny because Daniel remembers many years ago when they first went to Hawaii as a family and Hilary had hoped to have the opportunity to go on stage and learn some of the dances. Aubrey seemed to take learning the dances extremely seriously, and had a lot of fun doing it.

We walked through the gardens a bit to the auditorium after the dinner was over.

The show consisted of dances from various parts of Polynesia as well as other cultures that have contributed to Hawaii over the years. There were Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, Japanese, and Filipino dances, as well as fairly modernized versions of hula dances.

Some of the dances involved fire.

And some involved both knives and fire, which was extremely impressive, especially to the kids. That part of the performance was probably the most memorable.

We got the picture that they had taken of our group at the beginning of the luau.

By the end of the show the kids had gotten sleepy, especially Austin who was fully asleep by the time we left. Daniel helped Hilary and Kate get Austin to the car. After the luau we came home and started working on some pineapple pies for the barbecue tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:17 Archived in USA Tagged rain dance turtle austin tooth kate ed hilary luau pineapple plumeria aubrey honu dalton kaua'i smith_family_luau imu tooth_fairy Comments (1)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 3: Dancing in the Moonlight

all seasons in one day 84 °F

Aubrey decorated her ukulele with flowers that she found on her morning walk.

We had a breakfast of sweet bread and pineapple again.

After that, Daniel picked a pink plumeria from a nearby tree for Catherine, and then we went to Koloa to pick up a quick lunch. The town of Koloa was very crowded, and it was hard to find a place to park. We went in and bought some spam musubi and some guava juice to have as a picnic lunch. We then set off for Hanalei Bay, on the opposite side of the island from where we are staying.

We stopped at a place with a scenic lookout along the way, and had a picnic in the back of our Jeep. There were a lot of chickens around, and the view of the ocean was beautiful. We had a wonderful picnic there and then headed onwards to Hanalei Bay.

Hanalei Bay was beautiful, with warm water to swim in but some rain falling every so often. We had a wonderful time there, but we didn't take a lot of pictures because we didn't have our phones with us in the water. Then we headed home, with a vague plan of walking to Kalapaki Joe's from the house where we're staying. We weren't quite sure whether everyone would go or if only some of us would go, and we knew the kids were starting to fall asleep. We decided not to stop for shave ice to get there on time.

Geckos are everywhere at the house. This one is in our bathroom. Later it moved elsewhere, and Dalton told Catherine "maybe he's in your bed snuggled up to sleep." This sounds like a dream to the animal-loving Dalton, but is more of a nightmare to Catherine.

Dalton also wanted to place his stuffed pineapple next to the real pineapple that we had brought home.

We all ended up walking to Kalapaki Joe's. At first we were somewhat concerned that it was too loud, but Aubrey was excited when she heard Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" being played as part of the live music. We decided to stay. The live music ended up being very good, pleasing everyone with a mixture of seventies music, modern pop, and Hawaiian music. "Dancing in the Moonlight" was one of the highlights. The food was good, and it ended up being extremely fun.

Ed with Austin.

Daniel with Dalton.

Kate with Aubrey.

It was a wonderful evening and we are excited to continue our adventures tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 09:24 Archived in USA Tagged beach flower hanalei dinner swim strike plumeria koloa kaua'i kalapaki_joe's dancing_in_the_moonlight Comments (0)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 2: To Valhalla!

semi-overcast 85 °F

Before we were up, the kids, Hilary, and Ed went on a walk to the beach. Dalton collected this cup of plumeria blossoms for everyone.

We slept in and finally feel rested after our long day of travel. Then we got up to have a small breakfast: pineapple from Oahu, some taro-flavored sweet bread (Aubrey loves "pink and purple bread" and remembers it from our previous trip here) and some cans of Hawaiian coffee. It was delicious. After breakfast the rest of the group went to do some grocery shopping and get some souvenirs. We drove to Koloa to get a lunch.

Now that we had our lunch, we decided to walk to Shipwreck Beach and have our picnic. Daniel picked a plumeria for Catherine, and we walked on the beautiful path to the beach.

Our picnic consisted of lilikoi juice, spam musubi, and Maui onion chips.

We also had li hing mui powdered mango slices for dessert.

People were jumping off of this rock, which reminded Catherine of this scene from the show Norsemen[/i]. Catherine yelled "to Valhalla!" as this person jumped.

This cat seems to live near the house where we're staying. Catherine wanted to name it Pudge (after Pudge the Fish from [i]Lilo and Stitch
) but Dalton wanted to name it Sweetie Cat. It seems to be comfortable and reasonably well fed.

After that we went to Poipu Beach with everyone, and swam in the small, child-friendly area to swim. Dalton especially loved "fighting" the waves by punching them. It was a very fun afternoon, and after the beach we went to the pool before walking back to the house.

We finished the evening by watching the All Ireland Football Final between Dublin and Kerry. We wondered how many people on Kaua'i, or even in Hawaii, were watching this. Of course it was played earlier and we were watching it recorded.

Posted by danielcatherine 08:50 Archived in USA Tagged beach cat lunch poipu aubrey musubi koloa dalton shipwreck_beach sweet_bread dublin_vs._kerry all_ireland Comments (0)

Kaua'i 2023 Day 1: An Island With No Major Cities

all seasons in one day 83 °F

On Friday we traveled to San Jose to meet with Daniel's parents, his sister Hilary, and her children. We were flying the next day early. We have TSA PreCheck through our Global Entry membership, but we will take the same shuttle as everyone else and see how much faster we get through.

We took the shuttle to the airport and arrived at the same time. We went through the TSA PreCheck line while the rest of the group went through the regular line. We were through about twenty minutes earlier, which was nice. The nicest thing was not having to take off our shoes or take our laptops out of our bags.

We got on the plane and we were the only ones with a non-family member sitting next to us. Thankfully he was nice and although he had the aisle seat he was accommodating about the kids wanting to move and sit next to us (in particular next to Auntie Catherine).

After a fairly easy flight we arrived in Kaua'i!

We picked up our car, which is a Jeep like we had in Maui a few years ago.

We couldn't check in to the house until 4, so we had to find other things to do. Daniel's parents, Hilary, and the kids decided to go to the beach, while we decided to get lunch at the food trucks in Koloa. We tried a food truck called Naruto Noodles, which had a lot of interesting options.

We got the lilikoi (passionfruit) juice, some pork lumpia, and the local-style noodles. Then some ube (purple yam) flavored malasadas for dessert.

The weather was interesting, with frequent heavy rains punctuating a basically sunny but humid day.

Finally, we were able to check in to the house! It was the same house we stayed in when we visited in 2019 and it is beautiful with lots of room for all of us. We are so happy to be able to stay here again. We got things unpacked and then the two of us went to mass at the church in Koloa.

We tried an Indian place in a nearby shopping center. We got samosas and a lentil dal, which was delicious. The restaurant had lanai dining, and we could hear the live music from another nearby restaurant.

Overall, it was a wonderful day and fairly eventful for a travel day.

Posted by danielcatherine 21:18 Archived in USA Tagged church hawaii jeep kauai mass aloha indian_food kaua'i naruto_noodles Comments (1)

Scotland Day 10: Over the Sea

40 °F

We took the shuttle to the airport early in the morning for our flight. We stopped for a mince pie and an apricot pastry before our flight.
Some views from our flight to Dublin. Our plane was called St. Eithne. When we got to Dublin we were able to do our Global Entry interview, meaning that we now have Global Entry and TSA pre-check.
We had lunch at a place in the Dublin airport called Whiskey Bread, which is a partnership with Teeling's Distillery in Dublin. Catherine had a whiskey and tonic (a surprising combination that was actually good) and Daniel had a Guinness. After that we boarded our flight.
On our flight back to San Francisco on the St. Carthage. We passed the flight by reading and watching episodes of The Office, and then Daniel's parents picked us up. It has been a wonderful trip!

Posted by danielcatherine 19:58 Archived in Ireland Tagged home flight pastries teeling's aer_lingus mince_pie Comments (1)

Scotland Day 9: Dark Culloden's Field of Gore

(Today's title is taken from the song "Sound the Pibroch.")

sunny 44 °F

A beautiful morning at the castle on our last full day in Scotland. We had a breakfast of porridge and toast instead of the very large and filling full breakfast. It was also very good.
Catherine's first time driving on the other side of the road. She only drove in the parking lot, then Daniel drove the rest of the way back to Edinburgh.
Culloden Moor, where the Battle of Culloden took place in 1746. This was the final decisive battle of the Jacobite rising, where the forces supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated. It's a very sad and melancholy place to visit. The people who run the battle site placed red flags where the government army lines were, and blue flags where the Jacobite lines were. It was a somewhat overwhelming place to see: its remarkable to think that the quiet field we see today was once a place where people fought and died. Some of the plaques at the visitor center are from descendants of people who fought there: many who live in Scotland and England and many who live in the United States. This battle was a major turning point in history: it ended the realistic chances of the Jacobite cause and established the Hanoverians in power.
There are several memorials to the various clans that are buried here in mass graves. It's remarkable that people still place flowers and crosses on the stones.
Catherine had been hoping to see highland cattle, and she got her chance here. They have them here to eat the vegetation (they appear to mostly eat trees) and keep the natural landscape looking similar to how it looked at the time of the battle.
We stopped at the Culloden Moor Inn for a quick lunch: a baked potato and chicken korma.
After lunch, we started our drive down to Edinburgh. We saw some beautiful scenery, and went through a little town called Aviemore which seems to be a skiing destination (although there wasn't a lot of snow in the mountains for skiing yet). We got past Dalwhinnie before sunset, which was nice because it meant that we got the chance to see the southern part of the drive in the daylight on Saturday and the northern part in the daylight today.
We arrived in Edinburgh and checked into our airport hotel. Unfortunately a number of issues came up, causing us to go first to an occupied room (thankfully our keys didn't work), then a room that needed repairs, and then finally to our room. We went over and dropped off our rental car, then got a taxi into Old Town for a last dinner there.
We had dinner at Vittoria on the Bridge, which was a wonderful meal.
We could see McEwan Hall in the distance and had a beautiful last night in the Old Town area before taking a taxi back to the airport hotel. We have loved our time here and are very happy that we had the chance to come to Scotland for this graduation.

Posted by danielcatherine 19:55 Archived in Scotland Tagged dinner castle battle war highland cattle culloden porridge mcewan_hall jacobite Comments (0)

Scotland Day 8: A Fresno Girl Perhaps?

sunny 47 °F

We started our day by splitting the "full Scottish breakfast" at Kincraig Castle, where we were staying. It included scrambled eggs, a tomato, black pudding, haggis, a "tattie scone" (very much like a pancake), and a mushroom. It was not bad.
Some pictures around the castle in the morning. After breakfast we drove into Inverness to attend the Ordinariate mass: groups of Anglicans who converted to Catholicism were allowed to use a modified form of the Anglican church service. Their liturgy is very interesting and it was a nice opportunity to attend one in Inverness.
The drive to Inverness.
The chapel where the Ordinariate mass is held. According to the priest the chapel was built as an ecumenical chapel originally at the hospital, with three separate front areas for Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Catholics. The ordinariate mass uses the Catholic section.

During the after-mass conversation, the very small group of members came over and talked to us. Catherine said that we were from California, and one of the people said "a Fresno girl perhaps?" and then refused to say how he had known that. Catherine admitted to having been born and raised in Fresno, but the person who asked would not reveal how he knew that. Catherine thinks he somehow guessed, but Daniel thinks that we must have met this man in passing somewhere in our lives and forgotten about it.

Some views of the River Ness. Catherine very much wanted to find Nessie, and it was here on the river (and not the loch) that St. Columba is said to have first seen the "water creature" that may have given rise to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
After that we drove to Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.
Some pictures around the castle showing the defensive structures. St. Columba came here to baptize a Pictish chieftain, and the castle was part of a variety of wars that occurred, as well as constant raids by the MacDonald clan, eventually being blown up by its own holders during the Jacobite wars.
Looking for Nessie.
Some more pictures around the castle.
A strange object in the water. Probably not Nessie.
Some more pictures of the castle.
Daniel in a window, and a random person in the door.
A bird's nest in a corner of the castle.
The trebuchet.

After exploring the castle, and hearing a very fascinating talk about the defensive structures of the ditch and the windows, we headed into the village to buy some souvenirs and then to Inverness for dinner.
We went to a Turkish restaurant which was delicious. We ordered the two-person meal, which included appetizers and a main meal for each of us. The appetizers were delicious and filling. We got the chicken kebab and the vegetarian moussaka, which were both delicious.
There was a pub across the street from the Turkish restaurant that was having a "trad session," so we walked over and listened to some music. It was a wonderful end to our night before returning to the castle.
Sitting by the fire at the castle after our day of exploring the loch.

Posted by danielcatherine 19:54 Archived in Scotland Tagged church river music castle fire mass inverness loch_ness urquhart fresno nessie ordinariate trad_session Comments (0)

Scotland Day 7: In the Highlands

rain 56 °F

Goodbye, Edinburgh!
We got a taxi to the airport rental car section and picked up our car. It's a Toyota hybrid, just like our Prius (and like the car we had when we were in Ireland), and so it's very familiar.
Crossing the bridge over the Firth of Forth.
Our first stop was Dunfermline, where Dunfermline Abbey was formerly located. There is currently a church there where King Robert the Bruce is buried (as evidenced by the huge tower with "King Robert the Bruce" written all the way around it). This was once the capital of Scotland, where some of the earlier kings ruled.
St. Margaret of Scotland was also buried here, but her body was moved during the Reformation for safekeeping by Mary of Guise, and its current whereabouts seem to be unknown. Anyway, this is where she was buried. She was the daughter of Edward the Aetheling, and married to King Malcolm III of Scotland (who is the real-life version of Malcolm in Shakespeare's Macbeth. She founded the abbey here and was later made a saint, and the chapel atop Edinburgh Castle was dedicated to her.
Some pictures in and around the ruined abbey.
We stopped at a little village called Dalwhinnie and had a delicious lunch at a small cafe there. We had sausage rolls, crisps, and a caramel shortbread for dessert. It was very cold, windy, and rainy outside but the cafe was exremely cozy with a nice fire burning.
The options for fillings on a baked potato here are very different from what you would get in America, and don't really seem that appetizing from an American perspective. They seem to be very popular here though: there are several dedicated baked potato bars in Edinburgh and many places outside of the city seem to have them on the menu as well.
After lunch we went up to the Dalwhinney Distillery, which claims to be the highest and coldest distillery in Scotland. It definitely felt cold and windy as we got out of the car.
A quilt made by students at the local school (which we later learned was shut down...Dalwhinnie appears to have somewhat faded away as a village. That is sad, but it is easy to see why with modern transportation technology a person might not want to live in such a cold and windy place.)
The process of distillation is fascinating. Catherine has a great interest in invention and how an inventor's mind works. After the tour she said "if you had barley, water, and yeast in front of you, would you honestly come up with all of that?" It is an interesting thing to think about how people came up with the whole process.
There is a tasting at the end of the tour. At the beginning of the tasting the tour guide asked who was driving, and gave each of the drivers three small bottles in which to pour the samples. It was really a nice solution to the problem of tastings when you have to drive. Catherine tried the samples and liked them, especially the first two. We ended up buying a bottle of that first whisky.
The beautiful castle where we are staying. There is a cozy fire and a beautiful lounge.
Dinner in the castle. Delicious bread pudding for dessert.
A dram of whisky by the fire after dinner.
The castle is beautifully decorated for Christmas.

We had a wonderful day, and we had a beautiful drive from Edinburgh to the highlands!

Posted by danielcatherine 23:58 Archived in Scotland Tagged christmas castle highlands bread distillery pudding inverness dunfermline dalwhinnie st._margaret Comments (1)

Scotland Day 6: Graduation!

semi-overcast 44 °F

We got up fairly early and got ready for the graduation ceremony. Then we walked over to McEwan Hall, where graduations are usually held for the University of Edinburgh.
Once Daniel had his gown and hood gathered for the ceremony we had the chance to take some pictures in the square in front of McEwan Hall.
Us in front of McEwan Hall as it shines in the morning sunlight.
In front of one of the side doors to the Hall.

Daniel got his picture taken by the photographers and then was able to enter the hall. A bagpiper and drummer were playing as the graduates walked in, and then they led a procession of university officials into the hall. It was a beautiful start to the ceremony.

Some pictures that Catherine took inside the Hall. Daniel was not able to take pictures because he was seated with the other graduates. Two of his fellow Ancient Worlds program graduates were here, also from the United States, and so he was able to meet them in person and talk about how much "fun" they all had writing their dissertations.

Catherine had a very good seat for watching the officials and the graduates as they moved across the stage.
Graduates walk across the stage, their names are read, and they get bopped on the head with a hat. The hat is called the "Geneva Bonnet" and is rumored to have been made out of John Knox's breeches. This is an odd story, especially given that Knox in fact wore a Geneva bonnet. It seems more likely that if it has any connection with him that it is his hat, and not a hat made from his pants. However, it seems even more likely that it is just a hat.
Daniel getting bopped on the head with the Geneva bonnet as he walks across the stage to collect his degree.
A choir sang some beautiful songs and there was a short speech encouraging the graduates to continue to learn (we have yet to hear a graduation speech that exhorts the listeners to quit now while you're ahead and not try to learn anything new), and then the officials processed out, followed by the graduates.
After we reunited outside the hall we were able to take some pictures. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ceremony. The bagpipe, drum, and organ music, as well as the choir, made it all feel especially emotional. Two years of work, stress, and writing were beautifully rewarded with this ceremony.

Unfortunately, due to a strike among some of the professors and lecturers the reception afterwards was cancelled. It was a bit odd that it got cancelled, and when we talked to a professor later she was surprised that the strike had interfered in any way. It may have been cancelled out of "an abundance of caution" despite no real risk of any problems.
Not going to the reception allowed us to take a nice walk and go to a little Italian restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, we went and met with Daniel's dissertation advisor. We went to a cafe for tea and scones, and talked about cats and classics and the ceremony. Then she took us on a wonderful tour of the department's offices and its small library. It is located in the former medical school, which is a beautiful old building. It was a wonderful afternoon.

After this we went on a very different kind of tour. It was about the various dark and bizarre stories that haunt Edinburgh's history. We were hoping it would be more historical, and it was a little bit "trying to creep people out" for our tastes. However, we did get to see some interesting things and learn some stories from Edinburgh's past.
We got the chance to tour the vaults under one of the bridges, which was interesting. These vaults were originally used by the businesses above, but were abandoned because of the lack of natural light, which necessitated the use of fish-oil candles, which made the vaults smell horrible. They may (the tour guide insisted they had) become home to a literal criminal underworld, with brothels, opium dens, and illegal taverns frequented by grave-robbers.
After we left the vaults we were led to the graveyard in Canongate, which is outside the technical old boundaries of the city. Several interesting people were buried here, including Adam Smith and Robert Fergusson. It is also thought to be the location of the grave of Ebenezer Scroggie, who according to legend was listed on his grave as "a meal man" due to his career as a grain merchant. Charles Dickens is said to have seen the grave and misread it as "a mean man" and then written A Christmas Carol as a speculative story to explain how someone could have earned such an epitaph. However, there does not seem to be any evidence of this and the gravestone is lost.
Toasting to Daniel's graduation with a dram of whisky, then a dinner of cullen skink (fish chowder), potato and leek soup, and then cranachan and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. It was a wonderful graduation day that we will always remember!

Posted by danielcatherine 08:03 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh tea graveyard lunch graduation advisor strike dissertation vaults classics mcewan_hall cullen_skink cranachan adam_smith Comments (1)

Scotland Day 5: Giving Thanks in Scots and Spanish

rain 43 °F

Today we had a somewhat relaxed day. We slept in a bit and then walked to the university to do the self-guided tour. The walk to the university took us through Greyfriars Kirkyard, which is an interesting place. It feels exactly like the stereotypical "spooky graveyard." Tom Riddle is buried here, as well as other people whose names were used by J.K. Rowling for characters in the Harry Potter books.
While we were walking through the graveyard we saw a girl gathering sticks. We weren't sure why she was doing it, but it seemed like she was intent on creating a significant pile of sticks in her arms. Then as we passed the church associated with the kirkyard, we saw her add her pile of sticks to this pile that already existed in front of the gravestone of Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who sat faithfully on his master's grave. Later on in the day we saw a plaque stating that a local pub owner had trained Bobby to come to his pub at one o'clock (at the sound of the one o'clock gun) and get a meat pie. It seems that the community here loved Bobby when he was alive and still loves him now that he is gone.
At the university. The weather was drizzly and cold but not raining too hard when we set out, but it started to rain more as we kept exploring.
Daniel at the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology.
Us in front of George Square. Many of the university's buildings surround this square.
A lot of famous people once lived in these houses, including Eric Liddell (a University of Edinburgh alumnus and the inspiration for and main character in Chariots of Fire), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (also an alumnus), and Sir Walter Scott (also an alumnus).
It was raining pretty heavily so we went into a Chinese restaurant across from the university for lunch.

We went back to our room for a bit, then went out again as it was getting dark to see if we could buy a gown and hood for the graduation at Ede and Ravenscroft. We had hired a gown and hood, but would prefer to have one to keep from the original ceremony. Ultimately, we were able to buy a gown but not a hood. We will have to order the hood later. The Ede and Ravenscroft salesperson was very helpful, and explained to us also that the royal family uses their services for their ceremonies. The Edinburgh shop is not especially involved in the upcoming coronation, but the London shop is. It was a beautiful walk down to the shop in "New Town" Edinburgh.
The university's "new college" which is near the castle. Historically it exists because of a schism within the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Now it is part of the university and appears to be mostly used by the School of Divinity.
Some kind of carnival in New Town.
A dark and ominous-looking staircase that is actually a part of a system of staircases that constitute a shortcut between where we are staying and the castle.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was tapas from a Spanish restaurant nearby. They were delicious and, although different from the traditional American Thanksgiving, had a similar feeling due to the wide variety of foods available.
A view of our walk home. It was a wonderful and relaxed day, and we can't wait for graduation tomorrow!

Posted by danielcatherine 00:14 Archived in Scotland Tagged churches university spanish gravestones thanksgiving graves tapas hoods gowns scots greyfriars_bobby Comments (2)

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