September 6th, 2016
Our first day driving in Scotland was a bust to say the least. It started out well enough, the car was easier and quicker to pick up than expected and we quickly found a quaint little cafe in some suburb of Edinburgh to stop and grab breakfast. The food was fantastic (I am a huge fan of the full Scottish breakfast, never expected to like beans that early in the morning) but this little cafe is where we first realized the full extent of how slowly Europeans live life compared to Americans.
It took a while for our food to come to our table though we weren’t overly concerned in the beginning as we actually were a bit ahead of schedule for the day and only had one specific stop, Glenlivet Distillery, later in the afternoon. After we had finished eating though, when the check and our waiter were no where to be found, our luck started to turn. We sat around patiently at first, taking advantage of the cafe’s wifi to figure out our route for the day and estimate when we would probably arrive at the distillery. To our fully American dismay, 45 minutes later we still hadn’t seen our waitress or our check and finally became concerned about our timeline. Though we only had one specified stop at the end of the day that was conveniently only a 30ish minute drive from our hotel the distillery does close at 6pm and stops allowing people in at all past 5pm. We did want to circle Loch Rannoch and see a bit of the country side along the way and we would have to stop to eat again at some point before filling our bellies with whisky. This little cafe was quickly found outside of the city but still roughly a 3 and a half hour drive from our final destination and the longer we waited to pay out and leave the less time we had to explore. Finally, after a total of nearly two hours at our little round table in the corner, Kevin was able to locate our waitress and acquire our check…we then waited roughly 30 more minutes to get our cards back and leave.
Back on the road, finally, and with a far less flexible time frame we decided to still skirt the shore of Loch Rannoch in search of this castle keep on the water that can be seen from the shore before heading to Glenlivet.
This decision was a mistake.
In order to drive along the shores of Loch Rannoch you have to leave the comfort of the rather large and lovely autobahn and drive along this narrow one lane, two way, barely paved road. And, because things just weren’t going our way this Tuesday, it was trash day and the road was clogged with large trash trucks that roughly every 30 to 40 minutes we would have to pull completely off the road to avoid a collision with while they passed. During one such maneuver to avoid a large truck on this tiny road (that we could barely even see the water from anyway) we heard a loud pop and then the tire pressure light on our dash lit up. We were fortunate enough that there was an odd little driveway about 10 feet down the road, right on the water, that we could pull into, safely out of the way to check out tires.We were unfortunate to discover that the driver side front tire had a thumb sized hole in it and was completely destroyed. The boys, after some struggle, found the spare and the tools to change the tire but, because this just wasn’t our day, the spare was just a little doughnut tire and we would have to figure out how and where to have the popped tire replaced to continue on our Scotland road trip.
After much deliberation, due to time, frustration and sour attitudes we ultimately decided to forgo the trip to Glenlivet all together and just drive straight to our hotel where we would hopefully be able to find a nearby tire shop and have the car ready to go the next morning without any further alterations to our trip. We arrived in Grantown on Spey, a quaint, one road town, around 4:30pm, checked into the Craiglynne Hotel (which is a beautiful hotel that looks and feels like somewhere the Crawley family from Downton Abby would have visited) and started asking where we could possibly get a new tire that evening. As per our luck of the day the only tire shop in town did not have the size of tire we needed and wouldn’t be able to get one for two more days. We did not have phones in our rooms so Kevin had to call the rental company multiple times as well as about 20 different tire shops all from the front desk of the hotel in search of a new tire. After a few hours of back and forth on the phone and awkwardly hanging out in the lobby waiting for return calls we finally worked it out that our rental company would send someone to us, with a new tire, the next morning by 10am. We weren’t very happy to have to start the next day a full 2 hours later than intended but adjusted the itinerary to accommodate the later start, re-routed to make sure that we used larger roads and highways more often to both save time and avoid the terror of side roads in Scotland. Because of lost time trying to figure out how to fix our tire issue we didn’t venture out to eat until well after 7pm and this little, single road countryside town had extremely limited options for food that late in the evening. We eventually found a shitty little burger joint, took our food to go and then played cards and drank, a lot, at the hotel bar.
All four of us went to bed annoyed at the situation and each other, but relieved that the problem was practically solved and happy to learn that our hotel provided free breakfast to its guests and that we hadn’t actually had to cut anything out of our Wednesday plans. Yet.