Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Whiskey Trail

Scotland...the land of milk and honey...oh I mean Whiskey! Sammy has a project in Aberdeen and so I hopped up for the weekend. We booked a driver so we could go to a few of the distilleries and do some whiskey tasting.

The driver showed up to the hotel at 9:30am (yes, I actually got up early on a vacation day!) and we started off. About 9:35am I decided I needed some coffee - and so we were off scheduled. We were suppose to get to the 1st distillery at 11:00 for the tour then tasting, but because of coffee we arrived at 11:30, missed our tour and had to wait for the next.

The delay was great because it gave me and Sammy a chance to have a drink in front of a roaring fire on a cold rainy day. Very romantic. We were at the Glenfiddich Distillery ( which is family owned and sells excellent Whiskey. In front of the fire, Sammy tried the 18 year reserve (nice) and I had the 30 year (better!).
Glenfiddich Distillery

After the tour we tried their 12 year and their new Liqueur and ended up buying a small 30 year and the Liqueur. Note to all: Don't buy the Whiskey at the distillery unless you want to pay an arm and a leg. The full bottle of the 30 year at the shop was £150 and the same bottle at the airport was £95.

After we left Glenfiddich we went to Delgatie Castle and had lunch. For the last 650 years the Hay's have owned this castle. It was a beautiful place where the proprietress knew the last Hay (who passed away 9 years ago) and was able to tell us stories about him, his life, and how he restored the castle. If you ever get the a chance to go I reccomend it.

Delgatie Castle

I wanted to spend more time at the castle because this has been the only one where you basically have run of the entire place instead of only a few restored rooms, but Sammy wanted to push on and get to the next distillery.
I can't remember the name of the next place we went - I didn't like their whiskey as much as Glenfiddich's. It was too smokey for me.

On Saturday we slept in (surprisesurprise!). Well, actually I slept in Sammy still got up at what I consider the crack of dawn! We rented a car and drove out to Dunnottar Castle.

It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The castle ruins... the sea... my photos don't even come close to depicting the beauty of the place. Incredible. I had been there once before with my friend Sandra and I was so happy to be able to share that with Sammy.

Dunnottar Castle (yes this is a photo I took!)

After Sammy and I explored the castle and horsed around a little... 

Dunnottar Castle Self Portrait

we walked on down to the sea to check it out. Sammy took this photo of me which I thought turned out pretty good.
Me on the North Sea

And I took this one of him after he took my hat and struck a pose for me!

The love of my life!

Next Trip...Atlanta? Belgium? France? Stay Tuned!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Bird of Prey Weekend

In January, Sammy and I took a Friday off, packed Gabi into the car and started our 5 hour drive to Skipton England. I had bought Sammy a day with birds of prey, where he would learn about Eagles, Hawks, and Owls and be able to fly them. I purchased this for our 4th anniversary in May 2006 and we would finally be able to experience it, although a bit late!

Our trip started out really nice - Gabi was excited the drive was smooth until we got a few hours into the drive. Something had happened up ahead (we never found out what) and we ended up stuck on the highway. It took us literally two hours to go two miles! When we were finally diverted from the highway we were left to fend for ourselves. The Highway Department didn't think it necessary to put up detour signs up to tell us how to get back onto the freeway. So Sammy and I spent another couple of hours trying to find a different way to Skipton. We finally made it...NINE HOURS LATER! Thank goodness Gabi doesn't get car sick!

Sammy very happy we made it to the Hotel!

Anyway, we made it to the hotel, which was very nice, and the next morning I dropped Sammy off so he could enjoy his day with the birds. He had a lot of fun learning about the different birds then taking them out to fly them. They also went for a hike on the grounds with the Falcons flying along with them. During the hike one of the Falcons even let Sammy carry it up the hill, which apparently is not common as they don't usually bond with strangers.

Sammy Flying an Eagle

While Sammy was spending time with the Birds, Gabi and I went hiking on the hotel grounds and around the lake. It was beautiful, and on our way around the lake the resident Swans started following us. They're territorial and didn't like the fact that Gabi was jumping in to fetch the sticks I was throwing. We kept ahead of them and at one point were about 1/4 of the length of the lake in front of them. I guess they felt it was too far away for them to keep an eye on us so they started flying just above the water and paddling their way over toward us. Scared the daylights out of me. I thought they were going to attack Gabi, but we got away!
Me and Gabi taking a walk outside. Sammy took this photo from our hotel room.

After our walk Gabi and I went back to the hotel soaking wet and extremely muddy. The hotel staff were very sweet, got us towels to wipe off with and then we went to our room and took a nap. At lunch time Sammy came back to eat before going back out to spend more time with the birds. At the end of the day I went to pick him up and took photos of him flying and holding the birds. We also had a nice chat with the two Falconers and met them later in the hotel bar and had drinks.
Sammy with a Harrier Hawk on his arm.

All 3 of us had an excellent time and the drive home on Sunday only took us 4.5 hours!

Next trip...Aberdeen Scotland and the Whiskey Trail!