Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Off to Scotland!

The time for our big adventure had come!  We were headed off on a big trip to Scotland and Ireland with our first stop in Edinburgh Scotland.  Of course, traveling overseas from Knoxville Tennessee involves multiple airports and airplanes…

We started out with a flight on American Eagle from Knoxville to Charlotte North Carolina, with a fairly tight connection in Charlotte.  Upon arrival in Charlotte we discovered that the gate for our next flight was about as far from our arrival gate as was possible.   Then we were off on our next leg of our journey…Charlotte to New York’s JFK Airport.

During my working life, I’d flown into almost every major airport in the USA at least once…but I’d never been to JFK before.  It also dawned on me that my first flight on an airplane had taken place about 60 years before this trip.  It had been on a Lake Central Airlines DC-3 from Detroit Michigan to Buffalo New York via Erie Pennsylvania…

Of course, once again our arrival gate was a long way from our departure gate.   The good news was that we had plenty of time for our connection…

I know that this photo of a TAM airliner has nothing directly to do with our trip…other than I like spotting airlines I’d never seen before.  TAM…actually LATAM following a recent merger…is based in Sao Paulo Brazil and with its 160+ aircraft serves 68 destinations primarily in South America, North America and Europe.

With time to spare at JFK International Airport, we decided to find a spot to have a snack and relax.  Vino Volo, a wine bar, looked like a solid option.

I’ve since learned that Vino Volo is a chain of 33 wine bars across the USA and Canada.  The atmosphere is much more relaxed than most other airport food and adult beverage venues…

This is my happy wife…happy to be on this trip to Scotland and Ireland!  At JFK, our journey started to become ‘real’!

Here is yours truly relaxing with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio. ($9.00) Laurie had a glass as well…

The highlight of our break at Vino Volo was visiting with these two young ladies.   Ariana and Meagan, who work for a major New York based bank, were off on a vacation to Germany.  Meagan had previously visited Ireland and she gave us a couple of tips.  Ariana has traveled overseas quite a bit, to places like Morocco, Ecuador, Colombia and Hong Kong as well as a number of places in Europe.   They were lots of fun to talk with!

For our snack, we chose the Charcuterie Board.  At $23.00 we both thought that it was a bit pricy for what we got… However, it was tasty and it did fill our need for something to tide us over until we received our meal on the flight to Scotland.

FYI… Vino Volo’s website can be found at

This was the flight board at our gate at JFK… Reality was setting in!  We departed on time.

This was our American Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft at the gate… The flight was smooth and uneventful, but we were grateful that we’d had that snack at Vino Volo. 

The meal we were served on the flight was at best poor… The movie was hard to see on the screens hanging from the ceiling of the plane and it was shown twice during the flight rather than showing 2 different movies.  FYI…the movie was “Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Men Tell No Tales”.  Thanks to my AA Gold Card, we did have enough leg room for moderate comfort.

Other than the wording on the signs, this could be any big airport anywhere…but we were indeed in Edinburgh’s airport.

After picking up our luggage and hitting the ATM for a few hundred dollars equivalent in British Pounds, we began our seemingly endless trek to the car rental building…and then from there to the distant location where our SUV was located.

Thanks to my frequent flyer mileage, we had ‘free’ airline tickets for our trip.  But then there was the car rental… If you rent a car in Edinburgh and you want to avoid having to use a stick shift while you’re driving on the left side of the road and if you need a vehicle big enough to hold 4 passengers with 2 weeks + luggage, your wallet will feel the pain!  The weekly rate is high enough but then add in the Roadside Assistance Protection, Additional Driver Fee, the “Premium Location Fee” and the 20% Value Added Tax and your head starts spinning! 

We loaded our luggage into our SUV and then trekked back to the arrival terminal to greet Laurie’s very happy sister Bonnie and her husband Bill when they came in on their flight from St. Louis Missouri…via Washington Dulles and Dublin Ireland.   Our Scotland adventure was about to begin in earnest!

The Edinburgh air traffic control tower was striking enough that I just had to take this photo…

Edinburgh is indeed an international airport.  You can fly from here to several destinations in the USA as well as to Canada, Mexico, the Middle East and just about anywhere in Europe.

This striking Edinburgh sign is located between the auto rental facility and the departures section of the main terminal.

The greater Edinburgh area has a population of about 1,340,000 and the city has been the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century.  The city is the seat of the Scottish Parliament as well as the seat of the monarchy in Scotland.  Edinburgh has long been known as a major center of education, especially in the fields of medicine, law, literature, the sciences and engineering.  It is also the second largest financial center in the United Kingdom.  The city’s historical and cultural attractions bring in over a million visitors from outside the United Kingdom every year.

This Hyundai Santa Fe was our faithful ‘steed’ for our Scottish adventure.  This was the first diesel powered vehicle that I’ve ever driven and once I got used to it ‘shutting down’ when stopped in traffic, I enjoyed driving it…even on the left side of the road.  

The price of diesel fuel during our trip was about 1.199 British Pounds per Liter or $4.54 US per gallon…

Despite the fact that Edinburgh is such an attraction, after all its Old Town and New Town together are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we were too tired to cope with the traffic, parking and the crowds so we opted to head directly to our hotel in Glenrothes in Fife across the Firth of Forth north of the city.  Our focus for the trip were the back roads and out of the way towns and villages...

Much more to follow…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. Glad the flight went well and looking forward to seeing the rest of the trip.

  2. Good flight is always a good thing! We've been all around Europe, but not to Scotland or Ireland and I'd love to visit both so looking forward to your future posts about the trip!

  3. How wonderful to be able to see Scotland, Dave! Lovely photos, and I look forward to seeing more! :)

  4. Awesome post, friend Dave ... have fun ... just hope you don't get blown to pieces by da hurricane approaching Ireland, England and parts of Scotland ... Love, cat.