It was worth it

Hi to everyone who is following this blog. I have made it to an internet cafe on Iona at the Columba Hotel, where the tea and scones are excellent and the staff is lovely. Just a short note to say we leave in the morning to return to Oban and on towards our return to Massachusetts. We sat around in the lounge a while ago and have all reported a successful week among the other pilgrims. More notes and photographs to follow.

Other like-minded people of all sorts are here from several countries. We celebrate together, talk loads to one another, sharing ideas and experiences. There are community work projects and lots of walking around and looking at the scenery and reflecting on ourselves and making memories. It is great to be here. The creativity is everywhere. More in a few days. Best to all…

To be a Pilgrim

There has been a glitch in the plans in that the screen on my iPad has gone black, as the clerk  at my local store had said.  As well, we appear to be on a small island with only one free wifi spot, at the Martyr’s Bay Restaurant.  We are having a splendid time, but it is time to focus on the pilgrim bit first and leave the blog be for a few days while we focus on the purpose of the trip.

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The Monastery at Iona

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Some of the pilgrims in our group

There will be photos and stories to share in a few days. This is a beautiful place where the community is rich in spirit and we are all learning about ourselves and the changes which all pilgrims encounter.

A whole lot of nothing

A prayer for morning
Run and jump at the break of day- body at rest, mind away
A whole lot of nothing
As colors blend from slate to grey
And the mind begins to race and play
Worrit, say, snap and play, rattle away
Seagulls fly in search of prey
For that golden treasure, the French fry
And we lie here, not yet on our way,
Thinking about the coming day
A whole lot of nothing.
And what will we do when we land oh say…
A whole lot of nothing.
Practice – it isn’t easy —
What will we do – let go, fire away
A whole lot of nothing
Cook and clean and. Hike and pray
There is no goal save being in the sway
Of big horizons that stretch away
To a whole lot of nothing.
Dear God, just thanks fore taking me away
To this place on the shore where for time and a day
I will fret no more on the. Jobs in the way
Of transcendence galore
In pursuit I am sure
Of a whole lot of nothing.
Amen

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Views around Glasgow Cathedral

We rode the city tour bus over to visit the Glasgow Cathedral today. The city tour system is brilliantly organized, and really helpful since one strong feature of Glasgow is that all the styles and ages of buildings are really well mixed in with each other, and the really interesting ones are much easier to spot from the top of a bus with a guide obligingly telling you which one is worth a look.

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Preferences

In Maine, where I come from, wealthy families were more likely, in the 18 century, to send their sons to England, or to the Sorbonne or Heidelberg for college as to Harvard. To the present day, connections between New Englanders and Europeans run strong. Although traveling Yankees go just about anyplace these days, their tendency when planning a vacation, is to look east first. Heaven only knows how deep is the groove worn in the seabed between Boston and Dublin, just for beginners. The connections with the Episcopal church in America and Scotland date back to the 1770’s, when, at war with Britain, Scottish bishops were invited to the new country to ordain bishops in the new world. At our house, two academic years living and working at universities in Regensberg and Freiberg shaped our subsequent travel plans, as we revisited old friends many times.

We have learned not to be afraid of local accomodations when we travel.

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The Blue Raddison, Glasgow

The Radisson Hotel in Glasgow, just around the corner from my hotel, is as lovely and up to date as one could ask for. It is also full of mostly other American tourists. In contrast, the Alexander Thompson Hotel, located not far from the main rail station, has a more Scottish feel to it, and a far more varied collection of guests. This is a good spot to prefer, then, if meeting a bit of real Scotland is the goal.

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The Alexander Thompson Hotel

They know what to do with jet lagged travellers at the Alexander Thompson. Answering my emails promptly in advance of the trip, showing great patience with me over key issues, (think Jerry Lewis stlye bumbling) and, topping my arrival with a great breakfast after I took a much needed shower in the up to date bathroom. Everyone, both staff and other guests, has been very friendly.

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Dining Room, Alexander Hotel

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‘BRUCE’, a crocodile, named for Robert the Bruce, (my idea) presides over the diners

On the first floor, the dining room and lounge are very comfortable. The wallpaper, although a bit fierce to my Yankee sensibilities, fits right in with the eclectic and fun style that so matches the Glasgow spirit. A stuffed crocodile over the door (pointy snout; alligators have round ones) has no doubt fascinated plenty of kids over the years. It captivated me. I am having a blast. No Raddison would offer a crocodile.

In the evening, I had a great meal at the ‘Thai Orchid’, just two doors down. I have never been so pampered. Over hot tea on a rainy night, I enjoyed my Massaman curry with lamb and relaxed in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. It was just what I needed. Tomorrow features a 12 hour tour of the Highlands, sponsored by Rabbie’s, another local firm. Stay tuned.

Robbie Burns, a stroll around downtown Glasgow

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Poster of Robert Burns

 

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The Two Headed Man – Serve us a double, Ducks!

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Central Station

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Tucked away in a small close

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Some very Georgian looking buildings

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Lots of sandstone edifices downtown

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The Museum of Modern Art, and statue wearing a traffic cone out front

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Now a boutique, has a saint guarding the patrons

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Mix of architecture

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Archways

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Olive trees in pots

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Colorful planters are everywhere

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Another cool pub

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The view up Hope Street

Passport please; password, whaddaya say?

I am in the lounge in Philadelphia, making a stab at a quick note before going above AT&T’s reach over the Atlantic. No new photos today, as taking pictures in any airport is just asking for trouble. This is my third trip through here in two years. I know where the electronic gizmo charging stations are, which bathrooms are less busy, and where to check for gate changes.

My boarding pass says gate A18, the board upon landing in terminal B said it was A23, and by the time I arrived there, it has changed to A19. I am checked in with an hour to spare. The sounds of other languages is in the air. There are school kids babies everywhere; a last gasp for families visiting grandparents or having a quick vacation before the back to school migrations drag them out of the travel stream. We are all in a reasonably good mood.

In 1969, I spent a year living in Boston and working at a clinic at Boston City Hospital. On the wall in the office was a 6′ x 5′ map of greater Boston that the visiting nurses used to find their way around the city. Thanks to that map, I learned how to navigate around Boston, and thought it was fun. No longer so. In spite of the changes brought by the big dig, Boston traffic remains daunting on trips to Logan. Here in western Massachusetts, a 30 minute drive to cozy ole Bradley airport gives me a less than an hour flight to Philadelphia, from where the flight to Glasgow is slightly more than 6 hours. Easy peasy.

On Saturday, my hotmail account made me come up with a new password. Someone else was using it, too. Thank God for random number tables and scientific names. The new password might be (but isn’t) Glauc5di6um. I will be changing it every three days (or two). This happened to another friend who blogged on WordPress. Ethernet pickpockets, just imagine. On the home front, Kirby is usually up till at least two, and Gracie has the hearing of the young and the vigilant. We live at the end of a dead end street, and house lots are only 50 feet wide, so someone is always around to notice visitors. Housebreak at your peril. Oh, and beware of the skunks, as every shed and porch for 500 yards around has one. So there…..

Oops; there’s the boarding call…..bye!

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Gracie, the vigilant watchdog