18 October 2016

Islay Trip: Day One, Getting there

The first day of the trip to Islay began at 04:15 in the morning. A quick shower and a final check of the suitcase. Then on to the train station to catch the 05:12 train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. My friend had made it too! Excellent!

The train ride was uneventful and this is also true for the checkin process at Schiphol Airport. A quick check-in and security check is what you can expect from Schiphol and this was again true that day. What helps is using the KLM app to check-in ahead of time and to not bring any fluids over the allowed limit.

The Plane
Sitting Economy Comfort is totally acceptable so the 1:15 hour flight was comfortable and over before you knew it. Security at Glasgow is fine, although the cameras used to check the face of my 208 cm tall friend had to adjust itself far upwards in order to even scan his face. This gave a good laugh of the lady of the border police.

Picking up the rental car at hertz was easily done. We had to check what the man at the counter meant with "go through the window, then turn left" .... finally we figured out he meant "go through the door, then turn left". It made much more sense when we got that translation from the Glasgow Scottish that was spoken by the guy at the counter. Great guy by the way.

So, put the stuff in the car, try to find all the controls, program Tom and Tom and then start to drive. Taking the wrong side of the road was ok, except that it felt odd at first. What feels more odd is shifting with my left hand. I put it in 3rd or 4th gear a few time, but after that all went smooth. Oh, and think miles per hour, not kilometres per hour.

Ones of the two lane highway the scenery became less flat and increasingly mountainous. Incredible views opened up before us as the road twisted and turned along the lochs, glens and bens (lakes, valleys and mountains). The advice speed is 60 mph along much of the route and this is fast enough. You really don't want to drive any faster if you'r not a local and know the way. Tip: if the word "slow" is painted on the road, then follow the advice and slow down!!!

Port Kennacraig
After just over two hours we reached the ferry terminal at Kennacraig and just as predicted, there is absolutely nothing else there besides the ferry terminal. There is a toilet, which is a big plus. And a coffee machine. Check-in here went smoothly as well and ones on the ferry we had a meal that we so very much needed. Combined with the company of a couple that was on their way to visit their son, the experiment on the ferry was totally enjoyable.

Tip: bring cash. There is no electronic way of paying for anything on board. The credit card option is the one from the last century. It works. Tad slow. On the ferry one meets all kinds of people and this is only the first encounter of many that would follow. One meets locals, tourist for whisky from all over, but also other travellers that just use the ferry to go to work. If you are open to it, one can have the most delightful conversations. The views that you can have are amazing to. We went to Post Askaig which took us past Jura. The couple we met indicated the breast-like shape of the mountains of Jura and we had a good laugh about this. The mindset was set so to say.

Two Friends enjoying the view
Leaving the ferry is just as smooth as getting on it. We landed at Port Askaig and we decided to do the thing I had promised to my late sister first. Head to Bruichladdich distillery and have a dram in honor of her memory. So we did. I could feel the emotions in me increase as the distance decreased. Along the beach of the loch a first tear. Ones at the gate one more. Then as i got out the car, saw the famous blue laddie shop letters I cried my eyes out. Even as I am writing this my eyes turn misty. I had done what I had promised myself to do. Live and not postpone living. The realisation and the tears were met with a good hug of my friend. A weight had been lifted. My mind cleared up. Now it was time for fun, to live and enjoy friendship. 

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