Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Spiritual Day and A Day to Say Good-Bye

08-05-09 Friday

Alas, it is our final full day in Scotland! We again have our Scottish breakfast in the member’s only dining room and then check out of the remarkable Royal Scots Club (it is my favorite but CG says he prefers the Marmalade). We are off to Rosslyn Chapel, the historical site where mystery surrounds the Knights Templar carvings and is featured in “The Da Vinci Code.”

Renovation at Rosslyn Chapel
Stepping inside the small chapel (compared to the others we have visited), I actually gasp at the exquisite site before me. It appears that nearly every single inch of the two-story Scottish sandstone room is carved into intricate designs. I am mesmerized as we walk around and I think CG is just as taken with the splendor of the chapel. We marvel at the elaborate craftsmanship of the “Apprentice” or “Prentice” column and I am duly intrigued by the mysterious “maize” arch over one of the stained glass windows (maize is a new world crop not known to Europe at the time the chapel was built). And, even though it is being renovated, we can still see how truly spectacular the Rosslyn Chapel was and still is.

(Inside pictures weren't allowed)

 At this point in our journey, we only have time to visit one last site before heading to Glasgow for our final evening. Should we take the two hour drive down to the English border and then back up to our hotel which would be almost another two hours to the city proper (and then across the capital city through traffic to the airport hotel) to see a portion of the Roman built Hadrian’s Wall? Or should we go off tour-note and head to Melrose Abbey, a site M and I had discovered but had not had the chance to go in to. It is only an hour away and then the drive would only be about two hours to the airport hotel. We decide to visit the abbey and head back towards the Eastern Coast and the North Sea.

The sunshine on this last day in Scotland bathes the abbey ruins in sunshine as we pull up and park the car. On my last trip here I seem to remember the gothic-style cathedral as being dark and almost foreboding in the gloom of the day but here, now, it is breathtaking. After picking up our now familiar audio-tour gear, we leisurely stroll about the lawns and crumbling foundations and try to picture the 14th century monks as they must have prayed, lived and carried out their daily duties in the expanse of buildings. My thoughts turn to my favorite medieval monk-sleuth, Brother Cadfael, and I can picture just how he might have fit into this magnificent abbey.



We find the memorial stone where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried, and then turn back towards the gift shop where, after returning our handheld audio devices, I see CG admiring a heavy metal horse-mounted knight. CG says it is too expensive as he picks it up and puts it down (twice). But I see the desire in his eyes – it is one of the only things he has actually wanted to buy for himself on the trip – and I pick it up with a few other things I have in my hand and purchase it for him as a thank you. He is quite pleased as it reminds him greatly of his World of Warcraft paladin.

Once we hit the outskirts of Glasgow we soon realize that we have entered into the snarl of rush-hour traffic. With the stop and go of the traffic, it takes us more than twice as long as it normally would have to finally exit off of the motorway and find the Thomas Cook where we are to drop off our Volvo. CG mentions the low tire as the clerk checks the car out (the missing mirror reflector is not noted) and we tumble into a shuttle bus to the airport Ramada. As we are leaving the lot, we see a group of American tourists chortling and taking pictures of their (upgraded) rental car – a small SUV and CG and I smile at each other. They will learn!

I’ll have to say that the room at the Ramada is rather interesting. After plopping myself down on the bed, I notice that I have sunk into a slight depression and I slyly claim the other side as mine (CG actually doesn’t mind, it turns out and my cleverness is lost). Second, after trying to turn the lights on in the room and only being able to get a few to work, we visit the desk clerk again for instructions (we thought we had bad circuit). We return to the room and thankfully CG is able to place the card in the card reader on the wall to get the rest of the lights in the room to work. Lastly, and perhaps most noteworthy, instead of curtains over the window, CG is able to move the mirrored section over to cover the window to make a half-mirrored wall (talk about 70’s décor!).

After paying for a very slow internet connection (remember, CG has carted his laptop throughout the trip without being able to access the internet because of the power supply socket), we decide to head downstairs to the dining area for dinner. CG opts for the pizza and I choose the chicken (sadly, our favorite isn’t offered on this menu) and, after finishing, we offer a toast to each other - CG with a wee dram of Famous Grouse scotch (seen at all of the pubs we have tarried at) and me with a glass of delicious Malbec. We smile contentedly and agree that we have definitely had an amazing and incredible trip.


No comments: