Up up and away in Scotland
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
"Do you mean to say you won't take my credit card, unless I give you $600?" It sounds like a bribe, but apparently his boss is trying to work with me here, the agent informs me with the phone to his ear. This is the conversation I'm having, after a long day of traveling, with the Greenmotion car rental company in Edinburgh. Apparently, although I had 'hired' the car (as they say here) through Expedia months ago, no one had bothered to tell me that this establishment only takes credit cards with PIN numbers. They trust no signatures, lest we deny this payment, should something go wrong. I'm trying to tell this agent that I don't have a PIN for my credit card, and I even give him a debit card (you know, the ones with the PINs and immediate money), but he can not except this either. However, if I buy rental insurance through them, which amounts to $600, they will take me on as a fraud risk and release us with the car we truly need for our 3 weeks in Scotland.
At last, with a deep sigh of resignation, I accept this shady deal. The agent is truly sorry he can not do better. But he tries, upgrading us to a sweet Citroën, with great gas mileage (how I do love to save money!), sat nav, and automatic side mirrors that fold up like little bat wings when it's parked. It's a smooth ride. Come to find out, if I had kept the insurance bought through Expedia (who are the true shady-mc-shades in this scenario), I would have only been covered for about $2,000 in damages, with unlimited liability if more than that should happen. If the car was totaled, I would have footed the bill for a new car. Wow, thanks Expedia. Okay, that is my cautionary tale for the day, now onto Scotland pictures and adventures!
Helensburgh - Scotland's west coast initiation
We started our time in Scotland with 5 days in Helensburgh, a sailor's port on the west coast.
There's a submarine museum that is the talk of the town, but alas, it did not draw me into its underworld of grindylows. (For those who did not get the Harry Potter reference, please read all 7 books immediately).
Helensburgh did provide a lot of good laughs with our doggie companions, as we trundled around the beautiful jogging paths a few blocks from the house. It felt refreshing to be close to the sea, and gaze out over it from the hills. While the weather was a bit wet for the majority of our time there, we got out when we could, making the most of our days wandering about. We also watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy to give us hope in humanity.
Being the geeky foodie that I am, I look forward to going to the local markets to see what new, weird, and tasty things I can uncover.
Speaking of food, the Helensburgh Highland Games were happening the weekend we were there. We were told they would provide a glimpse into some "real Scottish behavior". Obviously, since we are on a sabbatical to figure out how humans work, we had to go. It was a short lived, fun glimpse into local culture. However, I was hoping for grown men to be wheelbarrow racing, maybe pulling cars, or at least racing each other while carrying their hefty wives on their backs. The reality was more like a track meet, with stone-shot-put, foot races, and some Scottish dancing competitions. There were food carts and other entertainment booths, one of which (as a fundraiser for the local hockey team), involved breaking china with rubber balls. It did seem like good anger management!