Royal School of Needlework-- 2015 Courses

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dundee to Inverness, June 14th, 2009

Traveling on a Sunday between Dundee and Inverness does not have many options. Many hotels in Scotland offer free wireless service for those who brought laptops with them, but the wireless service cannot be accessed from the room. It is necessary to sit in the lobby in order to connect with their wireless device. I spent laptop time in the lobby, checking the rail schedules from Dundee to Inverness on DB Bahn. I did not need to obtain seat reservations for this trip. We traveled to Perth which was only 15 minutes from Dundee, then waited for over an hour for the train north to Inverness. On Sundays the Perth rail station was very quiet. The rest rooms and main ticket office were locked. There are toilets on all rail services. They are quite spacious, compared to rail toilets I have seen on other rail lines. I will talk more about rail toilet dependability as I go on.

Random act of kindness by Perth rail employees--
The train was right on time. We were ready to pull out of Perth when I noticed a very elderly lady walking haltingly, carrying a small bag. She was about 50 feet from the train, and it was obvious that she had just arrived at the station and planned to board. They held up the train while a station employee ran to the lady, grabbed her bag, and while she held his arm, they slowly walked together to the nearest car. Ten minutes later the train left, 10 minutes behind schedule. As we arrived at stations along the way, an announcement was made, "This train is 10 minutes behind schedule, due to an unavoidable problem at the Perth rail station."

I knew by checking the hotel location on the Inverness map that we would be staying near the rail station. As we exited the rail station, I looked to my left. The entrance to the Royal Highland Hotel was just a few steps away. The Royal Highland is a grand, old hotel with a lot of Scottish atmosphere. The floors of the grand staircase, hallways, and rooms are covered with the hotel tartan carpets, and there are Scottish stags mounted on the walls. There are very old framed caricature drawings on the walls, and the rooms are furnished in a traditional Scottish manner. When we looked out our window, we could see the Inverness to Edinburgh train on Platform 1.

This hotel is widely used by a variety of tour companies and American is an accent one hears more than any other. The hotel is also popular with American rail aficionados with back packs strapped to their backs.

As luck would have it, there was a very large celebration called “Rock Ness”. Thousands of people had gone to Loch Ness for a series of music concerts which lasted for several days. Rather than join the throngs at Loch Ness, we decided to save the monster search for another time. We approached a taxi driver and asked him if he would drive us around Inverness, so that we could “get the feel of the town”. Having grown up in Inverness, he felt there was nothing special about the town, but he couldn’t turn down the opportunity of earning an hour’s wages by running us around town, so he agreed to the “tour”. It didn’t take him long to get into the spirit of the little tour, and he was soon pointing out to us the recently built “castle”, the River Tay, the cathedral, the Caledonian Canal, and other sites. We explained to him that even the homes with the unique chimneys was interesting to us. I think he started thinking of Inverness in an entirely different way.

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