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02/01/08

The Best Christmas EVER !!!

I wanted to go to Rome... see a bit of Italy... bit I guess I was too lazy plus it was Christmas and I was told that getting around on the 25th would be an issue... nothing would be open, nothing would be moving so it might not be a good idea to be outside... Plus the costs of traveling around this time were kinda high so I dropped the idea... and waited for something to happen...


The Plan B was take the road to Paris... Neha is there... she could have helped plan it, and the move on to Brussels, where Ravi is... and come back... but again... Visa required me to go to London and get the visa... did not have the time to do that... plus for some reason, Paris did not really sound like the most exciting thing I could do... had reasons... anyway...

So Abhishek calls one day and says that he has the week of Christmas off, and what could we do? I said... lets go to Glasgow or did he say that? Don't remember exactly, but the plan was made and he took care of the coach bookings from London to Glasgow and back... We were not sure of where we could stay rather would stay, because staying with James' (Abhishek's boss) parents was an option, but we were not sure... about a week before we were to travel.. he talked to James and we knew that we were staying at his parents' place on the 24th...

So the plan was now... Reach Glasgow on the 24th morning... rent a car, roam around... see places... stay over in Balloch with James's parents and move up north on 25th morning to come back to Glasgow by 26th evening and take the coach back to London that night... perrfect... it took some effort to find a place to stay on the 25th night, but I managed to find a decent place called the Hotel Ballachulish near Fort William towards the west coast of Scotland...

The Saturday before I was leaving I asked Soumitro if he wanted to join too, he and his wife were keen on joining and got their bookings done too, and were to join us in Glasgow on the 25th morning...

Reaching Glasgow was ok... we took the Megabus, which is really mega... a double decker bus packed to capacity... I think there were many people going to Glasgow and thats why there were two double deckers going to Glasgow that night...

Slept most of the my way through.. woke up in Glasgow around 0730 hrs... finding a bus to the airport was a no brainer, bus number 500 from the Buchanan Bus stand will take you to the Glasgow airport in about 20 minutes and its a 10 minute service... so we reach the airport, collect the papers of the car from the airport, freshen up and take the car :) this is where the NICE part starts... it was a nice navy blue VolksWagon Polo... I think a 1600 cc some 100 odd bhp car which it felt like by the sound of it, and I just got too happy when I heard the music system.. it was bloody goooood... I knew it would have a CD player and had cut a cd for the trip like always, and it turned out to be the best thing...

James had given us his SATNAV, which made driving around very very very easy... so I knew in how many yards I had to take a turn and Julie, or Chammo like we called her kept speaking all the time about which roundabout, which exit, when is the left turn, when is the right etc etc all the time... It was a li'il strange to start with, but I got used to her speaking alright in a while...

Reached Mr. and Mrs. Campbell's house in about 30 minutes only to meet two of the most loving and charming people I have met in the UK so far rather why only UK, in a very long time... I guess parents are always nice and warm EVERYWHERE in the world...

It was nice house, with a breathtaking view in the front..
The lights far away are from Glasgow... this is the view from the front of the house :)

The Garam Masala finds its way to a Scottish Kitchen... nice :)

We had breakfast and then after a while we left to explore the area on our own... Abhishek had been to Lomond Shores, and thats where we went too... walking around the area and kept clicking... Sun Uncle seemed to be having a good mood and came out of hiding too for a couple of hours before it got dark around 1500 hrs or so...
A lovely couple at Lomond Shores.. very gentle very kind :)

That ship is the largest paddle boat in the UK, now used as a restaurant...Lomond Shores

Flying around Lomond Shores :)


Abhishek, the guy to make most of our trip happen... Thanks Bro :)

There is no fun growing up, if I cannot be a kid at times...

and I cannot make my friends act like kids too :)

Pictures, walking and talking, and we were back home by 1630 odd hours after a small drive up into the country on roads away from the main roads... it was nice... worth every second we spent... and having the car seemed like the best thing we did on this trip...
The evening greeting through my rear view mirror... a shot thats a must on every drive that I go on :)

The evening was spent at home, talking to them, hearing them tell stories, and more talking followed by some dinner and more talking... Finally call it a day around 2300 hrs... Oh and I had asked them to get us Santa Caps... they could not find them in the market but got us some very very nice Christmas Hats instead :)
Pictures at home :) My Best Christmas Eve... It was nice to really be with a family on the most important day of the year... something I will not forget ever...

Also had some white wine, and could not help but remember the new year's eve at Deepak's place in Chennai two years ago when I just took a sip from the glass and could not take another... this Christmas eve, however I had to finish that glass of wine... Did not want to do anything that would look rude... Afterall they had been so very nice to me and Abhishek... so managed it somehow :)

This decorative piece is over 30 years old... and stills finds a place on the Christmas tree every year, like many old pieces :) lovely...

Soumitro called me @ 0630 hrs in the morning the next day and told me that he had reached Glasgow and there was NOTHING open.. no buses, no shops... this was expected, however I was hoping that the bus service to the airport would be on...nope it was not.. so as planned I was to pick them up and then drive up north... Got up, got ready... had some amazing breakfast and rushed to the airport to pick them up.. they had managed to take a taxi and reach the airport...

Picked them up from a near empty airport.. could not believe that International Airports could look like that.. I did not see more than 30 people at the entire airport that morning.. including the four of us...

And our drive to Fort William started... I decided to go via OBAN to Fort William instead of the direct way and enjoy the drive... so we kept stopping where we felt like and parking was allowed and kept breathing in the place...

I see this in the night, and I might not just sleep... It was spooky enough to be around something like that in the middle of nowhere :)

I could not have asked for more... A lovely car to drive, just the right kind of music with amazing quality, wonderful roads and breathtaking views... Just how I like it... this is what takes me away from everything and I reach my Solace.. the state which I love and a lot of other things stop mattering or bothering me...

This is a Pier at Loch Lomond... a place called Luss...

Below is the Route that I took... Oban was our first major pit stop, needless to say everything except one pub was closed here too... and we had not managed any food or coffee in the entire day so far... however there was food in the car and we did have some food in the car.. it was like Picnic... total funn...


View Larger Map

View Larger Map


Chicks always have attitude, be in India or UK... a Sea Gull at Oban...

So from Oban we moved to Ballachulish and reached there in about an hour only to reach the BEST hotel that I have stayed so far... beautiful place, very well kept and had that typical Age to it... loved it...

Hotel Ballachulish for your viewing pleasure :) and thats Loch Lenhe in the front...

Had tea, just relaxed, went out for a walk, came back when it started raining... Abhishek's hat was stolen by wind and he had run a good 100 mtrs before he could manage his hands back on it :D that episode was fun for sure...

The bridge between Loch Lenhe and Loch Leven... Saw the water flowing towards Loch Leven and then back in a matter of hours while at the hotel... I guess high tides and low tides doing it.. Loch Lenhe is connected to the sea..

The evening was spend in the lounge over a few drinks, dinner followed by some live music... Live music is always nice, irrespective of you understanding the lyrics or not...
An Old Piano at the hotel... Missed my keyboard and did try to remember a few tunes... managed to play some too :) not too well though :)

The hotel decided for some reason to not charge us for the dinner, call it a Christmas Gift from them, and that saved us about 40 pounds each... that was a lovely gesture from the Manager on duty there... Thank you Ma'am !!!
Stills from the Hotel

Went off to sleep only at 0100 hrs and woke up around 0800... got ready and checked out of the hotel around 1100 hrs.. not before taking a walk and a few pictures outside and even managing to slipping on the stairs with wet leaves on them and hurting my back :) I saved the camera though, and I am happy for it :P
Somewhere next to Loch Lomond... I think its the largest lake in Scotland

The Route today was Ballachulish to Fort William to Glasgow... It kept raining the entire day on 26th, though that did not stop me from going inside this place called Inverlochy Castle and take a few pictures.. there were only a few walls standing there now, but it was beautiful nevertheless...
Inverlochy Castle

Drove back to Glasgow via a different route that day..

View Larger Map

Stopped at a few places and reached well in time for the bus...
Somewhere on our way towards Glasgow...

Decided to kill some time and saw "I am Legend" in Cineworld in Glasgow.., don't ask me about the movie.. its ridiculous... waste of time !!! this is when I was not well and started feeling the fever...

Abhishek managed to find a vending machine and got us some hot chocolate when most of the shops around we already closed for the day and that really helped beat the cold before we took the bus and got back to London...


I drove for about 300 miles in these two days and I could not have asked for more... Loved every second of it, rather should say every mile of it... Its pretty obvious from the picture isn't it?

:)

20 comments:

  1. loved the post and pics.......have a great yr ahead.......happy new yr to u :)

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  2. omg..such lovely pictures prashant..everything is so good..:) thanks for sharing

    ~S

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  3. Looks like you had a great trip!!!

    Have an adventourous year filled with all the right amount of happiness, success and glory..on every front..

    Lovely pics as usual..

    :)

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  4. # Tushar...
    thanks bro..

    # Deepak...
    thank you bhai....

    Have a great year, you too...

    # Sharanya...
    Glad you liked them :)

    # Kay...
    oh yes... had a fantastic trip...

    Many thanks for your wishes... hoping for a great year ahead for you too :)

    thanks :)

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  5. "Sunshine"Wed Jan 02, 04:12:00 PM IST

    Awesome pics. you have so many lovely pics. I guess it it is a good idea to have your own site.
    happy new year to you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. # Sunshine...
    thanks...
    I am sure thats a good idea, it however needs more web skill than I currently have to develop and maintain a nice site... so hanging on to that thought for the right time...

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  7. Bud

    Seems you enjoyed your Christmas to the core. I think Chritmas is good fun in the western world.

    Cools pictures and you tied them together in a nice story.

    The only spoiler is the movie towards the end. But I am not surprized. You were never good at picking movies. Remeber RGV ki Aag. So who was the vistic this time.

    Anyway, Have a great year ahead
    !!

    Cheers

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  8. # Gajraaj...
    thank you for visiting sir :)

    i loved this christmas... it was total wholesome funn...

    thanks...

    the movies.. i should stop going to the theatre I guess :) I am good with home video though :)

    thanks for the wishes... you have a great new year too :)

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  9. Wah Wah!
    Badhiya!
    It was fun reading the enrire post and obviously the pictures you've put up along with it :)
    Clapping!
    Loved the castle picture (biased biased Skeety) only a little above all the other wonderful ones...
    Nice to know you had so much fun!
    Cheers!

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  10. # Reeta...
    thank you... i had amazing loads amount of fun yes... just the kind of roadtrips I like this was...

    thanks again :)

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  11. wow!
    what a way to start the new year...wish u hv many memorable trips by the time this year ends... and more so in the coming years :)

    the pics and the post r just great :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. # Mayuri...
    thanks :) God bless...

    I am pretty happy with the pictures I managed too :) glad you liked them :)

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  13. Beautiful surroundings n a fun trip..what else can one hope for..wish u many many more!!!

    missed going to scotland while in london n have to rectify that!!!..:)

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  14. Nice write up...great trip indeed and EKDAAM bakwaas shot :-P !! all lie who say u are a good photographer :) or narrator !!!

    U r an excellent narrator and shooter :)

    enjoy have fun...

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  15. # Gunjan....
    thank you very much :)

    and yes.. you gotta rectify that :) all the best...

    # You Are...
    I should kill you for a few things in the first line...

    but then on second thoughts, I should let you live so that you can keep writing the second line :)

    thanks dear...

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  16. lovely lovely pics, P... and a rear-view shot too, I see :)
    so did you manage to spot Nessie?

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  17. # Charu...
    thanks :) The Rear view shots are a must when I am driving or on a road trip :)

    Nesse yes... the last time when I went to Scotland, I also visited Loch Ness, thats when I met him... very nice fella he is :)

    have you met him too?

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  18. awesome pics.i really liked how u blurred all the jars, except the one with garam masala in it.

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  19. # Elusive...
    thanks :)

    That blur is because of the lens that I was using... something called a DOF or Depth Of Field is the term used for it...

    ReplyDelete