Hebridean Island Cruises

Scotland and Northern Ireland 2017, Part five…

We walked around a bit to burn off lunch, then headed to the drug store to pick up some necessary items for yours truly.  I never got around to visiting the store before we left Germany, so we needed to go to Boots, which is the well known drug store in the United Kingdom.  I bought razors, toothbrushes (complete with vibrating brushes), toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash.  I really needed to go shopping, right?  One thing I did bring, thank God, was feminine hygiene supplies.  Sorry for those who think this is TMI.  I know it is.  It’s also a big part of the story, though, so bear with me or just skip the next paragraph or two.  I will add a red asterisk to signal when it’s safe to read again for those who are squeamish.

Another one of Britain’s polite nanny signs.  I notice the Brits use more words on their signs than Americans do.  They also seem to use please and thank you more.  

Still with me?  Okay…  On the last night of our back to back Hebridean cruise in 2012, I unexpectedly started my period.  Since we had just bought new luggage, I had also somehow forgotten to stock it with the usual sanitary supplies.  We also got devastating news about our dog, MacGregor, who had, unbeknownst to us, been suffering from cancer.  The people at the kennel where he was staying had taken him to our vet, who had recommended euthanasia.  They had communicated that advice to us while we were on the ship.  Naturally, I was very upset about the dog, only to have Aunt Flow show up, too.

Fortunately, the fantastic assistant purser, Valeria (who was also on this last cruise with us), very kindly collected a few supplies for me from some of the staff members, since most of the people who sail on Hebridean Princess are well beyond the age of menstruation.  Anyway, it’s been my luck that I typically have my period when I travel.  Somehow, that’s just how it works out.  I swear I only have it for a week a month, and yet I seem to always get it at the worst times.  To date, I have not yet been on Hebridean Princess and not been menstruating part of the time.  It was the case last year, too, when I got really sick with norovirus (which was totally my fault and not due to poor hygiene on the ship).  But hopefully, God willing, Mother Nature will take pity on me soon.

* Gross part is done now.

So, I was fully stocked for our cruise and feeling pretty safe about things.  We stopped by the hotel, where I unloaded my supplies.  We were both still pretty full from lunch at dinnertime, so we decided to go looking for a bar.  On the way out of the hotel, we ran into another American couple.  They had just finished a trip around Scotland by car and stopped to chat with us as we were waiting for the elevator.  They were super nice to talk to, although I couldn’t help noticing the guy’s fly was down.  I hate it when stuff like that happens, because you almost want to say something, but people tend to shoot the messenger when you speak up in such circumstances.  So I kept my mouth shut and we walked around looking for a spot for a couple of drinks.

We finally settled on the Shilling Brewing Company, a pizza joint in a former bank that makes its own brews.  Sadly, they had none of their brews available on the night of our visit, but they did have some interesting local beers and good music playing.  We were on our second round when the American couple we met at the hotel came in.  They noticed us immediately, waved “hi”, and sat at the bar.  I noticed that the bar was full of young folks, which made me feel ancient.  The other couple was older than we were and I noticed they didn’t hang around for long.

At our table at Shilling Brewing Company.

This was dinner on Monday, September 11th… a special anniversary for us, since Bill was in the Pentagon on the day it was hit by a jetliner.  

Outside of the brewing company.  


The next morning, we had our last breakfast at Carlton George Hotel.  Bill went with an omelet, which was very large…

This was to be a theme for the week!

I had the much more manageable French Toast.

We had some time to kill until we were to meet the ship.  On our other Hebridean cruises, we’ve had to meet the ship’s representatives at Glasgow’s Central Train Station at about 4:00pm or so.  That’s because the ship was docked at Greenock, which is pretty close to Glasgow.  This time, we would be meeting the ship in Oban, which is about three hours north.  Consequently, we were to meet our guide and the bus to the ship at 2:15pm.  Checkout at the hotel was 11:00am.  We usually carry our bags from the hotel to the station, since it’s only a few blocks away.  This time, I demanded that we get a cab, since we had four bags that were pretty heavy.  Bill was reluctant, but eventually conceded.

This guy took us to the station…  I think it cost about 6 GBP, but it was worth every pence.

The Carlton George does not have a large left luggage room, so we decided to use the one at the train station.  It cost 6 GBP per bag, each of which were scanned by an x-ray machine like the ones you might find at the airport.  Given that there was a bomb left at a tube station in London last week, I can see why they’re careful.  The left luggage office serves as a lost and found and they’ll also wrap your luggage for you for a fee.  Our bags successfully ditched, we went searching for a place to spend our last hours in Glasgow.

Religious ad in the station.

I see another American export is turned into a joke.


We walked around Buchanan Street and I found the shop of my dreams, Hotel Chocolat.  We stopped in and I loaded up for some treats to soothe my “least favorite auntie”.  Hotel Chocolat is a chain, so if you happen to be in another UK city, you’re liable to find it.  And if you love chocolate, I highly recommend stopping in.

We left with a small bag of goodies.

Afterwards, we spent some time wandering around the city, working off breakfast.  I’m afraid it would have taken longer than we had.

But at least I got a few nice photos of Glasgow, which seems somehow more authentic to me than Edinburgh does… although I love both cities.

Finally, it was lunchtime, so we stopped at one of Glasgow’s many burger restaurants.  This one was called Handmade Burger Co. and it’s located near at least two other burger places, including Five Guys.  This is another UK chain and it does offer some interesting interpretations of burgers.  They have the usual beef burgers as well as veggie and chicken burgers.

Bill studies the menu.

I wasn’t too impressed with their beer selection.  Everything was in a bottle and there weren’t a lot of choices.  But we did manage to find a couple we hadn’t tried.

This is a normal sized burger– the HBC Cheese and Bacon, which I had without any fries.  I wasn’t all that wild about the beef on this, which was very seasoned and reminded me a little of sausage.  They also used a “relish” that was kind of sweet.  

Bill had a “small” burger, a Junior beef classic.

The outside of the restaurant.


Just before 1:00pm, we stopped by the Drum & Monkey, a pub we visited during our first visit to Glasgow in 2012.  To be honest, we probably should have had lunch there, too.  The atmosphere was a bit more to our liking.

The Drum & Monkey.

Bill was being responsible and watched me suck down a porter.

The Blackout Porter listed on the sign below.

The inside of this pub is very grand, with lots of dark wood and plenty of cask ales and whiskies.  The menu is traditional and it seems to be a popular place for businesspeople.  

I could have spent a couple of hours at the Drum & Monkey, but we didn’t have time.  The witching hour was getting close.  We made our way to the train station, picked up our bags, and waited by the big clock for the rest of our cruise mates to arrive.


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