This is the end of the story about our travels to Scotland for now. I would be sad to end this tale, but I hardly think it is truly the end. It's the beginning of a story I think will last decades. I'm certain that we will visit again and I still dream of making it our home one day.
Grant took us further up the coast of the Highlands to Helmsdale where we ate fish and chips at the famous La Mirage. We learned the difference between a regular and small order when Alex's plate of fish was much larger than expected. I opted for spring peas while he took his mushy. On our way back we stopped in a small village for ice cream (okay, to be honest, I really just needed to use the facilities)! We arrived home to another huge meal courtesy of Terri. This time she made quiche, asparagus, salad, potatoes, spiced couscous, and bowtie pasta with spinach. We watched the Brazil vs. Germany world cup game together as Terri attentively combed through the dogs' hair. We stayed up for hours waiting for it to get dark but it seemingly never did.
Our last morning in the Highlands started with a hearty English breakfast. Terri made muffins, eggs, and bacon to be sure to last us through our travels. Grant drove us to Invergordon so we could see where the family lived. We spent some time looking at the oil rigs and visiting the local museum where Grant coordinated the artwork and exhibits. We were so impressed by all of the murals that told the story of Invergordon. Public art is something that ads an extra level to a city's beauty in my humble opinion. Before leaving we went to an abandoned church whose graveyard held memorials to Grant's grandparents.
We were due to be on a bus in Inverness at 3 p.m. headed back to Edinburgh but it was delayed due to rules about how long a driver can be on the road without a break. It was only slightly inconvenient but we were grateful for our safety and the extra time we had to walk around Inverness. We said goodbye to Grant and walked across the River Ness on a Victorian bridge (the Greig Street Bridge) like the one that was closed in Tain. We found a shop called Craigdon Mountain Sports where Alex found a cool Black Diamond Bouldermeister shirt. We also stopped into the T.K. Maxx which is exactly like our T.J. Maxx except they changed the name since the UK already has a store named TJ's. We grabbed some crisps before jumping on the bus and getting back on the road.
Due to road work we took a different route on the way back to Edinburgh. I'm not quite sure what roads we were on but I think we strayed from the A9 for a while. We finally arrived back in Edinburgh and decided to take another stroll around the city. We ended up at Strada Italian (which is now closed), a UK chain restaurant. Our server was so nice to us. We had to show ID for our drinks and he saw that we were American and immediately began asking questions about what we'd been doing on our trip. We told him we'd reached the end of our honeymoon so he made sure that we got free dessert as a congratulations. Seriously, the people in Edinburgh were SO nice and welcoming. Sometimes I get nervous as an American traveling but we had the best experience. We experienced THE funniest moment of our trip while we were dining outside on Castle Street. We saw a seagull making his way off with lady's panty hose! The stockings were just waving in the air like a party streamer. Let's just say there's a reason they have those no-rip bags for your trash! I'm pretty sure we both had pasta and shared another rocket salad. Those Scots put rocket on everything!
In the morning we woke up and had our last breakfast in Edinburgh at Costa Coffee. I had a mushroom toastie and we walked down Princes Street one last time before we said goodbye to Pat and Kenneth. They hailed a taxi for us and we made our way to the Edinburgh Airport again. It was after 9 before we made it to Dublin so unfortunately, we didn't get to explore the city. We checked into the Radisson Blue Hotel at the airport and enjoyed dinner at the T3 restaurant on site. Our room was 417, the same room number that Katie and I shared in College Lodge before she died. That night we rested because we knew we wouldn't be getting much sleep the next evening. Sometimes when you're traveling on the cheap the layovers aren't the most ideal. That was definitely the case on the last leg of our trip. We woke up that morning and watched the local news in Ireland which was just as surreal as the rest of our trip. The big upset on the news was that Garth Brooks had cancelled some concerts. We ate the complimentary breakfast at our hotel. It was a huge breakfast buffet with over 120 items. It was ridiculous. Unlike anything I've ever seen. We finally got back to America close to 7 p.m. that night and unknowingly ate at one of the best rated restaurants in the JFK Airport, Deep Blue Sushi. We had sake and I knocked mine off the tiny table so our waiter just brought us a few more. The honeymooning really never ended on our trip! We made the horrible mistake of leaving the international terminal to get to where our flight was going to leave in the morning. When we got to that gate it was closed so we had to sleep in the lobby all night long. It was excruciatingly boring and impossible to sleep nearly upright in a chair. We caught our flight back to Charlotte at o'dark thirty and my mom picked us up to take us home so that we could immediately pack and move on to our next adventure... in Charleston!