TRAVEL NOTES::DAY 9 | ONWARDS TO GLASGOW

I checked out of my room at the Clontarf Castle Hotel at noon and left my bags at the front desk. I was determined to have one more cappuccino at 3fE before I left for Glasgow.

My flight was not until 16.20, so I had enough time to take the bus downtown, exit at Abbey Street, and walk all the way to Grand Canal Street where the coffee house was located. Or so I thought.

Zigzagging through the streets, I wondered if I'd make it. Had I only walked along the River Liffey before having to turn right, I would have saved myself much time and been able to enjoy my coffee. Instead, I took a few too many turns and had but 5 minutes to hurriedly drink up the cappuccino.

I was looking forward to having another scone, but since they had just sold the last one before I arrived I had to look for another option. I looked at the array of desserts laid out before me and thought they all looked good. I remember looking up at the board and noticing the roast pumpkin soup. That also sounded good. In my haste, I unwisely chose a caramel chocolate brownie. Unwise in the sense that it was a calorie bomb and not something I could finish eating. It was also something I rarely ate. The soup would have been a much better option.

Although hurried, I was glad to have had one more coffee at 3fE. But now I had to hurry back to the bus. My sense of direction is usually pretty good, so I trusted it and ended up walking straight down one of the streets off of Grand Canal Street towards River Liffey. I made it to the station and waited the 13 minutes until bus 130 arrived.

Once back at the hotel, I got a taxi to the airport. Heavy traffic kept me looking at the meter in panic, but despite the 30 Euros it cost to get to the airport, it was a better option than walking to the bus stop and taking two buses - with luggage.

The flight was a rather short one to Glasgow - less than 2 hours. It was already dark when I arrived and I quickly found the bus to take me to City Centre. I would be staying at the Grand Central Hotel for the next two nights and this was a perfect place to stay.

The wide marble staircase was impressive. It was mostly covered with a purplish carpet but you could still see the marble on the sides. Most impressive was the 4-story purple and clear glass bead chandelier. Then there are the hallways. The widest I've ever seen in any hotel.

As I walked into room 414, I noticed that the staff had read my request to be both on a higher floor and in a room overlooking the train station as both requests were granted. Surprisingly one could hardly hear much coming from the train station. The bathroom was almost as large as the entire room I had at the hotel in Dublin, the most prominent feature being the metal towel warmer. It's not something I have back home, so it was nice to have during my stay.

Glancing over the Tempus Restaurant menu that was left on the desk, I decided I would give Scotland another chance at their food. The first dinner I had in Edinburgh did not give me much hope. Walking down the close to 150 stairs to the restaurant, I walked into another beautiful scene. The restaurant was small and elegant, yet one could hardly find a seat that night.

Dining alone did not scare me. I was seated next to a couple who seemed to enjoy their time together. At one point I struck up a conversation as I inquired about the dessert the man was having. He confirmed that it was the apple and plum crumble with cinnamon dusted vanilla ice cream and encouraged me to order one. I did, albeit I hardly had any room left in my belly to consume one more morsel of food.

The dinner. Since the cappuccino and brownie were the only 'food' I had all day, I was ready to order everything on the menu. And I almost did. I started with the cherry-tomato focaccia with oil and vinegar and moved to the soup. As I'd never eaten anything with butternut squash in any form, I decided to try something new. After the first spoonful, I wondered why I'd never had soup like this before. It was a superb roasted butternut squash soup.

The wait staff circled the rooms attending to the guests. I noticed some were wearing white gloves as they brought the food to tables. Sipping my wine, I wondered if my filet would be as I'd ordered. Although I realize nobody in their right mind orders a filet, or any kind of meat, well done with no pink remaining, mine was exactly as I'd ordered. The creamy peppercorn sauce that accompanied it was seasoned perfectly and the potato wedges tasted like potatoes, as strange as that might sound. The onion rings were good too and I even dared to eat the grilled mushroom that laid alongside the filet. Mushrooms are not something I eat - ever - but this version I enjoyed.

Then came time for dessert. A perfect ending to another day in a new place.