We've arrived!

So we made it! It’s been a bit odd being totally disconnected with no phones or internet. We tried and tried to find a connection on Union Street last night but with no luck. So today we ran into McDonald’s for a quick lunch and discovered they had free wifI and called the parents on Skype. I know, I know, we’re really stretching our wings with Mickey D’s! But I’m battling a sinus infection and not feeling quite as adventurous as I’d like, so more of that to come later. But now to write a novel for my first entry…

Yesterday we were blessed with a very smooth day of traveling. Mike and I usually travel well, but with five humongous suitcases to tow, a nine+ hour flight and a new country, it could have easily gotten ugly! We flew KML Airlines, which was great. The plane had individual screens for each seat and you had your choice of more than 20 movies, TV shows, games, etc. We watched movies and played a little Blackjack, drank some wine and relaxed. After our whirlwind trip to Dallas, it was definitely nice to sit still for awhile and chill out.

Our plane reached Amsterdam right on time and we made our connecting flight with an hour to spare. The Amsterdam airport is huge. Between the airplane food and being exhausted (we slept only an hour or two), we weren’t feeling at our best. But we forgot about all that when we landed in Scotland. It looked just like we expected… dreary gray clouds, green and brown square blocks of land dotted with sheep, vintage architecture and cottage-like homes. The rain was barely drizzling as we took a taxi to our flat. (Taxis here are BMWs, sedans and small mini vans, the drivers obviously take pride in their rides!) Our driver was super nice and sounded just like William Wallace from Braveheart. I flinched every time we drove through a roundabout or down a narrow street. It’s like they suck in the sides of the vehicle when they drive through needle hole-sized spaces in the road and somehow we miraculously get by! Keeping in mind that the drivers are on the opposite side of the car and the cars are on the opposite side of the road. Thankfully, Mike will get driving lessons next week for the car we’re getting—which is a Nissan Micra, by the way. I saw it today and it looks big enough to put in my pocket.

According to the few people we’ve talked to since getting off the plane, our flat on Albury Mansions road is in a prime location and very good area. It’s a gated apartment-style complex and the flat we’re in is pretty nice. It’s so small compared to spaces we’re used to in America but still large for Scottish living quarters. It’s two bedroom, two bath and comes with the basic furnishings. We should get our shipment soon (it’s already arrived in Aberdeen and is waiting to clear customs) and once I get the place fixed up, I’ll post pictures. We have a washer and dryer but haven’t tried them out yet. They look like a set of two dishwashers under the kitchen counter. The HR lady that picked us up at the airport said she’d gotten us milk, bread and “washing powder” for dishes. It took a bit of time to figure out how to lock the front door, apparently we weren’t turning the latch far enough right. How many engineers does it take….

Steve, the other Mustang guy that got selected to be in Scotland with us for a year, arrived about 5pm Scotland time (Scotland is six hours ahead of Texas) on Friday. Mike and I had just woken up from a life-changing four hour nap. The landlord of Steve’s flat decided the bathroom needed to be repainted today, so Steve crashed with us for the night. He didn’t have as good a day of traveling, his flight out of Houston was delayed, he missed his original connection from Amsterdam to Aberdeen, the airline lost one of his suitcases and his taxi had to drive through traffic and pouring rain to get to the flats. Poor guy. But we all showered and cleaned up and put on our walking shoes and headed to Union Street. It’s part of the city center that we’re located just off of, and contains pretty much everything we need on its one-mile stretch. There’s a pizza place, Italian food, KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King. All the comforts of home, right?

For our first Scottish dinner on Friday night, we walked into Soul, which is a bar and casino located in an old cathedral of a church. It’s so cool and pretty inside! Mike had a BBQ chicken melt sandwich and I got fish and chips with warm, mushy peas. Didn’t eat much of the latter, but the fish sure was good. Washed it down with a San Miguel beer, which was a bit bitter for my taste but I know I’ll need to learn to like a LOT of new things while we’re here. We ate at a slick black bar table with flickering red candles while the cloudy light from outside streamed through a stained glass window depicting the Last Supper, which was only a little weird as I sipped my alcohol…

There’s so much to see and tell! We’ve been exploring today and got pay-as-you-go cell phones and next I hope to get cable and internet going. Me home alone in our flat with no connections or a car equal serious boredom! But we’re at my friend Terri’s apartment now, which is only just over a mile from us, so I hope to spend some time hanging out with her while Mike is busy with his first week.

I know our parents are checking this, we were fortunate to talk to them earlier on Skype. It was so cool to see them right there on video! We were able to show them the big cemetery across the street from our perch at McDonald’s. Much of the city is built with granite, including the sidewalks, which sparkles when the sun’s out. But when it’s misty and gray, like yesterday, it’s not so pretty. More later… cheers!

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