Monday, May 4, 2009

Glasgow I.ii

Well, I went to bed on the 27th feeling under the weather and woke up the next day feeling really, really bad. Chuck was a big sweetie though, and after breakfast took us to the pharmacy for Sudafed and suggested we stay in for the rest of the day so I could recover. So we didn't do much except for listen to my snorting and nose-blowing. Well, we did go out for an hour just to see the Scottish Exhibition Centre (it looks like a mini Sydney Opera House). But that was it!

The next day however, we went to see Doune Castle. Now, you may think you don't know anything about Doune Castle. You may think you've never seen it. you may say to yourself "Another castle?? How boring." But you probably have seen Doune Castle, unexpectedly hidden in a famous and popular movie called "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Most of the castle scenes were filmed right in Doune Castle! It's the castle that the arrogant frenchman was taunting King Arthur from. The castle's kitchen was used as the home of the women who tried to seduce Gallahad. The singing prince who was being forced to marry by his father was locked away in one of the halls of the castle. And the audiotour that comes with castle's admission fee tells you about the various scenes that were filmed there as well as giving information on the much older history of the place. I'll admit that it's certainly not the grandest castle's around, but it has a good audiotour and a fun history. I'd recommend giving it a visit if you're in the neighborhood.

Since we're in Scotland we would be silly to neglect visiting a whiskey (or whisky as they spell it here) distillery. So on the 30th we took an expensive bus ride to the Glengoyne distillery. Because we had one of their brochures with a coupon in it, we got an extra dram of whiskey on our tour. So we got to try their 10 year and 17 year single malt whiskeys, both of which had very nice flavors. In the end we splurged on a very nice bottle of 12 year cask strength whiskey. I'm actually drinking it as we speak! Or, as I type... It has a very nice sweet, slightly syrupy texture and I can distinctly taste chocolate in the aftertaste. I like to pretend I'm a conoisseur now that I've been on a whiskey tour. Oh, the tour itself was good too. The guide was very friendly, had a good sense of humor, and was extremely knowledgeable about the whiskey making process. We saw the malt grinding machine, the tub where they heat the malt with water to extract the sugars, the $40,000 wooden tub where the yeast is added - the smell in here was very strong and malty, and the tub was full of bubbles slowly popping as the yeast did their work. They also have these huge copper chambers that are round at the bottom and taper as they rise to the ceiling. I don't quite understand what happens here, but somehow it's where the alcohol is separated from all the other stuff and purified for it's cask. Then it's just a matter of waiting 10 years to see the final product.

It was a fun day, despite waiting in the rain for the bus back to Glasgow. We finally got the chance to use our dinky little ponchos, and although they were dinky they got the job done for the most part. An English couple who had been on the tour with us was even kind enough to stop on their way down the road and offer us a ride to Glasgow. Being the cautious travelers that we are, we declined. But I thought it was really nice of them!

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