Over green and yellow hills, farm houses in the distance, then a forest. The forest on our way to Inverness was dense with pine trees and other trees I cannot name. Then back came the yellow and green rolling hills, mowed grass and farm houses. We passed mountain streams, rivers and lakes and finally the bus from Perth came to rest in the train station of Inverness, a city that claims the Loch Ness Monster.
I left the Royal Hotel in Blairgowrie in the morning to catch the Inverness bus in Perth, but before I left, a lady stepped up to me in the breakfast room, shook my hand and said, “I’m happy to meet a fellow Californian.”
This was Maureen McLean, part owner of the hotel with her Scottish husband, Iain. She had seen me in the hotel before but thought I was part of a tour group. I only had a few minutes to spend with her and wished it could have been longer. She’s originally from Freemont, California, was in the import business and traveled further and wider than I have…..so far. She met her husband in Scotland when she heard him play the bagpipes. After swooning over the sound and the handsome man playing them, they met, got married, and purchased the hotel. “It’s a lot of work. It was a mess when we bought it and we’ve put a lot of money into it.”
It is a charming hotel built in 1852, with a wing of superior rooms. I didn’t get those, so I guess where I slept were inferior rooms. However, my room was furnished nicely, very clean and the staff who kept the rooms up were exceptional. Oh, and I loved the town!!!!
But now I’m in Inverness, a town in the Highlands, with building-to-building stone structures and houses. My first job was to find a bank where I could get some pounds in exchange for dollars from my ATM card. I asked around for a bank, and was pointed to a business section, where I headed with my bag on top of a bag and my computer bag, camera and billfold.
After trying several places, I finally found the Bank of Scotland which was opened on this, a Saturday.
I then hailed a taxi and told the driver my destination. His comment, “Oh, okay that’s about sixty miles away.”
“Oh, no, then I need to find a bus.”
“I’m just having fun with you. It’s not far away.” Meanwhile he pointed out the castle, the river and other interesting spots, and before I knew it we had arrived at the B&B where I’ll stay for three days.
I rang the bell. No one came. I rang the bell again. Still no one came. I knocked on the window and a woman opened the door.
I told her my name and that I was the one who was booked into the house for three nights.
“No you’re not. No one has booked a room.”
I had to explain to her what took place before she agreed to host me, and this is the way it went.
For three days, I had been searching on the Internet for a place to stay in Inverness, because I’m on my way to a very special place on my birthday, but was having problems finding vacancies.
Yesterday, it was nearly all day searching, getting messages that there was no room. So finally out of desperation, I wrote back to a few people who had replied with a “no vacancy”, and asked if they had any ideas for me.
One woman said there was a room in a hostel with three flights of steps. No!
But one note made me pay attention. She said she had two days vacant, but for the third day, she found a friend (after sending out requests for me), who could host me all three days, or the two and the other one I could stay with her.
After not hearing from her when I sent my reply that I’d like to stay all three days in the other B&B, I got the phone from the receptionist in the Royal Hotel and spoke with the first woman, who’s name is Pearl.
Pearl said, “oh, I’ve already booked the room for you.” However, Janet, where I am staying, said she was waiting for a phone call from me. I was not told she wanted a phone call. Anyway, it all got straightened out.
It’s a lovely stone house, with a small, attractive bed-room, and a living room where I’ll be served breakfast. The downsize is I’ll need to eat out, and write my blog in a wifi-free establishment. That’s where I am now. A noisy bar/restaurant near the heart of town.
Word of help here: when booking a room, and only the rental-business pages pop up, and when you steadily get turned down that way, look for the name of the hotel and find their personal website and send them the note. Working without a booking agent sometimes is the best route; not always, but it proved to be the right way this time.
So beginning tomorrow I’ll explore the town of Inverness; and perhaps wash my clothes in the neighborhood laundromat.