Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Scotland in Five Days: Day Five

Tonight's accommodation

Day Five: You arrive at Fort Williams train station in good time to catch the local train to Glasgow. This is a four hour journey, but not as satisfying as the other trips, because it is completed in the dark. Thus, you must while away the time with reading and hot chocolate from the trolley. There is the momentary diversion of the conductor’s announcement: “Please keep the aisles clear of all luggage, bags, and DOGS.” Yes, we have a few canine fellow-passengers on our two-car train.

Ah, train travel!

Eventually you arrive at Glasgow Queens Street Station, which by now you consider a veritable home-from-home, and navigate with ease. One this occasion, you have two hours to spend in Glasgow, and you spend it by having dinner. You ask a friendly taxi driver (all Scottish people - so far - have been extremely friendly and helpful) for a restaurant recommendation. He gives you a number of them, but since you can’t understand a single syllable of his brogue, this is of limited help. Still, he drops you in a busy part of the city, lined with restaurants, and you take you pick. The food is fine (chicken stuffed with haggis), the service is excellent, and soon you are on your way to Glasgow Central Station. Waiting for you there on Platform Ten is the Caledonian Sleeper, your transport back to London.

Very familiar by now.

Tiny berth.

Finding your berth is not difficult. Fitting into it with your suitcases is more so. Your excitement at joining the famous Caledonian sleeper is somewhat tempered by the discovery that it is a broken down old train in dire need of a re-fit; and you recall someone telling you that the service is in danger of being discontinued. Nevertheless, once squeezed into your narrow berth you sleep well, rocked by the gentle sway of a train in motion.

At 6.30 am the attendant taps on your door with a cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit, as the train glides gently into London Euston Station, a mere ten minute cab ride from home base. You heave your bags into the cab one last time. They have become a little heavier, laden as they are with memories of Scotland - aka bottles of single malt whisky.

Train travel in Scotland: recommended.

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