Thursday, May 21, 2015

Change of plans

The cruise company went bust. We went to Scotland anyway.

We celebrated our vacation with dinner the night before our planned departure. Our trip had been booked nine months prior, at which time M. was having trouble walking any distance. 

Thinking that this could be our last trip to Europe, the 10-day excursion on a small boat through Scotland's lochs and waterways looked good. No, it looked great. A Boston Globe review was enticing and the boat was a beauty. M, concerned that he might not be able to take part in the shore trips, could sit them out in nice surroundings. (Fortunately, he can now walk much, much better.)

We went to dinner early, trying to move toward U.K. time. It was 5:30 p.m. when the phone call came. The trip had been cancelled.

We had purchased our own air tickets, so it made sense to keep moving. With less than 24 hours to regroup, we packed carry-ons and started thinking about how to make the most of the 10 days in Scotland. In the midst of researching options, our son called with a brilliant suggestion: Why not ride The West Highland Line and The Jacobite trains, both billed as great railway journeys of the world? Bingo! We had an anchor.

We built our itinerary around The Jacobite, which only had available seats on the following Thursday. We booked them. Our friend booked us into a hotel she knew in Edinburgh for two nights. That gave us a little time to plan. 

While having a pre-boarding snack at the airport, we received an email from the CEO of the travel company, expressing regret and offering us the choice of a full refund or a rebooking. I called immediately to request a full refund, including the cost of the travel insurance. I was assured we would have our refund within 30 days.
Bufala mozzarella w/pesto

(A shout out to the Oeno Wine Bar at Terminal C at Newark Liberty for both food and the service. We had the best airport food ever. M. had shrimp--delicious and BIG. I had the bufala mozzarella with pesto and almonds--accompanied by a Negroni.)

Trying to piece together the source of the cancellation, I had spent some time on social media the night before, starting what would become a very active thread on TripAdvisor. No one knew more than we did, which was nothing. Because the company was unresponsive, I suspected bad news. Unfortunately, that suspicion would prove correct. The company filed for Chapter 11 the next week while we were away.

As for our itinerary, the final plan is below. For those of you who identify me with Excel spreadsheets, do note that this doesn't take advantage of that software's robust capabilities. Nay, this plan was plotted in pencil, which could be--and was--erased and changed as plans solidified.

This was a great trip! And because I promised that I would provide details on this trip, this is the first--the introduction, if you will. Follow me over the next few days for the highlights.

10 days in Scotland, May 2015

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