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Traveling With Ryan – Scotland

For those of you that don’t know, I moonlight at an escorted tour company in my native Rhode Island. One of the perks of working for the tour company is that I have the ability to travel more than most, and when I do travel, it’s usually with a tour guide who is experienced in the region or country I’m traveling to. Traveling is one of my favorite passions, and it’s a great way to experience a culture’s history, cuisine and lifestyle. I recently went to Scotland, so I’d like to share some of the pictures I took and the things I learned while I was there. If you have any questions or comments, comment on this post or reach out to me on Twitter @averagenobodies.

Photo: Top of Edinburgh Castle

Scotland has somewhat of a bloody history, and pretty much every story you hear ends with someone getting hung, beheaded or stabbed. Luckily present day Scotland has slightly less hangings, beheadings and stabbings, and it’s a beautiful place to tour. My tour started out in Edinburgh and ended in Glasgow while we toured St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Inverness and Skye in between. If you look at the map below, the tour route ends up looking like a giant arch.

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

We toured battlefields, including the Battle of Culloden where the Royal Army under King George II squashed the Jacobite rebellion for good. They’ve preserved the battlefield, although it’s now about 1/3 the size it once was. It was still a surreal experience walking around where thousands of troops lost their lives fighting for what they believed in.

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Outside of battlefields, the main sites are castles and palaces. We visited the ruins of Urquhart Castle off of Lake Loch Ness, a beautiful castle that was somewhat destroyed during the constant back and forth battles between the Scots and the English. Although it’s only partially preserved, it’s still a gorgeous site:

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

We also toured Kilchurn Castle in the Scottish highlands, another castle partially preserved after the constant warring. Note to anyone traveling to Scotland with older tourists: don’t ask them to take a picture of you in front a castle, because they will actually take a picture of you in front of the castle:

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Thankfully, I also got some good pictures:

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

In between the Highlands and Edinburgh we visited St. Andrews, and I was able to walk the Old Course, which is where the PGA holds the British Open every year. At first glance the course looks relatively easy, but once you’re actually outside near the course, the winds are in excess of 30 mph. Any golfer knows those aren’t ideal conditions to play in, but it is a beautiful place.

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

We also toured the Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry. It’s an interesting place with a ton of history, and I’d strongly urge you to have a scotch tasting while in Scotland. After we toured the distillery, we partook in a tasting of their Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, which you can only find in Scotland, Norway and Denmark. If I had to describe it in one phrase, it would be ‘I wanted to die’.

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

While the Scottish Highlands were beautiful, Edinburgh was the highlight of my trip. It’s a truly amazing city, and if you ever get the chance to travel to Scotland, make sure you spend a good amount of time in Edinburgh and plan the rest after that. Edinburgh is broken up into the Old Town and the New Town. If I had to recommend one, it would be the Old Town. That’s where I stayed, more specifically in the Grassmarket district, which used to be the main place for executions in the city of Edinburgh. While I didn’t see any killings during my stay, we did have a perfect view of Edinburgh Castle right outside our hotel:

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

The main thing to remember about Scotland is that the castles were for military defense while the palaces served as living quarters for the Royal families. Edinburgh Castle is right in the heart of the city and sits atop the Royal Mile (a street that starts at the Castle and ends at the Palace of Holyroodhouse). There are an insane amount of museums, pubs and restaurants, and it’s truly a surreal experience to visit a castle built in the 12th century and then drink a pint at a pub two minutes down the road. Once inside the Castle, it’s absolutely worth it to tour the Royal Palace, the Great Hall and the Scottish National War Memorial.

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

View of Edinburgh with your back to the Castle

Any Harry Potter fans will love Edinburgh, because that’s the city where J.K Rowling started and finished writing the series of books. Edinburgh inspired most of the architecture that Rowling included in Harry Potter, and she started writing the books at a local café called the Elephant House. Rowling was a struggling writer at the time, and found it cheaper to pay for a cup of coffee rather than pay her heating bill at home. When she returned to Edinburgh to finish the series, she stayed at the Balmoral Hotel, which is only a 15 minute walk from the Grassmarket district.

Another cool site in Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat, a 3 mile hike that I somehow completed even though I have the physical endurance of an asthmatic senior citizen. While the hiking itself wasn’t very fun, the views are worth the trip:

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

Photo: Ryan in Scotland

The food in Scotland was amazing, and well beyond my expectations. Yes, I did have haggis, and while it wasn’t great, it’s something I’d definitely recommend trying while you’re in Scotland. Their main cuisine consists of fresh seafood and vegetable soups, but I also had chicken, beef and lamb dishes that were out of this world. The pubs were a lot of fun, and although we were in Edinburgh on Sunday and Monday nights, it was easy to see that it’s a lively atmosphere once the sun goes down. Food and drinks were affordable everywhere we went (including hotels) and the people could not have been nicer.

While it’s impossible to sum up an entire country in one blog post, I hope that this was helpful to any future travelers who might be looking at exploring Scotland. It’s a beautiful place, and well worth your time. Now, I’ll leave you with a video of ducks sliding down a slide while a dog looks on at a Scottish farm I visited.

-Ryan

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Robbing Banks 101: Don’t Search “What Happens If You Rob a Bank”

(Source) “If you’re going to use the Internet as a bank-robbing how-to guide, it’s probably a good idea to delete your search history.

That may be the nail in the coffin for one accused bank robber, who police said looked for tips by searching, “What happens if you rob a bank” and “If you’re going to rob a bank,” prior to the robbery. (We’re going to assume “clear browsing data” was not one of those tips.)

Authorities in Massachusetts recently made three arrests following a robbery at the Weymouth Bank in South Weymouth Friday morning. Shortly before 11 a.m., a woman, who did not furnish a weapon, reportedly entered the bank and demanded money. She made off with an unspecified amount of cash after instructing the bank teller to not give her a dye pack (an exploding device that leaves a permanent mark on cash).

According to The Patriot Ledger, the suspect was identified from bank security footage after officers in the narcotics division recognized her as the subject of an ongoing heroin distribution investigation. Witnesses also told police the female suspect was with a male prior to the robbery.

Officers arrived at the property that was under investigation in the drug distribution case and took 27-year-old Sarah J. McLoud and Robert W. Owens, 28, into custody Friday afternoon. During a search of the Torrey Street residence, police said they found clothing worn during the bank robbery, cash stolen during the theft and a suspicious search history.

“A computer in the room showed recent searches including: What happens if you rob a bank, What happens if you rob a house, What happens if you rob a drug dealer, and If you’re going to rob a bank,” the Weymouth Police Department wrote in a statement on its Facebook page along with a photo of the three suspects.”

bank robber

The saying “not the brightest bulbs” gives these three way too much credit. If your first step in the process of robbing a bank is to Google “if you’re robbing a bank…” you should probably find another hobby. Google is a wonderful thing, especially for movie quotes and song lyrics, but I wouldn’t rely on it to help me rob a bank. Also, if you’re ever a suspect in an ongoing heroin distribution case, maybe lay low for awhile. It’s probably best to stay out off security cameras that are used primarily when a bank is robbed. Last but no least, if you rob a house, bank or drug dealer, you’re probably going to jail. Didn’t really need Google for that one.

– Ryan

 

My Favorite Summerslam Moment – Summerslam 2000 1st Ever TLC Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship

For the past 25 years, Summerslam has been WWE’s biggest party of the summer. It’s been the showcase for many memorable moments and matches, including Macho Man’s wedding to Miss Elizabeth and the Ultimate Warrior’s first WWF title, a 31 second defeat of then Intercontinental champion “The Honkey Tonk Man”. Perhaps no superstar has a better Summerslam résumé than Bret Hart. The Hitman was a participant in three of the most memorable Summerslam matches of all-time: vs. his brother Owen Hart in a steel cage in ’94, vs. Mr. Perfect for the IC title in ’91, and vs. his brother in law, The British Bulldog, in ’92. The latter of those three has been dubbed the greatest Summerslam moment ever, mostly due to the “family feud” angle leading up to the pay per view and the venue (Wembley Stadium in London, Bulldog’s home country). While their match at SS ’92 was definitely a classic, I went down a different route for my favorite match at the summer classic. The year is 2000, and the WWE is operating at an all time high. The Rock, Kurt Angle, HHH, Stone Cold and The Undertaker are dominating the main event scene, but the consistent show stealing matches are coming from the tag team division. Summerslam 2000 would be no different. Although HHH vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle for the WWF championship was the main event, the match people would be talking about was for the tag team titles. The Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Hardys would compete in the first ever TLC match, and the rest, as they say, is history.

– ryanfoges

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