Trip to Scotland cursed by rooftop vultureWritten by Roger Holliday Claudia Fischer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re not normally into omens or superstitions. No witches’ potions, eyes of newt or frog digits for us. And certainly no black cat or ladder phobias.
But then, the day before we were to lead a tour to Scotland, a vulture landed squarely on our roof.
It wasn’t even 24 hours before the drama began. The stretch limo and luggage carrier hired to transport our group to Detroit Metro almost never got out of the hotel parking lot because of an abandoned car. We finally escaped, but not before a woman exiting the hotel slipped off the sidewalk and crashed to the concrete, blood pulsing from her forehead.
Thankfully, our flight to Amsterdam was uneventful — unless you count an abysmal and uneatable meal — and a particularly snarky cabin crew.
But at the Amsterdam airport, the drama continued. A friend flying in from Boston to join the group fainted on the plane. A doctor onboard rushed in to help. Oxygen was administered. And upon arrival in Amsterdam, our friend was wheelchaired to the airport medical center for tests and evaluations before being cleared for onward travel. She barely made the connecting flight.
On our final night in Edinburgh, the hotel front desk called to advise us that the youngest, fittest and most energetic of our group had suffered a severe asthma attack. Paramedics had been called. We watched from our window as he was loaded into an ambulance at 2 a.m. and taken off to hospital.
He would remain there for the next three days before catching up with us for the final evening in Inverness.
But, we hadn’t even left the hotel in Edinburgh when a retired lawyer, World War II vet and Battle of the Bulge survivor crashed backwards down several stairs and bashed his head.
Amazingly, despite an artificial hip, no real damage was done to this tough octogenarian. Is that something to do with hard-headed litigators, perhaps?
Then, on our second morning in Inverness, yet another member of the group pulled us aside to say she needed to go to an emergency room, this time for X-rays. She’d apparently taken a tumble on an uneven sidewalk during a side trip to Aberdeen and cracked her elbow. It wasn’t getting better. A taxi was called, and off she went. We didn’t expect to see her for the rest of the day, but a mere two hours later she was back, arm in a sling, bruised but not broken and full of praise for the beautiful red-headed doctor from the Orkney Islands who had treated her, handled the X-rays and prescribed the pain killers. All at no cost!
The group resolutely continued on by public bus to the harbor town of Oban. Arriving at the Royal Caledonian Hotel, we were advised that four of the 11 rooms we had reserved for the night had been sold from under us and that four couples were, therefore, being moved to a tired seafront property popular with budget coach tours.
All this despite our personal inspection visit months earlier, frequent e-mail confirmations and even one final telephone call the night before!
Seems we had arrived on the same day that a big shinty championship was taking place in town and their two-night stays apparently looked a whole lot better than our one-night to the hotel management.
The consolation letters of apology and bottles of wine did little to mitigate the situation. Neither did the early morning fire alarm that evacuated the hotel, bringing out a stumbling army of pensioners and walkers.
There would be more, of course.
A nasty virus swept through the group, leaving us all sneezing and coughing. Rain poured down for a day on the Isle of Mull — not unusual for a place that averages 8 feet of rain a year. And even the next day, our much anticipated whale-watching trip produced no cetacean sightings as it was too rough to venture very far off the coast.
Nevertheless, aside from the health hiccup and the inexcusable breach of hotel hospitality, our little group of independent-minded travelers rolled with every punch and thoroughly relished its “Highland Fling.”
But one thing is for sure. The next time a vulture lands on our roof, we’re canceling any travel plans, going back to bed and pulling up the covers!
E-mail travel writers Roger Holliday and Claudia Fischer at email@example.com.