After the May/June Around the World Trip we returned to Traverse City for the summer. We had originally planned to go to Amsterdam and Bucharest with a second FARE MISTAKE during the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. We have been there almost 30 years and the festival has little to offer other than large crowds and slow traffic for us.
Unfortunately, we had booked three days in Bucharest and after my one day stay in February, we decided to forgo the trip and asked for the international airline ticket refund. Fortunately it was refundable although only about $230.
We had a reservation for three days at the Bucharest Marriott which was a very nice hotel. I had bought the room online in an ebay auction for $199. I resold it online for about $150 so no great loss there. I still need to get Katy to Amsterdam for a day or two. She will love the canals, museums and bikes. And I MUST remember to check http://ebay.com/ for coupons and deals that are not restricted for transfer. The actual room rate in Bucharest was $259 per night.
My next adventure was right after Labor Day to Troon Scotland and Carnoustie Scotland for golf. Four of us went and had a great time in Carnoustie, but just marginal in Troon. The airlines lost Jeff’s clothes and both of our golf clubs on the way and we missed a day of golf in Troon and then played the next day in the rain. The Royal Troon course was 250 British pounds to play, or over $500 US. The munis were about $50 each. We played the munis. We got a room in a million dollar house with a nice couple that had converted the middle floor to a bed and breakfast. He was a pilot for Ryanair and she was a wealthy homemaker and mom.
The train through the center of Scotland was a great ride in the countryside and more reasonable and safer than me driving on the wrong side of the road. We met our other two golfers in Carnoustie and headed out in their rental to the birthplace of golf, St Andrews. For a golfer just standing there was a thrill. We walked down to the bridge on the 18th fairway and got our pictures taken. In Scotland most of the courses are public property and people are walking all over the place. The members tournament was going on so the course was closed to the public, but it was out of my price range anyway at about $500 US.
The quaint little town of Carnoustie sits hard by the sea and golf course. A public library across the street from our B & B had free internet so we could keep in touch with home.
The golf complex consists of three courses including the 2007 British Open Course which we played the second day in a 40 MPH wind. All three courses were a thrill but the championship course truly earned its nickname CAR-NASTY. I shot 92, made one birdie and will never forget the day.
The B&B recently purchased by Alison, was a nice place at $50 US per night per person. We got a traditional Scottish breakfast which we got modified in a hurry. The bacon in Scotland is far superior than US bacon and we asked Alison to load us up each morning.
After three days in Carnoustie we spent our last full day in Edinburgh on the Royal Mile. We did not go in the castle, but it certainly is an imposing site. The room was courtesy of Radisson Goldpoints again and much better priced at FREE than 259 pounds per night. I kept trying to check in online for our return flight and the computer would just not let me do it. When we got to the airport I found out it was because Jeff and I had been upgraded to First Class on the NW Airbus 330. The fed us four times on the way home, the seat laid almost flat and I slept like a king. It was Jeff’s first time in international first class and he still talks about it.
Continuing with my theme of what did I relearn in 2007? Elite status has its perks. The only reason WE were upgraded to first is that I had status. The flight was oversold in coach and they had to move somebody. It might as well be a loyal customer.
I also learned it pays to contact the airline when things go wrong. I wrote Northwest about the lost baggage and shortening of our golf trip and they responded by giving Jeff and I each a $200
voucher for future travel. We also went around and around about the mileage credit I was to receive and I eventually won out, only because I was right. I stuck to my guns.
The net trip cost was FREE airfare with frequent flyer miles at 50,000 miles each ticket. LESS the $400 in vouchers we got. The rooms were about $50 US each per night, golf was about $50 each day in Troon and the three course package at Carnoustie was a real bargain at 110 pounds for a round on each of the courses. The Championship Course alone was over 100 pounds.
Will I go again? ABSOLUTELY. Again in the fall and this time back to Carnoustie and Aberdeen to play Royal Dornach.
And by the way, The people of Scotland are the friendliest of any country I have been to, and my passport is fairly full.
The town was so small, we stuck out as strangers and everybody was open and helpful. The Scots walked up to us to initiate conversations. We met a solider that had just returned from Iraq fighting along side the American soliders.
It was an honor to meet him.