Family is an interesting concept. We intuitively take it for granted that our closest or most intimate relationships are with members of our family. Usually that is true, and sometimes we can have really close friends, but they still aren’t family. The Bossolettis are great friends, but they are also family. When Hayley first stayed in Ventura, she lived with the Bossolettis for the entire summer. The next summer she stayed with them from May until we got married in November. So when Hayley was first accepted to the University of St Andrews, along with other family members, the Bossolettis were the first people we told, and when we decided we were going to actually go to Scotland, they were again the first to know. From the very beginning it seemed like a no brainer that they would come and visit us, just like a other members of our families.
However, we were still absolutely thrilled when they told us back in the Fall that they’d booked their flights for April, and from that time on everything we did we’d wonder if the Bossoletti kids would enjoy it. By the time they actually got here we had a million ideas of things to do. After flying into Edinburgh they took the train to Pitlochry where we met in the Athol Palace, our residence for the night. We spent the evening exploring the town, listening to live folk music and eating Haggis. The Bossolettis are way more adventurous than I could have imagined being at their age. The next day we ate a full Scottish breakfast, and played in the indoor pool, where Olivia re-perfected doing flips off the palms of my hands. We then made our way up to the Inverness area, where we stayed in a farmhouse that had a round hobbit hole-esque entryway. I was probably the most excited about this. We explored the countryside, and visited Loch Ness. We didn’t see Nessie, but Kevin did underestimate the coldness of the water and when he tried to walk out to a rock, he got stuck and couldn’t move. We also saw plenty of Highland Coos and gained an appreciation for how ridiculously silly Shetland Ponies are.
We spent the rest of the weekend around the Inverness area, where we ate at some delicious restaurants, a not so delicious restaurant, went to an Easter service at a very welcoming Church of Scotland church, learned about ancient Pictish culture, skipped stones on every body of water we could find, and did not see dolphins as was promised. From Inverness, we drove through the Speyside region where we visited a couple of distilleries including Cardhu, where Alisa discovered there is indeed actually a whisky for everyone. We also got to check out a 200 year old wool mill near Ballindalloch, and toured a cooperage in Dufftown where we watched the journeyman coopers use their craft.
I also had an opportunity to purchase some petrol for our car in Dufftown, but I decided we could just as easily get petrol in Braemar on our way home. We got to Braemar, with the gas light on, at 6:20pm. The only gas station in a 30-mile radius closed at 6pm. After looking around the town for someone with a diesel vehicle we decided to “just go for it”, and drive the 30 miles of hilly road to the next gas station. I can say that we made it to Blairgowrie where we were able to fill up. I cannot say what we did to make it there, at least until the statute of limitations has expired. It was memorable and we did what we had to do to get home.The Bossolettis spent the bulk of their time in Scotland with us in St Andews. They stayed near the 18th hole of the Old Course and pretty much explored every nook and cranny of our ancient town. We did a scavenger hunt, explored the castle, climbed to the top of the cathedral tower, climbed around the cathedral ruins, jumped off the pier into the North Sea, ran on the the West Sands like Chariots of Fire, rolled down grass hills, and continued to eat at all the delicious restaurants. They also made it out to the Isle of May and got to see some Puffins. One of our favorite parts of having visitors has just been sharing our current hometown with our old friends. It is so much fun to show off how cool the town is, and it was especially fun to get to see the town through the eyes of a 7 year old and 9 year old. St Andrews is a small town but we walked a lot. One day we walked over 10 miles, and there wasn’t a peep of a complaint from the kids. Although, I’m kind of a sucker for shoulder rides, so they probably only walked a fraction of that total. The last leg of the Bossoletti tour de Scotland was through Edinburgh, probably my favorite city in the world. On the way there we took an extended detour through Stirling where we explored the Wallace Monument and Stirling castle. Stirling castle is one of my favorite places to take visitors because it’s so big, it never has too many tourists (unlike Edinburgh castle) and they have parts of it restored to look exactly how it would have looked in the 16th century. The kids loved it, and that of course made me very happy. The last two days were spent in Edinburgh. We stayed in a cool AirBnB right beneath the castle and did a lot more walking up and down the royal mile and ate at one of the best Thai restaurants I’ve ever been to.It was with very heavy hearts that we said goodbye to the Bossolettis, although when Kevin couldn’t find his passport at first that morning we thought maybe they could stay indefinitely. I’m sure we will continue to visit them in Ventura often, and hopefully that can make it out to DC semi-regurly. Actually, I’m sure we will see eachother soon, after all we’re family.