There is no point in going to a foreign country if you can't adapt to local ways. Sure, it may mean doing without some of favorite foods, the comforts of home and familiar customs. But the fun is in learning about other cultures, trying new things and living life differently. Bike tours included.
Many will recall last year's tour in which several days were spent “in search of Chardonnay.” In fact, it has since defined Rich's wine preference. However, since setting foot in Scotland we have exchanged our wine glasses for pints of cider. On tap is preferred. Bottled works. Nothing tastes better after a long day of cycling. Not even Chardonnay.
Little roadside motels and campgrounds have been our staple for accommodations in the US and Canada. In Scotland we have substituted guesthouses and hostels. Just like motels, guesthouses range widely in quality. For each tired guesthouse with well worn plaid carpeting, I can think of a cramped motel room to match. It's what you get when seeking cheap lodging. The hostels, however, have been a great find. Like camping, they have been some of our favorite locations. It has been well worth the more spartan and shared arrangements.
There is no arguing the fact that cycle touring burns a lot of calories. And eventually our bodies crave energy-rich foods. Rich loves to tattle on my habit of buying KitKat bars on our first long tour. While such exist in Scotland, I have switched my allegiance to my favorite biscuit. McVities Dark Chocolate Digestives. I'm on my third package already.
The meager contents of our panniers are different for this trip. We left behind our after-cycling shorts and t-shirts in favor of pants and long sleeves. This one was less of a cultural difference than a practical one. It just doesn't get that hot here. Not even in the beginning of June.
Finding dinner is often a matter of locating the nearest pub. Although “pub grub” is heavier fare than I'm used to on cycling tours, it fills and warms at the same time. Somehow, it always goes down easily. The same with the hearty breakfasts and ubiquitous eggs. And where else can I get smoked salmon on scrambled eggs on a regular basis?
Since food seems to be a central theme here, I can't leave out another local favorite – scones. With breakfast already behind us, we've been seeking out coffee shops or cafes for our breaks. I immediately case the front counter for scones. My cycling appetite often allows for jam and clotted cream as well. Might as well do it right.
Rich and I are both wedded to our own particular source of caffeine. Coffee for me, and Diet Coke for him. But mornings in a B&B have us both singing out of the same hymnal. The British know how to do tea right. I'd rather have good tea than mediocre coffee. For Rich, the chilly weather warrants a hot drink instead of cold. For both of us, here in Scotland the refrain is the same. “I'll have tea, please.”