Tuesday, June 21, 2011

May 19th: Islay Bound pt.2

There was that blue virtuous Bruichladdich van! I saw the distillery manager waving his hand with a gentle smile. I had introduced myself to Allen (mng), and then he took me took to the Bruichladdich Academy house.
This is the accommodations for my stay, while I am in Islay researching whisky all over Islay and the surrounding islands.
Allen gave me a tour of the lovely home and showed me to my room. When he left I was in such a state of felicity! I felt that my dreams has come true with all that Jim McEwan and the Bruichladdich team has blessed me with for my research work!

The house was beautiful, peaceful, and right next door to the distillery grounds! It has a live fire place, large kitchen, sun room, 2 living rooms, large dining room, back yard with a picnic table, and surrounded by lush vegetation and hills!

It was so peaceful, all you could hear was the water from the nearby stream.

Next, I got settled in my room and then noticed two guys in a camper standing outside in the parking area. I had noticed them earlier when I arrived to the house, because they pulled up at the same time and spoke to Allen briefly about some business.

The gents seemed like they was on a normal curve, therefore I waved over at them gesturing to come over to the house.

Then it all started..... I met the most AWESOME Belgium gentlemen, Mr. Olav Verhoeven and Mr. Dersou De Moor. The gentlemen was in Islay to promote Olav's DVD/Blue Ray series, WHISKY: ISLAY EDITION: http://www.whiskyseries.com/. I will go into detail about this movie on a solo blog post, along with my 2011 NYC Whisky LIVE coverage.

In the meanwhile, you can check out the trailers on the website. It's probably the best depiction of Islay available. The romance between whisky and the creator of this documentary shines through like a love sick woman waiting for her man to come back to her after a long departure from home.
Any who, we basically had a great evening together drinking drams and telling stories about each other and what we hope/expect this week at the Feis Ile.

At a certain point, it was time to retire. I went to my room to slumber, but a re-occurring dream set in and this time I saw just flashes of that young girl. It was no sound. I felt no distinctive emotions, but just flashes of innocence, happiness, and I felt a warm sensation all over my skin. Suddenly, I was fast asleep recharging my body for my first official full day on Islay.

Pleasant Dreams,
Carmen Operetta

Monday, June 20, 2011

May 19th: Islay bound!! Pt.1

I finally pulled myself out from bed in time to spatter my items into 1 suit case to take over to Islay. I had to leave my other belongings with Cara, because I couldn't bare to take anymore along with me and the lock up pricing in Glasgow was a bit too pricey for my UK budget.

As we dashed into the street, I bet It was the most manic feverishness behavior displayed on the Great Westeren road, as we attempted to catch a taxi to the Buchanan bus station! I had about 5 minutes left to get a ride or I would of reached the point of waiting for the next bus.

I did not want to do that, because that would of set a tone in my heart and a psychosis of dilatory. I was in a despondent state of mind after each minute that expired away!

I was telling myself that I couldn't believe I have come all this way to push it to the last minute! If I miss this bus, I would then missed the ferry, which was the last one for the night.
Disappointment was taking over my emotions until the last second I had left to my expiration point.

A taxi driver that was OFF DUTY picked me up and rapidly rushed me to the station after I told him the situation.
I will never forget him and I will always appreciate his support! Thank you Mr. Taxi man, that would of probably not had happened to me in NYC!

At the bus station, I felt a sense of cheerfulness. I gave my belongings to the driver and explained my ordeal on how I just made it there at the skin of my teeth! The driver was full of cheer with my contentment and the importance I emphasized on how I desperately needed to get to Islay.

I would not forget how rosy his cheeks became and how he softly giggled like a young school boy.
The bus ride was nice and smooth. I took a nap for the majority of the trip. I almost missed my stop, but thankfully I woke up 10 minutes before my Kennacraig destination!

The boat ride was just as comforting, as I relaxed with a large plate of mac+cheese and an Islay Ale steak pie with potatoes and veggies.

I got thirsty after all that rich cuisine, therefore I imbibed on an Islay Ale and my first dram of Kilchoman whisky. This whisky was a pleasant experience. It was lightly golden, lightly peated, and exploded with citrus. My hopes wasn't let down!

Next, I began to speak to some of the passengers and the bartender halfway through the trip. Everyone was excited to come for the Feis Ile this year, especially the individuals who came for the first time.

The last hour I took some photos/videos of the lovely hills and ocean as we approached Port Askaig.

As we grew near to the port, I raced down to pick up my suit case and waited excitedly at the exit ramp area! I wanted to be the first one off the boat and to meet the distillery manager who came to pick me up!

There was those countless days/nights of thoughts that was rushing through my heart and mind as the ferry arrived closer and closer to the port.

I felt the tears rushing towards my eye lens. The watering began and I shrugged my shoulders a bit and poked my lips out and told myself to "MAN UP"! It was my time and no more of this mushy gushy stuff for now!

I dried my eyes and then the ferry finally arrived to the ramp.

To be continued..........


Saturday, June 18, 2011

May 18th: PT.2

After all of that drinking and eating it was time for us to settle back at Cara's flat. I met her 2 lovely friends as Cara prepared to throw down on some home made spaghetti. Yes, we managed to collect another appetite for a home cooked dinner.

All of us stuffed our face along with our friends Iain and Jon who brought over they're vodka. The night got silly. At that point it is no need to explain anymore other than the neat pours, my impromptu cocktails...........and etc.

I'll have that action packed night assembled up nicely with a bow wrapped around it in my memoir I'm currently writing.

After I escaped the "VODKA MADNESS" I desperately ran to my bed!

I then slipped away into a magical "LA LA" land dream state. I began to have vision's of my waking life, which exuded a playful child giving off this certain positive spiritual force. I watched myself looking at this exuberant young girl who then felled into a pool of black waters with persons reaching out to take her away to an unknown destination.

The child seemed terrified, but as I looked deeper into her eyes I saw an evident degree of control and might.

She started slipping away into the dark mucky liquids and not a sound was released. Not a whimper nor any cries for help. I then slipped into my slumbery.

However, I do remember that I was waking up almost every hour after a certain point in the late am. I had to pull myself up and get ready to face my destiny.

It was time for the journey to Islay.

To be continued on the next entry.

Carmen Operetta

May 18th: Getting accumulated in Scotland PT.1

Rise and shine Miss Operetta! Your in Glasgow and it's time to see the town, and get some food and drams. Me and Cara took care of some errands in the city centre.
She showed and explained to me the history, architecture, and art design in this town that looks very megalithic in my opinion.

First, we began our journey at the Pot Still: http://www.thepotstill.co.uk/default.htm , which is situated near theater's and loads of international restaurants.

It has been established since 1835 to a wine/spirits merchant then the McColl family took over in 1867 until 1981!

As of today, John Waterson has ownership and offers hundreds of whiskies to delight your sense's.

I really like this place. I will definitely return to this lovely whisky pub!

Next, we headed over to Ubiquitous Chip: http://www.ubiquitouschip.co.uk/ , which has been established since 1971. The Chip is a Scottish style restaurant that has more to offer than most places I've seen in the UK.

The Chip uses locally sourced food, has 32 wines by the glass, and can suit the dining style needs to almost any patron.

Ubiquitous has a Wee Bar, Corner Bar, Large Bar, brasserie, general dining room, mezzanine, and a roof top to dine and drink.

This place is just gorgeous. I love the brick walls, the greenery caressing the walls, and the cobble stone floors in the courtyard.

For some reason, I enjoy dining and drinking in the Mezzanine.

Me, Cara, and her friends Iain and Jon had a flavorsome lunch in the "mezzy", or how I also like to pronounce it: mezzzzza---kneeeeee-nah.

Last on our adventure for the day was the Ben Nevis bar: http://bit.ly/lcpT8i . This west Highlands inspired bar is designed in natural decor and offers almost 200 whiskies.

This is a nice bar to get a good meal, hear some folk music and for heavens sake, get a darn good dram!

To be continued.........

Carmen Operetta

Photo Credits:
#1pix: Ubiquitous Chip (UK)
#2 pix:The Pot Still (UK)

Friday, June 10, 2011

May 17th: Landing in the UK!

The connecting flight from Heathrow to Glasgow was a short 1 hour trip. It was a pleasant woman sitting next to me in the window seat chatting a bit as the brilliant flight attendant gave me several complimentary whiskies.

Next thing I knew I was loading up my baggage cart and catching the bus in to the West End to meet my lovely friend Cara.

She showed me around her neighborhood, but it was one place that stood out the most among the rest, Solly's: http://bit.ly/kNk2q6. This is an African/Caribbean hair, hygiene,produce, fresh fish shop all-in-one!

I can honestly say that I have never experienced a place like this ever in my life! You can get a new wig/hair extensions, a whole fish, fresh spinach, and skin bleaching cream all at the same store!

SOLLY's has reinvented the phrase for the urban community, "One Stop Shop"! I absolutely love it!!!

Later on after my hunger got the best of me and Cara, we decided to get dinner down the road at Stravaigin: http://www.stravaigin.com/ , which means the "wanderer" loosely in Gaelic: http://bit.ly/mb8YvJ . The Haggis with neeps and tatties was yummy and the drams soothed my weary jet lag'ish soul.

Back at her lovely Kelvinbridge flat I got a chance to chat with her brother and other flat mate, Ali until I couldn't bare to keep my lids open.

As I drifted away into my slumberous mode, I was thinking about how this day has finally come to virtue.

I finally felt like the mark I have always wanted to place is beginning to take form. The courage it took to leave it all behind for the unknown didn't seem to be all that scary anymore.

I understood with certainty that this is what I was suppose to be doing with my career. This journey is fueled with a intense drive and conviction that I have now placed in high gear.

I am ready to take off and win the race!

Next thing I knew, my lids dropped shut and my body was in it's natural periodic suspension of consciousness.

Sweet Dreams,
Carmen Operetta

Transportation Info:
BUCHANAN BUS STATION: http://www.spt.co.uk/bus/bbs/

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

May 16th: The journey to the UK! PT.2

Here I am sitting on the plane with reality dancing and prancing all over my nerves. The 747 was taking off into the clouds and I felt like I swallowed a generous dose of pride.

As the plane reached it's flying altitude, I began to think about how "the sky's the limit". A sense of delight and self esteem came out of nowhere. That feeling propelled me mentally to a place of pure elation! I couldn't wait to hit the streets of Glasgow!

In a split second, I learned that your soul can tune you into a greater part of your core. Shake those nerves out of you and rise you up to the platform that is needed for your special and important moment in life.

All of a sudden I became very sleepy. I woke up to the last 30 minutes of the flight and raced out of the plane. I couldn't wait to set my feet on the UK land.

It was the next day in the wee hours of the morning.

I dashed through Heathrow airport to catch my connecting flight. I smiled and chatted up everyone in the security line. I made several babies smile and giggle with my tickled joy.

Customs stamped my passport! I said to myself in a low voice with a big fat grin,"Ha-he they don't know what they just let into the Kingdom"!!!

I hopped down the escalator and stood next to the gate.

For the next 30 minutes I gazed over the people, but not concentrating on one particular person. I just stood there entertaining the thoughts and possibilities of what and where I'll be 1 year from that point.

Ding ding! The gates are open and I ran onto the plane like a thorough bred going after 1st place at the Kentucky Derby!

Day 1 complete. Day 2......to be continued

Carmen Operetta

Sunday, June 5, 2011

May 16th: The journey to the UK!

Jeezum! I didn't think I was going to get everything accomplished before my flight! I can't believe it took me all the way to the very last day to sort out the majority of everything needed for this big move!

There it was 630 pm and getting ready for my car service arrival. I was filled with so many emotions. My mental reactions of the unknown was in such a state of felicity mixed with massive apprehension!

I couldn't believe that this day was here and I was on my way to Scotland! I have doubted myself and lack the confidence needed for such a striking attempt in the past, but I am proud of myself for over coming this hurdle.

Just to think about how many butterflies was in my stomach as the car grew near the British Airways "Departure" gate. I wanted to tell my driver to take me back home!

Desperately for just a few flashes of seconds I wanted to jump back in that sedan and go back to that Harlem apartment and hide in a big blanket telling myself "That was just a dream Carmen".

Well I am glad I didn't, because I felt such a HUGE accomplishment all of a sudden as I entered the baggage check in line. My sisters and my parents called together on the same line to congratulate me and tell me how proud they was for me.

I held back my tears as they cheered me on through the phone. They told me how much they love and support me.

After I hung up the phone, I told myself "Right...let's go Carmen...your strong and you can do this"!! At that point, I knew it was no turning back!!!!!!!!!

Day 1...to be continued

Carmen Operetta