Disregarding the bronchitis slowly trying to destroy me, my trip to Scotland can so far be summed up by this: nice people, new boots, and peppermint mochas.
For whatever reason, peppermint doesn’t seem to exist in France, in candy or drink form. So I didn’t realize I was missing it so much until Krista’s friend Arran gave us the best peppermint mochas/hot chocolates on our first day here. It was like Christmas/Heaven in a cup. This was before the sickness had really reared its great ugly head for me and so I thought, wow, Scotland is off to a great start! Krista, on the other hand, was just beginning to taste the bronchiotitus’ wrath, though not so strongly that she couldn’t taste the peppermint hot chocolate too.
On our first day here, I realized that it was time to say goodbye to the pair of gray suede boots I’ve been sporting since I picked them in a second hand store in Seattle last spring. From those humble beginnings these boots have gone with me around America and Europe and kept me warm and dry in my travels. I even considered naming the blog after them: The Adventure of Grey Boots.
But about a month ago they began to show wear of that travel. So, after Paris where I walked around with slush in between my toes and my first day in Glasgow when my feet were still damp and freezing, and in the presence of all those marvelous Christmas sales going on, I realized it was time my gray boots meet their retirement. Yes, I am the sort of person to have a personal relationship with my footwear. I mourned them.
Arran’s friend Jo very kindly took Krista and me around until I found the perfect replacements: leather, no holes, and 50% off! Still, if I had room in my bags, or if Ryanair allowed me an extra carry on, I would probably be bringing those bedraggled gray things back home to Nantes with me where I most likely would be tempted to wear them again. So, here they stay in Scotland. Happy resting place boots! In the tragic trash chute. I’ll miss you.
So, onto the nice people. Arran’s family kindly adopted us for our consecutive birthdays and Christmas. On our birthdays we were included with her family at her father’s bday curry dinner (which was the best curry I’ve had in ages) and had a chill little kick back at the apartment for drinks with Arran’s friends. As the Christmas strays, we were let inside, fed, and made to feel welcome. Arran and her family were great, introducing us to traditional Scottish fare such as pudding, (veggie) haggis, and Irn-Bru. Since tasting this overly sweet orange soft drink, I’m honestly amazed at how quickly people in Scotland chug down this stuff. It tastes like a cross between bubblegum and sugar and at the local grocery store it has claimed an entire aisle of space as its stronghold.
|The Irn-Bru stronghold|
I have witnessed old and young drinking bottles of this stuff in the early morning hours and the late evening. However, I learned to appreciate it on Christmas day as it served in a pinch to dilute our whiskey enough into a sipping beverage and keep Krista, Arran, and me in dreamy states all the day long.
|Christmas cheer in an Irn-Bru dream|
Although Arran tried really very hard to give Krista and me good birthdays, as you could probably glean from my previous post on the Bronchotitus monster, this sickness we’re battling proved to be too much competition to give us any true birthday adventures to share. However, Arran did get us out of the apartment towards the end of our trip so that our Scotland vacation would consist of more than just the local Morrisons grocery store and corresponding train stations.
She took us to Edinburgh on Wednesday, which was really quite nice.
I read an article that categorizes Scotland’s two largest cities into these thought-provoking and land mark distinctions: classy Edinburgh and cutting-edge Glasgow. I think the latter is quite funny for Glasgow, considering all of the stabbing jokes I’ve heard about Glaswegians. Before I flew into Scotland, I was only slightly aware that Glasgow is lovingly referred to as the stabbing capital of Europe. Now that I’ve been here, I’ve only heard it reiterated by the locals, Though, luckily, I haven’t witnessed anything first hand to prove the name.
In any case, the article deemed that Glasgow is something like the cool rebellious cousin of classy, prim and proper Edinburgh. And I did see that.
|Rough and tumble Glasgow|
|Prim and proper Edinburgh|
The city center is more touristy with its fairytale old buildings and bright carnival Christmas market.
|Christmas time in Edinburgh|
It’s windy brick streets took around pretty architecture, a statue of the loyal Bobby dog, and past the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book on napkins. But then Arran took us a little ways off the main stretch and to some slightly off-kilter places that we probably wouldn’t have known to look for otherwise. We went to a comfortable little bar called the Brass Monkey, where not only can you do mini bloody mary shots for a quid each, but you also can sprawl out on large, bed/couch things that run the length of the back room and watch dvds shown on their screen. We watched the classic, Breakfast Club. It had been a few years since I’d seen it and, yes, the heartfelt story about misunderstandings and self-growth still transcends all of the melodramatic 80’s inspired sound effects beleaguering it. And have I got news for you Snooki, you are not the originator of the fist pump. Oh no, not at all. It was first mastered by my main man, John Bender, the best overly dramatic bad boy John Hughes could ever offer up.
After the Brass Monkey we went to a comfy, alternative cafe for veggie burritos and mulled wine. The cafe is run completely as a grass-roots operation where the staff are all volunteers, just happy to keep the place afloat. Awesome, weird grafitti and strings of forgotten gloves and mittens decorated the place, there was a scrap book of lovingly written pleas for roommates instead of a tack board on the wall, and two competing live bands starting up just as we were leaving. We wished we could have stayed longer.
We ended our day trip to Edinburgh by marching up to the top of the rock where the huge sprawling fortress sits, Edinburgh Castle. It was night time and foggy at that point, so with the castle illumniated as it was, it made for a fun, spooky viewing.