March 03, 2006

Beedoo in the British Isles

December 3, 2003

Hello All!

Well, the last 3 months sure have flewn, huh? I will be home exactly one week from today (yeek!), at which point I have a date with some Christmas cookies, a spiked Bailey's cocoa & my dog. I absolutely can't wait!
(I must be tired, because I am not this perky.)

Alas, before this is to be achieved, I have to write 2 very long essays, which I will undertake as soon as I finish this email (grumble grumble...) So, let's make this email as long as possible, what say?
(I’m pretty sure I could cure cancer if I ever actually tried, but there’s a comfort in knowing I never will. Those essays got As, though)

The bulk of what I have to say comes from the last trip I took: Edinburgh and Dublin. I went to Edinburgh first--not only the first destination, but also the first to arrive out of our little traveling group. It is worth noting that my train to the airport was at 6:00 AM, but one of the illustrious members of said travelers (you know who you are, Janelle) decided we should all go out and get wasted drunk the night before. I fell into bed at 3 AM, slept through my alarm, and woke up quite by chance at 5:20 AM. I scrambled madly out of bed, still very much drunk, and staggered to the bus stop with my things--only to discover the bus didn't run until 6:00. No option left, I reluctantly legged it to the train station. This wouldn't really have been so bad--the station is only like 2 miles at most from where I live--but keep in mind I had a very heavy bag on one shoulder, a fog in my head, and something evil dwelling in my stomach. Those who have been there know what it is to have "morning-after belly." It is not pleasant, and slowed me down a bit. I made the train, however, and even managed a route change in Cambridge (I'm drunk; this is an accomplishment).
(I don’t know how I managed to avoid throwing up, but I’m pretty sure it’s because I just didn’t have time. It was so cold that morning I waited for the train inside the heated bathroom, dozing in and out of sleep on the toilet with one eye on my watch. I remember the sunrise over the platform when the train finally came; funny the things that stay with you.)

On the way into Stanstead Airport, though, my body gave up. I fell asleep on the train for 45 solid minutes, and only woke up when some nice bloke told me we had arrived. OK, great--now my stomach had to get on a plane.
(I frequently relied on strangers to help me out, something I never do in America.)

I hate flying. I really don't like it, and I don't see how people can, although I have heard people tell me they do. It's the scariest thing you will ever do, but it's the only way to get from here to waaay over there, and see the things you wanna see. Which is why it was a mixed blessing to book 3 flights for just under a week's time. Each flight was about an hour, so we weren't long in the air, but that's no consolation when you still have to be in the air. With an upset stomach.
(Really, how did I not barf?)

Luckily, I have a strong stomach, and everything stayed right where it should during the flight, although I did a fair bit of cursing Janelle's "let's all get wankered two hours before I leave" plan. I am still plotting my revenge. If the flight was bad, I must say it was worth it--seeing Scotland from the plane was an experience I can't describe, not if I wrote 1,000 emails. So, I was quite excited to deplane & get to the hostel, so I could see the sights.
(Edinburgh is among my favorite cities. It is beautiful from the air, land, and sea. Also, my stomach hates you just a little bit, Janelle. If it hadn’t been for the danish, we might not be friends.)

I got a lovely shuttle with plaid interior to take me right into town, at a stop which was literally around the corner from my hostel. Anyone who has ever stayed in a hostel knows that it is either hit-or-miss; either it's good, or it's really, really bad. This one was brilliant: above a bar, keycard entry, linens included.
(If the hostel has the name of a saint in it, you’re golden. This pattern has worked for me more than once. When I go back to Scotland, I’m staying there again)

Even though I had only had 3 hours of sleep in the last 38 hours, the sun was going down quickly, and I wanted to make use of my first day. I dropped off my stuff and wandered around the city, following my nose. One of the funny things I learned in my experiences in UK is that whenever you enter a major city, they have a few things in common. For example, they usually have a castle. That may seem funny to us State-side, but these countries had to think about protecting their own against invaders & pillaging, especially while they were out invading & pillaging other countries (look it up; it's really kinda true). So, Edinburgh has a castle. And it is AMAZING. It is just how you would make a castle if you really wanted to intimidate the trousers off of people--big, craggy and on a really high hill.
(I walked around the castle grounds until the sun stared to set, which was only about 7:00, so I decided to eat fish and chips with a big pint of the local whatever before I hit the hay. Eating in the hostel bar not only saves you a walk in the cold, but gives you a chance to make flirty chit-chat with the inexplicably Australian bartender. After this, I fell asleep until ten the next morning—fourteen hours, guys. And JANELLE.)

Actually, Edinburgh is full of hills; it's built on seven, like Rome, I was told. I climbed one the next day, and picked some wild thistles off the hillside--very cool.
(I left off the bit about my trip to Arthur’s Seat, including almost falling to my death, being eaten alive by magpies, and being rudely accosted by the Godfather of swans (he walked up, the other birds backed away… how creepy is that?) because the Edinburgh Board of Tourism asked me not to. See my novel for details.)

Wow--I wasn't kidding about this email, it is getting really long. I will edit further: Dublin sucked. Hey, that sums it up nicely.
(And how. Worst city ever.)

Ireland would have been entirely ruined if we hadn't taken a day tour into the Wicklow Mountains--about 2 hours out of Dublin. We went into Glendalough (if you look it up online, you can see how pretty it is, not that I don't have pictures), and saw a bunch of monastic ruins at St. Kevin’s Cross, as well as lakes & mountaintops. And sheep. It wouldn't have been Ireland without the sheep.
(I had to coax the first one to stay still; these were not your average sheep—they were hardened, whisky-drinkin’ highland sheep. Their spindly little legs could navigate mountainsides like Picabo Street can only dream of.)

I may elaborate on Dublin when I see you all, but that's mostly a diatribe on how expensive everything was, and how there's no pubs.
(True. We had to search high and low, and then paid 20 euro for a cheeseburger. Never go to Dublin.)

But that will have to wait.
I will see you all very soon, if not within the fortnight. Love & kisses!

(I tried any harder to be British, I’d shit Union Jacks.)

Beedoo the World-Weary Traveller

Well, I guess that wasn’t a record-breaking amount of posts. But I linked, for maximum depth of your enjoyment. So it’s like a cheap vacation, really. Except I went there, and you never did. I think I’ll stop giving you reasons to hate me now.

I’ll have something good cooked up on Monday—it’s in the proverbial crock pot as we speak.

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