Thursday, February 01, 2007

East Coast, West Coast and Everything In Between

I realize that all these looooong posts (this one is no exception) about my travels and so on might seem a bit self-indulgent to some. And they would be right. It is a bit self-indulgent. I must admit that I am mainly writing these posts as a sort of record of my travels, like an interactive diary...minus the really personal details (AKA 2:00PM - Ross and I argue about who is the better driver* 2:01PM - Ross drives off the road). With the good grace of Blogger I hope to be able to access these journals and accompaying pics for years to come and share them with loved ones or just for my own memories.

Of course the other reason I like to blog about it is that I consider most people who read my blog to be a friend of sorts (even if some are just virtual) and who doesn't like sharing their vacation photos with friends?

Anyway, without further ado and such and such, I'll jump right into it.

If you thought Boxing Day was jam-packed, wait till you hear/read/see what we did the day after.

We got up at wee hour to start our massive journey/road-trip to visit Ross's friends in Edinburgh, grandparents in Borders and grandma in Gervin.

I was excited since Ross (and every other person who had been there) had waxed on and on about Edinburgh and doubly excited because our journey meant driving down to the border with England in one day, staying overnight in Edinburgh (um, sorta) and then the next day, driving across to Glasgow, down the coast a bit to Gervin and then back up again to Abderdeen...which in my mind meant ROAD TRIP and seeing a lot of the country I hadn't seen yet.

Unfortunately, I woke up with a fever, flu and all sorts of nasty things, but like the grumpy trooper I was, we piled ourselves into the car and took off into foggy yonder.

Yeah. Fog. Seems the glorious sunshine only hangs around Aberdeen (again, despite its "grey" reputation, it is one of the driest places in the country) and the "scenic" 2 1/2 hour drive to Edinburgh was limited to a misty aura around the car. Since I was feeling like I was going to die, it didn't matter anyway. Instead I popped more paracetamol until I felt numb.

I must have fallen asleep because soon we were crossing the majestic Firth Bridge and heading into Edinburgh. I suppose I should take the time out now to fill you in on a little something. Ross (and I know others can attest to this) is the absolute worst person when it comes to directions. He is/was always getting lost in Vancouver and I attributed that to him being foreign. But the fact that he constantly got us lost in Edinburgh, the city he was born in, the city he lived in, the city he went to university in...made me think twice. And suddenly I understood why that morning his parents had to explain to him over and over again how to drive around in the city.

Anyway, whilst driving around looking for parking (which was not an easy feat since the place was throbbing with traffic), I got to have a quick tour of where Ross lived. It was nice as it could be, considering the drizzle, the cold and my sickness but we perked up a bit when we hit Cult, which is Ross's favourite clothing store.

A massive amount of money was dropped there (a whole new wardrobe in fact) but while I would have loved to have gone nuts with it, the clothes were a bit too casual and the exchange on the pound was obscene. I did manage to buy a really sweet purse, but after calculating how much it cost me in Canadian dollars, I felt a bit guilty.

It was in Cult though that two of his good friends had come to meet with him. Anya (Irish lass, name actually spelt a lot differently) and her husband Jack were good university mates with Ross and now lived in Edinburgh with their two children.

At first I was a bit weary, mainly cuz it's odd to see married people your own age (when you are 25 anyway), and especially those with children. Now I have friends with kids, but I guess it seems stranger to see a guy who has friends with kids. I dunno...

See, children scare me. I'm not "clucky" or "baby hungry" or even remotely maternal. In fact just today, Leanne and I were walking down the street in Vancouver and we saw this woman walking the cutest puppy. We both squealed "puppy!" and then after passing, Leanne turned to me and said, "I think the woman was offended that we didn't give as much attention to the baby."

To which I replied, "There was a baby?" I just don't notice kids or fawn over babies or anything of that stuff.


Anya and Jack's children, Cormack and Aisha, are the CUTEST kids ever! Cormack would crack killer jokes such as:

"Why are pirates called pirates?"
"I dunno, why?"
"Because they arrrrrrrrrrr"

And Aisha, being a two-year old, just had to look pretty. I was also impressed with how well-behaved and mannered they were. There is hope out there.

We had lunch at a decidedly NON-Scottish restaurant, none other than TGIF FRIDAYS. And even though converting the prices into Canadian was not fun, it was nice to get to know Ross and his friends from way back.

And it was even better to see Ross bond with the kids. Now I may not be sold on the whole having a baby thing yet (ask me again when I'm 32) but I don't know what woman's heart doesn't melt when she sees a man with a puppy...or a really adorable little girl. Sigh.

Before heading off for the night, we managed to take in the Winter Fair at Princess Street Gardens, where the kids rode the Helter Skelter (which I can't write without humming the Beatles song) and fairgroundy rides.

There was also a nice view of the castle and Royal Mile from the fair, even in the falling darkness and constant drizzle.

It was at this point though that I was met with my first sourpoint of Scotland. As I was trying to walk through the crowds, some bitch behind me said in my ear "For Fucks sake could you walk any slower" and then she and some other skank brushed past me. Ross seemed embarassed and made some remark about how bitchy city girls can be. And then I noticed it everywhere! The whole city was crawling with orange, fake-tanned girls with harsh black hair, black eyeliner, round faces and tarty clothes...they all looked like that slutty one from EastEnders (note: not all Scottish girls look like this, just the bitchy ones who bump you out of the line in H&M).

Then Ross noted that had we been in Glasgow the girl would have probably just clocked me in the head. After that I was a bit on edge and thankful that it was time to head on with our journeys.

We made our way out of the city (eventually) and down to an area called Borders, which is an apt name since it is near the English border. His grandparents are there and Ross was a good grandson and wanted to pay them a visit. They have fallen on hard times lately but I found them to be very welcoming indeed. Ross's Grandpa is 96 and I did a double take when he answered the door. He looked no older than 80.

Afterwards we headed to the suburb of Musselborough where Jack and Anya live and spent some more time with them. I played Rolh Dahl Top Pops with Cormack and he beat me everytime (OK well I kind of let him win...but shhhhh). Unfortunately we couldnt stay for long because we had to find a motel and I was fading very fast. I think I even refused a drink, that's how knackered I felt.

Of course, finding a motel wasn't an easy feat. Even though we made reservations, we had gotten about three different directions about how to get there. It was enough that even I couldn't find my way, let alone Ross. Let's just say that 2 motels and 2 hours later we finally found it.


Next morning we woke up bright and early and made plans to head into the city again to tour the Royal Mile and explore the city before heading off to the opposite side of the country. Thankfully I was feeling less like shit and we actually saw a lot of the famous Royal Mile that leads up to the even more famous Edinburgh castle.

Doing my best Billie Piper impression for Dr. Who

Edinburgh is amazing with its mysterious little closes, hidden streets, distinctive buildings, cute shops and its rich history. What surprised me the most was how clean it was. Had this been back in Vancouver we would have tripped over 10 bums by now and stepped in mounds of garbage.

The Castle itself was quite formidable-looking and we had the chance to go inside...however the line was long and long lines turn me off of a lot of things. So instead we just hung around, snapped some pics and oh, shot a really cool* video. (Uh, *cool is a term I use very loosely).

Of course, this being Edinburgh and all (heroin and AIDs capital of the world, or so the rumour goes), we did a little tripping out, a la "Trainspotting."

Finally, we had to leave the enigmatic city behind and head off for new and unknown worlds. Or the West Coast.

After hours of driving we made our way to Glasgow. Only the town we were going to was just outside of Glasgow. Only "just outside" means another hour or so away because you get stuck on a two-lane windy road crammed with lorries. Only the town is actually closer to Northern Ireland than it is to anywhere else.

Ross isn't the only crazy driver on the road

Regardless, we arrived in Gervin tired as hell and prepared to see his other grandma. And the first thing Ross did was try out her chair and break it.

We joined his sisters and mum (who made a seperate looong trip there) and cousin for some hearty, greasy take-away shop food. While Ross (and his cousin Ross) plowed into the Deep-Fried Haggis, I played it safe and had some chips...and the requisite pickled onion. Unfortunately the deep-fried Mars bar was not on the menu, so that would have to wait for another day. (If any of this made you hungry, which I'm sure it didn't, you can read up more on the Scottish Foods I ate HERE).

Then after we stuffed ourselves silly, we all got into our seperate cars and made the 3 1/2 hour drive through thick THICK fog back to Aberdeen.

After such a long last couple of days, it wouldn't surprise you that I slept the whole way back. If you got tired of just reading this post, think about how I must have felt!

Next Up: Last day in Scotland and onto PARIS!


Rachel said...

Okay, so I read the sentence 'and then we hit Cult' and i had to come and comment already. I LOVE CULT. i want to have all of all of the clothes in there. all of them.

on a related topic, on my trip to paris in a couple of weeks i am going to be searching high and low for a pair of those boots you're sporting on this trip :) can't wait!

MrsUnderstood said...

I like reading your posts about your travels (long or short) and love the fact that you post so many pictures. Its cool to SEE what you are talking about rather than just imagine it. I'm jealous!

Beth said...

I was in Edinburgh for Christmas three years ago and I loved that little carnival.

M said...

oh my god, I LOVE that bag!

My good friend lived in Edinburgh for two years. She absolutely loved it.

My heart totally melts when I see men who are good with kids.

Expat Traveler said...

wow! You really got around. So many cool adventures. I'd definitely be doing that much too if I were back in Switzerland..

Great pics too!

Steph said...

well i for one really enjoy your posts. It's like traveling with you because the pics really set the scene. Even the weird ones ;)

Becslifeonline said...

Great pics! I get a bit freaked out as well when I see old friends from school who now have kids or hear news of "so and so's getting married!" Ha ha. I'm thinking "we're only 21, this shouldn't be happening yet!" I've got loads more I want to do with my life before I can think about kids. Sounds a bit selfish put like that though doesn't it? :-S

Scorpy said...

Don't stop the long posts about your adventures....I get to go on holidays everyday without leaving my house. The pictures are amazing :)