When we landed at JFK last night, I Uber’d my way into Newark, New Jersey. That ride was horribly expensive, but my body ached a little bit from not getting any sleep on the long leg. I found a hotel for about $110 but struggled with the decision to book it at first. I thought I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep since my body hadn’t adjusted to back to a U.S. time yet. Then, I decided that it would feel so good to lay down on a bed, rather than pull an all-nighter on the floor of the airport in Newark.
I laid down on the hotel bed and was probably out cold in about 24 seconds or less. Just like I suspected, three hours later I was laying bed, wide awake. This is probably going to be the case for the next three days or so. At the moment, I don’t have to work until the 5th of May, but once my body adjusts, I may pick up a trip sooner than that. I love the flexibility of my job!
I have had the most awesome seat companion on this flight! The woman sitting across the aisle from me had a cute little dog with her. This was her “emotional support animal” (don’t get me started on that subject!). I noticed that she looked tired and kept trying to fall asleep. Every time she’d doze off, the little dog would move around and it would wake her up. After watching this for awhile, I just told the lady that if she wanted me to hold her dog, I’d be happy to, so she could get some rest. She handed me over her “little girl” whose name is Kierrie.
Denver > Salt Lake City | 13:01
After a quick jaunt to my crashpad in Thornton to grab my house and car keys, I’m back on the plane. Excited to be home and sleep in my own bed! I’m feeling a little bit emotional and exhausted (and emotionally exhausted!). I am so thankful to have had this experience. Yes, I have been to Scotland a few times, but each trip only gets better. I love building on what I’ve learned about this culture, these places, and these people. I am by no means an expert, but maybe I will be someday.
I’m not sure when it will happen, but I’m looking forward to planning “Scotland 6”. I’ve been keeping notes about more places I’d to go, and favorite places I want to keep experiencing. Until then…
An awesome thing about flying around within the European Union is that even though this was an international flight, there was absolutely no waiting to get through immigration once I was off of the plane in Copenhagen. No paperwork to fill out. Even though the agent could see from my passport I was from the U.S., there wasn’t even a question of how long I’d be here or an address of where I’d be staying. I’m grateful for this since I hadn’t asked Jacques’ address. It was a wonderful relief!
When I came out of security, it was so good to see and Jacques! As we walked, we figured that it had been 16 years (give or take) since we’d last seen each other. We walked over to an airport hotel lobby/bar where his wife, Esther was waiting. She had ordered some food which was perfect. I was a little bit hungry.
Jacques wife Esther is a real sweetie! This is understandable because she’s originally from Arizona. She and Jacques were set up by friends whom they had in common. What started out as a Skype conversation, quickly turned into and invitation by Jacques for her to come for a visit to Denmark. It wasn’t too long before they’d both found what they were looking for.
On the train, heading to Jacques and Esther’s Home
Copenhagen > New York City | 22:14 (Copenhagen Time)
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to blame El Nino or Al Gore’s global warming, but today was crazy cold in Copenhagen. It felt like winter isn’t leaving anytime soon. As Jacques and I left his apartment this morning, the wind and rain hit our faces strong. Jacques had a hood, but I only had my jacket. I learned today that the jacket I’d bought right before this trip started, although warm, was in no way waterproof. Rather, the tag reads the term “water resistant”, whatever that means.
We walked through the old military housing where Jacques once lived. Number 29 was his old residence, before buying the place where he and Esther now live. We peered through the windows into the empty apartment so I could see just how small the rooms were in his old place. They were indeed small. I guess it’s probably better to use the word “cozy”.
Jacques standing in front of his former residence.
The next stop was a cafe’. Jacques seemed to know the chef well and we ordered some brownies and hot chocolates. As we walked away, the rain had turned into sleet and then snow, and the wind had picked up, causing our heads to ache. By mistake, Jacques bumped into a parked bicycle on the sidewalk, causing him to drop his hot chocolate all over the sidewalk. I held on to mine tight. This drink was the only thing I had to help ease the constant ice cream headache that I was feeling.
We managed to catch the end of the changing of the guard at the royal palace. Jacques told me about a time when he happened to see the newly-married royal prince out riding a bicycle with his wife, the princess. He said it was an odd encounter because he had just purchased two hot dogs and was gripping one in each hand. He didn’t want to salute His Royal Highness in the public setting, alerting other passersby of who that was on the bike, but did want to acknowledge him. He addressed the couple as he should have, but with a mouthful of hotdog. They smiled as the continued on their outing.
We took refuge from the cold by entering a huge church called Frederiks Kirke, which is Protestant Lutheran. It was incredibly ornate! So much beautiful detail! I took a few pictures, not wanting to distract those who were there to worship.
We next walked The Church of Our Lady, which is also Protestant Lutheran. This church houses the original Christus statue. If you’ve ever been to the visitor’s center at either the Salt Lake City temple, or the Mesa temple, you have seen replicas of this Christus statue. This is the original one.
Along the sides of the pews stand the statutes of eleven of the twelve original apostles. Each one so incredibly detailed. If not for the white color of the stone, I’d swear that they were really standing there! The sculptor opted to not include Judas, the twelfth apostle, who’d betrayed Jesus. I don’t have the words to appropriately share what I felt.
While we were there, I got to meet Jacques friend Michael. Michael is on the Copenhagen Police Force and was once mentored by Jacques in some sort of training operation. I’m not sure the whole situation, but since then they’d become good friends. Michael is stinking hilarious and seems like a top notch fellow! We had a great visit and a delicious lunch and dessert together. We were only together for under and hour-and-a-half, but I think I’m going to miss this new friend, who offered me a position with the police force. I’m not even joking.
After a quick stop off at a rug store, Michael dropped us off back at Jacques house. It was great to go back inside, leaving the cold. We’d planned to go see that famous mermaid sculpture that Copenhagen is known for, but I felt like I was running short on time before I had to get back to the airport to check in for my flight back to the states.
I’m incredibly thankful that I was able to spend last night and today with Jacques. He is truly an amazing friend and even though we were friends when we attended Utah State University, all those years ago, I’d never gotten one-on-one time with him. I didn’t really know him very close like I do now. A friend for years, but became a very close pal during this visit. I will miss him, but we both promised to keep in touch, a lot better than we have over the last sixteen years or so.
Now let’s talk about the flight I’m on. When I boarded the plane, I felt guilty for not having chocolate to give the flight crew. That has become my thing that I do, but I totally spaced it. I did introduce myself to the crew and said what I always say: Hi! I am a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines and I’m seating in seat ____. If you need anything, just let me know.
Just before they were ready to close the doors, one of them came to the back and asked me to grab my stuff and follow him. I asked if everything was ok. He said it was, but I’d need to bring my stuff. I did as I was told. This awesome crew upgraded me to first class! Maybe it’s the fact that they know I work in the industry. Maybe it’s the fact that they know how much I love to talk. So each and everyone who reads this needs to book a flight on Norwegian Air. Even if I hadn’t been upgraded, they were still a super nice crew!
Sadly, it is time to start to make my way back to “reality.” I use the word loosely because I think each of us makes up our own version of reality. The cleaning lady knocked on the door of my flat just before 11:00, and I knew that this was the sign that I needed to leave. Thank goodness I am returning to a place that is also wonderful! Sad to be leaving such a wonderful place.
I’m waiting for a flight that doesn’t leave for about 5 more hours. I’ve decided to fly east before I turn around and fly west to come back home. I have a dear friend whom I met while attending Utah State University years ago. I need to check in on him. I think this visit should bump me up to best friend status… that’s the goal, really. So there, Steven Hanson- take that! One item sitting on my yet-to-be-revealed Second Bucket List is to visit my friend Jacques in Denmark.
I think that the workers at Holyrood Palace are upset with me. I don’t think the Queen is going to invite me over to tea after today, not anytime soon. I have a story to share today- I’m going to start out by saying that today was excellent!
Months ago I was looking at my family tree. I was cruising up one of the lines on my mom’s side of the family, and all of a sudden I found ties to royalty! This was very exciting- I think it’s high time that all of my friends started treating me as royalty. I found that I am a descendant of James II of Scotland, that is if my family pedigree chart is accurate. I’ve blogged about this once in the past.
Before this trip to Scotland began, I looked up some information about James II and found out that he was buried at the Abbey at Holyrood Palace. This is great news because I also found out that touring the Abbey was included in the admission price. I was planning on coming to Edinburgh anyway- so I set a goal to find James II’s burial plot.
When I was in Edinburgh last month, I went to the palace and asked one of the workers if she knew where he had been buried. She said she didn’t, but went to speak with one of her supervisors. The supervisor said that the grave had been desecrated in one of the wars. He told me that some of the grave had been preserved, however. He said that if I purchased the entry fee, he would show me where it was. I thought this was very kind of him, but at the time I had gone over on my vacation spending budget, so I told him I’d have to think about it.
Fast forward to yesterday. Since I’m now back in Edinburgh and had kept to my budget so well over the past few weeks, I had enough to buy the ticket and explore the palace grounds. When I was about to pay the entry fee, I asked the same question and if someone could take me to where James II was originally buried. She left to go get another supervisor. She came back with directions to his burial place but said I may or may not be able to get an escort on the inside.
I told the supervisor that I understood. I’m sure the workers had plenty that they needed to be doing. I took note of the directions and paid the entry fee. The tour starts in the courtyard and then from there it leads you into the palace. You get to see so much artwork on the walls and the most awesome part about all this is the fact that this is still a royal residence. This is where Queen Elizabeth stays when she comes to Scotland.
After the palace tour, you walk over to the Abbey. I was so excited! The Abbey is, of course, in ruins but they are trying to preserve what remains. Following the instructions, I walked to the far-right, back corner to find the place where James II had been buried. I looked around and was able to find mention of his queen wife, but nothing about the King himself. I looked around some more. So many of the old markers had been worn out from so much exposure to the elements and I thought that maybe one of those worn out ones might be his.
I started to look for one of the workers to see if he/she would know which marker was the right one. I found one employee who didn’t appear to be busy and asked him if he could point me in the right direction. He replied with a very smug tone, “Oh, you must be that American boy looking for James II.” I didn’t know what to say, but I smiled as politely as I could and told him I was. Then he says (and I’m not even joking), “Yes, I know where he is buried, but I can’t tell you.”
Now, wait a minute! Before I’d paid the money to get onto the grounds, everyone had been so kind and sounded so willing to help. Now that I was in here, I had this [pick a swear word], smug, [choose another swear word, any word will do] talking down to me, what a [pick one more swear word and add the suffix ‘tard’ to the end of it]. I didn’t really have an attitude with him but these are the thoughts that were going through my head. What’s wrong with talking to me like I’m a person? I replied, “Oh don’t worry- I’ll find it myself. Sorry to trouble you!” and headed back over to the abbey. It’s not like I wanted to steal the King’s remains, for heaven’s sake!
More looking, but I found nothing. Just the marker for James’ wife’s burial place (who was actually buried somewhere else, but later exhumed and moved to this abbey). I decided I’d finish my tour and be done with it. As I walked through the gardens, this was sort of weighing on my conscience. I was upset and frustrated but there wasn’t anything I could do. I’ll just get over it, I thought.
I noticed that they were doing some excavation work on one of the garden lawns. They had discovered that there were once more buildings, just east of the abbey. That was cool- it looked like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, or Jurassic Park, or something like that. I took a couple pictures and moved on.
Finally, I reached the end of the tour and was getting ready to turn in my audio guide and told the last worker of my frustration. First, she said to me, “Oh, you’re the American looking for James II?” but she didn’t say it condescending at all, unlike her coworker had. I laughed and told her that was me. She asked me if I found the site. I told her I hadn’t yet, and so she told me to go back and look at that excavation site. The far northeast corner is where James II had been originally buried.
Yes, the site had been desecrated and the body had been exhumed but they somehow managed to get parts of the body back and they were reburied in that same area! So- I had found the spot! Now I’m grinning, and I ask her if I could hug her. She laughed and hugged me.
I walked back into the garden to find the place where James had been buried. I got to the area of the excavation and stood silent for a moment, lost in thought. I knelt down on the grass to just sit and listen. Then after awhile, I said, “Hey James! I just wanted to say hello. I hope you’re doing well!” Luckily nobody was around to witness this. I sat for another moment, then stood up while wiping the tears from my eyes. I turned around and made my way off of the palace grounds.
On High Street, across from St. Giles’ Cathedral sits a man who makes his living by selling pictures that he’s taken. When I was here a few weeks back, I glanced at some of his work and was really impressed. I told him that I didn’t have any cash on me and said I’d think about coming back to buy one in the future. A few days later, I’d left Edinburgh, having forgotten all about this interaction. This morning I randomly thought about the guy and decided I did, indeed want to buy one of his pictures. This was the one I’d seen of Victoria’s Street, a road that winds down from next to High Street, to Grassmarket.
I made my way up the street a few minutes ago and saw the same guy selling his pictures in the same spot. I approached him to say hello and look through his photos again. I reminded him of who I was and that we’d met a few weeks back. He didn’t seem to have any recollection of me. He told me that people often say that same thing that I did, or that they’ll have to think about the purchase and come back later. They’re really not interested, but they don’t want to hurt his feelings.
I told him that I wasn’t one of “those people” and the only reason I’d walked up the hill was to buy his picture of Victoria’s Street. He smiled and thanked me. When I was looking through his pictures, I saw the one I was interested in but kept looking. Underneath a few others was a different picture of Victoria’s Street- and this one I actually liked better than the first one. Score!
He actually had a bunch of other pictures that I really liked. Someday I may come back and buy another from him. I hope his business keeps so he’s here when I come back to Edinburgh in the future. I will drop my new picture in the post before I leave in a couple days. I can’t wait to hang it on the wall at home. I think I’ll have a nice frame made for it.
Today was filled with French undertones. What does that mean? I decided to go see a matinee of the movie Bastille Day, which takes place in Paris. It was a great flik! Lots of action! Here’s the trailer:
My dinner was at a nearby French restaurant. By “nearby”, I mean it’s literally across the street and about 4 doors down. I wanted a change of menu because it seems like all these restaurants are serving the exact same thing. I wasn’t in the mood for Chinese food or a curry, and after last night’s pizza, I thought I needed something a little more balanced. So- French it is!
The food was good, but here is my complaints: First of all, it was expensive, even for British standards. If you’re going to charge me that much, you need to possibly put more food on the plate? I guess that’s not the way they do it in France though. I ordered some kind of cheese soufflé for a starter, the main course was some kind of pork dish, and some crème brûlée for dessert.
My other complaint (I’ve complained about this before) is that I HATE it when restaurants add the gratuity automatically. That is the most annoying thing about eating out! There’s reason it’s called gratuity… it’s ME SHOWING THAT I WANT TO SAY “YOU DID A GOOD JOB” BY GIVING MY SERVER MORE MONEY at the end of the meal. Don’t assume you deserve more money for yourself. The good news is that I would have actually tipped more than they added to the bill. But instead of having them change it, I just went with the 10% they added. Their loss. This was surprising, especially since tipping is not as common as it is in the states.
Tonight I’m staying in. I had my heart set on going to find some karaoke or some kind of dance club but I’m currently without pants. Haha! So- I needed to wash some of my shirts and pants, and I dropped them off at a place that does a laundry service, not thinking. I don’t think it’s too cold to be in shorts outside tonight, but I don’t want to be “that guy who showed up to the club in his shorts”. The struggle is real, people!
I think I’m just going to chill here in the flat. Maybe I’ll even go to bed early, which I haven’t really done since I got back to the city. They say that rest is a good thing, perhaps I’ll try it out and let you know.
Tonight I needed to walk up The Royal Mile again. This city haunts me- it’s incredible! The more I learn about it, the more I want to learn. I’m already missing this place, even though I haven’t left yet. I just couldn’t stay inside. I had to walk around and take some more pictures of these buildings at night.
You know that freaky feeling you get when you’re watching the movie Mary Poppins? It’s the feeling that comes when Dick Van Dyke is singing Chim Chim Cher-ee. The song starts out fast and upbeat, then it comes to the instrumental part. The music slows down and it’s almost spooky. He looks as if he’s lost in thought, as he looks out across the rooftops of London. This song lyric brings me this feeling I can’t describe.
…Up Where The Smoke Is All Billered And Curled
‘Tween Pavement And Stars Is The Chimney Sweep’s World
When There’s ‘Ardly No Day, Nor ‘Ardly No Night
There’s Things ‘Alf In Shadow And ‘Alfway In Light
On The Rooftops Of London – Coo – What A Sight!
That is how I felt tonight. I climbed the stairs to the top of the flat. Up two more floors and onto the roof. It was almost spooky to be up there by myself, silent and still. To look across at the rooftops of Edinburgh. It sent chills up and down my back, and as I write this, again- chills up and down my back.
This is crazy! I have been over here for 50 days! I am by far the coolest person you know, would like to know, or will ever know (take your pick). This morning I took a walk down The Royal Mile and found a great little tea shop for breakfast. I think it’s called “Clarinda’s”. The place looks like you’re visiting grandma’s house. It was brilliant!
After breakfast, it was a hike up Arthur’s Seat again. As you can tell, I’m trying very hard to make this strenuous climb part of my daily tradition while I’m here. When I reached the top, it dawned on me that I’d left my camera at the teahouse, so you don’t get pics from the top today. When I got back, the greeter was holding my camera and smiling at me. I told her this was a not-very-uncommon occurrence. I am better than I used to be, though.
Dinner note: I really like the restaurant Pret A Manger. I’m not sure how the name is pronounced. I had this early in the trip when I was in Glasgow. Fresh sandwiches made every day- nothing is ever frozen or even refrigerated. No preservatives and they’re pretty environmentally conscious. Good fresh sandwiches. I make no money by sharing this information, unfortunately.
The walk to the Stornoway airport was very windy! I’m surprised that with my huge backpack, I wasn’t pushed over several times. Sometimes I would have to stop walking for a moment and simply plant my feet. I certainly didn’t want to be pushed into traffic, not that there was a whole lot of that.
When I got to the airport, I had about seven hours to kill. My flight to Edinburgh wasn’t leaving until 18:35 and since I had to be checked out of the hotel long before that, I really didn’t have much of an option. The trek from downtown to the airport was about 2 ½ miles. When I arrived, I walked up to the gentleman at the Flybe ticket counter to ask if there was an earlier flight to EDI, and if so, how much it would cost to change. The gentleman told me that there wasn’t, but I could switch to an earlier Glasgow flight and then get on a train or bus from there. The change wasn’t very expensive, so this is what I decided to do. This move put me into Edinburgh about 5 hours earlier than I’d expected!
The good news is that I’m now back in the city I love most. The bad news is that this will be my last stop in Scotland before its time to come home. I’m not going to think of that right now, though. More good news: For this last part of the trip I’m renting a flat in Old Town, just half a block off The Royal Mile. I found a really great deal through AirBnB. It is pretty much the supreme location! The only reason I can afford it is because it’s still the off-season, so things are cheaper.
I say this is my last stop in Scotland but I’m taking the scenic route home. To find out how I’m getting home next week, you’re just going to have to read it on this site next week. I’ll just say- I won’t be flying in a straight line, and a trip to Western Europe wouldn’t be the same without getting to see an old, dear friend.