By the time my head hit my pillow last night, I was out. My body had been up, at that point, for 22+ hours. This is what happens when you ride the cheap seats: LGW > SEA > OAK > SLC. Shoutout to the most amazing Norwegian crew who brought me from Gatwick to Seattle. They made that 11-hour chunk of my journey, so nice! Again, I bribed my way into their hearts by bringing chocolates that I grabbed from the duty-free shop at the airport. It never hurts, people! I’m telling you it doesn’t!
I realized when I landed at SeaTac, that I had forgotten to factor in the time it would take me to get through international customs and then all the way to the ‘B’ gates to catch my second flight. Thank goodness for the Mobile Passport app that I have on my phone! This made it to where I could cut most of the people in the line. I almost don’t want to share this information, because the more that people know about this, the longer the line is going to be. At least this blog doesn’t have a whole lot of readers- let’s keep this information on the D.L.
After missing my train exit, and going to the wrong security line, I got to my gate with only moments to spare. Then I found out that not only was there room on the flight, but the plane was a few minutes delayed. For once, I was very thankful for a delayed flight! I was soon in Oakland, waiting for my last flight to Salt Lake City. Once again, there was plenty of space, so getting back to Utah wasn’t a problem.
Here are some lessons I have learned over the last 40 days:
Don’t bring a printed itinerary. It was a waste and I didn’t need it. From here on out, I will only use the TripIt App on my phone (check this out before you travel next time) and will keep a back up of all my confirmation information in an email folder.
Just about every business in Scotland will take a contactless payment, therefore I can use my Apple Pay everywhere! This gave me so much peace of mind since I didn’t have to give out my card number a million times. I learned to go to a reputable A.T.M. (like a major bank) and take out about £100 at a time, but only using that for places that wouldn’t take Apple Pay, or I would use that cash to tip servers, etc.
When booking trains/buses/transportation, factor in when I am allowed to check into my next lodging, that way I don’t have to lug around a heavy backpack while I’m waiting to check in. Some places will store a bag for me so that I can go out and explore, and some places will charge a fee for this.
Ok, I need to go get some things done before I return to work- no pressure, but there is only approximately 324 days until ‘Scotland 8’.
When I booked my return flight to the states, I thought I’d found a great way to save money! Instead of flying from Edinburgh to Salt Lake City, I found a great deal from London Gatwick all the way to Seattle. From there, I’ll just fly non-revenue to get home. Cheap flight, yes. The only things I forgot to factor in were the flight from Edinburgh to London (not too expensive), and the overnight stay in London (a bit more expensive).
Alas, here I am, sitting on my bed at the Masslink Guest House in Horley, England [map], which is probably about 45 minutes south of London. I was hoping to have more of a “London” experience, but I don’t want to board a bus and two trains to get there. Sadly, there was no afternoon tea with the Royals. Instead, I found a local Wetherspoon (I’ve eaten at this chain restaurant more times than I can count in the last month-and-a-half) and ordered some chicken and ribs.
I am so sad that my time here is almost over! I have had such a wonderful experience- Scotland is an amazing country, filled with amazing people! I feel incredibly blessed to be in a situation where I can make these trips. As always, it just lights the fire for more!
I figured out why Edinburgh has been so rainy over the last few days. This is Scotland crying, knowing that it’s almost time for me to leave. It’s sad when you come to a place that you love so much, and you have to go back to “reality”. It’s ok though- I need to go home and start working again. If for no other reason, it means I can start planning for my next visit. Everyone needs an obsession, and I guess I should be thankful that my obsession is a place and a people, but not drugs or alcohol. Thank you for not judging me too harshly.
The fact is, this is my last full day in Scotland. Much of it was spent waiting around. I had some errands to run- shopping for a friend back in Utah, running a couple of times to the Mail Boxes Etc. store on South Bridge. I’m not a huge souvenir shopper, but I did get a few things. I wanted to ship them home so I don’t have to pay extra money to the airline.
Also, I had to check in to a new hostel. The one I was staying at has a not-for-extended-stay policy, which means that I can’t stay there for more than two weeks in a row. Since this round of Edinburgh is two weeks plus one day, I went to their other location just down the street. It was rather annoying, but it gave me a chance to go through all my stuff and decide what ships home and what I need to carry home. Greetings from the Budget Backpackers (soon to be rebranded as “Kick-Ass Cowgate”.
I got the cheapest room available since it’s only for one night. I think there are twenty beds in this room, it’s mixed gender and it smells like a locker room, right after practice. I just think this is a stinky group of people. Definitely not as nice as the other Kick-Ass hostel that I just came from.
Tonight I went to see one more movie called The Keeper. This was a very touching story that takes place just at the end of World War II. A German P.O.W. is asked to play football while he’s in captivity, but then when he’s released he now loves the situation he is in… fell in love with an English girl- blah blah blah. The acting is the best, but it’s based on a true story, so there’s that.
I’m off to bed. I’m up early tomorrow to catch a plane down to Gatwick.
Today started out, just like yesterday: A misty sprinkle with thick fog. I made the mistake of going to find breakfast without taking my umbrella. By the time I got back to the hostel, I was soaking wet. Because of this, I spent most of the morning inside- I got some more reading done, and managed to get some of my things together so that I’m not running around tomorrow morning before I have to check out.
I stayed inside as long as I could, then I was starting to feel what I would call Cabin Fever. I just needed to get out, rain or shine. This time, with umbrella in hand, I made my way over to New Town and saw a matinee of The Hole in the Ground. The film was good, but I wanted it to be longer, and I wished they would have gone into more detail. I was so engrossed in the storyline- then suddenly it had ended.
On my way back to the hostel, the rain had stopped just long enough so I could take a few pictures of Cockburn Street (pronounced Co-Burn). Like Victoria Street, Cockburn winds it’s way up to the Royal Mile, but does so on the north side (Victoria on the south side), and is longer than Victoria Street.
As I walked to get my breakfast, I could tell it would be a rainy day. This isn’t just rain. It’s that misty rain so that no umbrella is going to help at all. It just blows in your face- not so good for those of us who wear glasses. I decided that I would declare this my last laundry day of the trip. Yes, it is true- My time in Scotland is drawing to a close. It is a sad thing, but unfortunately, life must go on.
Other than laundry, I spent the bulk of the day reading and listening to podcasts. In the evening, I did brave the misty fog and went to the cinema to see Shazam!. I thought the movie was a lot better than the previews looked- I’ll definitely add it to my wishlist as soon as the price drops, of course.
Dicky said he wanted to go see Camera Obscura, an Edinburgh tourist attraction that has been around since the 1800s. He invited me to go with him, and I went half-heartedly thinking I’d be bored. I felt like this was going to be a waste of the £14 entry fee. This was, however, Dicky’s last full day in Edinburgh, so I decided to go with him. I have always wondered what it was like inside. I have to admit that it was a pretty awesome exhibit.
Even though it was five stories high, with plenty to look at, I think it £14 is a bit steep of a price to charge. If you have kids, however, they would definitely love the place! It’s more or less a building full of optical tricks and illusions.
It is always great when someone can join you on your adventures. This morning I met a guy called Dicky. He is from the lovely country of Canada, so I guess that makes us next door neighbors. He is on a temporary, paid leave of absence from his job at Walmart. It is a sorted tale of him being an arguably bad employee, mixed with a store full of managers who don’t know how to manage- this got Dicky a paid leave while his bosses get things sorted. Sadly, he may be out of a job, but has already spoken to his lawyer and tells me he’s planning to sue if things don’t work out for the better.
He used this free time to come over to Scotland for the very first time. When he asked me for suggestions on what to see and do, I put my tour guide hat on my head and we hung out for the rest of the day.
We ended up at The Royal Museum of Scotland. I had never been there, and he said he really wanted to check it out, so we did. It was very cool- other than the fact that Dicky kept reminding me that the museum in Toronto was so much better. I guess Edinburgh needs to up their game.
Later this afternoon, Dicky got back from his Harry Potter tour (there is a bunch of them if you happen to be a Potter fan) and he was asking what we should do. I asked him if he had any desire to climb up to Arthur’s Seat. This is something that I told myself I would do every day while I was in Edinburgh. Due to bad weather, and just plain laziness, I have only been up once on this trip. He said he was very interested in going and since the sun was out, and Dicky is only going to be here for three days, we went for the hike.
Today I changed it up- just a bit. When I was walking to Leith the other day, I noticed that the musical Matilda was playing. I decided to check online if there were any tickets left. As luck would have it, the Edinburgh Playhouse had exactly two tickets left for the matinee, so I decided to get one of them. It was a really great seat, too! I was about six rows from the front.
It was a fun show! I miss seeing live performances so much! My only criticism is that a lot of the main character’s words were hard to understand. She was trying to enunciate, but the little girl had such a thick English accent, that it made it difficult. Luckily, the storyline was pretty easy to follow along with.
Tonight was such a cool night! I went on a City of the Dead tour. This tour, which I also went on a few years ago, is all about Edinburgh’s haunted past. Paranormal stuff has always fascinated me. To be honest, I don’t believe in so much of it, but it still fascinates me.
Before the tour, I got myself in a spooky mood by listening to the Sweeney Todd soundtrack, while taking some pictures. I used them. “Noir” filter on my phone to give the pics a scary feel.
There were a few moments on the tour where I was legitimately frightened, but that was only when the tour guide would shout or try to scare us. So I guess ‘frightened’ is the wrong word. It’s more like I was startled.
The tour actually takes you into some underground places in Edinburgh that had actually been sealed up for centuries. One if the places are supposedly haunted by a young boy called Jack. Freaky stuff!
I decided this morning to go on a long walk. It ended up being over 6 miles, by the time I got back to the hostel. I walked all the way to the Ocean Terminal Shopping Center, which is a mall in North Leith that is right on the Firth of Forth. I decided to do one of my ‘<100 Steps’ posts. This is simply where I walk with my camera while counting my steps. I have to take a picture before I the count gets up to one hundred. Do to all the pictures and lack of storytelling, you may find this post boring.
I, on the other hand, love doing this because it means that I am really paying attention to my surroundings. Sometimes when I go on walks, it’s easy to get lost in my thoughts, or lost in the music I’m listening to. When I do this, however, it’s an entirely different experience. I find myself paying attention to the little details all around me because I only have so many steps left before I have to take another picture. I recommend taking a walk with your camera and going this.