Scotland was like Moxie to me. It’s visible, available, and potentially doesn’t taste great. I’m going to assume not everyone has heard of it: Moxie is an American soda that doesn’t taste great to everyone. Some people are raving fans and that’s okay too. It wasn’t like I just disregarded the country, I knew Scotland existed, I just wasn’t sure if I would like it. I kept thinking of the film with Robin Williams, Mrs. Doubtfire. The accent made me really happy for some reason. I kept thinking of the, “run by fruiting scene” from the movie. It makes me laugh every time. Since Scotland kept being mentioned by friends, I felt compelled to go take a sip and see what would happen. What’s the worst that could happen? I could spit it out if I didn’t like it.
Traveling further east as the original intention did put this destination in nearly the opposite direction. The final destination on the east side was India and all my traveling was, “up in the air” anyway — following the flow and bread crumbs of life along the way. This has its inherent challenges too though, it’s not all excitement, sexy, and intrigue. I think if I had done this trip 10 years ago I might still be out exploring and we’ll never know that answer. Anyhow, back to India… the culture, the history, the lifestyles — I’ve been so interested in Indian culture for a long time. It started with yoga to stretch more when I was weightlifting frequently (I’m a reformed meathead). I developed lordosis (basically a hyperextension of the lower back that caused pain from not having strong ab muscles to keep up with the strength I gained on the posterior side) circa 2006. Yogic stretching started around that time too. Anyhow, you came here for Scotland, right? I decided to figure out logistics while I was in Brighton, England. After a smooth and scenic eight hour train ride north, I arrived just before midnight. The walk from the station was full of bars buzzing with life, live music coasting out into the streets — it made my walk around the train station to my Uber pick up point really enjoyable. I felt safe even though I was always prepared for any potentialities, knife in my front pocket, rope nearby. I was like a wannabe MacGyver meets government agent that failed field training. Thankfully, not once did I have to flex any martial arts training that I had in my youth.
After about a 20 minute car ride, I arrived in a suburban area East of the city, Edinburgh. It was near Portobello beach. The crisp night air was so refreshing having spent a good amount of my travels in very urban environments before this. The temperature was nice and cool, not too cold. There was what looked like a park across the street that was lined with trees and dropped down into a bowl of vegetation and a playground below. After looking for the house number where I needed to check into, I arrived through the small metal gate and stepped onto the concrete step so I could reach and pull the metal door knocker to announce my arrival. The sweetest woman opened the door and immediately, Mrs. Doubtfire scenes come rushing back to me. I was so happy to be in Scotland.
Over the course of the next couple of days near Edinburgh, I explored the city, met up with other travelers, and stayed out until 3am at a rock venue one night. This reminded me how much I don’t like being in live music only because of how it affects my hearing. I had tubes put into my ears when I was a child and as much as I loved Calvin Harris at LIV in Miami that one time — I just shouldn’t allow myself to go and be near this type of stuff anymore. It’s not worth the after effects. This is one of many of the lessons in what happens when Mike has what appears to be unlimited choices. Well, does one just do it because it’s possible or does it serve another purpose? This was a great lesson in self governance that most people learn when they’re much younger. Perhaps it’s apart of the ADHD label that I carried for many years. Perhaps it’s attached to another story I told myself. The journey of traveling was one that was excellent at exposing these things to me. It’s still a lesson I needed so I’m okay with it and if it helps anyone other than me, that would be cool.
Edinburgh is such a cool downtown area. It’s medieval buildings felt like they were towering over the crowds below. It has the highest density of buildings in the entire UK (relative to area per Wiki). The free walking tour was really informative and helped me understand why all the buildings looked like they were stained black as well as the “original meaning of, shitfaced.” For anyone that’s as unaware as I was too, the buildings look like they’re 50 shades of gray because of all the coal the owners and residents burned to keep warm during the cold Scottish seasons. Makes sense, right? The shitfaced term came about from when all the bar patrons were walking home. They would walk near the buildings where there was a gutter below. It was a built in street gutter. It was used to funnel human waste, water, anything citizens didn’t want to keep around their home. They would toss these things into the, “sewage system” some time ago. Well, in order for the human waste to get into the gutter, people would empty their buckets that were kept beside the bed, from the windows upstairs, and launch it outside with fare warning. The warning caused the people wandering home from the bar to look up and hence, become, shitfaced. It seems like a cruel and very smelly thing to do. Another interesting tidbit of drinking culture from around the world is from Dublin when wives used to paint their home door a different color while the hubby was out with his friends. There were no street numbers at the time so they would be lost looking for the “right” color door late at night. Randomly interesting things.
Scotland will be a multi-part series as we continue to edit the following stories.
Thanks for stopping by.