Search This Blog

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Scotland - Day 1: Far But Familiar

Fun fact:  The mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania belong to the same range that, in Earth's past, also include the Scottish Highlands.  You can learn more about the subject HERE.  Here's a graphic, just to punctuate the point...

This isn't the first time I've heard about the Central Pangean Mountains; that would be something Ms. Rivers' brother, a geologist, mentioned when we were visiting Scandinavia in 2018.  

Based on the title of this posting, and the reference above, it's fair to say that I am visiting Scotland this week.  By way of background, this trip is notable for a few reasons, including the fact that it's likely to be one of the last vacations we take with Ms. Rivers' sons (my stepsons).  This is because they are getting older, we are getting older, and well, everything seems to getting older.  Speaking of getting older, another reason behind the trip is the fact, as we approach an eventual, collective retirement age, it seems prudent for us to take advantage of the fact that we've been prudent with our finances.  Put another way, was can afford to travel, so why not?  In some respects, this is the first trip of what will probably be a few in the years to come.  The downside?  More tedious blog postings from me, but so I digress.

So, why Scotland?  

Well to the best of my knowledge, I have zero point zero connection to Scotland.  This is the honest-to-goodness truth, unlike what I've said about Ireland for decades.  Ms. Rivers?  Well, she does.  The genesis of the trip came after hearing about a similar trip that Ms. Rivers' sisters took years ago.  The thought was that we would travel with them, but that part didn't end up working out.  What did was our end of it, so here we are, about a year after starting to plan this vacation.  

Butterfly knees.

There is a special 1,000-year place in purgatory for people who design modern airplane seating arrangements.  Now if you are of average height, these sorts of things work out okay for you.  Me?  Not so much, so my knees end up being bent at unnatural angles for hours on end, broken up by the occasional trip to the bathroom (which is mostly just an excuse to unfurl my a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis...every now and then).  With 8 hours of travel yesterday, well, my knees were sore by the time I got off the second leg of our flights, here in Edinburgh.  Making matters worse was the fact that we then had about 3+ hours (and associated walking) before we could check in at our rented apartment in Edinburgh's old city.  By the time I was able to lay down (I had gotten about an hour of sleep the night before) my knees felt like they were got to explode and projectile my patellas across the room.  Fortunately, this did not happen. 

So here I am now, writing this on a dreary but more or less wonderful morning in the old city of Edinburgh.  My knees are about 90% recovered, and I think that today's guided walking tour will actually help things.  Or so we shall see.

One observation about Scotland so far:  It sort of reminds me of growing up in Scranton.  Connection via ancient mount range aside for a moment, this place is gritty, has lots of smells (diesel, food, stuff that was once food but now is rotting...), and is generally not well kept.  In other words, Scranton in the 1970's, but sans the three strip clubs that adorn a corner not so far from us.  Multiples seem to be a thing here, as in addition to the three strip clubs nearby, there are at least four barbers within a stone's throw from the kitchen window I am sitting next to at this very moment.  Scottsmen love well-trimmed hair I guess.

Lastly, I did not bring my usual camera gear on this trip.  This is mostly because I didn't want to have to bring another bag with me, and my Google Pixel takes great pictures anyway.  In service of my comment about Edinburgh's gritty-ness, I offer the following...

More to come.

No comments: