A lot of stuff has transpired in the two weeks since I last updated the blog. Let’s just knock out the main points in chronological order:
I celebrated St. Patty’s Day weekend with a visit to Scotland. The first day we visited Edinburgh. The city is marvelous. I took some video of a band shooting their music video:
Do you recognize them? We left later that day and headed over to Glasgow for a few pints. We stumbled upon this great spot called Oran Mor, a church that was converted into a bar. We had such a great time there, that we came back the next morning to get a Full Scottish Breakfast (Black pudding, sliced sausage, grilled tomato, haggis, baked beans, toast, and coffee). Mmm.. Low-density lipoproteins…
Washed it down with a Guinness, and walked over to the University of Glasgow. The architecture of the school blew me away. (See my previous photo post.)
After the weekend, we headed back down to Leeds and I started preparing for my journey to India. So I thought. You may recall a statement I made in a previous post: “It has been go(x3) the past couple weeks. I am fairly certain I have forgotten an important item or task, but I find comfort knowing that there is no turning back now.” Indeed, Eric, indeed. I remembered to get my vaccinations and malaria pills, double-checked security risks, made all of my flight arrangements, planned out areas of interest, even started a blog. The “task” (that apparently existed solely in my subconscious) was getting a tourist visa for India before leaving the US. To borrow the eloquent words of Rick Perry: “Oops.” I discovered my folly the night before my flight, thankfully. After a brief round-trip tour of Bummertown, I decided to re-route my trip to Amsterdam.
I boarded a bus down to London, and then a red-eye 10-hour bus/ferry ride to Amsterdam. The bus ride was miserable. I sat next to a guy who wasn’t familiar with the imaginary boundary that separated our seats. His left knee invaded my space and I didn’t know how best to handle it. Do I push back and post my right knee as a sentinel, and deal with our knees touching the whole time? Or do I retreat to the comfort and freedom of the side of the bus, and thereby allow him to freely invade my leg-room? I ended up combining both strategies: I granted him the extra space for the most part, but if he took it too far I would passive-aggressively hit him with my right knee, as if I had a horrible leg twitch. I think he got the idea.
Everyone should go to Amsterdam once in their life. When you do, stay at the Stayokay Vondelpark. The hostel connected to the city center through Leidseplein, a thoroughfare that featured great coffee shops, restaurants, and local markets. I met an English musician by the name of Davy Lewis who was on a tour that hit 52 European cities in 52 weeks. Dave and his guitar are a force to be reckoned with, and he’s totally an upstanding guy. Check out his facebook! Of course I partook in the “coffeeshop” scene and made the most of the Amsterdam experience. There’s a lot to see in Amsterdam, but if I had to recommend one place to check out it would be Anne Frank’s house. Walking through took me back to a dreadfully abhorrent time in recent history, through the eyes of a girl too smart and strong to be only 12. Words cannot adequately recreate the looming fear during those times, but walking through the museum/house helped paint the picture.
I am back in Seattle now, exhausted and happy to be home. I’m disappointed that India didn’t work out, but I made some freakin’ lemonade. The most important lesson learned is this: travel more and meet new people. The best part of my travels weren’t the museums, sights, or even the soothing solitude of travelling alone—it was meeting people.
We all establish certain beliefs about our world, which give us the comfort and security of tacit knowledge. All of that is based on observations gathered in our lifetime, though, which is pretty freaking small considering how big the world is.
By meeting other random travelers, I received perspectives that I poured into my little puddle of knowledge. Once I can make a pool, maybe I’ll figure it all out. Until then, I plan to travel more and always remember to pack the following items:
1) Insatiable curiosity (recklessly abandon any inhibitions that may prevent me from learning).
2) An awareness of my ‘self’ and how it differs from those I meet. What valuable things do I naturally contribute to the conversation? How do others act/talk/listen?
3) Funny and interesting stories to share with others.
4) Oh yeah, and a tourist visa.
Moving to Santa Barbara on Wednesday, more about that next post.