If you want to get a great impression of flying to Scotland on Icelandair, I recommend looking at the name of the plane you’re taking. Mine was called Hekla Aurora, which is named after one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. It means Gateway to Hell. I know because they have this tidbit painted onto the aircraft, conveniently right next to the door you use to get onto the plane itself.
I thought about this fact whenever there was the slightest turbulence crossing that ocean for six hours.
The flying was long. Difficult. I couldn’t make it asleep for the life of me, so I ended up watching four episodes of that canceled show From A to Z, which I’ve decided is a mixture of How I Met Your Mother and Pushing Daisies…except completely focused on the romantic relationship and nothing else, which may be why it was canceled? It wasn’t a terrible show, but I was also watching it with bleary eyes and full hope of slumber at some point.
By the time I made it to Iceland, I was exhausted and a bit worried as to whether I would actually get any sleep, therein rendering it useless for me to do anything after my final flight. In Home Time, this would mean I’d stayed up over twenty-four hours. I shouldn’t have worried because when I got off of the plane in Iceland, it turned out that our next plane wasn’t ready for us, being delayed by the half hour for two hours.
Two hours that were extremely boring as everyone I follow on social media are typically in the Minnesotan time zone.
By the time I made it on the Glasgow plane, I was so tired that I suddenly woke up when we pulled into the gate, wondering when I’d gotten to sleep.
Customs was intimidating, much more than New Zealand. Perhaps because I was in school rather than in whimsy. While I have most of my trip planned, I don’t necessarily have dates for everything just yet. And that is where it gets difficult for the customs officer to understand what my trip is. I had to explain many times over what The Way of Saint James was, why I was doing it, and why I was starting off my trip in Glasgow at all. It didn’t help that I had quit my job before coming over. And it really didn’t help that I didn’t have a ticket for when I was going to Ireland for a month yet, that I didn’t have a set time to finish my trek in Spain, and that I may visit a friend of my mum’s in Belgium at some point not determined.
When I explained that I had versed myself in everything to travel around in the UK without a visa (which includes me not being allowed to volunteer, nor making any euro PERIOD), and that I understood the implications of what could happen if I did, he softened a bit to explain “not everyone will buy your story,” and to be prepared with every single bit of proof I could whenever entering the country that I would eventually be leaving. There was also a hint that I shouldn’t explain the entirety of my stay; rather, just tell them how long I was sticking around for that part of the trip until I leave again.
I’m beginning to think not a lot of people quit their jobs and use their savings to travel Scotland for six months. Hrm.
Either way, the customs officer had scared me enough with the idea that they wouldn’t allow me back in the country for being too free of a spirit, thus causing me to firm down a few more plans today. I felt a bit offended that he chose to put my job as VP Admin Assistant rather than Writer after the long discussion, but I also wasn’t about to argue with someone who held the fate of whether I could enter a country in his hands.
After I got through customs (wherein I gave up one of my pens to a 20-year-old American from Colorado in a GODS’ SPEED YOUNG MAN gift as he had no clue where he was going or doing in Scotland), I finally met up with Karyn. Bless her soul, she’d had to leave her job twice to pick me up since they’d delayed me so close to my original departure time. I came out with all of my things, she called me daft for it (I am daft bringing all this shit), then dropped me off at a city tour bus with a spot of cash, like a parent does when they leave you for a day at the mall…except you’re usually fourteen in those stories.
The tour was wonderful, despite the (apparently constant) rain.
What was most odd is how familiar it all felt. Glasgow is oddly similar to Minnesota in rainy seasons. Lush greenery with a grey backdrop. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually flown anywhere at all.
Having watched tens of hundreds of UK films and shows, I assumed I’d be able to get around pretty easy with accents. This turned out not to be the case. I usually have to take a second to understand what people are saying, and they usually do a double take whenever I say something back. A lot of it has to do with idioms and double entendre. The bus driver cracked a joke about pounds while I paid for my ticket and it went completely over my head until I got to my seat on the upper deck where I realized he was making a purposeful joke about their money and how we Americans weigh ourselves.
The tour wasn’t even as fast as I expected it to be. I figured I would take the tour “twice”, the first to see everything and get information on the sites, the second to actually get off the bus and walk around (the tour buses come to the stops every ten minutes). However, I was dropped off at 4:15pm, Karyn was picking me up at 5:30pm, and I had a sneaking suspicion that I would miss that last bus picking people up at locations, making me screwed halfway across town. I’d already felt horrible that she’d picked me up, put money in my pocket, then had my purple pen ink all over her hand when she used it as it had exploded in the plane. I didn’t want to be late.
I did gather a list of things I wanted to visit in more depth after my trek, however:
- Glasgow Cathedral (and the cemetery right next to it)
- Riverside Museum (and a boat trip to see it from that angle)
- All of the art galleries
- The Mackintosh House
- Botanic Gardens
- School of Art
- Willow Tea Room
- All of the theatres
But what I really, really wanted to see was the Oran Mor, which is Gaelic for ‘great melody of life’. It is an old church repurposed into a lunch theatre type business (also a place to get drinks otherwise). It turned out that this place is also a favorite of Elaine’s, one of the ladies who is also in the household I am staying at, so it won’t be too difficult to coerce the family into going with me.
Rather than get lost after getting dropped off from the tour, I stuck to my area and found a local pub to get my first pint of cider in the country, a good use of four pounds.
It began to feel like a terrible idea two thirds of my way through due to the fact that the only things I’d only eaten that day were trail mix and a protein bar my mum packed me for snacks on the plane. Because I’m actually ten years old, not fourteen.
A pint of cider did me well in the end, however. I had only gotten an hour or two of sleep and was running off of “I JUST FLEW TO SCOTLAND” fumes. I was able to relax and write down the points of my day for future reference. And to think about my next steps to France since I fly out tomorrow morning to start my walk on Thursday.
I am forever thankful for meeting Karyn. I didn’t think I could ever receive such a kindness that she bestowed upon me. I’ve put a lot of faith into believing that putting love into life helps to work things out. In the short few weeks of being in contact with her, I already have an admiration for who is she as a person. I only hope to return the favor to her somehow in the future.
Also, fun fact: Golf in Scotland is just as boring as in the states. It was on in the pub I drank at. Some things never change around the world.