Welcome back, when we last left me I was having a bit of a rough go of it, so I’m happy to share with you the first of my ‘hopping around Europe’ stints, Edinburgh, Scotland.
For context, this trip to Scotland was a last minute thing where Fahmara invited me on a Thursday, I bought my ticket that same day and I was off by Monday. A whirlwind chain of events for a whirlwind of trip.
For some reason when people ask me what I did in Scotland I have a hard time remembering? This has little to do with the trip itself because I enjoyed myself and needed a vacay from school, but everything seems to be blurring together very quickly?
Ignoring that time seems to be getting more fleeting as I am more and more submerged in the forty-hour work week grind, the trip began with a kind of funny hiccup. The person at the airport reprimanded me because apparently my carry-on luggage was too big to be carry-on luggage. So instead of paying $80 for a very small suitcase, round-trip, that was half-empty anyway, Fahmara suggested we try to find me a new suitcase.
That didn’t pan out so plan C was ditch the suitcase entirely because everything I was bringing fit in my backpack. Now, somewhere in Luton Airport, my suitcase is hanging out, on a journey of its own, as my three-suitcase matching set in my room now stands incomplete.
The flight there was fifty minutes long, which is insane that you can even be on a plane for such a short period of time. After my seventeen-hour flight to South Africa this summer, I don’t even flinch for a seven-hour flight, let alone even stay conscious for a flight under an hour.
After that twelve-second flight, we snagged a cab to our bed & breakfast and I got to soak in the sights. In general, I love be driven places where I can stare out the window and take in a place, but it becomes a bit elevated when I’m in a different country.
What really caught my eye as we drove into Edinburgh was the architecture: all the buildings and homes had a quaint, lived-in vibe to them. Some complexes seemed a bit historic, like they had been here a while, while others were stylized and gave off New England vibes.
Being in Scotland made me think about South Africa a lot, not in the sense that the two countries are incredibly similar, but in relation to what my traveling experiences have been like thus far. You go to these foreign countries in hopes that you get to “experience” a place, but no matter how long you stay there, you’re only going to have a glimpse of what it’s like to be there.
I was in South Africa for three weeks and I still only experienced it through a lense relative to where I went and who I was with. I had never done any travel to different continents prior to May of this year so I’m still trying to determine what my perception and expectations of “travelling” are.
Edinburgh was a nice starter country to travel to: it was pretty, had decent food, and felt safe. Our nights consisted of me and Fahmara traipsing around from various bars to try stir up the nightlife scene. One of us was in search of the male gaze and the other just wanted to dance; I’ll let you determine which I was.
Being that Fahmara and I are both women of a certain age, we did not really think through that if we went to a bar on a Monday night at 8pm, that said nightlife would be non-existent. It’s very funny in retrospect, and was pretty funny at the time, that families with small children were still out at the bars we went to.
in search of the nightlife
Each night I insisted that we go to the gay bars because straight bars are irrelevant to me. On Tuesday night, we went out a bit later, 9pm, and we stumbled onto a drag show in the basement of a gay bar. I went to the bathroom for a “wee,” as my students say, and I heard “Barbie Girl” by Aqua playing from somewhere close by. Lo and behold, drag queens were not far away.
Being that I was very involved in my LGBTQ+ organization at New Paltz, we worked with the drag club (Kings & Queens of New Paltz) fairly frequently, which developed my love and respect for drag. My favorite type of drag performance is when queens just lip sync and perform to various songs. I credit the fact that I can woo and cheer at the drop of a hat for any occasion because of all the drag shows I saw at New Paltz.
The queens at this bar were all really good, which surprised me because the NP queens function on a pretty high-caliber, setting my drag performance bar pretty high. It was an incredibly heart-warming experience though because it felt like home to me, something about watching a queen do dramatic rendition of “Wannabe” resonated with me.
Our nights were filled with bar-hopping and our days were filled with scoping around the shops and catching lunch specials at restaurants. Fahmara also booked us for this “scary” underground tour of a deep, large basement from the 1800’s where the employees were in character and led us on a tour of this place. Fahmara talked it up like it was going to be one of those Halloween haunted graveyard walks, when in reality it felt more like a segment on the History Channel. She considered it spooky, but for me it was a bit of a snooze.
At the end of the tour, you can take an infrared, because you’re in a dark basement, souvenir photo. None of the other families wanted to go first so we volunteered and were very confused on where to look and were overall very unprepared. Here’s the photo that resulted:
Other than that, we wandered around, saw some sites, and watched a bit of daytime television. I’ll have you know that daytime television in the UK is the equivalent of what it is in America. For instance, The Jeremy Kyle Show is basically an English Maury with the addition that he is allowed to be really abrasive with his guests. He had this one trio of family members on and he goes, “OI, SHUT UP,” to the daughter who kept interrupting the neglectful mom.
Edinburgh is really into castles/gothic architecture
Overall, Edinburgh was a fun little trip and a nice opportunity to recharge after seven weeks of working. I’ll talk more about the day-to-day teaching stuff again in my next post, so stay tuned.