“Well, here are the keys, and if there’s anything you need, we’re just around the corner.”
“Thanks, much appreciated. ” I replied. John left, closing the self locking door behind him.
Another Monday came ’round, and it as another day for traveling. A week ago I’d been in Ireland, and before that was when I’d left for Ireland. I was headed on a quick 5-day trip to England, London specifically, for a friend’s wedding and a few tours. Today, however, was also when I was originally scheduled to return home, up until about two weeks before I was to leave. That may sound confusing, but it makes sense to me, and really, that’s all that matters right now.
I had added this Scotland trip at last minute, because my grandma had wanted me to travel a bit more, and I’d also made a deal with my best friend that if I didn’t have a job yet that I’d add some time to my travels. Well, no job came, so, Scotland here I come. I found a place on AirBNB (the best place for travel housing I’ve decided) and changed my flight home from July 25th to Aug 1. Mondays tend to be cheaper days to travel on that weekends and other days.
So, at 530 am I awoke, ready to get the current housing location in the center of London cleaned up so I could head out to the train station. Yes, I had arranged to train it for 4-5 hours up from London to Scotland. It was cheaper than flying and I really wanted to see the land as I went. Trains seem better everywhere here, than at home. I mean it was like 35$ to train it from London to Scotland, and at home that won’t even get you San Francisco on the train.
By 730, I was ready to leave. I grabbed my backpack and computer bag, put the house keys on top of the microwave, and headed out the small door of the flat. It locked behind me. Cross your fingers I didnt’ forget anything. I’ve noticed that a lot of the doors out here will just lock behind you. They also all have mastic keys which, while awesome looking, don’t always work right away.
Down the very noisy wooden steps, and out the small green door, to the right towards Barbican station I went. It was a short trip to London Kings Cross – where I was to catch the much longer train to Scotland station. I’ll skip to the point where I get to Kings cross, which is a bit of walk up and around and down again, through a lot of people. I’ve noticed that most of the ticketing is done digitally, something I wasn’t expecting, but should have given the amount of trains around here. I enter in my information at the two-person blue ticketing machine, and realize my train doesn’t leave until 1030am. It was 8am.
Well, Shit. I thought.
I looked around the hectic station. It was clearly peak hours since it was early Monday morning, so I found some escalators up to a second level where I saw a lot of empty seating. I stop at a cafe just at the stop of escalators and grabbed some tea and a scone. The tea I’d finish during the next 2.5 hours, but the scone I’d finish at the apt in Scotland, about 9 hours from now. I paid, and thanked the woman at the counter to the small corner station cafe, and headed out towards the balcony area for a small round table to plop down at.
Through the glass balcony border, I watched a lot of people come and go. I saw one woman in a stripped blue and white dress, literally not move her position of standing, legs crossed for a good 30 minutes. I took a photo, why? I don’t know. I never take photos of people unless it’s my friends being ridiculously crazy so … Why not.
I’ve noticed that ever time I go somewhere alone, and sit alone, people look at me like I’m an alien, or as if it’s just unheard of. How is that weird or any different when other people go places alone? I’m just comfortable alone, and I don’t think that’s weird. I bring this up, as sitting in the train station alone appeared to make others uncomfortable around me, and while sitting here in this pub writing as I am appears to make the group’s uncomfortable. I don’t want to join your group people, and no I don’t care what you’re doing. I travel alone, and I’m good that way. I’m also a people watcher, so maybe that’s making them uncomfortable?? Probably. We’ll move on.
So two hours later, 10 arrived. My keyboard for the iPad was freaking out, which normally means it needs new batteries. I peered over the railing and saw a place I could probably buy some. I packed up and headed back down the escalators behind me, dropping my empty tea cup in the trash as I went. I also had to use the restroom again, and for some reason I had to pay 30 pence to get in? It was on the other side, and as I walked over there, I found the 9 3/4 Harry Potter wall. Alright then, I’ll snap a photo for Mom.
Also, 30 pence for using the bathroom, Wtf is that about. Of course, when I came out they had opened it up for everyone else and it was free for them. Ya… Great. I made my way around the Harry Potter wall to the store to get the batteries. The poor woman at the counter had to jump and use a stick to get them, as they were at the top shelf. I felt bad, I know her pain.
I came out to see they’d finally put my platform on the board. All the way on the other side of the station – oooooffffff course. I walked quickly, in my boots, to the train. It was a long train. there were several cards and I passed 7 before I found mine, blocked by a large family. I went down to the other end but of course it was the wrong end for mine and I ended up moving aside to let the large family pass in the small train to their spot. So… Both of us had entered on the wrong side – they because they didn’t walk to the end, me because I wanted to avoid large groups of people. I was just not winning today.
I found my seat, and there was another lone girl traveler already seated across from my seat. She was reading, with her headphones on. I threw my backpack in the space above and made room for myself to sit down in my seat. I pulled out the pad and keyboard and sat down immediately. I put my own headphones on and chose to listen to the James Bond movie soundtrack I had on my phone. I have some random music on my phone. Which reminds me, I need my friend to make some new cd mixes for my car drives. He makes the best mixed CDs – then again, that is his job. Making playlists for tv & movies. yes, that is a job you can get paid for.
All the seats on the train had tags at the headrests to mark whether they were reserved or not. Most had been, and most said from kings cross to Edinburgh, but a few marked petersburough to Edinburgh. The chairs next to me and to the girl opposite me were empty – for now. In one stop they’d be filled by a family of 3 – the father having to swap seats a few times during the 5 hours to Edinburgh because he didn’t really have a seat.
During the next hours of the train ride, I’d notice a lot of stone ruins, find out that no bathroom on the train was working, and be annoyed with the guy taking the last vegetarian sandwich at the food spot on the train. The family sitting at my table was probably the most stereotypical English family ever. The accents were heavy, and they were very proper. Their son seemed rather shy as well. The girl across had offered her seat up so the father could sit with them when some other woman came along and kicked him out of the seat he was in. They didn’t take her up on the offer though. I had thought about offering as well, but clearly it didn’t matter anyway.
I finished my post for the day, and turned all the digital devices off. I began to just watch out the window, which was the whole point of training it besides saving money.
Eventually the train found it’s final destination, and we all proceeded to de-board. I waited until all the large groups were off before I left. There were just so may people on board, and we all know how large groups and I get along…
I got off and made my way down the long platform to the front of the very busy and large station. I eventually realized that my 2-coupon ticket would get me to hay market for free basically, so I could jump on any train. I’d missed the 326pm train, but there was another 329 train that I could hop on. I quickly made way to that platform and jump on last minute. I’ve been doing that a lot, with doors grazing my arm.
In most trains, there are folding seats just next to the doors, before entering the full coach area. I saw someone who had stepped on me earlier on the previous train sitting on the same coach as I currently stood. I sat down in one of the folding chairs – I only had one stop till hay market anyway, so finding a spot somewhere in the middle didn’t make sense. I was right next to first class too. It didn’t look THAT first class, just a private section, same seats, mini table, and a door.
As I got off at hay market, I had to determine where to head to next. It was a small station like Barbican, but no bathrooms, and let’s remember all the bathrooms on the 5 hour train were broken, so it’s been quite awhile for any normal person. I mean, I’ve not gone in an entire day before (TMI!!!) but when I actually drink something, that’s a different story. I’m just like any other female – unfortunately, I admit. I then realize, that I just have a 1 mile walk to my host location. Yes, I walked it. It’s not a big deal. It was a bit harder given the mild heat and my backpack, but Most people who travel like I do, stay in hostels and have a heavier pack and travel farther. Then again, they’re also probably not 4’8, and exercise more. Whatever, I walked it.
I went behind a business building, next to some train tracks, and everything smelled like really bad ham-lamb combination. I’d be smelling that several more times throughout the city, what the hell is that smell. It’s awful and makes me want to throw up. I continued through some student housing area, down under another bridge, up a hill, around a bend, up another hill, passed a cemetery and then along a park, which was across from my host location. I dropped my packs, and stood waiting for someone to show up to greet me.
Soon, a man in jeans, t-shirt and beanie came up. This was John, who I was told would meet me. I think he was probably the apt manager’s boyfriend or husband, given that she couldn’t meet me, and later he said “we live…” Etc. He was nice, with thick Scottish accent, that took a second to get used to. He helped me in, and showed me around the apartment. It had older floors and walls, and was very rustic with modern furniture. It was very large as well, compared to the other places I”d stayed in the last few weeks. It was nice to have space to spread out.
The entrance to my building had a royal blue door, and inside on the bottom floor were a bunch of bicycles. The stairs had a nice vintage railing, with cement stairs that were sinking after so many years of use. I was on the first floor. There was an interesting red and white tile diamond pattern on each floor. there were rooms in the apartment for a bedroom, kitchen, and living room, and bathroom of course. All had a door, and there was a pulley system for laundry to dry that was hanging in the entryway. We had some conversation, and before he left, he handed me keys, which were exactly like the ones I had in London: attached to a keychain but with a red tag instead of blue, with a mastic key, a gold key and a silver key. I thanked him, and then he left.
A couple hours later, after I’d gone to the grocery store, taken a nap and unpacked a bit, I went for a walk along the canal. A rainbow had appeared since it was both sunny and raining. I made sure to take a million pictures as I went on this walk. The buildings in the neighborhood were much more residential and older, all stone. They had a great look, and a calm feeling. The canal ran along for about 3 miles I think, and I entered in the middle. It was a nice place to walk, and there were a lot of people walking along it at 8pm at night. Eventually I made my way back to the park area, and then headed into the grocery store again. I picked up some beer, and had some conversation with the cashier guy. Scottish accents are better than English and Irish, I’ve decided.
Day 1, Scotland – pretty successful. It felt more like home than Ireland or England had, and I hadn’t intended on even coming. Good thinking, I did.
(Ya, okay, Sometimes I’m yoda , shut up).