Traveling. A word that conjures up thoughts of climbing mountains in Asia, snorkeling in Australia, eating a baguette under the Eiffel Tower, and riding on the back of your lovers Vespa through Rome. In our more modern times we call it “wanderlust.”
By the time I was old enough to read I would check out Lonely Planet books from the local library in my very small town. I would sit on my front porch planning dream trips to Paris and wondering if life would ever really take me there. I once told my parents I would sleep on a park bench in Paris just to be able to stay there. The view of the Arc de Triomphe was all the luxury I needed.
Fast forward to the present day and it was this memory that came to mind while I was sitting on an airplane, on my way to Scotland for the second time. I looked out the window and felt this immense sense of freedom come over me when I noticed we were above the clouds, surrounded by blue sky for miles.
After touching down in Edinburgh and realizing it was pouring rain, I wasn’t looking forward to my subsequent bus rides. I hopped on the Airlink 100 that would take me to the city center. It was easy enough, and a double-decker bus as well. I lose my cool traveler facade whenever I get to ride on one of those.
However, after reaching the center I still needed to find the stop for the X95 bus that would take me to my destination, Hawick. I looked out over the Waverly Bridge and took in the very Scottish sights before me. Hot guy in a kilt playing the bag pipes? Check. 10 Whiskey bars within walking distance? Check. Torrential, downpouring rain and 25 km/hr wind? Also check.
From what I read on Google Maps, my bus stop was on top of the very tall North Bridge. Though I could see it in the distance, getting up there proved to be very tricky, especially since I got hit in the face with rain every time I looked up.
After walking around aimlessly for 15 minutes, I asked hot guy in a kilt if he knew how to get up to the top of the bridge. “Oh, a bit lost are you, love?” he said. He then pointed me in the direction of a very large hill covered in cobblestones that had quite the river of water pouring down from the top. I tried to convince him to ditch the bag pipes and carry my bag up for me but my feminine ways don’t work when I look like a wet, stray cat. This cobblestone hill proved to be my Everest.
After getting to the North Bridge I spent 2 hours trying to figure out where my bus stop was, still in the pouring rain. The handle came off my umbrella and it proceeded to fly up and over the side of the bridge. This would have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
By the time I found my bus stop I had to wait another hour. I stopped in a nearby Boots and bought myself a face mask and a Dr. Pepper for later, to lift my spirits. After getting on the bus, and a 2 hour ride to Hawick I took the longest, hottest shower of my life.
It’s these kinds of travel days that I can look back on and laugh about or use as a good story over drinks at a pub, at least after my sneakers have fully dried.
The next day I found myself back in Edinburgh to see the city, and this time it was thankfully sunny and warm. I took lots of pictures, saw the old town in all its touristy glory, and enjoyed a nice stroll through the Princes Gardens. I even played tourist and got my picture in front of a red telephone booth (tip: Don’t open the doors to those, they smell like pee.)
I spent a day in Jedburgh, a cute town with lots of gift shops. An owner of one of these shops insulted poor Hawick, calling it a town full of charity shops. I did find a lovely antique store with quite eccentric owners, and bought a vintage purse for 6 pounds.
Most of my time in Hawick was spent loading up on 1 pound books from these charity shops that the Jedburgh citizens were not so fond of. I did manage to find a fancy, little dress shop where I bought a navy blue summer dress. It was so beautiful that if it had produced a ring I might have dumped my husband and run off with it into the sunset.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from traveling in this “wanderlust” age is that life is not always about perfect, Instagram-worthy shots (most of those are fake to some extent anyways.) It’s not even about the big picture, adventurous times. Life is about those little moments of misery that you would never post on social media. Yes, you read that correctly.
Walking through the pouring rain in Edinburgh, loaded up with my wet belongings, completely lost, wasn’t my finest moment (I almost had a temper tantrum in public.) But, moments like that have taught me how smart and resilient I am. Those moments have taught me that I can do anything on my own when I really need to.
Here is the most important thing I have learned about life between the time I dreamed of traveling and now, as a seasoned traveler: You don’t always want to show people the tough, un-glamourous times, but that is where the real magic happens.