~ Reminiscing, Recommendations and Regrets ~
1. The Traveler Newb
Have you ever connected with a place that you’ve never been to, but which spoke to your soul? Like there’s some innate bond that pulls you in, where you feel you were meant to be? For me, that place has been Scotland. I’ve always been drawn to the rich beauty of the country, the hauntingly beautiful castles, the history, the bagpipes, the accents (*sighs*). In the mid-2000’s I met someone online and through the years developed an inexplicable, deep love for him (I’ve written a book’s worth of poetry for him, including my last two poems. He remains my favorite Muse – my Renegade Poet Love. We’ll call him RPL). As perhaps Fate would have it, he was Glaswegian, so that love I had for him further solidified the bond I felt toward Scotland, and Glasgow in particular (though I am also strongly drawn to Skye, but that is musing for another time) .
In February, 2012, my travel buddy, Christine, was planning a trip to the UK for that summer (London, Oxford and Scotland). She asked if I wanted to go and I was, of course, beyond excited at the opportunity to finally see the Promised Land. I did waver for a bit, though, partially because I’d never been out of the country before but also because of the cost. Traveling to Scotland in the summer is not cheap. Funny, I still remember exactly where I was that February afternoon when she called and asked if I was ready to commit. It must have been one of those “defining moments” in my life. I was in my car on the Esplanade, pulled into an auto shop parking lot to mull it over for like, three minutes, then called her back and said “do it!” I also remember exactly where I was when the travel agent called me shortly before 5:00 p.m. that day because the charge wouldn’t go through on my debit card. I was shopping in Target. I frantically called the bank to figure out what was going on, because I had the money in my account. Turns out cards can have a daily or transaction max and that purchase exceed it. But the bank authorized the transaction, I made a quick call back to the travel agent, and we were good to go. That $1,500.00 plane ticket was the most money I’d ever put down on anything, and it kinda changed my life (I’m currently planning my third trip to Scotland).
Christine had traveled abroad many times, and her one piece of advice to me was “only bring one suitcase.” For a two-week trip?? Laughter on my part ensued. Then I was like “Oh, you’re serious?” :O Soooo, I’m typically a road trip, throw-everything-in-the-trunk-and-decide-later type of traveler, and it was difficult to limit myself to one suitcase. I ended up stuffing the largest one I had (which ended up being on my ‘regret’ list because it was burdensome, heavy and had no wheels. Several of the flats we stayed at did not have a lift, so I was schlepping that thing up and down stairs and through large airport/parking terminals. So much for thinking that one through).
As Christine’s mom was driving us to the airport, I was in the back seat by myself and had a momentary panic attack. In my head I was like “I’m going to be in a foreign country! I won’t be in the U.S. anymore!” – it was like separation anxiety lol! But once we arrived at the airport and checked in, all those newbie travel fears vanished and I was stoked to be on this great adventure, to finally see Scotland and meet RPL in person.
If you’re going to make a large purchase on your debit/card card, give the bank a head’s up first so they can make adjustments to your daily limit and avoid any potential snafu with the purchase. Also, give your bank/credit agency a head’s up that you’ll be in a different country, so your card doesn’t get declined).
Virgin Airlines. It was a very smooth flight. We had economy seats and felt like we had enough room, the food was good and we were served several meals/snacks throughout the flight. (Because of this experience, I used Virgin for my second trip as well).
We flew nonstop from San Francisco to London, then took Easy Jet into Scotland.
Not having a rolling suitcase. Total newb error.