17 November 2010

Pretty okay for a disaster

As far as non-life threatening travel tragedies go, I’m pretty sure losing your credit cards when you’re alone in a country that you don’t have any currency for yet ranks as among the worst. I discovered my cards were missing when I went to take them out to stick them in the ATM to get myself some pounds. It was midnight in Edinburgh, that is, one am Bordeaux time, and I had gotten up at 6:30 am in order to jump through the last visa getting hoop. In a moment I saw all the times I had unzipped my wallet since leaving Bordeaux- more than 5 times at least. And I had no idea at point they had disappeared.
And that was the beginning of what proved to be a very long early morning.
I left the airport at nearly 1:20 am on a night bus I couldn’t afford to pay for. I had explained my situation to the bus driver and told him my stop. Forty-five minutes later as everything started to get less city like I began to suspect I had missed my stop, and sure enough 5 minutes later we arrived at the terminus. The bus driver got off, had a smoke, clearly saw that I was still on the bus, and got back on. I thought surely this time he would tell me my stop (because a person with an American accent who was picked up at the airport, and who rode the whole bus line without getting off probably doesn’t know where to get off the bus since the announcement are turned off).
And so I watched everything go by in the opposite direction. At a stop next to a sign saying “Princes Mall” I wondered if this was my stop (“princes st”) but I wasn’t sure and I really thought he would tell me. I can’t explain why I didn’t get up and ask just that on a night that went on a scale from “cold, miserable, and tired” to “furiously happy” I was much closer to the first at this time.
We left the city again, and I started to regret intensely not getting off the bus, I didn’t even care if it might have been the wrong stop. I felt bus sick and wished that I had not left Bordeaux. We arrived at the airport. The bus driver asked me if I was going to get off, I said no and that I didn’t know which stop was mine. He said okay, he hadn’t known that and that he would be back in 10. I waited and we left the airport. When we got to town I decided I would ask him, lest I end up at the other terminus again. A large group of people got on the bus, and then I asked him before he pulled away. He said, “this is Princes St” and I was like, “Thanks for nothing!” only not out loud and got off the bus into the freezing cold.
It was windy and past 3:30 am. My google directions told me to walk “east” on Princes St. which was absolutely useless to me at this hour in a city I had never been to before. I choose a direction that turned out to be west, which I discovered when I turned around and saw a bridge (I was looking for “north bridge”). After that I found the hostel without much difficulty. On my way there, a homeless woman asked me if I could spare any change, but like her I was penceless. The hostel, thankfully, didn’t turn me away. Although the guy was kind of a jerk- I was like: “Brrr, it’s cold” because it was and my feet were wet and literally numb. And he said in a you-stupid-tourist tone “Yeah, it get’s like that in Scotland”. I actually really regret being so nice about this comment.
I woke up at 9 the next morning and was unable to sleep. I hoped I would be able to obtain money soon because I was starving. A couple hours later, after talking to a woman at the American Express office multiple times, attempting many calls with both my cellphone and also a payphone (none of which actually went through ) (do you have to pay to make toll free calls?) , and writing an email or two, I gave up my quest for money temporarily and adopted a furiously happy attitude, and decided to do my best to enjoy Scotland despite my hunger and exhaustion.
I made a kitty friend:

Eventually I ended up in a park, and I swung on a swing and wondered why it is that adults give up this enjoyable pastime. Then I played doggy stalker and took a nap on a park bench because I was pretending to be a homeless person.
I spent some time window shopping and by the time I was finished I had a list of things I would buy if I had money with me, and of things I would buy if I was rich. It appears that I have a Scottish sense of style because the stores were filled with awesome things.

I headed back towards my hostel, but I got a bit turned about. I don’t want to say “lost”, let’s say “exploring”
A cow is running into a building, weird

I finally got back to the hostel, where I hung out for like 10 minutes when my parents called me. Then I spent the next threeish hours waiting for the money to arrive.
Then at 6ish, edinburgh time, a full 24 hours after I had eaten last, I feasted. I had amazing butternut squash and coconut soup and a not really amazing burger and it was fantastic.
I obtained shampoo (the jerky French security people threw mine away because it was “too big”) that was also “too big” but it still made it out of Scotland and Germany.  Then I showered and sent some emails and I went to sleep at 9 Edinburgh time.
And that was day one in Edinburgh. It sounds kind of awful, but it actually wasn’t THAT bad. 

1 comment:

  1. "Then I played doggy stalker and took a nap on a park bench because I was pretending to be a homeless person." <--- HA HA. You're funny.


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