Thursday, August 11, 2016

to Scotland

And again I have three flights to get me where I want to be and all come in early and without complications. I live with good travel fortune (except when it disappears for a while, but honestly, in recent years I have been lucky).

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for me (apart from sleep, but I haven't come to that little nugget yet as it's around the noonish hour here now) is in the weather: from hot and dry, to a slide down into wet and cold. I was ready for it, but still, when I step off the lovely tram that took me from Edinburgh Airport into town, I really do have to pull up that zipper on my fleece.

I'm not staying in the city now, but I cannot resist a short walk, suitcase and all. I like Edinburgh, even as it always seems to me to be a rather forbidding place, not helped by the gray skies of course. I don't think I've ever been here in August before -- the time of the International Festival of Performing Arts, mainly because it's very crowded and expensive in these weeks, but today it looks not especially crowded or festive, the big yellow welcoming sign notwithstanding.


It just looks like good old stoic and brooding Edinburgh.


From here, I take the newly inaugurated (by the Queen herself, last year) Borders Train nearly to its last stop. You may know that "Borders" refers to the section of Eastern Scotland that lies south of Edinburgh, all the way to the border (aha!) with England. It's a hilly part of the country -- quite lovely actually.

(Looking out the train window.)


Just a few weeks ago, I found a place that looked promising: the Windlestraw Inn in Walkerburn ( a village of a no more than a dozen houses, I swear). Here's the Inn:


And my lovely room in it:


... with a view:


Even though the Windlestraw is in the middle of nowhere, the prices are the usual UK high levels, but if you book at the last minute (great discounts!), and you do it this year when the pound is at a record low (we have Brexit to thank for that),  and you don't stay too long, then it's more or less okay. 

[I have to say, it was tough to choose a new place to explore for a couple of days before my annual visit to the islands. I got very tired of driving a car around Dumfries and Galloway last year and so I wanted to be at a place with decent public transportation. In Scotland, rail service is great or nonexistent, depending on where you want to go and so you're often tied to a bus schedule, which can be spotty, especially on a weekend. Where I am now -- close to Peebles for those who know Scotland -- really satisfies the urge to hike, the urge to not travel far for food -- the inn provides dinner -- and the urge to not rent a car.]

As I write this, a nice steady drizzle is coming down on those lovely hills out my window. I have to smile though: on the flight into Edinburgh, a husband and wife behind me were coming to Scotland for the first time. Residents of Florida, they were dismayed at the rain outside and complained about it to the very friendly flight attendant. The Dutch attendant told them -- you know, I never really notice the weather. It's raining? Okay, I take along an umbrella. Or do something interesting inside. I guess I'm rather indifferent to weather.

I can't say that I do not notice weather. I write about it nearly every day here, on Ocean! And still, I am less bothered by the cold winters and the hot summers than many others. And so I'll hijack that indifference to meteorological vicissitudes to my time here in Scotland. It's raining right now? Okay. Off I go to explore. With an umbrella.