The last few days have been anything but sane, yet it has been the most contradictory experience – when the hassle, turmoil and annoyance of rushing about suddenly come face to face with friendly and helpful people at every turn, that somehow barely alleviates the misery of administrative nightmares and other emotional let-downs. In the midst of changing course and accommodation – imagine that run of things from the very moment I arrived – barely 2 days ago, it is thus not surprising that the lack of enthusiasm when it comes to sightseeing is somewhat showing.
But Scotland has greeted me with a far happier fervour than the brief but dystopic experience in Heathrow, and the things I could possibly fault them for would be the occasional rude and grumpy person, the biting weather, construction that mar the otherwise unusual landscape and the somewhat unreliable and infrequent transport. I suspect Edinburgh’s cosmopolitan population comprises more students than inhabitants and it’s the time of year when many people clamour for places to stay – me included.
Edinburgh’s streets are sufficiently geometric when it comes to finding one’s way around at least in New Town– the famous castle, that is the prize for the tourist who walks (uphill) the whole Royal Mile, sits on an extinct volcano and dominates the old town while overlooking the new town, along which tourist throng Princes Street for retail therapy. Hilly and cobbled-stoned most of the time, I can never anticipate when the road will bend, twist upwards, snake downwards, giving fleeting peeks of sun-lit rolling green hills, blue, cloud-shrouded water, russet crags and gothic spires.
Most of the action that I’m involved in takes place in Old Town – an impressive array of buildings looking like they were taken straight out of the Industrial Revolution – a dense, culturally rich place with many galleries and University buildings smack in the middle of them all. I keep reminding myself that there is a lot more time to see things – particularly the rest of Scotland – yet can’t seem yet to shake off that sense of rush that is a frequent accompanist when I’m typically on vacation.
In contrast, the Scots seem to love taking their time – seen from how buses only open their doors at the bus stop and never a meter before, or how people simply wait for their turn patiently, or walk slowly – admirable qualities that I unfortunately can’t laud at the moment.