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Getting to Edinburgh

Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

This was the date that I was supposed to catch a 2 hour direct flight to New York and have an 8 hour layover before flying to England overnight to catch my connection to Glasgow. I was a little wary of things going awry since I knew that Mercury would be in retrograde during the end of April, but I was optimistic that things would work out. It turns out that I was right on both counts.

As I was checking my bags at 10:30 AM, a woman approached the woman helping me and told her that my flight had been canceled. There was a long period of awkward silence as I stood there trying to smile and she worked on the computer, trying to fix things for me. After about ten minutes she told me that she had been able to check my bags all the way through to Glasgow and that she was redirecting me to Atlanta where I’d catch a later flight to New York. I’d be getting to JFK around 5 PM instead of 2 PM, but that was okay because I’d still have plenty of time.

At the terminal I met two others who had been redirected to Atlanta–we were all waiting together for the woman at the desk to print our new boarding passes. I was charging my phone in the wall next to one of the men who was redirected as well and after some chit chat I told him that I was going to Glasgow and it turns out that he grew up there. Of all the possible outcomes of a canceled flight, I met a native Scotsman and then we ended up being seatmates (probably because of the cancelation). He showed me pictures from a trip he’d taken to Scotland the year before to show his son where he grew up and he made some recommendations for me. He was in his 70’s and he told me that he had a cousin in Glasgow that I could potentially stay with so I gave Bob my information, but I don’t have his so I’m not sure I’ll hear from him, but I’m optimistic. 🙂

Once we got to Atlanta we found that our flights were both in the same terminal so we went to Terminal A together and I told him I was going to get Chick Fil A since I wouldn’t be eating it for 2 months. He decided to eat there, too, and once I got to the register he followed me and told me that he wanted to buy my food. I thanks him and accepted and once we sat to eat I found out that it was his first time eating Chick Fil A–and had I known that when he was ordering I might have advised him not to try the spicy chicken sandwich as his first meal there. We talked more while we ate and then he looked at his watch and saw that he needed to go, so I told him to go ahead and that I’d take care of the trash. I had wanted to get a picture with him, but he was running late so I didn’t get the chance.

After lunch I went to my gate and saw that the flight had been delayed by an hour so I went to Terminal C where Starbucks was. I had a free drink expiring and it had been a long day, but I had time so I walked and there was a ceiling full of fake foliage and a video screen with birds flying across it. The line at Starbucks took about half an hour to get through and the employees started asking everyone behind the person causing the hold up what we wanted. The woman in front of my was deaf so she showed the person a picture on her phone and then when she got to the counter she pointed to a bakery item. The employee thought she was pointing to pound cake because of the angle between them so I intervened and asked if the item she wanted was the cherry something-or-other that I can’t remember. She nodded and thanked me with a gesture. I smiled and tried to look up how to say “have a good day” in sign language on my phone but I didn’t manage before she left. It did make me aware of my inability to communicate, so now my desire to learn more than just a few animals and some random words in sign language has increased. I might practice a little while I travel if I have internet.

Anyway, after getting my drink I only had about 30 minutes so I took the train back to my terminal and sat next to the man I’d met earlier. I didn’t notice until he pointed it out that our flight had been delayed another hour and wouldn’t be leaving until 5:30. He kept joking about it being delayed again, which made me a little uncomfortable, but he was pleasant to talk to. After a while I learned that his name was Dave and that he was going back to NY for his birthday to see family. We both liked musicals and had a great discussion about literature, and even though his least favorite book is Wuthering Heights (I love that book) we could both agree that it was better than Jane Eyre.

The flight wasn’t delayed further and we were seated away from each other by several rows. I was in a middle seat and I didn’t really talk to anyone near me, but I did watch Moana on the screen diagonally in front of me since the little girl sitting there was watching it. I didn’t feel like digging through my bag for headphones so I just daydreamed and watched Moana off and on for the duration of the trip.

Once we arrived at JFK and finally got off the plane I discovered that I’d have to go through security again. I hadn’t been able to print my boarding pass yet so I tried at the kiosk but it wouldn’t let me so after a short, nervous wait in line I was able to get my boarding pass printed. Security wasn’t too long and I made it to my gate with about 20 minutes to spare. I considered buying food or a drink but I knew there would be food on the plane so I just waited. We boarded late and I was in a row with one other person and no one between us; we both had aisle seats since we were in the middle. Luckily there was no one between us, though there were rows with just one person each in the back that I considered moving to since I had trouble sleeping. They served dinner around 11:30 Eastern time and the pasta was pretty good–the other option was curry and I didn’t think that was the best idea for plane food, but whatever. 🙂 There were mini wine bottles served with dinner and I decided to have  a mini white wine to help me sleep. It worked, but it was one of those wines that tasted worse the more you drank. I did manage to sleep a little and I woke up about 2 hours before landing to the drink cart coming through the aisle. I had an apple in my bag that I ate with my orange juice and water cup.

After landing at Gatwick I followed the crowd through the empty arrival section and I was shocked by the length of the line for passport clearance. I tried to speak to a lady working there but she was busy trying to expand the roped off line area, so I kept checking the time and looking at my ticket. It was 10:45 and my flight closed the gate at 11:30. I finally made it to a woman working there and showed her my ticket and told her that my flight had been late, which it had by about 15 minutes. She ushered me to the front where I was interrogated about my trip. After passing through I was told to find security to go through again and I had to ask a few people for directions but I eventually made it. I got through security and there was no clock readily available and there was a huge shopping area before any terminals so I only stopped long enough to put my shoes on, carrying my backpack in hand and my laptop and ticket in the other as  I powerwalked through the airport looking for signs to find out where my terminal was. I managed to make it with twelve minutes left before I’d have missed boarding, so I put my things back in my bag and waited in line with the others. Once I got to the scanner they asked to see my luggage receipt and I managed to find it after some sleep deprived attempts since I’d forgotten that I put it with my travel papers.

I had another middle seat, but when I got to my row there was someone in my seat with a young boy in the aisle seat so I settled into the window seat until a man came and told me I was in his seat. I got up and asked the man with his son if that was his seat and he told me that he’s just been sitting there so his son could have his own seat until leaving. His son kept playing with the tray. He was smart and he figured out that he had to turn the knob to release it, but his dad was holding it shut lower on the tray and he was confused because sometimes it worked and sometimes not. Once we started to leave and had to put the tray table up the man showed his son some funky animated show and he fell asleep with his head and leg falling into the center seat where I was so I just avoided waking him and tried to sleep with my forehead against the seat in front of me. I think I did sleep for part of it, but there was another baby behind me and a small toddler across the aisle so between all the cooing of the mother and crying of the babies I didn’t sleep much. The mother behind me had a young girl as well as her baby and she was talking to her with a Scottish accent that I enjoyed listening to, so that was relaxing, and the guy in the window seat fell asleep, too. Near the end of the flight I was a little refreshed and I talked to the man with his son. His name was Gary and I can’t remember his son’s name, but it started with an M. He was visiting family in Glasgow so they could spend time with his son and he was really friendly. After the flight I watched him entertaining his son and it really warmed my heart to see a father and son interacting with so much affection. 🙂 He got his luggage first thing and then they were gone and I sat to wait for my luggage. I’m really glad that I didn’t expand my suitcase before leaving since I needed to fit my carry on backpack into it so I could wear my hiking backpack. For reference, here’s a picture of my luggage:

After I got everything together I went through the doors that led to the outside world where I’d have to find a train and get to Edinburgh. To my surprise there was a Starbucks directly in front of me. I only had £5 on me–the same £5 note that I kept behind my driver’s license in my wallet because I firmly believed that I’d need it again, and here I am! Anyway, I asked if they could redeem my stars for a free item and I was told that their franchise wouldn’t do that. I had some money on my app so I ordered a drink and it translated my money from dollars to pounds, so now I know that I can at least get Starbucks. Too bad I saved up free drinks for the trip only to have them irredeemable. 😉

Anyway, I asked a woman at the travel desk how to get to a train station but she recommended that I take the bus all the way to Edinburgh for only £14 instead of the train so I agreed to do that. I had a transfer at the bus station and I was relieved to be one step closer to a bed and a shower.

The green coffee sleeve was advertising their recycling agenda to make their cups fully recyclable and they encouraged reusable cups to decrease waste. It’s really nice to see that so widespread. Oh, and this is a venti here– it’s definitely smaller than in the USA and the cream was differnet. I think the cream is more natural and it’s not as white as whipped cream at my local Starbucks. Anyway, I was really happy to have something caffeinated. Check out how crazy my hair is in the picture of me with my drink. I re-braided the actual braids on the plane to Glasgow, but I was a mess. ^_^

Anyway, they don’t announce the stops on the bus so I got up and asked if it was my stop too early and sat at the front near the luggage until our final stop, which happened to be the bus station where I was switching to a different line. They come every 15 minutes but I happened to show up right before boarding so I put my luggage in the bottom compartment and found a window seat by myself. I nodded off a few times but as we got closer to Edinburgh I started trying to see where we were. There was a man dressed in traditional Scottish garb across the aisle and was friendly. He asked where I was going and tried to tell me that I should stay on until the last stop so I could see the center, but I told him that I’d be here a week and that I planned to see it. The woman in front of him told me that the stop I’d chosen was right based on where I was staying and then he started asking me about Trump and politics. It was a little hard to understand exactly what he was saying through his accent, but he seemed pretty jovial. He’d just been playing pipes at some formal event and they chatted with each other and me for a while until the woman told me that we were about to be at my stop and that I had to press a button. I didn’t realize that I would have to do that so she pressed it for me and I thanked her before going to the front.

There were several of us getting off at Haymarket, but I was first to the front and I said to the new bus driver (they had switched at a bus station), “Sir, this is my stop but I have bags underneath. May I get them?” He laughed and told me not to call him sir because he was too young, then he opened the compartment. Another lady got her bag from there and I asked her if she knew where to get a taxi. She was also getting a taxi so she led me to where there was a line of cabs parked on the side of the street and we parted ways. I took a cab for only £7 to right in front of my building and then I went to the door and rang the buzzer but no one answered or came to let me in. I tried the keybox, but it was empty after I finally got it open. My phone had been weird and I hadn’t been able to tell my Airbnb host, who told me less than a week ago that he’d be out of town when I arrived, that I would be earlier than I originally told him. I tried to connect to wifi but the room is on the top floor so I couldn’t. I resigned myself to sitting there with my luggage and eventually a guy came out and let me in. I told him I was waiting for someone and he told me that it wasn’t him. I hauled my bags up to the fourth floor and managed to connect to wifi so the first thing I did was contact my Airbnb host. Almost right after that two people came up the stairs and they asked if I was Courtney. I told them yes and they introduced themselves as Kayla and Daniel. Apparently the fourth floor is actually the fifth floor since I had counted the entrance as the first floor, so we moved my bags to the top floor and they changed the bed over for me while I had tea. Here’s a picture of me and my bags finally in my room!

They were kind and friendly and I chatted with them briefly, but I needed to bathe and sleep. I washed my hair, took melatonin, ate a packet of cookies from my room, and slept for roughly 14 hours.

And that’s all for now! I’ve been writing for a while and I’d like to go explore more, so ciao for now!

 

 


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