Monday, January 16, 2012

{part 5}

{parts 1, 23, & 4}
Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Grooveshark
so like i said, on our fourth day in edinburgh, we decided to get gone. it wasn't that we didn't like edinburgh, it was that i can't sit still. we arrived at the train station sometime before 11, and picked the train on platform 16: to inverness.

before leaving for scotland, we didn't have make time for any kind of planning. no maps, no hotel reservations, no itinerary. the only thing we did was buy a britrail pass. lessons in travelling by train in britain: BUY YOURSELF A BRITRAIL PASS. smartest thing i've done since that time in grade 7 when i got 100% on a science test. we paid less than 300 bucks each for passes that allowed us to travel anywhere in wales, england, and scotland by ferry or train for eight days. no ticket booths or lineups or missed trains or plans. we saved big money, big stress, big time. besides. it's fun.

though, looking back, we really should have at least brought a map. barclay had this memory of a b&b he'd stayed in once on the beach of a little fishertown up north called nairn. he wanted to find it. and really, just wandering aimlessly around a country you've only visited a couple of times is no way to go about finding a single house.

but the point is not that. the point is that we took the train from edinburgh to inverness, about a 4 hour ride, if i remember right. the scenery was incredible, and we passed the time playing cards, crossword puzzling, visiting with our tipsy new trainfriends {a funny group of scots who were taking the train just for the sake of taking the train}, and staring out the wide windows at the ridiculous scottish scenery.

it was dark when we arrived in inverness and, knowing that we still had to get to nairn and find the little b&b on the beach, we checked the train schedule and found one heading to the right place within the hour. while we waited, we explored inverness for a bit and grabbed some sandwiches at a shop just off the street from the station.

we made it to nairn that night. it was pitch black, and pouring rain, and we were the only passengers to get off at that stop. the station was a small house which was locked up for the night, and the platform provided no shelter from the rain, which felt more like a bathtub than a shower. we stood there for a minute, trying to look into the blackness and see if it were actually something you could look into or if it stopped two feet in front of you. i was a little doubtful that this was even a town--maybe just a station in the middle of nowhere? no wonder no one else wanted to depart from the train here.

but there was no turning back now. the train was gone and it was the last of the night. barclay found a map pinned to the side of the train station which wasn't overly helpful, but did show a little town just a short walk from where we were. a town with a beach. barclay pointed at the beach and grinned. "we're almost there, baby."

i wasn't sure we were almost there. which was fine, because we were in scotland and we had an umbrella {which, as a side note, is much more effective if you start to use it before you get soaked through} and frankly, i'd been craving a bit of uncertainty and adventure lately.

so, on barclay's educated guess, we set off in a direction.

i think this is my single favourite memory from the whole trip.

fumbling with the umbrella, stumbling through the downpour into the blacky blackness, holding hands and laughing about how lost we were. seeing streetlights and a familiar {to barclay} landmark, slipping in a puddle and realizing that it didn't even make a difference as to how wet i already was, giving up on the umbrella, drinking the glasses and glasses of water falling from the sky, ducking down side streets and back roads and cobblestones--finding the beach! finding that b&b!

...finding out that it was closed this week, because the owners had the flu.


we wandered around for only a touch longer before we found a pub with a b&b on the top floor. though our time in the rain, entirely, completely wet, and entirely, completely alone was entirely, completely magical, i can't say i wasn't relieved to be in a house, removing each dripping layer and hanging it to dry over a warm radiator. eating a massive, chocolaty dessert from the kitchen, crawling into a warm bed.

knowing that tomorrow was completely unplanned and wide open. still holding hands.