Scotland pt. 23

Everyone report to the dance floor, because this is the long-awaited FINAL INSTALLMENT of my MAGNUM OPUS, aka Scot-Trot 2018, #SweaterWeather, #MakeTheMostOfIt, #Charades.  Please leave your comments below, let me know how this blog has changed YOUR outlook on travel.  I get tons of fan emails, all the time: people asking me how they can do what I do, telling me how funny the blog is, how they think it’s so great that I detail every day whether something interesting happened or not, so if you’re one of the few who hasn’t yet, don’t be shy, dive in!  Water’s great!  And to the rest of you out there in Steve Nation, Keep On Travelin’! #KeepOnTravelin

When we left off in the last riveting post, me, Rich, and Laura were watching episode 1 of American Vandal at Laura’s London flat.  American Vandal – great show.  Comment below on your thoughts on Season 2!

In the morning, we met our UVA friends Jamie and Stephanie for brunch.  Stephanie is just a regular boring American, but Jaime is British and has the world’s most posh accent; everything he says sounds both really thoughtful and really condescending.  Since Laura didn’t pick the restaurant, we had our first actual good meal of the entire trip, after 7 days of travel.  Jaime – classic Jaime – asserted at one point that any big city was bound to have good food in it, so if anyone traveling didn’t eat quality food, it was their own fault.

To recap, we’d so far eaten: McDonalds, fried pizza, fish and chips, a grocery store frozen Chinese sampler platter, frozen pizza,  fish and chips again, haggis (which sucks), Taco Bell, and train ham rolls.  And it’s not like I just don’t care; Eating good regional food is like #3 priority for me when I’m traveling (#1, dope pics, #2, travel blog experiences).  We had an auspicious start in the Turkish lounge at Dulles International Airport, but it was downhill from there.

Following brunch, Laura suggested we all grab a pint, since I guess the day was starting to go a bit too on-track for her comfort.  One turned into three, as it does, and all the sudden it was 4 o’clock, and we had like, 2 hours of daylight left.  And we’d seen, let’s see, absolutely fucking nothing in London.

We quickly went to see what we could, namely a couple monuments and the London Bridge.

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You can tell it’s London cuz of all the rain

That was it for touristy stuff!  Then we dealt with some more of that nitty-gritty logistics that keeps the all my readers coming back for more.

We’d booked an Air BNB downtown, since Laura’s roommate was getting back that night and didn’t want us to stay there because she’s I guess a total fucking bitch or something.  We got a message from the dude who owned it who we joyously discovered went by “Butt.”

Butt

We realized that we could just stay with Jaime instead, so we tried to cancel with Butt, but he wouldn’t budge (a real Butthole).  We ended up deciding to stay at Jaime’s anyway, because it made more sense, and chalked Butt up to a sunk cost.  So we went back to Laura’s to grab our bags, which was like an hour away by subway.  That was annoying, but it did let me grab some shots of first-time traveler Rich bumbling his way through the foreign ticket machine:

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Dum de dum

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Why are these machines so low to the ground?

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Hey guys give me a minute, these machines are just impossible!

This whole trip to pass the time we’d been playing this phone game called Piccolo.  If you haven’t played Piccolo, I would strongly recommend it.  It just gives a bunch of truth or dare/drinking challenges to each player, which are mostly benign stuff.  UNLESS, that is, you pay $5 to download Caliente mode, which ramps the game up to a fun raunchy, adventurous level, and then blows right past that to get to a bunch of stuff that is absolutely bonkers for casual pregaming and really only has a place in like, a sex-charged high school band trip.

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Just fun casual drinking game for friends

So naturally this was the only way we played it, though we ended up skipping half of them.   At dinner (at some shitty tavern chain, back to mediocre food for us), we heard the table behind us, 3 people in their 20s, playing Piccolo.  We told them about Caliente mode and they ended up joining us for a light round of extremely personal questions and dares written by and for horny 10th graders.  It was a great way to break the ice and get to know some real locals.

After that, Laura went to work, me and Rich went to Jaime’s, and then we hit the town!  Just kidding, we hung out with Jaime talking about DJ’ing and then went to bed, bringing us hot into Day 8, the final day of the trip.

Rich and I met up with Laura, who made us try this UK fast-food chain called Greggs, which she’d been raving about the whole time.  I would put it about on par with, like, if 7-11 had a standalone hot food outlet.  It was about that level of quality.  That’s about what I was expecting, but you know what, it was the last day, why change things up now.

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Imagine piping hot Dinty Moore Beef Stew wrapped in a bun that’s 90% grease

We were flying out that afternoon, so we were down to the wire, so like all good procrastinators, we crammed in everything at the last minute.  We were up at 7:30, downtown by 9, and we saw all the big hits: Big Ben, Parliament, The London Eye, and Buckingham Palace.

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With some solid DSLR selfie work along the way

Big Ben, the most iconic and coolest thing and honestly the only one really worth seeing, was under construction until 2019.

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That’s it there in the background, behind this ginger woman smelling a fart

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My response to this setback was to bitch about it the whole time, up to and including right now

Then we ate Shake Shack for lunch, which Laura until this point legitimately thought was native to London, and went home!

BOOM!  That’s it, baby!  Man, seems like just yesterday me and Rich were almost missing our flight at Dulles airport, doesn’t it?  Crazy how fast 8 days of travel can pass when it’s told in a self-effacing blog, 1 day at a time,  with installments 2-8 weeks apart.

At the end of this journey, I just want to thank you, the reader.  My massive and exponentially growing base of loyal followers is not just exploding by the day and reaching an exceptionally high level of engagement; you’re also the reason I do this. It’s not the ad revenue, it’s not the fame, it’s not the book deal that’s coming any day now.  It’s the fans.  So thanks for being a fan, and as always, Keep On Travelin’.

Keep On Travelin’,

Steve

#KeepOnTravelin’

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SLAM roll credits

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Written and Directed by ME

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Starring ME

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Special Thanks to ME

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Original Music by ME

 

Scotland Pt. 5, AKA England Pt. 1

What up world, time to get off your tenterhooks because the update to the Scotland travel saga is HERE, along with the answers to all your burning questions.  Will we turn our trip around and start actually doing things?  Will Rich get more souvenirs?  Will my sweater continue to cost $400?  Stay tuned to find out!  If you can handle it, you fuckin’ pussy.

Getting up Saturday, it was time to say goodbye to Scotland.  Laura had to work a night shift that night at her shitty news job in London, so we were going to relocate to L-don and enjoy half of Saturday, Sunday, and half of Monday in Great Britain’s biggest (and only) city.

The plan was simple enough – catch a bus from Glasgow back to Edinburgh, then a train from there to London.  It was about a 5 hour train ride, and our bus left at 12, so that would put us in London by 6 or 7, enough time to grab dinner with some other college friends, and then for me and Rich to finally ditch Laura and party with just us boys!!

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Not pictured: dead weight

We started off great.  Out of nothing more than pure laziness, we missed the first bus to Edinburgh, and had to catch a bus that got us there like, 5 minutes before our train left.  This nicely ratcheted the day from leisurely travel to mega-stressful, before we’d even had breakfast.  When we got to the bus station, there was a big line already forming for the bus to Edinburgh, long enough that where we weren’t sure we’d make it on (it was a first-come, first-served situation – I was all too ready to be done with this kind of lawless savagery that permeated this country).

Laura, ever resourceful, took it upon herself to spout a sob story to the people at the front of the line in order to allow us to cut some 60 travelers.  Laura inexplicably told them we had a flight to London we might miss, because I guess the actual reason of having a train to London we might miss just wasn’t compelling enough.  Rich and I stood there, wholly uncomfortable with the amorality of it all, but going along with it.  Like Nazis.

So we spent a very stressful, breakfast-less 1 hour bus ride to Edinburgh wondering if we were going to make our train.  Also, because Rich and I had waited to buy our train tickets, the only ones remaining were first class, so we had to spent 80 Euros ($100 in real money), as opposed to the like, 40 Euros we’d been promised.  So it was more expensive than our flight from London had been.

Then about 15 minutes before our bus got there, we learned our train had been canceled.

We had about 1.5 hours until the next train, so we grabbed some shitty fish and chips and, of course, a few beers.  Then we headed to the train station, where we learned that the train was delayed!  Great!

We grabbed a few more beers and sat around waiting for an indeterminate amount of time, passing the time by drinking in secret.

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No beers in sight.  Take notes, nerds

The train finally arrived a fucking hour later, by which time masses of irate Brits and Scots had arrived.

We get on, and we’re on this packed-ass standing room only train, and after 30 minutes the conductor comes on to tell us there’s some bullshit line work up ahead, and now this train would be additionally delayed by anywhere between 30 minutes and TWO HOURS.  We had a connecting train to catch with about 20 minutes of wiggle room, and there was no train to London after it tonight.

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Need I remind you I had a FIRST-CLASS ticket

So at this point, we started to come to grips with the fact that we were, in all likelihood, not making it to London tonight, and would be spending the night in some random-ass podunk Scotland town, likely getting hammered and playing charades.

The stuffy fart-tube finally arrived at some station a couple of hours later at a station called Lockerbie, where there was the possibility of a transfer to London, though it was all somehow very vague and uncertain, despite ostensibly up-to-date schedules at our fingertips.  Everyone on the train was also headed to London, and nobody knew what was going on.  Everyone got off, and then the conductor yelled out the window “Oy! If you want to go to London,  get back on this train and transfer at the next stop.”  About half the people got back on, and the rest, including us – fucking rebels – decided we knew better, and stayed.

The train pulls out, and there’s this strange moment in which we and a handful of strangers realize that we’re all stranded together in the middle of nowhere, in the cold, as dark is setting in, banking on the very uncertain possibility of a train to London.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, this stout-ass train station employee comes and tells us all that the next train coming through would be going to London.

The train approached, and everyone grabbed their bags.  The train approaches, doesn’t slow down, and blows right the fuck by.   And the fucking stout train lady was nowhere to be seen.

So now we’re all starting to feel pretty royally fucked.  But there’s really nothing for us to do except keep waiting.  I honestly have no idea how there was this much uncertainty; I blame either Laura for not figuring it out, or Scotland at large for not having its shit together.  Probably the guy who was supposed to make the mobile train page was stuffing his face with a deep-fried pizza at the time, and his greasy fingers slipped all over the screen until he gave up.

After another 30 minutes, another train pulls in and we all wait with baited breath, watching until we see the sign saying the destination: LONDON! Woooo!!!! SUCK it dickhead train conductor, you don’t know fuck-all about what trains are doing what!  Shut up and drive the train, dipshit, leave the routing to the people with brains!

Our luck was changing fast.  This train wasn’t packed, so first class seats were actually available for me and Rich.  Finally, we would be traveling at the level of comfort to which we were accustomed.  Laura, dirty little liar that she is, sweet-talked the hapless ticket man while he punched her fare, successfully keeping him from realizing that she was nothing more than a low-class pauper, stowing away with Rich and me.

We also learned that the railway policy was to refund any tickets that had been delayed by over 1.5 hours.  So those 80 Euro first class tickets?  100% free, baby!

So now it was time to kick back and enjoy 3 hours of true first class travel to London, complete with 2 free coffees and a shitty ham roll!  Our day had really turned around.  Even though we would now be getting to our destination about 6 hours later than anticipated.

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Now this is a vacation

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Portrait of a first-class gentleman

The train ride ended up being really fun, because we were all so relieved and in general disbelief at the roller coaster of travel issues we’d had that day.  Really full of highs and lows, but all ended up ok, with us pounding brews and ham rolls, secure in the knowledge that we were traveling in first class like we deserved.  It was just like a Disney movie.

We pulled into London around 11 pm, and then took a the London Underground about an hour to the shitty part of town that Laura lived in.  It was another 20 minute walk from the subway station to Laura’s “flat” (Brits and their wacky vernacular), so instead of hitting the town like we thought we would, we just watched tv and went to bed.

Another successful day traveling the world!