This week started as kind of a bummer. One of the places I’ve really wanted to get to is the Isle of Skye, lauded as one of the beautiful places in all the land. I tried to rally my troops and get a trip together, but they were not down, which is fair. Skye is like eight hours away, and that’s only if you get all the trains, buses, and ferries perfectly aligned, which requires some Zuckerberg-level code-reading or whatever. So the Skye trip didn’t happen. That’s honestly been one of the toughest things about the abroad experience: being aware of countless amazing places I’d like to go and things I’d like to do, while also being aware that I will not be able to accomplish it all. It’s a wonderful problem to have, but it’s still a problem, and one that certainly extends to other walks of life. You can’t do everything you want to do in life, but you’ve still got to do something, so you just kind of figure it out.
I wasn’t dwelling on this that much over the week, because 1) I had an essay to write and 2) the weather was faaaantastic. So I spent Monday-Thursday either playing golf or typing away about the presence of fascism in Scottish literature. Good times! Golf was a lot of fun. I played with some really nice, funny people, including John and Linda, an older British couple who’ve been living in St. Andrews for a while now. John told me about how he eagled a 680 yard par-5 hole in Portugal, and how he convinced a Starbucks executive to start serving doubleshots of expresso by default rather than by special order. He was not lacking for confidence.
I also met Luke, a nice young guy from Minnesota who chipped around with me for a while. He was with a wedding party in Edinburgh, and he’s a big golf fan so he made a St. Andrews day trip. I was practicing my chipping while he was walking around taking photos, and he walked up and asked if he could chip a ball. I gave him my club and a ball, and as he started his swing, he muttered, “Dream come true.” It was a nice reminder that St. Andrews is a pretty special place for a lot of people, and I’m lucky to be here.
I turned in my essay on Friday, so other than reading and a few more classes, I have nothing until finals. I celebrated by hanging out on the beach with my pals, playing soccer and drinking cool beverages, enjoying the nice weather before it inevitably changed for the worse.
We took it easy Friday night so we could go on a little hiking trip Saturday morning. Forrest, Adam, Kaelen, Scarlett, and I headed to the wee town of Scotlandwell, where we would start our trek into the Lomond Hills. The day’s improvisational style was established early, when we missed our bus stop and had to walk back two miles to the start of the hike. Then, we headed in the wrong direction until some nice Scots turned us around. Then, as we headed up Bishop Hill, Scarlett decided to leave the path and head straight up, throwing us off Adam’s very specific directions for the hike that we were following. We messed up a lot of times. But the scenery was beautiful and we were in no hurry, so it wasn’t no thang.
From there, we traveled onward, making it up as we went along. Forrest, Scarlett, and Kaelen decided to call it a day after about six miles, while Adam and I traveled onwards to East Lomond Hill. Scotland land is “free to roam,” and we pushed this to its logical extreme on the way to East Lomond. Without a clear path to follow, we trekked through lots of farmland, and when we couldn’t find any gates, we hopped their barbed-wire fences. We saw lots of sheep. The land is beautiful over there. Adam said, “Lots of countries don’t look as good as your expectations. Scotland is the only place that does.” Or something like that. I’m paraphrasing. But I agree with the sentiment.
After our meandering journey, we reached East Lomond and summited that baby with ease. And the view was beautiful. Also, it snowed while we were up there. On the whole journey, the weather changed a million times, but Mama Nature saved the best for last. The wind was blowing tough, and it snowed hard for a little while, so Adam and I hunkered down until the storm blew over. Then, we headed down to the lovely little town of Falkland. We met a nice couple (big Foo Fighters fans, two college-age sons, one dog) who gave us a ride to Freuchie, where we took the bus from home. It was a real adventurous day. I hadn’t planned on hopping over barbed wire and hitchhiking, but sometimes you just got to go with it. This was a lot more fun than spending eight hours on a train trying to get to Skye.
I played a whole soccer game yesterday for the first time in a while, so between that and the long hike on Saturday, I’m pooped. I’m going to Madrid on Thursday. The fun don’t stop, y’all.
Just a reminder, if you’d like to see my photos, check my Instagram (@quinstagram___). Have a nice week, friends.