A Not So Auspicious Start

In perusing my “z-Old” folder on Google Drive I came across a folder called “Beat the Path.” This was the travel blog that I intended to keep and eventually monetize about my indefinite world travel (which ended up being 8 months).

Well, I got too caught up in actually enjoying my travels and it kind of fizzled. But in that folder, I found 5 or 6 blog posts that I wrote and never published. (I ended up not publishing any). Pictured below is the graphic I made for my blog’s banner.

Today, I would have paid someone from Fiverr to do a much nicer one.

As I read these drafts, I was brought back to events that have sort of been pushed to the back of mind what with building a settled life for the past 4 years.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to post a couple of the better ones. The posts that I actually wrote back then are all rough drafts, so I’ve edited them a bit – mostly for grammar and typos.I’ve also inserted some commentary from 2018 Matthew.

The following posts was probably written in July of 2013 recounting the events of my first day of travel, July 12th, 2013:

A Not so Auspicious Start

After a painful goodbye (2018 Matthew note: to the person of whom I am now married!) at Richmond Airport at 9:00 AM…. I was off to my travels! I got in the TSA line to go through the usual invasive routine. I placed my meticulously packed and arranged bag (so as to fit into carry-on storage bins) on the conveyor belt. I went through the superman machine (the thing where you put your arms over your head so they can body scan and irradiate you) and got pulled aside.

I stared in horror as they tore apart that well-packed bag piece by piece, searching for whatever they thought that they saw that wasn’t there.

“No matter,” I said, “just doing their job, now off to my flight.”

Enter my layover in Boston.

I left the domestic terminal and made my way to the international terminal. I got in the TSA line to once again go through the invasive rigmarole. I once again placed my perfectly re-packed bag on the conveyor belt and walked through the super man machine.

Upon exiting the machine, I got pulled aside and watch in horror as another TSA agent ripped apart that well-re-packed bag looking for a water bottle that I forgot to throw away upon changing terminals. I didn’t realize that I would have to go through TSA again, so I carried the bottle with me to refill so as not to have to buy water at the airport for who knows what ungodly sum. Sigh.

I board my flight to Reykjavik, Iceland, land, and mentally prepare for my 8 hour layover- ready for a nice 2 hour nap (it’s 12 AM at this point).

Chatting with the nice older couple I wound up in the customs line, and accidentally left the international terminal, activating my period in the Schengen VISA area of 90 out of 160 days, which I was making a point to avoid.

Since I “exited” the airport, I had to walk all of the way around the airport and go through security…. again.

No bag check. Yes!.. something going my way.

I spent the next 8 hours trying to sleep in every possible position I could imagine, getting in maybe an hour of total sleep, which was about as long as the sun goes down in Iceland in July.

Finally the time came to fly into Prestwick Airport in Glasgow, we landed, and I exited the plane. I was greeted by a customs agent that grilled me on how much money I had and how long I planned to stay being that I had no return ticket or other way out of Britain (I planned on buying a bus ticket to Paris while end London, which I did). I now had to kill 3 hours in Glasgow before catching the bus to Edinburgh. St. George Square, the one place that I wanted to see, was closed. So I bought a local SIM card for my unlocked phone, enjoyed my first pasty, and watched some street performers until the bus arrived.

Finally, I arrived in Edinburgh and followed my Couchsurfing host’s directions to her flat.

First, I walked a mile out of the way on Edinburough’s main throughfare. Eventually, I found my way and made it to where she said her flat is (Argyle Park Terrance). At least I thought it was Argyle Park Terrace, but it was actually Argyle Place.

Being exhausted from lack of sleep and toting a 20 pound backpack around for 6 hours, I arrived at the Argyle Place house and knocked.

No answer.

She said she was home and so I walked in.

Nobody there.

I walked up the stairs briefly. Nobody there.

Keep in mind that these flats are old tenements, so the apartments look just like the houses.

So I knocked on the first door in the house (she said she was the first door) and a gentleman walked out. I ask for Hannah, and he responded with “who’s that?”

It appears that I had just done a home invasion.

I apologized profusely. Luckily, he was a good sport about it and helped me find the street that I was looking for which was a block away. I arrived at Hannah’s (huzzah!) introduced myself to her and her friends and commenced with the craic – which I learned from Hanna is a Scottish term for a good time or conversation. She thought it proper to explain this as I looked on with horror that this group was talking so casually about people who have good crack.

But no, that’s not where it ends.

The next day we went to Sandy Bell’s pub. I was drinking with my host and chatting with some locals at the bar while listening to some Scottish folk music. Hannah (my host) then introduced me to the two other people who live in the house that I invaded at Argyle Park Place, Shirley and Kieth.We chatted a bit talking about the irony and exchanged numbers.

I got “snackered” (Scottish speak for moderately insensible) with them and their friends the next day.

And who says crime doesn’t pay?

2018 Matthew: My Couchsurfing host, Hannah, has since become a professional, licensed tour guide in Scotland. She gave me a great tour while I was there.. and that was before she was a professional tour guide! Her website is: http://www.scotlandwithhannah.com/

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