On the Road

Posted: October 25, 2012 in Photography
Tags: , , , , , , ,

On Steph’s final day in Scotland, the two of us decided to rent a car and take a road trip to St Andrews. Picture, if you will, an American driver on the opposite side of the road for the first time, being led by someone who can’t drive full stop. Great knowing you!

My face for the better part of the trip.

Thankfully, the journey there was surprisingly free of mishaps, and we arrived just in time for Steph to have her first (but by no means last) Luvian’s of the day. You’d think we’d come back to St Andrews for the nostalgia factor being that it was where we first met but secretly she’d just been waiting seven years to go here again.

Irn-Bru ice cream! I’ve never felt more Scottish.

Compare and contrast with 2005 with 2012 above! Same doorway, new paintjob, better haircut.

Later, we wandered down to the pier to wash the taste of sycophantic famewhoring from our palates (North Point cafe: there isn’t enough vomit in the world.)

Whilst walking along a precarious section of wall, I pointed out that we were much safer than when John and I were last there because the tide was out and we weren’t at risk of drowning.

Steph: As opposed to now when we’ll fall onto the rocks and die.
Me: Touché.

There are many places where I’ve lived, but far fewer that I’ve considered home. St Andrews is firmly in the latter category.

You’d never know from her smile that she’s actually terrified of heights – a fact I learned after making her climb a ladder to the top of the pier, haha.

A nice old man passed by and asked if we’d like a picture together. I’m usually a little wary of stranger-taken pictures, but this one turned out surprisingly well.

Passing by the Vic, I noticed something oddly familiar about the sign:

*pented (You can take the boy out of Dundee…)

On our complete sweep of the town (all three streets of it), we went for a jaunt through the abbey I used to pass every day on the way to classes, and made a quick trip to Miller’s Tale: home of the shelves John and I bought last year and still haven’t put up yet. Additionally, one glass doomed to a very solitary existence. (Steph: “…but there are seven of them?”) We also paid a visit to Subway so Steph could refuel – an establishment where I have yet to have a single pleasant experience. Aside from the fact that I find the smell inexplicably nauseating, its hiring policy – at least within the Scottish branches – seems predicated on cultivating the rudest, most miserable staff imaginable. This time was no exception, and after one guy behind the till grunted at his colleague to serve us, his co-worker proceeded to slap Steph’s sandwich together as if it had pissed on his Christmas presents, before throwing the bag at her over the counter. Needless to say, my erstwhile hatred was duly reaffirmed, but – loath to let it be our final memory of the trip – Steph asked if we could pay one last visit to Luvian’s. I of course obliged. After all – in Scotland, we aim to pleasure. (Second quotation mark provided by Stephanie.)

Just before we left, we stopped by the off license so Steph could pick up some whiskey and cigars (and shock me with her frighteningly extensive knowledge of both). Meanwhile, I casually inquired as to whether they had any ice wine and discovered that they not only stocked it, but that the two bottles they had were from the very same estate I visited in Canada! What are the odds?!

So I mentioned earlier that our trip to St Andrews was remarkably free of mishaps. Alas, the same could not be said of the return journey, starting from the point where my phone died halfway between Fife and Edinburgh, leaving us with no map or GPS for the remaining 75% of the way. Worse still, with her flight leaving in the early hours of the following morning, we had to make sure the car was returned by 7pm since she’d have no time to do it the next day. I don’t know if I can do justice to the ensuing chaos, but here goes.

We left St Andrews early, to allow for traffic or – as was ultimately doomed to happen – unforeseen misadventure. It actually looked as if we were going to make it with time to spare until we reached the fateful stretch of motorway leading back into Glasgow. Seemingly designed to confuse the uninitiated, the signs indicated that we could travel to west Glasgow, south Glasgow, or indeed any compass point in Glasgow that your heart could possibly desire. The only route that didn’t lead to Glasgow, in fact, was the one sadistically titled “city centre” – which, as it turns out – does not mean the city centre of Glasgow but one of its outlying suburbs.

Regardless, we were still making decent time, and since (insult to injury) the rental company had asked us to refill the tank for them, we took the opportunity to stop at a petrol station before continuing back the way we came. Barring one miscalculation that took us into a cul-de-sac (and Steph putting in twice as much petrol as was necessary because the little dial didn’t immediately register the change), we soon found ourselves back on the motorway. Indeed, everything seemed to be back on track, right up until we came to the horrifying realisation that we’d somehow ended up back in that god-forsaken suburb and were still no closer to our actual destination. And so – refusing to turn back a second time – Steph decided to honey-badger the entire situation; driving lengthways through (mercifully, static) traffic to get us back to the garage where we could ask directions.

By this stage, we were not only on the wrong side of the law, but also the clock – a mere 30 minutes remaining before our 7pm deadline. Thanks to the garage workers, however, we were at least headed in the right direction, and as passing landmarks began to look more familiar our only remaining problem was that I have literally no idea how to navigate Glasgow by car. In a final moment of desperation, we decided to use Steph’s rental phone to call the car company and ask directions – a plan that seemed foolproof until a small, electronic voice announced that I had one minute of calling time remaining. Still inching closer to our destination with time running out on all fronts, I forced the guy to just give me all of the directions at once – and, to his credit, he managed to spit them out at 100mph right before the phone gave up the ghost. I then attempted to relay them to Steph as best as possible until finally – blissfully – we rounded a corner and pulled up outside the car rental at 6:58, literally two minutes before closing time.

Never again.

If nothing else, I’m sure it made her last day memorable, but just to play it safe, we decided to spend the rest of the evening in a slightly less adventurous fashion. Reunited with John (who’d been in work all day – typical, given that he was the only one of us who could actually have prevented the entire situations), we spent the evening in the company of Kevin Zegers with tea and chocolate in hand.

Sadly, we had to bid farewell at some ungodly hour the following morning – mitigated by how very lovely it had been to see her again after so many years. Rest assured that it won’t be near as long before it happens again (and, ideally, that our next encounter will involve John and I on a plane to New York!).

And, as if her departure wasn’t tragic enough, so ended the cinnamon candy. (I’m actually amazed it lasted the five days that it did.)

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