I flew into London-Luton airport during a miserable day of travel from Almaty, so I did not actually fly into London since that particular airport is significantly north of the actual City of London. After some time in the Lake District and the Midlands, the first British City I visited was Edinburgh, Scotland.
One of my absolute favorite people I knew during my time in Almaty was James, who now lives in Edinburgh with his lovely girlfriend Catherine. Also, Tristan, Mackenzie, Davinia, and Viki, all people I knew from Almaty, and Ben, an American living in Kathmandu, were all converging on Edinburgh and, later, other parts of Scotland as a miniature reunion of sorts. It was the perfect time for me to be there.
Our first night there, the party enjoyed a nice dinner in the city followed by a miniature pub crawl where I finally got my hands on some proper Scotch. The next day, the crew would be heading on a road trip to Montrose, and then Mack, Ben, Davinia and I would ramble on to the west coast. This road trip was ultimately cut short by weather, so we found ourselves back in Edinburgh, crowding James and Catherine’s apartment and enjoying the city.
The highlighted cultural activity in Edinburgh was the Scottish Museum of Modern Art. Some of the art was questionable, but some was absolutely fantastic, especially the neon words at the entrance (perfect after reading The Dharma Bums by Jack Keruac), and all the work by Victoria Morton, especially Dirty Burning.
After the museum and a stroll along the Water of Leith back to James and Catherine’s flat, Davinia and I headed towards the castle, which was my first glimpse of a overly-touristy area of Britain. Listening to other Americans making inane comments and constantly getting in the way of cameras belonging to East Asians, it was a kind reminder that having friends in the United Kingdom is a wonderful blessing, and that the places I have seen (and continue to see while here) are definitely “off the tourist bus path.”
Before long, Davinia and I stopped by the flat one more time to say “thanks and see you later” to the crew that had assembled for the week in Scotland. It was great to see great people outside of Central Asia, and I can’t wait until we all meet up again soon. HUGE thanks to James and Catherine for letting us crash on the floor and Ben and Mack for driving us around. Cheers!