Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ireland & Scotland - final thoughts

Final thoughts

Steven and Oscar in Dublin
On our last day in Scotland, we talked about the things we'd learned from this adventure. Some we already knew and the trip simply brought home the lesson more clearly. Others were brand-new learnings - like vocabulary. Oscar Wilde said (and I paraphrase) That the English and the Americans are two cultures separated by a common language.

And he's so right. No highways, but "motorways" or "divided carriageways". No waiting in lines, but keeping an orderly "queue". Several times I was asked if I wanted a "cuppa" (and I always said yes to tea) and we often went "straight on" when our GPS wanted us to follow the same road for a distance.

We learned some new Irish words as well. On the roadways, whenever you came to a curve (which was every 200 yards or so!), the word "Slow" was printed on the road's surface. On the particularly sharp curves, the words "VERY SLOW" appeared after the initial warning. And north of Galway, the words "Go Mall" were there instead. Didn't take but one curve to realize they meant "Slow your rear end down!"

Jupiter's Beard growing wild on a wall in
We learned that "failte" means Welcome and is pronounced falcha. That "cead mille failte" means a hundred thousand welcomes and that, when you get north of Galway, you better read Irish, because few of the road signs are in English. I'm very glad Amanda Bates turned me onto Duolingo - because I could read several of them!

We both learned that bed and breakfasts are better than hotels. This was one we already knew but have decided more firmly. And we now know that three nights in one place is better than two. In Scotland, where we had only two nights in each hotel, we found ourselves doing more driving and less experiencing. Staying put longer (four nights is probably even better, we'll have to give that a shot!) allows us to see more deeply, and we learned we prefer that over just a surface-level visit.

Culloden Moor
Steven learned how to drive on the left. The first half hour was the hardest but he said that, only in the last two days or so did he feel like he didn't have to be hyper alert every single second. That he could relax a little and just drive.

He also had a philosophical understanding that occurred. Standing on Culloden Moor, he was struck by the universality of suffering. That a battlefield in Scotland and a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania can have the same solemnity because of the blood spilt. It isn't only war, however, that creates the suffering. He got the same vibration in Pompeii. But during this trip, he started to put it all together.

As for me? I learned that I like haggis. Really! I would eat it again. I learned that I pack well. Could've done with swapping a short sleeve for another long-sleeved shirt but other than that? I think I've got this down.

Speaking of down, I now know I have to plan a down day every so often. About every five is a good number. And by "down day" I mean a day where nothing is on the agenda other than maybe a stroll (not even a walk - a stroll!) and reading a good book or having conversations in pubs with strangers.

Printed on the streets of Dublin to remind
tourists which way the traffic comes from!
I learned that being a passenger in a car driving in the left lane takes more than two weeks to get used to, even after Steven got comfortable.

I learned to bring paper maps. Lots and lots of paper maps.

And I learned, or rather re-learned, that I like traveling with Steven. He gives me good adventures, sometimes when I'm hesitant to take them. I like to allow room for serendipity and so does he; we make a good team.

I will close this reflection with the words neither of us will ever forget from our driving adventures in Ireland and Scotland, the words Steven heard me utter over and over again, usually in panic as the stone walls and hedges of the roadside came too near. But it makes a philosophical statement as well. And so...farewell and

"Watch yer left!"

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