Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tourist Suckage Two, Electric Bugaloo

(cue music, voiceover)

"And in last week's episode.."

"Holy Tourist Hell Batman! What happens next?"

Well, let's recap, shall we?

Stinky stale-aired bus, cramped multi-cultural tourists, phantom voice charmingly and skitteringly weaving stories of the Scottish lands, sullen bus driver, wet rainy day. Me, upset stomach, wanting to be anywhere BUT on the bus, and now I've got a freaking migraine. There is a hell and I have landed in it. I am paying for my sins now, on Easter Sunday. God, your joke is on me, I get it.

So, yeah, the migraine started. Mine are usually visual, and this one was no exception, though I was surprised how fast it started. Boom, there they were, the blinkies. Looking at stuff just hurt, the light and the motion, it all hurt. Rich told me to look out the window at a castle or something, and I just told him that I could not see anything right now, take a picture, and I'd get to it later.

That's when Eastern European Stinky Food Couple opened the Herbs From Hell. I still don't know what it was, was it food? Cologne? some sort of hand lotion? What? But if you took all the strongest smelling herbs you can think of, lavender, eucalyptus, smelling salts, Vicks Vapo-Rub, and something kind of pork smelling, and rolled that all up, you might have an idea of what rammed its way into my olfactory senses and would not budge. I thought I would die. Now I could not see due to the headache, or smell. Great.

I closed my eyes, wrapped my scarf around my head, and prayed the bus would crash.

It didn't. It stopped at Stirling Castle instead. That did not suck as much as I was expecting it to. Stirling is a nice castle, it really is. Lovely views, nicely placed, lovely town running along the hill the leads to it. Very nice indeed. Parts of it were closed (the parts I wanted to see of course) and others were being reconstructed, but whatever, at least I was off the bus and away from the smell. Even my headache lightened up some, escaping that bad air.

Stirling Castle was having a big Easter Kiddie Day. The place was swarmed with chilluns. They were everywhere. All screaming. Good for the old noggin.
There was this grown up guy dressed in 17th century costume, all in green, even his tights, running around the castle hollering and being chased by hordes of excited little boys. He'd dash into an alley or an alcove, lose the boys, then run madly back through the arches and the courtyards, as the boys discovered he'd lost them and change tack to get him again. I later found a sign saying something along the lines of "Mac Mackenzie, the Notorious Criminal, is on the loose. Reward for his capture. Beware; he is fleet of foot and sly of wit. If you spy him, please report immediately to the Captain of the Castle". Of course there was a portly guy strolling around in a redcoat uniform, big black cape and tricorn hat, with a big Captain badge on him, being accosted by little boys hopping up and down, screaming and pointing at the green man whizzing around the castle trailing more little boys. (It was pretty cute to see, actually. The boys were having so much fun, I am sure their parents were glad the little buggers were getting worn out for the trip home.)
There were also wizards and minstrels and magicians and owl exhibitions, and more captains and I think a few wenches as well. The kids were losing their minds. But it did not make for good historical contemplation, or give much rom to move. Plus, it rained.
We had an hour and a half at Stirling, which gave us enough time to see the castle (what we could see of it as alot of it was closesd for renovations) and have a hugely overpriced but satisfying lunch.

After our hour and a half was up, we headed (me, reluctantly of course) back to the bus. The Late Couple was late, again. The Child Who Would Run Amok was running, you guessed it, amok. The newly annoying Group Of Three Single Guys from the Middle East were back on the bus, but they smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke I wondered if they somehow bathed in it. One of those guys chewed gum the ENTIRE trip, and not quietly either. I think he was a special demon sent to torture me. They spent their time at the castle kicking around a soccer ball they found and ogling the women.

After Stirling we went to a pretty town whose name I can't recall. We had 20 minutes there. Rich and I headed straight to the nearest pub and had a pint. Only enough time for one pint of course. Got back on the bus. The damn Late Couple was 10 minutes late again. Seriously, who do they think they are? Are we on this earth to suit their time table? I think not. I really, really, am bothered by people who are always late. Personally, I think it is just rude and kind of passive agressive, like a power play, whereby you being late gives you power over others. If I were the bus driver I would have left them.

After the pretty town, we drove through the Trossachs, which were gorgeous, and then caught a boat ride on Loch Lomond. By now my migraine no longer had the visual symptoms, just the vice like grip on my skull and the associated tiredness. The boat ride was nice and mellow, it was too foggy and cold and rainy to see anything (of course) though we did very much enjoy the new stereotype that has been making its way about Europe more and more.
They are the Loud Pushy Badly Dressed Yet Arrogant Russians. Have you come across them yet? They apparently have enough money to get out of their country and sight-see, but not enough money to get out of the acid washed jeans, painted t shirts, mullets, and Michael Jackson leather jackets from 20 years ago. They push everyone around them, chatter and argue amongst themselves. Watching them take pictures of each other was priceless. We tried to get pictures of it, but failed. One kid, he was about 17, in a big oversized black leather jacket, tight acid washed jeans and vinyl dress shoes, posed like Tom Jones for every picture. Head cocked to one side, mouth pouting,legs splayed, hand just to left of crotch. ("Hey, lookee what I got here for you, you lucky babooshka!") The same for every picture. What was he, a rock star in training? His compatriot, she was about 25, had a uni brow that woulda made Frida Kahlo jealous. She wore a beret, and some sort of para military Santa Fe look, with an Indian blanket as a skirt and combat boots. She posed for her pictures by standing bold upright, frowning and directing a piercing gaze from under her beetling brows and hat. She was scary, and needed to shave her upper lip.

The boat ride was about an hour, we saw nothing, really, as the fog was too thick.

Finally, the day was over and we could make our way back to Glasgow. I was never so glad to get back to a place in my life. Even Rich, whom I called Pollyanna all day, was glad to be back.

After another bad night's sleep and a 6am wake up call, Monday was our day to be mistreated by RyanAir for our flight back to Norway. (Note to RyanAir employees: Would it kill you to say "hello" before you screwed us? Can you pretend it's foreplay or something? Just jumping right into the rudeness, it somehow doesn't work for me, you know? If you really wanna screw me, at least look me in the eye, ok?) Glasgow Preswick Airport sucks ass. We waited in line for almost an hour to get mistreated by those assholes. I won't mention how the trains were under engineering work and so it took us an hour and a half to get to that crappy place, when it should have taken half an hour. Or the bus driver we ended up with who, we think, got us lost on the way to the airport? No I won't mention that. I think you get the point.

As Dave Barry says:
"We travel because, no matter how comfortable we are at home, there's a part of us that wants-that needs- to see new vistas, take new tours, obtain new traveler's checks, buy new souvenirs, learn new words for "transfusion", and have all the other travel adventures that make us want to French-kiss our doormats when we finally get home".

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. No spam gets through. Don't try it. I Love comments from real people though! Thanks!