This is my first attempt to put into words what I experienced on my seven week trip through Scotland, England, Spain. I have yet to write ANYTHING about this trip (not a good thing), and need to get a few things down on paper for all my blog subscribers.
Edinburgh was a lovely city, but seemingly stuck in the 17th century, with its magnificent Georgian architecture. In fact, the entire old city is a UNESCO Heritage Site strictly because of its architecture.
I stayed with a host named Damien, via Couchsurfing, while in Edinburgh, who, as a born-and-raised Aussie, was a natural in giving me a glimpse of the Edinburgh nightlife. What I saw wasn’t anything too crazy; Damien was more into the pub scene than latenight rage scene. We went out two different nights: the first night to his local brewpub, where we chatted with an Indian guy, who, ironically enough, worked at a mobile phone store; and an English guy who had recently returned from a brutal cycling trip to London and back. Both were fine gentlemen. The Indian guy had an excellent sense of self-deprecating humor, which made for some hilarious stories; while the English guy’s accent was just funny, and his demeanor very easy going. Damien and I shared a few decent chats, but nothing super memorable. As it was our first night getting to know each other, most conversation revolved around pleasant formalities, instead of heart-to-heart bro talk.
On the second evening, I decided to rest and recover, as my body was still adjusting to the time change. I read Stephen King’s “The Shining” while enjoying some tea.
By the third evening I was well adjusted to the time change and ready to get a bit rowdy with my host. Since I still had my phone at this point in time, I iMessaged Damien round 8 or so to find out his location. He mentioned a pub about a 15 minute walk away and told me to meet him there in a few. I expected a similar location as the first night: a sparsely decorated brewpub, with wooden tables and a dimly lit atmosphere.
So it was very cool when I arrived at this brewpub to find it decked out with old books, pictures of a certain queen (the pub was named after a queen whose name escapes me), and a plethora of unique paintings and designs. In fact, I remember mentioning to Damien how cool the atmosphere at the pub was, and Damien responded with some interesting historical tidbits about the specific queen it was named after.
At this third-evening pub, as I’ll call it, Damien bought me my first drawn cask ale, which is starkly different from a normal microbrew (what we enjoyed the first evening). A cask ale is the most commonly drank beer in the UK, and is what most “microbreweries” in Scotland and England create (As a side tangent, while in York I toured York Brewery, and was given in an inside look into how cask ales were made. Unfortunately, I’ve never toured a proper microbrew in the States, so I had zero references to compare experiences). Jovially handing me the cask ale, he joked with a friend of his (whose name evades me – AGAIN!, but who hung out with us for some of the night) how much I’d dislike the brew.
Bottoms up! Right? And bottoms up I went. The cask ale was decent. If I were to describe it in an extremely simple manner, I’d say it tastes like a flat beer, which is why many Americans do not enjoy cask ales. But, as a well-experienced traveler, I try to approach every new experience with an open mind, and an open palate. The cask ale was good. I did enjoy it. And I would enjoy a few more as my trip continued.
So, anyway, back to the point of my third evening. After the first pub, Damien and I parted ways with his friend and headed to two more places for two more overpriced drinks. While at the second place, I asked Damien a very simple question, expecting a very simple answer in return. But after asking him, “How was your day?”, I instead received a lengthy response, detailing a possible life change he found out about at work. And it was cool! So cool! I’d only known this guy for a couple days, and he really opened up to me about his life situation. And when you can break a barrier like that, with a near total stranger, it makes the rest of the night much more laid back. In fact, experiences like this are why I love to get a couple drinks with new friends, as it often helps to break down social barriers that would normally remain rigid.
And, thanks to our newly opened up conversation, Damien, at third brew pub, gave me some excellent advice. I started talking about Lauren, a girl I had just started to date, and how I was really into her. Damien gave some excellent advice by drawing on his own relationship with his wife.
He told me the following (I have to paraphrase, as it was too long ago to remember the specific words): “If you can find a girl that can make you laugh, then stick with her. The sexual lust will run out, as will the romantic honeymoon feeling; what you’re getting with a wife (long-term girlfriend), is a best mate for life. And, if she can’t make you laugh, then you shouldn’t be with her.” After he told me this, I didn’t know what to say. A million thoughts injected with a sense of panic ran through my head in an instant. Did Lauren make me laugh? Did I always have a kickin’ good time when I was with her?’ After a three second pause, which felt like a fucking light year, I plastered a huge smile on my face and said, “Yeah, she’s my girl then. There’s not a time we hang out and don’t laugh our asses off.” With a wry smile of his own, Damien threw out his fist for a pound.
Two men. Opening up about women. And I mean, really balls-on-the-wall, no-holds-barred opening up about women.
What a cool Couchsurfing experience.