Monday, March 24, 2014

Oklahomies in Dundee

I played hostess over the past two weeks and, let me tell you, I slept like a rock on the first night that my room was empty. Not because they were gone, but because I ran them (and myself) into the ground with a rigid itinerary. I wasn't about to let them come visit me and then us sit around looking at each other wondering what to do. Nope, every single day had a schedule. We may have strayed a time or two, but for the most part we stayed true to the plan. Plans are bliss, y'all.
Hannah arrived on Tuesday evening, March 11th. We dragged her suitcase from the bus station back to my flat before heading to Dr. Noodles, a delicious Asian food joint, for some pasta in a box. Then, after scavenging for appropriate Carnival costumes in my closet, I brought her to the flat party of the evening. This particular Tuesday was also the start of the Dundee Hunger Games so I was armed with a blue water gun to match my Kevin Durant Thunder get up. I also lent Vanessa, my flatmate, one of my spare water guns since she didn't have a chance to buy one yet. Bad move. More on that later. 
I pumped Hannah full of alcohol at the party before we went out to the Union for Skint night. I had never been previously even though everyone has been nagging me to go for the entire semester. Here's my confession: I've been missing out! We had a great time dancing and hanging out with all of my exchange friends before we left around 2 AM. Vanessa decided to leave with us and as soon as we had left the building she stuck the gun in my ribs and demanded my target. I was the very first person to "die" in the hunger games, at the hands of my own gun in my own flatmate's hand. The irony is inescapable. The betrayal still stings. 
On Wednesday morning Hannah and I were supposed to wake up early and travel by train to the town of Pitlochry to tour a whisky distillery. We made it halfway there, but the combination of jet lag, 3 hours of sleep, and a hangover was too much for Hannah, and she emptied her stomach until only water was left. 
We decided to return to Dundee and catch up on sleep before venturing out in the afternoon for a shopping escapade.
Megan made it to Dundee on Thursday evening and one of my wonderful friends, Zeeshan, treated us all to dinner at Nando's to celebrate her arrival! After filling up on chicken we headed to Tesco Metro where we spent an obscene amount of time in the alcohol aisle. Priorities. 
Friday morning, I dragged them out of bed and up to the top of Dundee Law before catching the train to Broughty Ferry. We spent the day ducking gusts of wind, eating a picnic in a castle, and meandering in and out of shops, including a furniture store. I don't even think I should tell you how long we spent trying out couches and admiring dining room tables. Is this adulthood? After dinner back at the flat, we went to Henry's for Bailey's hot chocolate and then to Tonic for actual cocktails. I quizzed Megan on the unfamiliar coins in between drinks. 
Saturday, we were on the bus to Stirling! It was so fun to go somewhere I had also never been before. Our threesome has a nice traveling mix. I'm the totally anal planner and Hannah is the experienced jet-setter, while Megan has the enthusiasm to bind us together. After making some circles and encountering strangers who had no idea where their own city's landmark was located, we finally made our way to the castle. It had an imposing presence at the crest of a hill overlooking the rest of the town, directly across from the Wallace Monument. Megan had complained about the crust on her sandwich the day before, so I carefully cut them off in the morning and even provided a little note. We ate this picnic in the courtyard of Stirling Castle. Eating carrot sticks and a chicken sandwich is a meal fit for royalty, right?
After the castle, we found the shops (it's like a magnetic force or something, can't be helped) and walked through the Thistle Mall. I hadn't been in such a mall since leaving the States and it was honestly a little overwhelming. I can't say I had very much culture shock when I came to Dundee, but I think I might have some when I return to America. It's become almost normal for people to drive on the left side of the road! My brain no longer hurts when I sit on a bus and see it happening.
Hannah packed up her suitcase on Saturday night and we all sat in a circle and sang Kumbaya. Kidding but not. It was sad.
We caught a bus to Edinburgh on Sunday morning and explored the castle with Hannah for an hour before she had to leave for the airport. Don't feel too sorry for her though since she was heading to the Bahamas next! If she came back tanner than me there will be a fight. We had a nice group hug near the cannons and then she was gone.
Megan and I consoled ourselves by visiting the prison in the castle and partaking in the free whisky tasting in the gift shop. After the castle we wandered through the Princes Street Gardens and found a cupcake shop where Megan tried her first macaroon and fell in love. After a little bit (ok a lot bit) of shopping, we made our dinner reservations and I got to feast on steak, thanks to Tyler's needless, but welcome, contribution to my bank account. Thanks again, baby! :) It was almost like date night, minus his great company and good night kiss. May 27th isn't so far away now though!
It was the kind of meal where I had to take breaks in order to rest my stomach and I was so thankful I wore leggings. 
Monday was St. Patrick's Day! We spent the morning in the mall so Megan could experience the Dundee Overgate. Nat and I took showers after lunch, and just as I stepped out the fire alarm went off. Perfect timing. I hastily dried off and dashed downstairs with a towel on my head and wishing for a drink in my hand. At least I wasn't as bad off as Nat, who still had conditioner in her hair. After our flat received the all clear, we all crammed into my bed watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S, making a drinking game out of it, decked out in our green. The Union hosted an all-day party so after dinner we spent the rest of the evening listening to live Irish music and then dancing downstairs!
I actually attended class on Tuesday morning, but we left for St. Andrew's soon after! It was such a beautiful day. I couldn't have asked for a better one. Nat joined us and we were armed with rain jackets, but the sun shone nearly the entire afternoon! We visited the golf course, the beach, the castle and cathedral, and picked up cupcakes before our bus home. 
If I had to pick a day that was a total dud, I would have to pick Wednesday. I had heard mixed reviews about Perth, but decided it would be a fun outing. So Megan and I went, accompanied by Nat and Vanessa. It was probably the worst place I've been to thus far. Granted, I know I sound like a total  traveling snob (i.e. "you've seen one small town you've seen them all"), but I swear to you that Perth is like a really attractive person with no substance. They're just pretty to look at, but you'd never want to interact with them. That's Perth. 
My favorite parts of the day were eating ice cream and trying on fake engagement rings at a Claire's in the mall. That's Perth.
I think we were all relived to get on our bus home. 
On Thursday I planned to take Megan on a walk over the River Tay road bridge, but the morning was absolutely miserable. It didn't stop raining until 3 PM and by that time we wouldn't have had time to see very much before we would run out of daylight. So we lounged in bed, drifting in and out of naps while endless episodes of The Office played in teh background. Noregretsnotevenasinglesnuggle. 
For dinner, we tried out the Tay Fry Inn and ohmylord I will be back. I found fried chicken. No, it's not quite Popeyes caliber, but it will do until I get back to the States. Megan went old school authentic and ordered fish and chips, while Nat channeled her inner elementary schooler with the chicken nuggets. I think we were all satisfied with our choices!
Megan and I invited Nat to our sleepover that night. They slept well. I was sandwiched in between two hybrid Darth Vader dinosaurs. It wasn't quite snoring, but it was incredibly loud breathing. I laid awake from midnight until 3 AM when I finally had the bright idea to escape to Nat's room. Peace and quiet. 
Friday was one of my favorite days! Megan and I trained it to Pitlochry with my friend Kiera where we wandered around the town before finding a promising hiking trail. Pitlochry is north of Dundee, further into the Highlands. It was mesmerizing! We saw snowcapped mountains and hiked around the edge of Loch Faskally. I would love to go back to camp or even to retire. I'm not picky. 
I helped Megan pack on Friday night before we fell into bed in preparation for our early morning, taking her back to Edinburgh to catch her flight. 
I waved until I could no longer see the bus!
My room is significantly emptier now, but my heart is full. So glad my friends took time and resources out of their lives to come and visit me! It was wonderful to show them around and have them feel, even for only a few days, the way I feel in this country. 
The departure date gets steadily closer and A Very Lucky Girl is far from ready. Where do I sign up for another semester? 

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