Better Late…

March 23, 2011

The legendary frugality of the Scots runs as strongly in my family as the Force through the Skywalkers. It’s not that we hate spending money…

…it’s not only that we hate spending money…

…it’s that we like saving it. A penny saved is a penny earned, but why save a penny when you could save a whole dollar?

Anyway, I find it very appropriate that this theme of Scottish frugality extended through one of the greatest adventures of my young life- a half-week trip to Scotland.



(And as a quick aside, if anyone is thinking I’m making up the whole “oh, Scottish people don’t like spending money!”, Google ‘Scottish frugality,’ or some variation of that. This is real.)

I’m posting another slideshow. Just to warn you, several of these are out of order. For example, Forsyth’s Tearoom and The Great Mustache Party were on Sunday, but I’m pretty much desperate to get some pictures up.

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Here’s the story: we took the bus into Tallinn and then flew to Edinburgh late Thursday night. Jaime established gummy bears as our official travel food. Took a double-decker bus (they make me so happy!) to the center, and met up with my awesome, awesome cousin, Kira! She’s studying at the Edinburgh University, and let us stay with her.

The next day we got up and explored the Royal Mile. So many things to see! It’s a total tourist trap, of course, but it’s an awesome tourist trap. Plaid, plaid everywhere! Advertisements for your own kilt (made to order); tempting smells from well-placed eateries; racks of vibrant postcards; and underfoot, the solidly patient cobblestone.  I remember watching the tourists in Tallinn scurrying over the cobblestone, either glancing about with a traveler’s cynicism or pounding jovially along, shrugging their backpacks higher and almost tripping over themselves.

It was good for me to have the shoe on the other foot. I played it up a little bit, but the truth was that I wanted to just breathe in Edinburgh. Cobblestone under my feet and the tall buildings of central Edinburgh rising above. They’re like gentry, standing to their full height and looking at a spot that’s just over your head. Maybe it’s just if you’re a tourist. I wonder what it would feel like to live there long enough to have Edinburgh look you in the eye… the closest I came to that feeling was probably in the wild wind atop Arthur’s Seat.

After a while we followed the road, ever upwards, to Edinburgh Castle. Built in the 7th century, it was! I had forgotten my castle ticket, as it happened, but Kira and I walk fast so that turned out all right. We made it back to the castle in plenty of time to look around, meet up with Jaime and Steph, and jump out of our skin when they shot off the cannon! (Not Mons Meg, that would just be crazy.

…I had kind of gotten my hopes up that they would.)

We explored the nooks and crannies (or winding stairways and vaulted ceilings) of the castle, and learned some Scottish history. A lot of Scottish history. They are a fighting race, and take their heritage as such very seriously, and proudly.

After a while we headed back toward town, under the entrance with the coat of arms and motto of the Royal Regiment of Scotland: “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit.” We went to one of Kira’s favorite coffee shops, the Black Medicine Coffee Co., to warm up a little.

I’m figuring out that living frugally never has to mean living cheap.

One of the lessons I have really struggled to learn is knowing when to just spend money. When is it worth it? How do you know if you’re just indulging, or investing? Money well spent, I have found, enriches you. Regardless of whether you spend it specifically on yourself. Money I spent buying cups of coffee, in eclectic cubby-hole cafes or European Starbucks (Starbuckses? Starbucksi?) became an investment in a memory. Some of the best fun we’ve had involves no money at all (see Mustache Party, or Arthur’s Seat pictures, coming soon…).

Guys, there’s so much to tell. And I’m about to run off to Book Club and I’ve no time to tell it at the moment. But I’ll go on organizing pictures (in more order, next time) and there will be scads more stories told (in much greater detail!) when I have time to overheat my laptop with some serious blogging. Expect another post in the next day or two.


P.S. About Forsyth’s Tearoom: the lovely woman who runs the shop stopped and chatted with us for quite a bit, and in the course of the conversation informed us that there were even videos posted about the Tearoom on YouTube. Indeed there are! I picked the one I liked best to show you.

Appearing with Permission

March 12, 2011

See, in the beginning, there was the Game Night (actually the second one in so many days, but the other one was a fairly laid-back affair). Stephany organized it, put a lot of work into planning, and we all had an awesome time. Well, there was a near-fiasco involving a jar of Geisha that Jaime won, but then Jaime shared. Crisis averted.

There, isn’t that fun? But that’s not all, peoples!

Exploration Day in Tartu…

It’s a long (long, long…) story, but I needed to run away for a while and I wanted to see more of Tartu, so Jaime and Stephany obliged. I asked them to show me some of their favorite places in and around town (always a good way to have an adventure, and gain a little insight into people that you already think are interesting). Merlin had some rare free time, and decided to spend it with us. She rounded out our little party perfectly. 🙂

Jaime was our tour guide, and the stories started as soon as we left the apartment. She told us about the city, and the history of things we didn’t even know had history. There were epic legends that I had never before encountered, like the moving tale of Kalev rescuing the beautiful Aztec princess LinDAH from being made into a human sacrifice. Serious stuff, guys. If you know your Estonian history and culture, you know how important this day was for me.

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About the Wilde Girls photo, here’s a little explanation: “The work depicts two men in polite conversation, Oscar Wilde the Irish poet and Eduard Vilde the 19th century Estonian writer and journalist. Both are seated on a slab of granite. The sculptor and artist Tiiu Kirsipuu depicted the two men in an imaginary conversation taking place in 1892. In fact, they never met. The work was completed in 1999 and the original stands outside the Cafe Wilde in the town of Tartu in south-eastern Estonia. A copy was presented to Galway in 2004 and stands in William Street.”

-from an article by Jan Toms

As a quick aside, you know when you do something that instantly reclaims your childhood? For me, that’s getting pick-up hugs, eating the cheap cherry multi-colored candy canes from Wal-Mart (my favorite!), and being unable to get all the snow off my backside.

In Russia, Mom would put warm snow-pants on us if we were going out to play, and other than not being able to walk without waddling, they were great. I’m realizing now that the cold booty is totally worth playing in the snow, and taking back playtime.

More to come… later. I just realized that I wore my turtleneck backwards the whole day, I’m that tired! Love to all, cheers.

Hoooo, boy….

March 3, 2011

The last week has been pictureful, and timeless. By which I mean I’ve been running around and haven’t MADE time to share my adventures. And sharing is good, my Mom taught me that.

(Note: If, in the future, I use a word that isn’t a word, like ‘pictureful,’ just go with it. I promise I know it’s not a word… but it works.)

So here’s the deal: the post I’m working on is the biggest post I’ve ever attempted. It doesn’t involve anything too extreme (like cliff-diving or cooking or snowboarding), it’s just a LOT of pictures, and videos. And I’m about to run out the door to travel for the next almost-a-week, to rack up even more adventures.

My head is spinning a little bit.

So I’m going to be really blog-silent for much longer than I feel good about, and then hopefully explode back onto the scene in a redemptive fashion when I have access to my computer again. Fair?

No, it’s NOT fair– unless I get ragged on for my absence and praised for my presence. I’m in this for the cookies, people. 😀

Cheers, Kaci