A ferry from Belfast landed us in Cairnryan, with Hertz handing these sensible looking travelers the keys to our vehicle equivalent, the Volvo. A dependable steed, her GPS (hallelujah, last rental car and we scored a Siri!) rerouted us around traffic to Edinburgh.
A city of blocks, bricks and steeples, tweed, kilts, leather and brass, the aesthetic was gorgeous. The Scots are diverse and inviting, with a seemingly evolutionary resistance to the cold. Our first night was spent at a beautiful hotel in the heart of old town, but cringing when we realized we could get our next three nights for cheaper than this one, we checked out of our treaty digs and drove a few miles down the road to Marina’s brand new, charming, and seriously underpriced B&B. Tucked up on the top floor of a huge villa under a big duvet was the best place to warm a still infected throat and listen to the wind whistling in the jet black night.
We took our free days as opportunities to go for drives and connect with people. A long day trip to Stirling Castle, through Glen Coe and up to Fort William was amazingly scenic. We also went out to the famed seaside town of St Andrews, with quick stops at the beach and golf courses.
Back in the big smoke, we had a chance meet up with Hayden from Maia’s Pakuranga rugby team. He had been away for a similar time as us, and told us of his exciting solo stories over a beer, also letting us in the loop that the next day he was surprising his parents by coming home from his OE early. We were so excited for him and wished we could have jumped on a plane back to all our loved ones too.
Homesickness really hit us about then, but thankfully Maia’s family (on his mum’s side) went out of their way to meet up with us and we had such a good time with Nick and Amy, Scott and Sue. They put their weekend aside to host us and we were so appreciative to have been welcomed and looked after. They’re wonderful people and we hope to keep that long line of connection going with the Scott’s Scots.
With an early flight to Heathrow, then LA, we stayed at the airport’s Snoozebox for our last night. A brilliant concept, we slept cheaply in a converted container for a quick start in the morning. Our wake up call came a bit early though because the downpour cut out the generator and emergency lighting flooded the room from 2:00 am. Excited to be on our way home, we didn’t mind too much.
Before we knew it (euphemistic hyperbole) we were back in LA, with a day at Disneyland. The child in me never grows up, and I couldn’t sleep the night before, grinning ear to ear in anticipation (I’m still like this for Christmas, it’s nuts). It was everything I had remembered it to be, a truly fun and magic world for everyone. I can’t wait to go back!
Our layover up, we then flew to Hawaii. It is incredible! We’re staying in Oahu, on Waikiki beach. The pineapple is unreal, the scent of frangipani intoxicating, and palmed beaches so good they’re almost certainly a mirage. I love this place and we both agree it would be very easy to live here. This holiday-after-the-holiday is really hitting the spot, and we’re chilling while we can before it’s back to routine. The beach bars are amazing (heed caution with the mai tais – I had one and thought someone had slipped something in my drink, but it was just the rum taking full effect), surf is refreshing, and temperature tropical. Did I mention the shops? I think this is the perfect place for a holiday. Hawowii!
Tomorrow (weather permitting) we are going swimming with giant turtles on the north shore, paddle boarding down a river, jumping off a big rock, and mazing through the Dole plantation. Then it will be a couple more days of relaxation before we arrive back in Aotearoa on 25 November. Home sweet home.
There’s photos of Scotland and the US below, but before I sign off please let me say a huge thanks for encouraging me as I’ve blogged. It’s always nerve wracking putting yourself out there, but writing to keep in touch with you has been some of the best parts of my trip. I hope I haven’t been too verbose, that my words have lit up a smile or two, and that our stories have maybe even brought back memories of/provided inspiration towards your own travel journeys.
I deeply appreciate all your comments and enthusiasm and I’m sure going to miss this creative outlet (until I can think of something else people might like to read).
Thank you for your support. Can’t wait to see you soon in godzone New Zealand.