Tuesday, 26 April 2011

April 26, 2011 - Talking to Strangers

Remember when your kindergarten teacher told you not to talk to strangers?  That was a load of bull, my friends.
Having left London, I took the train to Newcastle, which evidently is the Hen/Stag Party capital of the United Kingdom, if not the world.  This was evident by the throngs of high-heeled, mini-skirted, sash and bunny ear wearing squealing crowds running into and out of pubs at record speed throughout Easter weekend.  And the girls were out of control, too!  I stayed in Jesmond, a suburb of Newcastle, just a simple Metro ride from the city centre, equally well served with pubs and hotels, but on a slightly more economical scale. 
My first day in the area, I spent the day exploring the Roman ruins well north of town.  I took the train to Hexham, followed by a bus out of town to explore Hadrian's Wall (or as Carolyn would call it, "The Hey, Adrian! Wall").  Hadrian was a Roman Ruler who built this wall to protect his empire and keep the Britons out... Hadrian's Wall still exists in some form along with footprints and ruins of some of the milecastles and other houses along the way. 
The first place I alighted the bus included an excellent stretch of Hadrian's Wall, as well as the Housestead Ruins.  I did not enter the Housestead Ruins as an additional admission was required, but I explored the Wall, which now is used as the fence for a sheep pasture.  If the wall was good enough to keep the Britons out, it should be good enough to keep some sheep in!
Walking back to the bus stop, I recognized a young woman who had also gotten off the bus at the same time I had about an hour earlier.  She and I began to compare notes about the ruins, the weather, our travel plans, and before I knew it, we were travel companions for the rest of the day. 
My new travel companion and I next stopped at the Roman War Museum where we watched a 3-D movie about the history of Hadrian's Wall.  3-D glasses do not fit over regular glasses, nor do they work if you require regular glasses to see in the first place.  Good film.  I think.
After the movie, we went to the museum in the cafe to wait for the bus and continue visiting.  I should explain that the bus only comes around once every 75 minutes, and this particular stop did not have much more than a 25 minute 3-D film to offer.  We were so caught up in conversation, that we missed the bus by 30 seconds.  So naturally, we picked up our backpacks and ran hell bent for leather, chasing after the bus, screaming at the top of our lungs.  OK, so the bus makes a hairpin turn on it's route and passes the stop again in 5 minutes, but we didn't know that.  We looked pretty cool. 
We laughed all the way to the train station, and then parted ways.  If you're going to talk to strangers, maybe exchange names at some point in the day-long conversation...
I have now arrived in Edinburgh, and I must say that I have fallen in love with this country!  I was greeted at the train station by Susan, my dad's cousin, who took me to her house before she had to report to work.  Susan lives literally steps from Hollyrood Park.  Just outside her door is an extinct volcano, the exploration of which was my first order of business.  Having summited the volcano, I could see the most incredible view of the city of Edinburgh.  Susan was able the finish work early, and spent the afternoon walking along the Royal Mile and around the city core sourcing places to visit today. 
Leaving Scotland to the tail end of the trip was definitely a good idea!
Stay tuned...

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