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To Edinburgh we go.
Gliding along the modern motorway we pass the city of Glasgow and with regret we won’t get to stop this trip we ride on. In the Scotland of my youth, Glasgow was a rough, hard city, with some of Europe’s worst statistics for violence and alcoholism due to the high unemployment. Having been built in part by the ship building industry due to it’s location on the Clyde river, when it and other industries went away so did most of the work.
These days it’s a modern, thriving European city with business, commerce, art and culture attracting visitors from all over the world. Edinburgh is on my mind though as I want Patrick to see the incredible castle that dominates the skyline high above the Royal mile.
With a history that dates back close to 2,000 years, we marvel at the incredible stone work that has taken centuries to complete. We read about Robert the Bruce and I talk to Patrick about the Scott’s fierce patriotism and fighting spirit. “That fought and died for, Your wee bit hill and glen” a line from their most famous song, “O Flower of Scotland” couldn’t read truer. First forcing the Romans to build a wall to keep them out of England 2,000 years ago, they’ve been repelling invaders ever since.
Today though everyone is welcome, and there are few peoples on this planet more genuine and friendly. Hours pass as we marvel at the many treasures Edinburgh Castle has to reveal and after a tea break to rest our legs it’s down to the Royal Mile.
After an hour or so of meandering along the crowded streets, we stop to watch a young European artist creating magic with newspaper and spray cans. And there on the ancient Edinburgh streets, I have as Spalding Grey would say, my perfect moment.
Patrick is entranced and doesn’t want to leave. As a father, wanting to impart the world as I see it to my son, it’s a home run.
Standing amongst Muslim tourists in full Birkas, Japanese tour groups taking hundreds of pictures, Scotsmen in kilts, and young Italians’ playing classical music he completely connects to the whole experience. As I watch him watching, thoughts swirl through my head of everything from puppet theatre in Indonesia to Aboriginal dancing in the Australian Outback. And as a thousand other moments from 35 years on the road come back, my spirits soar as high as the prayer flags along the Tibet/China border that I rode passed in Northern India. I’ve experienced these perfect moments before, and savor every moment as the picture is finally painted and the crowd applauds.
Wandering on, aware we have just experienced genius at work we are no hurry to leave the sights and sounds of the Royal Mile. Sitting on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, the temperatures in Edinburgh are many degrees cooler, and with the threat of rain we pull out and head home for a home cooked meal with the gang.
As beautiful as the weather has been, in Scotland it can be horribly unpredictable and we make it home with just a few rains drops to remind us.