I'm not going to lie.
Passing gift stores full of neat stuff and having to walk away... got to me a little at first.
I was in a foreign country and I really wanted to break all the rules...
Scotland is of course famous for the Lochness Monster - lovingly referred to as "Nessie" - the name attached to all the plush toys with smiling faces radiating from an incandescent green hew... not exactly the Lochness Monster I remember learning about when I was a kid. ha
But I did try to believe that to really take in anything, it's about feeling it, tasting it, touching it, hearing it, smelling it...NOT 'buying' it.
- and I don't say that just to make myself feel better about not having a "souvenir". It's true.
There was the beloved European Fanta I couldn't wait to have again, and cashmere was being sold on every corner...
but as I talked to the people who lived and breathed "Edinbuttr" Scotland, as they taught me...
It became very apparent that unlike Americans, they really aren't about a lot of "stuff" anyway.
For example, one day we needed to do a little shopping run for some pretty average stuff.
Duct tape, scissors, zip ties, Sharpies, etc.
Standing in various stores in search of all of these things, what lay before us was a pack of 20 zip ties, 3 rolls of Duct tape and 5 pairs of scissors - in the whole store! We of course needed the Costco versions of these items...
It dawned on me that although for our race we needed a lot... even at my own house... I probably own 5 scissors.
One in the garage, one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom (haircutting), one in my desk, and there's probably one more floating around... just in case. (just in case... sad reality)
My point is that I realized, I really could get by with less. And here I was, looking at entire Nation, who was living it. And.. having less things means less things to keep track of, to take care of, to lose... you get it.
Now don't get me wrong. They think Americans "go big" with everything. Which is true.
But in some cases... I couldn't be prouder to be an American when I witness some of those "big" things we do.
Namely... the great American Shower.
Talk about something I appreciate more than ever.
A big, hot, entirely enclosed, severe water pressure out putting showers... are amazing.
The half glass, hold the sprayer yourself while you try and sudz up your hair thing, sitting down... just isn't the same.
But back to the point... There are some "souvenirs" I was able to get entirely for free... that truly mean more than a t-shirt to "prove" I was there. And this, is one of my favorites.
A beautiful morning walking past St. Giles Cathedral.
I certainly enjoyed the food (Pret a manger - was one of my go-to's) along with the national soda IRN BRU (which outsells Coke and Pepsi!)
I took in the fresh rain filled air and green grass of Arthur's Seat and a rainbow...
the potent but smooth aroma of locally distilled Macallan whiskey,
felt the old stone walls of some of the worlds oldest castles
Oh and did I mention the "listening" part??
Let me tell you about a fun "fact' I learned while I was in the HoneyBee Hive Pub the night after the race.
I'm approached by a tall young gent who asks if I am the girl who was "commentating" at the end of the race. "Yes" I replied.
"I almost ran you over" he said.
I chuckled. There are a few runners every race who get a burst of energy upon seeing the big finish line structure and bolt to the outside of the finish chute to sprint their way to the end. Usually I'm standing near the outside, right along the fence, and I can see the determination in their faces and so I flatten myself along the fence and let them past. With just 5,000 runners I actually remembered seeing this mans determined face, and the flick of his hand gesturing to me to get out of the way. As he passed he must have had to really dig down deep because he growled a little bit.
I was not mistaken.
(His friends made it very clear to him that he indeed make a very odd growling sound as he sped past them as well)
Either way we all had a good laugh about the race and of course the conversation continues about where everyone is from, what we had done during our time in Scotland etc.
One of my regrets was not trying haggis. There was a food vendor at the race but by the time I was finished the food vendor had packed everything up. We scoured the menu at the Honeybee Hive in search of some, but no such luck. To make up for it I suppose, the guys started telling me all about it.
It was a "sausage" or hot dog of sorts. various meats from an animal that lives in the highlands cased in it's stomach - traditionally.
"Is it like a pig?" I asked.
No. They told me it was smaller.
"Like a raccoon?" I pressed
No. Smaller they explained. And since it lives in the highlands and spends all it's time in the hills, it has adapted physically. One side of it's legs is shorter than the other. Which gives it an advantage in some ways, but a disadvantage when it comes to being caught. hmmm.
You should have heard the ghost stories I heard a few nights prior as I was roaming the ancient city....
This is what I do know....
Haggis is a kind of savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs — see offal); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.
As the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour".
The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish, considered the national dish of Scotland as a result of Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis of 1787. Haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots: rutabaga and potato), boiled and mashedseparately and a dram (a glass of Scotch whisky), especially as the main course of aBurns supper. However it is also often eaten with other accompaniments.
Here is what I just learned yesterday.... :)
Now... that is something money... just can't buy.