First adventure

The first adventure of many

A moment lived in Scotland by Jen Rose, a traveller from Scotland

Traveling, an impossible idea…

The first adventure of many. At just eighteen, I was certain that I wanted to travel. With my older brother jetting off on new adventures every few months I was itching to see the world for myself instead of hearing it all second hand. The only problem was I had absolutely no clue where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. And more importantly, my confidence was at rock bottom. Leaving home and traveling alone seemed to me like a completely ridiculous and impossible idea.

My plans went from doing a ski season in Canada to traveling around Europe and so much more in between. But when it really came down to it I could not do it by myself. Coincidence and luck solved this hurdle I could not jump alone, and that came in the form of a new partner in crime and now permanent travel buddy. When my boyfriend and I initially started talking online, he was traveling around Europe with a friend. This was one of the reasons I decided to spark a conversation with him – he was doing something I was desperate to do myself. After a constant back and forth messaging, it was very clear we had a lot more in common than just our travel bug. We were both in the same shoes. University was an upcoming option that neither of us particularly wanted to be involved in and on top of that we were both stuck in part-time jobs that had no real future career for us. Stuck in a repetitive cycle of work it was clear that neither of us was particularly happy.

…until I met him

The first time we met was an adventure in itself, and I suppose you could call it an unofficial first date. Together we drove to the beautiful Loch Lee a short distance from our homes and set out on a walk through the idyllic scenery. From the background noise of red deer stags rutting to the sunshine and blue skies (surprising weather for Scotland), it was the perfect locations for us to chat and learn more about one another on a more unconventional date. We sat together on the edge of a waterfall and enjoyed a picnic. I already felt like we had known each other for far longer than a few weeks.

Over the next few months, we ventured further, visiting castles and gardens Gardens, waterfalls, beaches, mountains, lakes and even skiing in the north of Scotland. Every ‘date’ was an exciting adventure with countless photographic opportunities and amazing memories. Enjoying the silence and beauty of the outdoors with someone like-minded is such an awesome feeling. When we officially became a couple, we were already planning our trip. Initially traveling together was brought up in a lighthearted conversation but we soon realised it was a definite possibility. And more importantly, it was an amazing opportunity. We may have only been dating for a short time, but it was clear that this was not going to be an issue.

Traveling was something we both desperately wanted to do, so why not just to it together? After all, if you live your whole life thinking of all the ‘what ifs’ you will never truly achieve what you want to.

Let’s get ready to discover the World

After some research and planning, we booked ourselves onto a gap year tour to Thailand and Australia at the end of 2016, as well as a weekend in Amsterdam to kick-start our trip. Keeping things simple we decided to book a package deal so all of our activities were organised for the first month. This meant the stress factor was at a minimum for our first trip together. It was finally a reality, and I wasn’t going alone. Perfect! For the next 7 months, we both worked our butts off to save for our impending trip. My part time job as a supervisor for a cute wee ice-cream parlour became full time. On top of this I was completing my final year at college, of which I happily graduated from the same week we left on our journey. It was a stressful and often depressing few months, but it was so worth the hard work for what we have done and achieved.

From local Scottish scenery to Thai rain forests, elephants and the bustling streets of Bangkok. In the space of a few months, we were living a completely different life together, and it was totally mind-blowing. Traveling together has been, and is turning out the be the best decision we have made as a couple. Over the last three months, we have met so many wonderful people, seen unbelievable things and most importantly grown as people and a couple.

Traveling with someone always has its challenges. The pressure of being in one another’s company 24/7 can often be too much, but James and I have found it fairly easy and exciting. It has taught us both so much about each other, and about life. Our values and living style has changed and so has our future plans. Our first adventure together is now a permanent adventure through life, and I am positive this is just one trip of many to come.

This traveller has a blog: Jenrose Adventures

A Taste of the Scottish Highlands

A moment lived in Scotland by Shelly Rodriguez, a traveller from USA

I am sitting on a bus, breathing the recycled tepid air from the broken air conditioner. We got lost on the way to the bus tour so I wound up squeezed shoulder to shoulder exactly in the middle of four other humans on the backseat of this bus. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a family with small children has scored a window seat but none were actually looking out of it. I’m silently extremely jealous. Our bus bumbles along the lowlands of Scotland, heading north. This is my first international trip and will be my first visit into the Highlands. Craning my neck, I can see rolling hills carpeted thick with grass and dotted with sheep. I make a mental note that I cannot leave Scotland before psyching myself up to try haggis, the dish of Scotland made of spiced sheep meat boiled in a sheep stomach.

The bus pulls into the parking lot of a tiny, unnamed café, dwarfed by the mountains just beginning to tower behind it. Stepping off the bus, I hug my coat tighter around myself against the damp chill as I look around. Sheep farms flank us on all sides, seeming to stretch into infinity. Despite the dreary gray of the sky, the land seems almost to glow with the green of the vegetation and the air is sweet with petrichor. In this world, in this moment, the only two colors that exist are gray and emerald green. This place is timeless, with the only signs of human life being the meandering road we came from and the café that sits to the side of it. I buy a cup of tea from a grizzled Scottish woman, her accent as thick as her tight gray curls. Her age is indeterminate from her lined face and she brews her tea strong and bergamot-fragrant, probably the same way she’s brewed it for centuries.

We ascend into the Highlands not long after leaving the café. The hills begin to grow wild, losing the gentle slopes and exposing craggy rocks. The trees start to stretch taller and taller into the sky. It is so impossibly verdant here, an overwhelming void of every shade of green imaginable. Soon, as we officially cross into Highland territory, the trees thicken until they fill the entirety of our bus windows and blur into a leafy mass as we hurtle past. The road twists up and around the mountainous land. We crest a particularly high point, the trees clear, and time stops.

Laid out in front of us is a glen, ringed on every side by mist-wreathed mountains. Tiny waterfalls carve the mountain faces and the rain-heavy clouds hang low in the air, obscuring their true vastness and verticality. I’ve never seen anywhere so lonely and awe-inspiring. All at once, I am not in the bus anymore. I am following Frodo and Sam, pack weighty on my back and walking stick in hand, facing the daunting and impossible world. I am watching the trees and doom creep ever closer to my castle with Macbeth, unable to distinguish foe from the swirling mists. I am looking through the window of the Hogwarts Express, I am searching for the Holy Grail. All in an instant, it becomes clear why so many writers are inspired by this incredible place. Of course magic and monsters exist, we are visiting their homeland. I am hit with the realization that I really am such a small person in this great world.

Unbeknownst to me, this is merely the first glen on the ride and one of hundreds in this land. My epiphany subsides and we continue on, passing several more and spotting lochs of dark, still water within the glens. Crumbling ruins materialize on the countryside: a pile of rubble with a single wall standing here, a primitive stone tower there, an abandoned castle on the other side of that loch. It’s so forlorn here, it’s easy to forget that people have been living here since the Stone Age. The ruins are prolific, almost common, a sharp contrast to the scarce, protected, relatively young ruins in the United States.

Eventually, the bus stops and we scramble off with our umbrellas to explore another glen, Glencoe, the site of a bloody massacre between two warring clans. Later, we eat beautifully flaky fish and chips in a little fishing village way up north, then take a cruise in Loch Ness. Not even the child sitting next to us who throws up and forces us to suffer the stench for hours could dampen the excitement of the day. I’ll always remember the sensation of visiting this fairytale land. It’s truly a magical part of the world, even if experienced in the back of a crowded bus. I know that this journey was a mere taste and I know I will return someday to truly immerse myself.

Oh, and haggis? It’s not half bad.

This traveller has a blog : Tesoro and Trouvaille

credit photo : Shelly Rodriguez