Scotland



It is 2011. Scotland marks the northernmost place I've ever been. To be specific it is the town of St. Andrews. Here in the summer the sun doesn't set until 10:00pm or later and rises bright and early around 5am ish. Your circadian rhythm is essentially fucked. You rely heavily on your clock - the external one that is - and some heavy duty blinds to manage your sleep. I find myself tired all the time - a silent hum of perpetual jet lag. And it is chilly - not like the arctic tundra, but more like NYC in November. The type of weather that permanently triggers memories of structured youth.


TEDGlobal came and went. After the picnic, a bunch of engineers joined me to hike Arthur's seat. It is a hill that perches atop one side of Edinburgh. Fantastic view. Down time with your co-workers doing stuff outside of drinking is generally fun. You learn a lot about people's personalities, especially group collaboration and leadership. Alpha dogs will rise when occasion allows them to. G-man is definitely the herd's hero - but he governs with consensus. Beer was definitely in the mix afterwards. Craft beer to be exact. If there is one thing that got me the "in" nod with this crowd is my love for craft beer (which, while it doesn't preclude me from being the wine-cheese type, it gives me the street cred of not preferring to be one). We went to this little spot down cowgates alley called BrewDog. Loved their rebellious movement marketing campaign for good beer. They are right to claim most bars in Scotland carry shit beer (but good scotch).

The next 2 days was pretty much free form. EM was still around on day 1 so we went strolling around town, giving the quaint city equal love between large marquee architectural / historical marvels and unknown little side streets / alley ways. Over the years, I learn that you get to know a lot more about a place and its history by walking around and around. Don't give it a destination. Give it time. We found this little stair case that links one hill top street to it's parallel seedier sister called "jacob's ladder". It is dark, old, and  overrun by awesome wild flowers. I 4sq-mayored it as a nerdy nod to a brilliant mind fuck movie from back in the 90s. EM was a great partner to get lost with. People who can be comfortable wandering without any specific purpose, fearlessly facing unknowns at a pace that never feels too rush or too slow - hard to come by. A keeper for travel buddy despite the shock full presence of texas-style Americanism :).

That evening I met up with more coworkers for a delightful dinner at castle terrace - 5 stars from the food snob. I should say that Scottish cuisine is predominantly bland. Buttery is the first flavor you get in most food. Their dairy products stood out excellently. So did their honey. Anywhere you go that has exceptionally beautiful aromatic wild flowers you can almost guarantee the honey will capture the taste of the same sweetness you smell in the air. Every time I leave America I find the quality, freshness, and social responsibility of food to be far far superior. From first world to third world - everyone else care so much more than us.  It is a saddening state at home. :(