Dark circling roads under grey clouds with light brush strokes of blue. Felled castles and remnants of forgotten villages were placed between and within ancient towns. A home for writers, painters, dragons, and wizards. A home for people still fighting to be heard. Individuality around every twist and turn of small streets and alleys. Merchants and craftsmen displayed under glass-domed arcades. Wales screams for independence.
Pastures kept on rolling English hills. Fresh wooled sheep grazing on the bountifulness of the greenest green I’ve ever seen. Nestled in a valley sits a town. One large clock tower centered near ancient roads. Taverns date back four generations. Small arched bridges connect the old part of town to the new. Old being medieval, new being the 1500s.
A dirty metropolitan. Smell of foul piss looming from alleys contrasting against street art on every corner and back wall. Local teenagers idly stand around historical buildings and monuments with skateboards and speakers. Litter bins overflowing. A certain speedy pace by passing strangers with brightly lit shops behind them. This place is familiar. As if it were copied and pasted in the US. Grungy, youthful, tattered — punched in the face too much but refusing to stay down. Art. This place is art. Creating and blossoming from cracked sidewalks. A kinetic engineered structure of a city.
White stucco buildings float on the loch as we drive-in. A welcoming single-laned arched bridge capitalizing a living postcard of a town. Or village? Or hamlet? Whose to say. Friendly people living and working and breathing the town alive. Locals. Callan. Connie. A southern charm of welcoming and charisma, but northern? But southern? A sip of scotches. Dust against the bottle. And tales of escape and imprisonment. Rainy days turn to sunshine and rain again. You just might find a rainbow. And with that luck, fate might bring you back.
A workers inn. A home away from home. A home with new family and strangers you only see on holidays. The cool brother. The racist uncle. The funny sister-in-law. The drunk cousin. A place you might end up resenting. But that you wouldn’t regret any of. The cool sea air will blow your hat off if you’re not too careful, but a kind hand might help you chase after it.
Isle of Skye:
Tucked in the hills so far away, you’re lucky to know you’re not alone. Winding roads off cliffs leads to the question; are we here on purpose? At the end of the road of dark winds and water, you’ll find a cozy couch to rest your weary head. A hearthstone to come back to, and other travelers to share and wonder. Come morning grey the urge of enchantment and majesty hail us out of bed. You’ll drive windy single-lane roads as friendly passerby let you through. Pothole after pothole and curve after curve, you’ll reach the top of a blind summit and see something you’ve never seen before. And while the journey to the end is always worth it, it’s these destinations that will leave you wordless.
As the embrace of the highland mountains flattens out, just past Loch Ness and the city of Inverness, is a land of pastures, hills, and cliffs. Moving forward North lends itself to an idea of escaping reality as you inch closer and closer to the top of the world. Riding a narrow road along the coastline, with small towns after small towns appearing after a sudden bend or rich castle. You might find yourself graced by farm life inquisitively staring back at you as if they know you’re not a “local”. Then by the end, you’ll find yourself on a bench near a cliffside beaten by the North Sea. And you’ll look out into the horizon where the clouds and ocean morph together; to see the stars piercing through the night. At this time, you might think to yourself, “Why would I ever go back south?”
A city of the highlands, but not a building taller than a mountain. A church might compete. But I don’t think the locals care. A place where caring for your neighbor means just as much to a stranger. So much angst and history. The coffee is good. The books are good. You’ll have a story to tell by the end.
Let’s find a reason to stay. Dim lit streets hide the nooks and crannies needed to explore. A looming presence watches and cares for you. A guiding hand for those in the dark. Stone buildings and roads. Colorful characters welcome you and offer you food and shelter. Tinkerers will show you their workshop. Barkeeps will tell you their favorite stories. Old and young come together in a city filled with so much history and lore to push the limits forward and create a home to be proud of. You’ll run up a capital “H” hill to reach a cliffside just in time for sunset. This place is a place for friends to say goodbye, but knowing there is still more to come. If I didn’t have to, I would never leave.
Quick. Bustling. Sprawling. Ancient. Modern. List an adjective and this city will fit in. Burrowing tunnels of expedition leads to new stories and memories. A unique corner that is ironically a similar depiction of a major place. It’s a home to find a friend. To make a friend. Dance. Sing. Share a meal or train. Stop at the next stop and maybe you can join us. Everyone is nice. Everyone just wants to find something familiar while trying to claim their own place. History and art here are only the forward of more stories to come.