If you've never taken an international flight...don't. If you must, don't travel economy/coach. If you are desperate to encase yourself in tens of thousands of pounds of steel, jet fuel, and people's crap, don't cheap out. Economy flights are just terrible. Everyone says "Sleep on the plane to feel rested when you get there". That's complete bullshit. It is inevitable that there will be at least one baby that decides to play "Human Landmine" and explode with shrill screams when someone gets too close. There will always be that person with a snore that threatens to vibrate the plane at its resonance frequency. If you can afford it, go business or first class. If you can't, buy a raft and leave really early. The Aer Lingus flight I took was, for the most part, cramped and boring. While I did manage to watch an episode of The Pacific, I also had to suffer through Cop Out. I like Kevin Smith movies. I liked Cop Out. But let's be honest here, a Kevin Smith movie isn't a Kevin Smith movie if it's the airline edit. Hearing Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis trade in "Fuck you" for "Forget you" (when it's part of the gag) made me seriously contemplate trying to choke myself with those tiny little pretzel nubbins they gave us. The meal, blissfully, was a few steps above "hog trough". Mine included what I can only pray were piece of real beef in real beef gravy. The highlight of that flight was the Magners Pear I had. It was good. Everything else was not. It also brought up the ever-present concept that I am a fat-ass. It is not a pleasant experience to pour myself into those seats and pray to the gods above that the seat-belt will buckle. Then, spending 7 hours wedged into my mom (sorry Ma) did absolutely nothing for my self-confidence. I got off the plane scared, sad, and sleepy. A piss-poor combo.
The connecting flight in Dublin (in which we had to run to the gate because we didn't have enough time) was better. We were flying on my worst fear: a prop plane. I've explained why before (I think) so I won't go through it again. But the flight itself was smooth. The best part about this flight was the fact that it was light out and that it was raining in Dublin. It is a magical experience to burst through the clouds in sheer defiance of gravity. To hurdle at untold speeds through the rainclouds only to rupture through into the clear blue sky like a breaching whale. Staring down at the cloud cover and watching it lazily drift by like some sort of higher up, fluffier ocean. It was actually quite beautiful. I might be able to see why people get pilot's licenses for fun.
We landed in Edinburgh on a slightly chilly but increasingly sunny day. We were fortunate enough to stay close to the airport (and, subsequently, close to a shuttle from the airport to campus) at the Hilton. Folks, as classy as Hiltons are made out to be...this place sucked. While the room itself was nice, you (not surprisingly in Scotland) got nickle and dimed at every damn chance. The bottle of water they provided wasn't free, it was 3 quid. The breakfast was £12 for continental, £17 for full Scottish. Internet cost £17 a day. Movies: £15. Hell, I was legitimately surprised the small tea service they provided was free. Since they kept refreshing the tea packets each day, I decided to help myself to several of them. I now have a very small stash of Twinings. And soap. Yeah, I'm that guy. Get used to it. College is expensive.
The rest of the week was spent gathering the metric fuckton (tonne now, actually) of stuff that I wasn't able to bring with me. General home goods, pots and pans, etc. I managed to outfit my room splendidly for £77 (towels, pots, pans, general groceries). Pretty proud of myself on that one. The most expensive thing, though, was the mattress topper. Since having my spine fused six years ago, I kinda need a soft mattress. My spine doesn't bend now. At all. Almost the entire thoracic section of my spine is deadlocked in a fierce battle with almost $20,000 worth of titanium and, thankfully, the titanium is winning. Thus, I need a bed that will mold to me instead of me to the bed. And the mattress provided sure as shit wasn't doing that. It wasn't a bed, it was a concrete foundation with a cloth covering. It was like sleeping on The Rack. Luckily, I was able to get one along with a phone as well. Phones over here are funny. They're not bound to just one provider. You buy a phone and you can choose from a range of providers simply by replacing a small microchip behind the battery. Pretty damn interesting, I must admit. Besides, their phones are nicer. Well...most of 'em. The one I got is an internet capable beastie called the LG Viewty. It's pretty great, aside from the relatively shitty speaker and the fact my fingers are too fat to use the on-screen keyboard.
Finally, last week was the first week of classes. Due to the fact that its early in the semester the class schedule is pretty light these days but I'm still scrambling to get things done on my time off. My days consist of four classes: barley lab, project studies, wort manufacture, and intro to biochem. Most are pretty self-explanatory aside from project studies, which is basically an intro course on how not to plagarize and how to write a paper like a civil human being. We write a 3000 word literature review which should be easy, considering we get to choose our own topics. I'm thinking I may do mine on the microdistilling boom or the no age statement / young whisky boom.
Ok, now the important stuff. First off, you can get booze delivered here. No joke. You can get groceries delivered to your door for £3, which is almost as much as it would be to take the bus out there (I save £.60 by taking the bus). Anything they have in-store you can get delivered to your room. A huge, refrigerated truck will pull up and drop your groceries off. Which brings me to my next point.
You can buy booze in grocery stores.
I'm not talking about just beer. Sure, you can get beer at a grocery store. And cider, which they handily pack in 2 liter bottles and sell for £1.37. But no...you can buy liquor in grocery stores. And get it delivered to your room. They also have a much larger selection of pre-mixed drinks. I had the opportunity to pick up a premixed can of Bulleit bourbon and coke. It was really, really good. I think it was about a quid a pop and it was the "double serving", which meant a double of bourbon and coke. That put the can at about 8% ABV. And it was the perfect ratio too. The bourbon wasn't watered down; it was pronounced over the coke. And the cola was delicious. BECAUSE THEY ONLY USE SUGAR IN THEIR SODA. It's seriously the promised land of beverages up in this bitch. No high-fructose corn syrup in soda, liquor in grocery stores, and booze delivered to my door. Hells yes.
So yeah, stick around. I've got some pretty exciting things lined up (including some tours). A few things are in the works for my dear readers (especially those in NYC). So keep up with things here. It's gonna start getting sweet.