Tag Archives: Scotland

A Suede Jacket From Florence, Italy, Reminds a Nobody of Days Gone By and…Fashion?

A memory found me the other day.

Nothing too earth-shattering, but just…well…a memory from March of 1995.

See, at the time I was studying in Scotland and for Spring break a group of us traveled to Greece and Italy.  I bought a suede jacket.

I really didn’t want to, but you know how it is when your friends pressure you.  So, I bought it.  Wore it for a while, but eventually outgrew it.

The other day, going through a closet, I happened upon that jacket.  I checked the pocket and lo and behold!  There it was.  The receipt from that purchase.  From what I can tell from the old-time credit card receipt, it cost 200,000 lira and came from a place in Florence called “Florence’s Moon.”

Well, it brought back some great memories of friends I’d made, awkward moments, the beauty of Florence, and a nice time in my life.

Unfortunately, I lost track of the folks who goaded me into that purchase, as we’ve all melted into the scenery of life.  It’s now almost 20 years later and the jacket is now at a Goodwill store, but that receipt.  For some reason I just couldn’t part with it.

As a die hard Nobody, I thought back to roaming those European streets, ducking into cafes, huddling under umbrellas, and exploring whatever life had to offer.  We had budgets (definitely didn’t budget for that jacket!), a will to travel, and each other.  When we got short with each other, it was generally not too long afterward that the fence was mended and life was good again.

There was no Riviera, no throngs of fans.  We pooled our money, stayed in one room, and now?  Well, many of the memories don’t reside in magazines or movie screens but in crumpled up receipts that in a moment splash a bygone era in front of the mind’s eye.

If you’re part of Nobody Nation and you’re reading this, think back…what memories lie in your mind?  What quiet moments, lost people, or old places stir your emotions…even for a second?

And as for that jacket?  Hey, even a Nobody needs to donate old things to make room for new fashion!  Just not anything from Florence!

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Your Travels May Never Be WordPress Freshly Pressed or Travel Channel Material, But They Can Be Important to You (Mexico, Part 3)

And so, the last installment of the Mexico journeys has arrived. I’ve told you a little about the Dreams Resort in Puerto Aventuras, something about Chichen Itza, a bit about Ik Kil Cenote, and a given you a touch of the coconut licor.

But what we haven’t really gone into in any great detail is the feeling.  That’s right, the feeling of just traveling along as one person in the big world.  No, this journey to Mexico wasn’t an epic 1960s jaunt in an old jalopy.  I didn’t hit the road for months with a guitar and notebook, riding the rails to see a land from coast to coast.  There was no guru waiting for me, teaching me the great mysteries of life.

And no, no one will write poems or songs about my measly week in at a Mexican resort.

But there was still a feeling.  I met people…young people…who had been traveling for weeks, months…on their own, or in small groups.  They were having their own adventure in the world, wishing it could continue on.  I’ll admit, I sort of fall into that category.  My life path isn’t the most…normal…on the planet, but I’m good with it.  However, I always find myself wishing I could get out there more and explore.  And for me, that’s what this one little week was.  It was a chance to get out and explore.  See something new.  Experience new things.  Take some time with my thoughts.  Be on my own schedule.  Not have to apologize for who I am or justify what I’m doing.

I guess when people ask, “Why did you go alone to Cancun?” I say something along the lines of: I have the rest of my life to travel with, travel for, travel because of…but how many times will I just get the chance to travel, period?  I’ve been to many places on this incredible globe and I cherish those memories.  But many of my greatest pleasures have been the places I’ve been alone, or the moments alone I could steal from a world of people.

I walked the streets of London solo and took in Phantom of the Opera as a one-man show.  I’ve skied off by myself into the back bowls of Colorado, stopped, and heard nothing by my heartbeat, the silence, and a lone crow riding the wind.  I’ve wandered windswept Scottish shores, viewed meteor showers and northern lights from lonely piers in Canada, and had moments of bliss watching elephants methodically grazing and chewing the greenest leaves in Kenya.  There’s been quiet time wandering the streets of Old Jerusalem in the early morning before even the prayers of the day were awake.  I’ve wiped beads of sweat from my brow in an archaeological square in the Ukraine—just before sitting in a rickety chair to wash pottery only recently liberated form thousands of years of silent dirt.  I’ve made my way though the alleys of Vienna, Edinburgh, and Paris and waited out front of Chartres Cathedral for my host family.  I’ve run up steps at Machu Picchu and barely caught my breath enough to get back down, sipped cold beer at a café in Cuzco watching the saints march by, and have been in an airplane with tipped wing over the Nazca plains…then waited for a bus in Ica I thought would never come.  I’ve knocked the red dust from my shoes after a short hike in Sedona and laid awake at night alone in a shaking tent listening to the monsoon rains pound the forest outside.  I’ve gazed at the formations in the Valley of the Gods that were so still and quiet, my eyes watered from the pounding in my ears.  And now?  Well, now I’ve wandered the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza alone, swam in a sink hole with me and a hundred fishes and strangers, and read Capra’s The Tao of Physics on the Caribbean in Cancun, Mexico, pausing only to order one more San Marino Coconut Licor on the rocks con un poquito de naranja.  And I didn’t give a lick if the grammar was wrong.  The waves crashed, the breeze played, and the sun set, all in perfect time.

Look, folks.  I’m not naïve.  I know there’s probably a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll ever be on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page.  I know my journeys aren’t the stuff of legend, or even significant to the world.  They won’t land me on the Travel Channel or get me a guest article in some glossy mag.  In fact, at Nobody’s View, we’re just one guy in the world having the most common experience of all — the anonymous trek through the world of daily living.  That’s why we’re here.  That’s why this blog exists.  That’s why I write and write and write.  Because I want us to share together what we all share alone…and with so many others.  So no, my treks aren’t famous.

But to me?  Well, to me these journeys are priceless.  I know only a few of you will ever read this.  Heck, maybe it’ll just be a tiny handful.  But I want to leave you with this message:  Look at the pic in the header up there, and the other two pics in the post.  They’re not from Mexico, but they represent two of the quietest moments.  The header is the pic of one person taking a picture of a distant landscape on a sun-parched highway.  The second is of an accidental stop in Utah overlooking the Goosenecks and Monument Valley.  It was silent.  Silent.  Silent.  The third?  Well, same as the header, but even more quiet.  Those pictures aren’t art.  They’re memories.  Memories of quiet and blissful isolation.  So, if you have the spirit of adventure welling up within you, you don’t have to jet off anywhere exotic.  You don’t need your A-1 camera.  Lace up your shoes, jump in your car, catch a bus, hop a plane, and just move an inch to the north, south, east, or west.  Honor that feeling of movement by simply taking you to a new or favorite place.  Take in the sights.  Take in yourself.  And just make a memory.

You never know when you’ll have that chance again.

Adios, and happy travels.

[Author’s note: this writer received no incentives regarding any resort or products in this post]

Darren Clarke’s Victory at the 2011 Open Championship (British Open) at Royal St. Georges Compliments a Power Outage Right Here at Home…

I was watching Darren Clarke at Royal St. Georges this morning.  Early this morning.  Very early.

I had it taping on the ol’ DVR and was fast-forwarding through it on the way to an exciting conclusion.  I wanted to see it live, you see.  I didn’t want to risk finding out some other way.  I love the watching the Open Championship (the British Open) because of the links golf courses and the sweeping, barren vistas.  It’s a totally different kind of golf.

At many of the British courses, there aren’t tons of houses sprawled out alongside the course, and you really get the feeling that you are peeking into the history of golf.  If you play golf, you understand.  If you don’t play…well…bear with me.

I spent a semester in Scotland near a prominent golf course and one of my favorite parts of those months was taking long walks around the course (and the sea next door) and just taking in the silence.  There isn’t much out there to disturb the effect.  You go to your core, as there is so little to distract!

I was lost in that reverie and memory this morning when suddenly, in the middle of the telecast, the power went out at my house.  In a moment, I was transported from a modernity of electricity and the constant buzzing of electronics, to complete, all-encompassing silence.  Total silence in the house.  It was as if I had been taken from my home near the city to the shores of the sea near the course that complimented months of my study years ago.  Nothing but me and the ringing in my ears.

It was an odd juxtaposition.  From noise to silence in a second.

In my semester abroad, life was so much like that.  I was in a room with no phone, no computer, no television.  Just me, my books, and my walks.  At times, the only sound was sound I chose to make.  I spent a lot of time getting centered, learning about myself, and learning to focus.

And so it was this morning without power.

Eventually, it all came back on.  In a moment, dead silence was back to air filters, TV, and the like, just like my time in Scotland eventually yielded to my city-busy dorm room back in the US.  Indeed, Darren Clarke’s oft-quiet stroll took the Open Championship at Royal St. Georges and the crowd eventually roared noisy approval.

But as I watched him make the 2011 British Open walk up the 18th there at Royal St. Georges, I was suddenly hit with the idea that maybe inside Darren Clarke’s mind, there was the excitement of victory and the tallying of the cash he would receive…and excitement over his impending marriage.  But maybe, just maybe, there was a stillness in there.  A quiet inside the man.  A moment not dependent on TV, radio, cheers, cell phones, computers, blogs, bars, noise, or chatter.  Just a blessed silence where we are alone with our thoughts.  It’s a place that doesn’t depend on a power outage.  Just the power to stay calm and focused.  That’s the real place we find out who we are and that’s the real place where we connect with our greatness and our abilities (or, in my case, an hour of forced peace in an otherwise not-so-extraordinary day).

Congratulations, Darren Clarke.  Enjoy your moment, the cheering, the interviews, and the adulation.  But don’t forget — after all the interviews and clamoring — to get back to the quite center that took you right to the center of golf’s most historic major.

What Do Grimsvotn and Eyjafjallajokull Have in Common Besides Their Cool Names? They Both Demand Respect for Hot Tempers

So, what do you think about this volcano in Iceland?  I believe it’s called the Grimsvotn volcano.

It’s erupting again.  Apparently air travel in Europe is getting dicey as the Grimsvotn ash cloud makes its way toward Scotland.

You might remember something similar from last year when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted, grounding Europe flights for a good long time — something like five days.

Grimsvotn and Eyjafjallajokull teach us something we already know (something besides the fact that Icelanders have incredibly cool names for things).  The power of nature is a force to be reckoned with.  Just look what’s been happening in the Midwest as tornadoes have ripped through cities like Joplin, Missouri.  Over 100 deaths and a line of destruction tells the story.

Humans have the ability to plan.  We take out a credit card, buy some airline tickets, get a rental car, and go about our itineraries.  But nature — weather and other events?  Well, it has a mind of its own.  It can be simply a bummer, such as when a golf game gets rained out, or a downright tragedy, such as the doings in Joplin, the hurricanes that have ravaged the Southeast in the past, or the Japan and Haiti earthquakes.

There are certain things in life that build respect over time, like a person who works though medical school to earn the title “doctor” or someone who fights against amazing odds to accomplish something incredible.

Then, there are things that demand respect right from the off, even before we are old enough to discern the differences in human achievement — things like the weather and nature.  The question is, do we respect it enough?  Gone are the days when a majority of the world’s population makes offerings and sacrifices to appease the gods of nature, although there are certainly indigenous societies for whom this is common practice.

But maybe the point isn’t to appease nature.  Maybe the point is to respect it in all its glory.  Make your golf plans in Scotland, for sure.  Just make sure that you have a healthy respect for something that is indifferent to your game, and can set you on another course altogether.

Louis Oosthuizen, Take In This St. Andrews Win At the Open Championship

So, the British Open (or, Open Championship) is over for another year.

I spent some time in college in St. Andrews, Scotland, and it was so bittersweet to see the Open this weekend.  Ah, the memories!

I want to go back!  I want to be there again!

Oh, well…that’s what vacation is for, I guess, but still…

Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa really put on a clinic there today, destroying the field, including his playing partner Paul Casey.  He made a most difficult game on that most ancient of courses seem, literally, like a stroll in the park…a walk on the beach.  He looked like me when I used to wander the streets of St. Andrews with a piece of mint shortbread and a soda…moseying…enjoying the clouds, the wind, and the impending rain.

He just took his time.  One step at a time.  One shot at a time.

Beautiful.

And next year, in Sandwich, Kent, England, at Royal St. George’s Mr. Oosthuizen will be introduced as the defending Open champion.  What a feeling.  And to know that he did it at the home of golf…well…

There are moments and there are moments, folks.  I enjoyed studying in St. Andrews and really tried to take it in.  I know Louis Oosthuizen enjoyed winning at St. Andrews.

I hope he took it all in.