Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Try Not to Look Like a Tourist

March 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Foggy street in Edinburgh

Not exactly the ideal place, time or conditions in which to be lost.

One of my key rules when travelling in a foreign country is “Always look like you know where you’re going”. While there’s obviously no point in being paranoid about your surroundings, I tend to believe that doing things that clearly draw attention to the fact you’re from out of town – such as standing in the middle of the street, staring vacantly at a giant map – are an open invitation for less scrupulous people to take advantage of you.

Knowing my stance on this, you should therefore be able to understand just how lost I was when a gang of extremely inebriated Scottish hooligans found me by the side of the road one night, attempting to make sense of not just a map, but the entire Edinburgh street directory.

This rather unfortunate turn of events came about after I had arrived in town very late at night and attempted, rather optimistically it turns out, to make my way by foot from the train station to the hostel on the other side of the city (a taxi being completely out of the question on my backpacker’s budget).

Having very quickly become lost – and being in that distant, dark era before iPhones with GPS facilities – I stumbled into what appeared to be the only open store in all of Edinburgh, hoping to find a small convenient map. Unfortunately, they weren’t offering anything that even remotely fitted this description, so I purchased the only thing that I thought would aid me, which was a large, inconvenient street directory (thankfully very cheap, otherwise my whole “no taxi” idea would have been rather redundant).

As it was almost the middle of the night and the streets were practically deserted, I didn’t think it would be too much of an issue to occasionally stand under a street light and drag out the aforementioned purchase in order to work out where I was supposed to go. Unfortunately for me, however, the first time I did this, a severely intoxicated group of eight or so very sizeable Scottish lads appeared out of the darkness and made a beeline toward me to enquire exactly what it was I thought I was doing.

Now, considering I was carrying a backpack and holding an open street directory in my hand, my usual pretense of acting like a local who knew exactly where they were headed didn’t strike me as a logical option in this situation. I was therefore forced to nervously admit I was from Australia, had just arrived in Scotland and had absolutely no idea where I was going. It was while anxiously awaiting their response to this information that I realised there was a very high probability I was about to be forcibly deprived of my wallet, backpack, shoes and several vital organs.

Fortunately for me, however, the group surrounding me turned out not to be the unruly mob of soccer-stadium-destroying hooligans I had initially feared, but simply a jovial bunch of lads on their way home from the pub. Although they looked imposing during their initial charge out of the darkness, not only did they turn out to be exceptionally friendly, but they actually walked me a fair distance toward my hostel, then gave me perfect directions on how to make it the rest of the way.

A good example of why you should never judge people before getting to know them.

Categories: Scotland Tags: , , ,