I will never forget the moment that I went walking on the Royal Mile where the more alternative (less posh) shops are, that I came across a small billboard saying: ‘ Education is important, but beer is importanter.’ The student in me laughed so hard at that silly joke that even some tears fell from my cheeks. After my brief moment of having a laughter attack, the teacher in me wondered: ‘ Is the Scottish culture really solely based on whisky, pubs and beer?’ . This question was the first thought that popped in my mind when I was in front of the marine blue pub that captured my eye-sight.
Cold, hungry and thirsty I came in an almost empty yet incredibly warm space. The warmth of the fireplace struck my soul. I felt even in the tip of my toes that this was exactly where I needed to be. The seats had perfect dark green and white patterns that are called Tartan. It’s similar to the nice kilts, men wear instead of trousers. ‘Sit at the bar G. Just do it and let this adventure make you meet new people’. My conscience is right. I need to sit at the bar and try to acclimatise myself with the Scottish way of living. Unfortunately the only two people in the room were the bartender and a man across from him, one seat away from me. He had an elegant grey coat on and black jeans. He looked in his late twenties. He had light brown hair and a sharp jawline. Silently in his own thoughts he was enjoying his pint of dark stout called Guinness. Should I really disrupt his peaceful moment? Yes! just do it. He might even like to meet a stranger rather than drinking alone at a bar. After ordering a drink and having a sip of it, I collected my courage and asked him what his thoughts were on living in Edinburgh. ‘It’s good. The people are nice’ he said simply while a smile dimpled his face. The bartender joined in the conversation. The three of us talked and enjoyed our drinks while having small talk on the beauties of Edinburgh. ‘No matter where you come from, when you live here you are a part of a community’ the man next to me said. My curiosity became the better of me and I soon asked them where they came from. The stranger with the Guinness asked me to guess. Having heard a slight Eastern European accent from him I immediately said ‘Poland’. ‘ that’s where I actually come from’ the bartender answered. I knew some Polish words that I learned from my stepmother. I remembered the Polish word for teacher (which is nauczycielka) so I explained to him what my profession was. The bartender smiled broadly having heard a word in his native tongue from a girl that just came to have a drink at his bar. Still not knowing the heritage of the gentleman next to me I curiously looked at him. He explained that he’s from Hungary and that he actually works at this bar. We began to talk about his home country and other small talk. I felt as if I conquered my wee (meaning little) bit of fear of talking to people the moment this stranger opened up to me. I then realised that pubs felt more like an off licensed community centre. Off license means that they may serve alcoholic beverages. After some time a few people came in and spiced up the place with laughter and fun. They greeted the bartender like I greeted the bartender back home. It made me miss my routine of going to the Shamrock, the Irish pub where my friends and I went to every Friday night. Nonetheless I wanted to be a part of this new yet familiar group of friends. Before even trying to become a part of the crowd, they immediately were curious about the new face that was sitting at ‘their’ bar.
There I stood, enjoying and living my journey in an actual pub in Edinburgh, the place I only dreamed of before this expedition across the highlands. Maybe the quote was right. Maybe education is important but perhaps it might not be as important as having some time off to spend it with people that might broaden your view of life and how to live it. For that makes you a wiser being than an educated one. Isn’t that education itself? I soon found out on that same night, how my Scottish peers enjoyed the pub as a community centre and how it transformed me from a stranger to a nice buddy with whom they had an adventurous night with. That night made me realize how much fun I’ve missed from my teenage rebellious years and how amazing it is to meet strangers that eventually become friends. The only thing you have to do is ask.
How the night followed from the pub to the park will be continued in the upcoming blog of G’s McTravels.