Some of the best adventures happen by coincidence. A few weeks ago Onni's mother Anne and brother Gavin visited Glasgow for a week. We had originally planned on doing a whole tour into the highlands to see Inverness and Loch Ness, but of course as our luck would have it, miscalculation of time resulted in us missing the tour bus by 5 minutes. So after standing around George Square for a few minutes and debating over whether or not we would have to come to terms with this massive change in our plans, we located another tour bus that was waiting for its passengers to arrive. We pleaded our case with the lovely Doune born bus driver, and joined a new tour that was set to visit Luss, Doune Castle, Deanston Distillery, and Stirling Castle. Rebuilt in the 14th century for the Duke of Albany Robert Stewart, Doune Castle attracts visitors for both its historic value, and also as result of its feature in the cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and finally as Winterfell in the popular TV show Game of Thrones. As Onni and I had already visited Doune Castle the weekend before on our archaeology trip, we choose to visit the distillery while Anne and Gavin toured the Castle.
It seems that for Onni and I, without trying, attract all of the French people in Scotland. We often joke that it feels like we are studying abroad in France considering some of the closets friends we have made here are French, and our daily exposure to the language is surprising given our location. We often find ourselves surrounded by more French speaking people than English, and this was the case on our tour. We were lead around the historic distillery by an elderly Scottish man, dressed in a full kilt, translating the tour into French for the 10 or so 70 year old French men and women who accompanied us two Americans.
We have spent the last few weeks preparing for our upcoming two weeks in London and France as our classes are winding down, given that this marks the last week of seminars and tutorials. Six months seemed like such a long time, and in reality it is. Especially when you are so far removed from everything that seems normal and familiar in your everyday life, six months is a long time to be away. Yet I am amazed by how quickly this half mark in my trip has sprung up on me (seasonal pun intended). As classes end and spring break starts, we are starting to plan our last few months in Europe and the trips we hope to take. In light of the Brussels attack, we embark on our trips with a sense of caution and vigilance. It would be unwise and naive to deny the unpredictable threat that looms over more than just Europe. I can't help but refuse to let these acts of terror accomplish their intent, which is to instill terror and fear. However I have the privilege to view these attacks solely as an Inconvenience to my travels. For the people of Ankara, Peshawar, Istanbul, Grand Bassam, and so many other homes of innocent people, it is about so, so much more than just the theft of favorite holiday destinations. It is about the constant danger present while walking to your local market, or to school, or simply leaving your house. I feel that this is maybe a half formed thought; a self reflection when I consider my place in all of this. But still, it is something we have to think about; something we have to consider, especially when it occurs so far from home, and we only experience it through the aftermath displayed on the evening news.