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I’m excited to expand my writing into more travel related posts, as I have more travel experiences. One of my biggest dreams is to work remotely, from my laptop, anywhere in the world.
However, what is a traveler to do, when the whole world is under a travel ban? She revisits the places she’s been, via photos and memories. And she crafts stories from those previous trips.
Today I introduce the “Tales from…” Series with a funny story, The Pole Dancer, from a trip to Scotland in 2017. I hope you enjoy it. And watch for travel tales here each Friday…until this wanderer can wander again and deliver new content.
Tales from Scotland, The Pole Dancer
Stepping off the tour bus, we disembark into a changed Edinburgh. When our girls’ group began exploring the city that morning, people overflowed the surrounding landscape, covering streets and parks like an international patchwork quilt. Visitors from around the world jostled shoulders as they scrambled for buses or pulled up maps on their phones and set off on foot.
Now, nearby streets empty as weary wanderers move toward cheerful pubs and cafes, intent on refreshment. Even the piper on the corner has vanished, taking the signature sound of Scotland with him.
I glance at my tired traveling companions, my mother, sisters and niece, and shrug.
After spending the day wandering the city, including a tour of Edinburgh Castle, and shopping along the Royal Mile, we thankfully boarded the last hop on/hop off bus for the day. We looked forward to a hot meal and hotter showers and a good night’s sleep. Except…we missed our hop off spot. The bus parked for the night, with us still onboard.
It’s up to us to find a way to our lodging.
George to the Rescue
We have options. The bus tours begin and end on Waverley Bridge, near the train station tucked into the heart of Edinburgh. The three span iron bridge we stand on literally connects medieval Old Town with 18th century New Town. Cabs regularly swing through this area, assured of a steady stream of arrivals.
“Are you ladies lost?”
A guide approaches us, a smile on his round face. An unruly thatch of gray hair caps his head, and in spite of the long day, his good humor remains intact. Laugh lines frame bright blue eyes that disappear when he chuckles. His rumpled white shirt stretches over a rounded belly. GEORGE is etched across his name tag.
George sees damsels in distress. He nobly offers assistance. We like him immediately.
He listens as we share our dilemma. We aren’t lost, we explain, only temporarily displaced. Perhaps George can flag down a cab for us? He concocts a better plan.
“Where are you staying?” he inquires in his soft Scottish brogue.
A Private Joke
I supply the name and address of our serviced apartment near Grassmarket, south of Edinburgh Castle.
George’s reaction surprises us. He rocks back on his heels, his smile widening. Laughter bubbles up and George waves other guides over. As he tells our story, they raise eyebrows and chuckle too. The band of guides shares some private joke and we aren’t in on it.
Wiping his eyes, George steers us toward a bus, empty except for the seated driver. “My friend, please take these ladies back to their apartment,” George instructs. “They’ve had a long day in our city.”
An Impromptu Game of Charades
The driver nods. George gives him the address. His mouth quirking into a lopsided smile, the driver looks at us with amusement as we settle gratefully into seats.
“Okay, what’s so funny about where we’re staying?” I ask.
In response, George hops into the bus. With an infectious grin, he prances toward the metal pole nearest us. Placed there to steady standing travelers, George has other intentions.
Humming, the Scotsman grabs the pole and dances, surprisingly agile. He twirls around and throws back his head, amid cheers from guides gathered near the bus door. Hooking one leg around the pole, George looks at us, expectantly.
Our dancer plays a spontaneous game of charades. My family members exchange glances as understanding comes. He’s pole dancing, as a clue!
We are incredulous. “Are we staying in Edinburgh’s red light district?”
Applause from the guides confirms the guess. The driver snorts and waves George off his bus. He exits with a wink and an admonition to behave ourselves.
A Street with a View
As the bus pulls away from the curb, we look back at George and wave. Laughing, he performs another little twirl on the sidewalk and bows.
Walking up to our apartment building, we stop and really look at our surroundings. We arrived late the night before, eyes captivated by our first sight of Edinburgh Castle perched high on its volcanic rock. And we left eager for adventure that morning. Now, turning slowly in a circle, we realize that our five star lodging is located in the middle of strip clubs, lap dance parlors and adult shows. No wonder George and the other guides laughed. We are amused too.
My sister Debbie recently returned with me to Edinburgh, my favorite city in all the world. We stayed in a different serviced apartment, in New Town. However, every time our hop on/hop off bus passed through Grassmarket, we peered up the hill toward our previous lodging. And we smiled, remembering George, our rescuer, our pole dancer.
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