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The best show I’ve seen on Netflix this month was its original documentary (of sorts) about Tony Robbins called “I Am Not Your Guru.”

I was enticed to watch it after listening to an interview with him on Tim Ferriss’s podcast (for the 3rd time…all were great) in which he referenced the film by Netflix, and I’m glad I did.  It was insightful, motivating, and emotional for all involved–worth a couple hours of my time to watch.  Since then, I’ve read about half of his most recent book (that I bought a couple years ago but forgot I had until this week) and have, as a result, completely changed my retirement savings allocations (the book is about money and investing).

See?  Results!  Hopefully.

Check it out.

On Tuesday the 5th of July, I walked a mile in the rain to Hertz and rented what was supposed to be an automatic Audi but ended up being a manual shift Kia.  So, my first experience driving on the left side of the road would be with a stick shift (and the last time I owned a stick shift was in Summer 1999).  I was apprehensive.

driving in UK

But, with a bit of concentration through the first several of the 500+ roundabouts we encountered between Edinburgh and St Andrews golf course, I found myself actually having a lot of fun.

We stopped by a McDonald’s, violating one of my rules for traveling (no fast food…or any other restaurant we can find in Atlanta), because I needed coffee very badly, and the children were hungry for something we could eat in the car.  The man working the drive-through gave each of the children balloons and made us laugh hysterically with his enthusiasm and strong Dutch accent at 9am.  It was the best customer service I’ve ever seen from a fast food drive-through (which is, admittedly, a pretty narrow sample).

me at St A

We arrived at the old course a couple hours later, toured the British Golf Museum, and played the “Himalayas” putting green portion of the Ladies’ Auxiliary course, so that my 2 youngest (who take golf lessons and enjoy the game) could learn what a “bucket list” is as they crossed off the item anyone who plays golf puts atop said list.  L at St A TO at St A

Then we ran along the Wet Sands Beach like chariots of fire.

wet sands beach

We’d originally planned to drive all the way to York, England that evening, but I thought it made more sense to take a train after a couple hours of shifting about the countryside, so we headed back to Edinburgh to turn in the car and catch a train, stopping briefly at Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery so I could have some “daddy time.”

Looking back, the drive to and from St Andrews was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever made–windy roads surrounded by unfamiliar shades of green.  The day was as much about the journey as its destinations.

We arrived in York about 9pm and walked into the most interesting sleeping quarters I’ve ever seen!  To be continued…

On Monday, we began our second day in Scotland with hopes of touring the Palace of Holyroodhouse, but the Queen was there, meaning no tours were to be conducted.  So, we walked to Edinburgh Castle and saw the prisons where (eventual) American POWs were kept during our Revolutionary War. Did you ever think about that?  The fact that colonists were taken as POWs and shipped to modern day Scotland to be imprisoned?  I hadn’t until I saw a carved flag in the wood.

AmFlagPOW

We also saw where loyal dogs were buried, the Scottish crown jewels, the Stone of Scone (or “Stone of Destiny”), St. Margaret’s Chapel (built in the 12th century!), and the “one o’clock gun.”

babies in Edinburgh castle

firing canon

A few hours later, we visited the National Museum of Scotland.  We didn’t have as much time there as we needed, but we marveled at the many exhibits from the natural history, textile, and archaeology sections.  The kids were into it, and so were the adults.

inside museum

Then, it was time for dinner at the Elephant House, but the wait was enormous, so we opted for a picture in front of the place where Ms Rowling penned the “Harry Potters” instead; we ate at Pizza Paradise, which was fine.  Then, I bought a pipe that was made in Scotland and a Cuban cigar to enjoy with some coffee before our tour of Mary King’s Close.

where HP born

The latter tour was very interesting, as it included live actors showing us how life in Edinburgh was hundreds of years ago in areas of the city that are now mainly underground (but can be toured in the sections that have been unearthed).  We saw where those afflicted with the plague had to gather and the varying living conditions for the poor vs. the affluent.  At one point, our guide was showing us an old saw maker’s shop through a window, and I looked off to the right, at the end of the “close” (or alley way).  I saw a lady in period costume, much like our guide, but she was translucent.  We looked at each other a few seconds; I glanced away; I looked back, and she was gone.  At the conclusion of our tour, I asked our guide about the hologram of the woman at the end of the hall, and she tilted her head.  “We don’t have–I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”  One of the children said they saw her, too, but no one else in our party did (though none were looking, either).

It was then time to walk back to our flat, but we took the scenic route along Holyrood Park, stopping briefly to ask a police officer which way to walk back to see Arthur’s Seat in the background.  He asked where we were from; we told him, and he said he’d just come back after living several years in Nashville, as he’d married a Vandy grad.  He likes Johnny Cash just like I like Johnny Cash.

It was 10:30 pm, but the park looked like this:

swan lake

It was 3 hours past the children’s normal bedtime on a day that my fitbit showed 20,000 steps, and they’re gazing at swans in front of a pond with a castle in the background. See why we think Scotland is magical?  Because Scotland is magical.