My birthday celebration really started on Friday when I saw some friends and got some nice gifts and cards and a visit from my friend Anna from Budapest. I also saw Pacific Rim, but I slept through a good deal of it so no review just yet.
Saturday, the actual anniversary of my birth, was a blast.
Social media is amazing for making someone feel special on their birthday, which I guess is the point. But after receiving numerous greetings, well-wishes and good tidings, I began to see the point of some recent articles speaking of the self-esteem dangers of Facebook and the like. Certainly, I am lucky to have so many friends (I originally wrote “blessed” and changed it, realizing yet again the pervasiveness of religion in our language and culture — that, however, is another post), but I can definitely see the potential harm if you post your good news or on your special day and it is ignored by your many “friends” online. I can see this because, gratefully, I didn’t have that problem and it left me glowing all day as I checked in and heard from people I hadn’t heard from in a while. It’s nice, honestly.
We started Saturday by taking Anna around Kaunas, showing off the old town and the castle before meeting up with Al and Austeja and taking the river cruise down the Nemunas. I will say, this was my idea. I’d been seeing the long, repurposed cargo boat for two summers now and thought a nice lunch cruise would be fun. I assumed that since the boat was sponsored by a local restaurant chain specializing in Lithuanian food, and the boat had tables and chairs, there would be some sort of local cuisine and, according to the website, a bit of information on Kaunas and environs. Sadly, it was neither. The fee for the boat was strictly for the boat and there was a counter serving not great hot dogs, hamburgers and panini and the two-hour ride, down and back up the river, was accompanied by first, a soundtrack of reggae inspired cover tunes and then a Joe Cocker CD. Not exactly the audio we were looking for, but we had a good time anyway, laughing a lot, despite the rain and alligators.
In the evening, we headed on down to the Whiskey Bar, for a few wee drams in order to get prepared for my trip to Scotland the next morning. In fact, we didn’t drink that much specifically because I had to get up for a 7 am flight and Al had to get up to drive me… Thanks Al!!
And that morning came early… Too early. Laika stayed asleep and I headed out to meet up with Al. We had decided on getting a slightly earlier start so we could stop at McDonald’s on the way to the airport, which we did. But we didn’t get food for some unknown reason. There was a back up in the drive through of two cars and five teenagers standing around smoking. So we forewent food and I got to the airport in plenty of time… or so I thought.
Walking in to our international terminal (which sees a maximum departure of 8 flights a day) I saw on the notice board that my flight had already closed check-in. I thought this was odd since it wasn’t scheduled to close for another 45 minutes and wasn’t due to take off for another 30 after that. So I got into the queue for security, figuring I’d just get my passport checked there. Nope. As soon as I got to the front I got sent back to the check-in counter. I explained there was no one there to which the security officer pointed behind me and said “there is now.” So back I went so the woman at the counter could look at my passport and ticket and stamp the latter (which she actually did even before she looked at my passport) then it was back to the security line, which I went through this time without incident.
The flight was a typical Ryanair flight. Surly flight attendants, crying babies, surcharges for everything and an over-estimated flight time so we could miraculously land ahead of schedule in Edinburgh! There, I hit another delay because even though the UK is part of the EU, I still needed to fill out an immigration form, which I didn’t know until I got to the immigration officer and he sent me back.
Finally, I got everything sorted out and headed into the terminal to meet up with Jennifer and get ready for my first day in the Scottish capital!