Kirkcaldy, Scotland When we landed in Edinburgh, it was sunny.
“This is the second sunny day we’ve had all summer,” said the man who picked us up at the airport and drove us to Kirkcaldy.
But then the next day was sunny too, and so it was a very warm welcome.
I promise that I’m not going to spend the next eight months comparing Scotland to Italy, but as it is, right now that’s what we know.
Here’s one example: when we landed in Venice, back in 2011 during our first season in Italy, Ryan’s new team sent a man to pick us up at the airport. We collected our bags and exited into the passenger pick-up area, waiting for someone to rush over and welcome us to Italy. But that didn’t happen.
No one approached us, no one looked at us, and we were left standing in a corner of the airport for 45 minutes where we gazed anxiously around, looking for someone who appeared to be looking for us as well. But all we saw were very tan Italians, just back from their August holidays, all wearing trendy sneakers without socks and silk scarves wrapped fashionably around their necks.
Finally, a man approached us and asked if we were the Dingles. I had seen him earlier, minding his own business at the espresso bar, and he was holding a sign that said “Dingle” on it, only he was holding it down at his side and the writing was facing inwards, toward his leg.
Never mind though; we had been found! We followed him out to the parking lot where he proceeded to search for his car for the next 15 minutes because he had evidently forgotten where he parked. We watched, bewildered, as he darted around the parking lot, humming to himself. We finally made it to Cortina four hours later.
This year went a little more smoothly, to say the least. We landed in Edinburgh, collected our bags and a man (wearing socks with his shoes and no scarf) from team management walked over to us and introduced himself. He directed us to his car, which he found very easily, and drove us to our new home, Kirkcaldy.
From day one, things have been very organized around here. This is the first time in five seasons that we’ve gotten a bank account set up within a week, had working phones and Internet access before November. We have a car and an apartment down in the Kirkcaldy harbor.
Ryan’s hockey season is underway, and he has an entire schedule for September, which is unheard of in Italy. We have a trip to Loch Ness planned for the end of the month and one to Belfast in November.
Things move more quickly in Scotland. Which is why we’ll have to remember to take the lessons we learned in Italy with us along the way: slow down. Have long lunches with even longer conversations. Go for long walks. When in doubt, have a glass of wine because that solves everything (in Scotland though, I believe we substitute wine for tea).
As much as we joke about Italy and the Italians, they’ve taught us some valuable lessons that we’ll remember. And we’re looking forward to seeing what we learn from Scotland.
Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer, currently making the switch from living in Italy to living in Scotland. While she’ll miss the pasta and wine, she’s looking forward to exploring a new country and trying haggis. Sophie’s husband, Ryan, is a Steamboat Springs native and professional hockey player; you can follow their adventures online at http://sophiedingle.blogspot.com.