It was a dark night in the ancient floating city. The alleys were lit by the full pale moon. Shadows of crooked buildings, rusted iron balconies, and the occasional leafless tree left me in a spooky chill. The shadows seemed to elongate around me, and I doubled my nervous pace. A shutter of thunder in the nearby distance announced the creeping wake of a storm approaching. The clouds, dramatically lit, bunched around the moon like old pals separated by time until this very moment. A blood cast loomed overhead, painting the tops of the buildings with a pallid shade of sinister red. Only the sounds of the skyward rumbling, apart from my feet hitting stone, echoed through each narrow passage, and were joined with a faint scratching and scurrying and fluttering. I was the least bit oblivious in the fact that I was not alone now – there are creatures stirring in the night.
My first travel narrative, “Grave robbers of the Solway Coast, Scotland” has come along way from its initial scribblings. It’s been read by over 20,000 people since it was published originally on the blog here. But now, it’s been formally published in a new travel anthology book: “Postcards from Around the World: Volume 1”... It’s jam packed full of interesting and thrilling tales from all around the world, from other travel writers as well. I even bought the book to support the other writers, and I’ve loved reading and experiencing the stories through their words. While this isn’t a massive book deal or anything of that nature, I am proud to team up with Postcards from Around the World and be published in their first anthology!
I hope you will consider supporting me and the other talented writers featured in the book by purchasing it on Amazon (for $7.99).
I sit along the ancient stone wall of the bustling plaza, with one leg draped on either side. The Alhambra looms overhead, casting a dull shadow over the stream below. The sun warms my back and the light breeze soothes its hot sting. My eyes flit from here and there, following the playful birds soaring and owning the skies. Oh, the skies. So beautiful, blinding lustrous blues with the occasional white splotch. The sounds of the river flowing below me mix wonderfully with the smooth picking of the woman's guitar. Two dogs sit at her feet, listening peacefully. One with various shades of black with orange brown, and the other is golden. They flick their tales at flies, and their eyes are shut, each lying on their sides, soaking up the sun.
Her song tells a solemn story. A sorrowful lament. Tattered gypsy clothing hangs loosely from her shoulders. She is wearing thick grey and brunette mats, which stream haphazardly from atop her head. Her eyes are closed and she sways, with her instrument upon her lap. The music lives, and breathes, as if it is within her bones and keeps tempo with the beat in her veins. Inspired, she plays. Inspired now was I, and I close my eyes. I begin to sway. She plays for no one, yet she plays to calm her soul.
My eyes glaze over, transfixed and focused on the two white cubes melting and deteriorating beneath the orange flame. The clear green liquid becomes cloudier with each drip coming from the spoon strainer sitting atop the reservoir glass. A wafting smell of what I recognized as being black licorice creepily met my nostrils. A sinking feeling welled up inside me – a reminder of the last time this bittersweet liquid met my tongue. I remember sitting in Venice, under the twilight, along a historic stone path carved alongside an ancient canal.
Looking to my left, my eyes scan over a wall of ancient bottles. Some were labeled and some were not. Water stained, rigid and peeling were words reading absinthe, gin and vodka. Most of the bottles were brown and some were stained that way. They sat across four shelves, backed by an aging mirror, and hidden translucent behind a glass front. To my right, haphazard rickety chairs and small round tables littered the bar floor. The bar was empty, but of two groups who sat on either side of the table. In front of me, a plump, grey haired barman stood with both hands upon the bar, where he leaned, glaring unfocused at the lot in front of him. He had dark shadows under his eyes and matted black hair, which gave him a surly expression and a permanently grim look about him.
I walked down a weaving stone path in the medieval town of Edinburgh, Scotland. My mouth watered as I was in search of the famous local Italian market, the Valvona & Crolla. I bypassed charming historic stone cottages and whimsical mom and pop shops, until I found myself staring upward at cluster of tall modern buildings. There were business men at work in these buildings, toiling trouble and plotting the eventual world take over, no doubt. As the road curved and my jaunt slowed and I searched step by step for safe footing, my eyes caught sight of a large roundabout intersection and a pile of stores lining each side of the street; I continued forward. Trying to take in each sight, sound and interesting detail, I mistakenly passed by my targeted destination. Once I realized this, I looked back and began to jog, backtracking to the light grey storefront. Painted above the doorway were the words “Valvona & Crolla, established 1934.” My heart leapt and my stomach gave me a lustful growl.
A gloomy fog had ascended from the north as I drove from the south, along highway 61. The morning started as a clear, beautiful October day in Duluth, with the passing of seasons visible upon every tree. The night was chilly and the day was tolerable, but “there’s certainly nothing else like Fall in Minnesota,” I found myself believing.
I had been living in Saint Paul, three hours south of here, and I had to leave. I needed to escape the monotony. I’m not one for staying put in places for too long and I had overstayed my welcome. Freedom along the open road is a thing that is often overlooked by many disconcerted hearts. Driving toward no particular destination and only your thoughts to keep you company is relaxing to the tempestuous and seemingly engulfing swirl of everyday life.
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