We’ve all been there. You may have been vacationing in SoCal, eating a fish taco next to “Muscle Beach,” just as some Venice Beach cover band started playing “Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you thought to yourself “Man, this is about as L.A. as it gets!” Or maybe you were in Montreal, taking in a Canadiens hockey game, drinking a Labatt Blue, right when Wayne Gretzky sits down in the seat next to you and you said “Damn, it doesn’t get more Canadian than this!”
Serendipity is one of the best parts of traveling, so I’m going to tell you a short little story recounting a tale of the most Scottish occurrence in my life: the time I ran into Sean Connery while eating haggis in Edinburgh…
Wednesday, June 16, 2010–I was enjoying my last couple hours in Scotland, and had about an hour to kill before my flight to Galway. As I was sitting in the common area at St. Christopher’s Inn, I realized “Huh, I’ve been hear for 3 days, and I haven’t had any haggis yet!” Did I know what haggis was? No, but I knew it was Scottish, and that I had to check it off the bucket list before heading to Ireland.
So I strolled my way up the hill on that overcast afternoon with my last views of Edinburgh Castle to my right, and I embarked on a haggis hunt. On my way to the restaurant, I passed by the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, a glass-fronted modern opera house, and a change of pace from the rest of the town’s classical architecture. Out front, I noticed a red carpet and a bit of paparazzi hubbub, but I was on a mission – a culinary mission for a food I knew almost nothing about! – so I fought my way through the foot traffic and kept going.
When I got to the restaurant a couple blocks later, I ordered some haggis to-go. From the outside, it looked like a fat empanada, but inside? No clue. Up until a couple paragraphs into writing this article, I still didn’t know what haggis was. So I looked it up. It’s scrumptiously described as
“a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onions, oatmeal, suit, spices and salt, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in artificial casing instead.”
YUMMY! But to me it just tasted like a regular ol’ meat pie, so I was good.
As I started to chomp through my Hot Pocket full of animal innards, I made my way back down the road to the front of the theatre. Being in less of a rush this time, I finally asked what was going on. It was the first day of the Edinburgh Film Festival, which would be kicking off with the premier of The Illusionist. More importantly, the word on the street was that Sean Connery was going to be in attendance.
As luck would have it, 5 minutes later Sir Connery was getting out of his limo, and slowly making his way down the red carpet. With my haggis in my left and my camera in my right, I multitasked like no other tourist in Scotland had before, and snagged photographic evidence of the Extraordinary Gentleman himself. There, in the streets of Edinburgh, finishing those last couple bites of haggis in front of Sir Sean right before leaving the country, that was the equivalent of an international backpacking mic drop. I’m out, Scotland!
Got any serendipitous travel stories of your own? Please share below!