November 4, 2023

In Spotlight

A brief, but lovely reunion with Dundee, my Scottish home.

I loved living in Scotland; however, the double whammy of brexit and covid extinguished my prospects of a prolonged stay. To move on, I had to literally move. Having flashbacks to the times when I couldn't extend my work permit in the US and was forced to leave, I packed whatever the airline's baggage allowance let me, and entered new a life chapter.

But it's not that I lacked a list of motivations to come back one day. I wanted to:

1) Revisit some of the fab folks I met there,
2) See the spectacular landscapes again,
3) Breathe the fresh sea-scented air while getting my face sprinkled with drizzle,
54) Collect a box with my synths that I left behind when I moved...

You get the idea. So, the moment came, and I entered Dundee again.

It was like so many times before; yet, the instant I left the station, I noticed differences. I should've seen it coming; the city is in the midst of a massive transformation of its formerly industrial waterfront. They cleared many old structures, including a 17-story office block, for a £1bn urban revitalization project. While I lived there, I saw a new train station, housing, offices, and the V&A Museum of Design being built.

V&A Dundee

Still, walking into the first difference just a block away from the station, a new extension of the Slessor Gardens with fountains, sculptures, and a Ferris wheel, was pretty cool!

Being there reminded me of St Louis, a city that also underwent a significant waterfront redevelopment where they razed their old buildings to create a public space with a tourism potential in mind. This train of thought brought back the contemplation on how, between the evolving places in the US, Scotland, and elsewhere, I am changing too.

For example, the way I see transportation. Back in St Louis, I didn't think twice about driving everywhere. Now in Dundee, I appreciated having the freedom of choice among multiple safe and convenient options. Dundee train station is literally across the street from the V&A Museum, and some streets I remembered to be full of cars got converted into pedestrian zones. One can still use a car here, but it is not a necessity. Speaking about transportation of choice, I also saw new cycling paths, and there were noticeably more cyclists in the downtown than before. That's something I did not expect, but very much welcomed!

Seeing this development energized me to revisit some of my favorite places:

The Howff

When talking about good places to revisit in Dundee, the university was clearly not to be missed. Without it, I wouldn't come to Scotland in the first place. And without the people there, I wouldn't be where I am now. I was happy and grateful to be back.

Dundee University campus

In between enjoying the familiar views of the city, I met a good friend and saw Dundee from a new angle too. Among a stroll and hot chocolate, we went for a spin on the Ferris wheel.

Shortly later, the daylight began to decline. But before darkness fell, the sky brought neat colors to cherish.

Tay Rail Bridge

The day wasn't over, though; I got together with members of a local cycling club that I joined on many MTB adventures. We bantered at a pub, and I learned that the infamous spot where I once had a concussion is now referred to as the "Jakub's Drop." Haha, legends!

While on the topic of legends and cycling, another great person I met here got me a shelter and lent me her bike to see more of the city and beyond. Sweet, more favorite places to check out!

Broughty Castle

The next day I pedaled across the Tay firth, leaving the city behind.

I went towards the coastal town of Tayport...

...and continued to Tentsmuir Forest.

Beautiful paths took me to the beach where I used to go swimming.

But on this occasion, I had no desire for a dip. I was content with my two-wheeled exercise.

So, I returned to the woods again and explored if something changed there as well.

To my surprise, it did. I found a portion of the forest decimated.

I revisited one of the bird-watching hides, where I met a guy who told me about a big storm that caused the damage. He followed with details on how it impacted the local wildlife. Yet, we didn't have to wait long for visitors to come by. Stories come and go, nature endures.

Then I took the bridge back to Dundee...

...checked out the current V&A show...

...and opened to the joy I deserve. That's what the building told me, at least.

What else? I revisited some of the fab souls, got my face wet with more drizzle, and yes; I reclaimed my synths too. As for the landscapes, well, I didn't venture to the Highlands in this instance, but I think the trip delivered anyway. What do you reckon?

Thanks everyone who contributed to my visit.

If you liked this text, you might enjoy more in my Blog Archives. Thanks for reading!

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories


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