Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted a surprise birthday party. Every year I would hint or even outright ask that my parents or my friends throw me a surprise birthday. The closest I ever got to receiving a surprise on my birthday was this year for my 21st birthday. While out at my birthday dinner in NYC with my sister and her friend Claire (my friend from HC, Katy’s, sister), Claire left the table for a minute. My sister and I thought she got lost coming back from the bathroom, but it turned out that she actually went outside to meet her parents who dropped off a birthday present for me! Not only was I surprised at receiving a present, but I was even more stunned that the present was from Katy, currently studying at St. Andrews in Scotland. The generosity and consideration that had gone into the present was almost too much for me to handle. I knew that when Katy’s birthday came around, I had to do something equally special to repay her for one of the most amazing birthday presents I have ever received.
That’s why this past Saturday I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and took a cab to the airport to spend 36 hours in Scotland to surprise Katy for her 21st birthday. My friend Catherine, who also studies at St. Andrews, arranged to meet me in Edinburgh around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday to keep me company until Katy came to town under the pretense of playing tour guide to some HC friends from Galway who were also visiting for her birthday weekend. She eventually made it to Edinburgh around 11:30 a.m. and came to the Starbucks where Catherine had arranged the meeting. I put my little birthday present of fancy tea and chocolate for Katy on the table and waited for her to come up the stairs and be surprised. And surprised she was! We hadn’t seen each other since last year at Holy Cross and we were both so excited to be in the same place at the same time again, if only for two days. I hope my presence in Scotland was sufficient repayment for the amazing surprise she gave me on my birthday a few months ago.
Once the surprise encounter was over it was time for some serious Edinburgh touring. We only had about five hours to do as much sightseeing as possible before the bus left to take us back to St. Andrews. We first stopped at a cute, small Thai restaurant to fuel-up for the blitz tour. I had some delicious pad Thai (made even more delicious by the fact that I hadn’t eaten since 5:00 a.m.) then we went on to visit the café where J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter, a historical cemetery where J.K Rowling got the ideas for names of her characters, the Edinburgh castle, a church on the Royal Mile, the queen’s residence, and a delicious fudge shop. After quite the eventful afternoon we took the hour and a half bus ride back to St. Andrews where we had a celebratory dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with the other HC students at St. Andrews.
The next day it was time for me to head back to Dublin via bus, train, shuttle, and airplane. My trip was exhausting, officially the quickest international trip I have ever taken, but it was more than worth it to see my friends and to surprise Katy for her birthday. Luckily, I have a few weeks to recuperate and catch up on schoolwork before my next adventure—Spain!
Katie Riley '14