Rekindling a Travel Friendship in Edinburgh

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I guarantee that everyone reading this site has had a memorable travel friendship at some point.  And in this modern age, social networks make it easier than ever to keep up these friendships.

So, as we technologically dependent individuals ask ourselves so often, HOW DID WE SURVIVE back in the day?

And with that, I have a story from Edinburgh.

A decade or so ago, my mom went on a Windjammer cruise off the coast of Maine and met Sandra, a woman from Edinburgh, Scotland.  Both of them were teachers, adventure travelers and moms of teenagers — and they became fast friends.  After the cruise was over, my mom took Sandra around the sights of Massachusetts.

After Sandra returned to Scotland, they emailed for years.  But as time set in, they lost touch.

My mom lost her email.  She then tried to find her on Facebook, and when that failed, tried to at least find her kids — but with their common last name, it was just too difficult.

So when my mom found out that I would be visiting Edinburgh, she emailed me Sandra’s home address and asked if I could check and see if she was still around.

Would I?

I was a bit uneasy to the idea at first.  But then I realized that she lived nearby — within walking distance.

My friend Kash came with me, and after strolling through several beautiful neighborhoods in Edinburgh, we tracked down the address.  Lo and behold, Sandra’s last name was on a buzzer.  This was definitely it.  I gulped and pressed the button.

“Hello?” she answered.

“Hello — um, my name is Kate McCulley,” I said.  “This is kind of weird, but you met my mother on a cruise in Maine…”

“Oh!  Debbie!”


“Come in!”

Sandra welcomed me with a hug and invited me and Kash into her lovely home, with beautiful views out her windows.  Having two backpackers in her home didn’t faze her (though I’ve considerably cleaned up since my hippie days in Asia, and Kash actually lives in Edinburgh so he looked normal), and we settled into our favorite thing — travel talk!

Oh, and we had a lot to talk about.  Sandra told us about her summer in New Zealand, and Kash and I regaled her with tales of Innsbruck.  That’s what I love about getting together with fellow travelers — we always find commonalities about places we love!

Sadly, I couldn’t stay long because I had to hop on a train back to Chester, but the three of us had a lovely visit.  And I made sure to give Sandra my mom’s contact information.

Right after getting back to Chester, I opened an email from my mom — she and Sandra had already emailed each other before I got back.  And now my mom is more determined than ever to visit Scotland!

I have to admit that I was initially weirded out at the thought of knocking on a stranger’s door, someone who might not even remember my mom, but I am SO glad that I did it.  My travel friendships mean the world to me, and I’m so glad that I was able to do this for my mom.

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16 thoughts on “Rekindling a Travel Friendship in Edinburgh”

  1. That is awesome Kate, great story. I think with the advent of Facebook, twitter etc we are becoming a more connected world but for those who travelled even ten years ago, it would have been simply a case of exchanging email addresses.

  2. Aww, how cool! I’ll bet your mom really appreciated it, too. It’s always nice to reconnect with old friends, especially if you thought maybe you had lost touch forever.

  3. Sweet story! I am in a similar situation with a friend I met over 10 years ago myself. Her email is no longer the same, and I can’t find her on Facebook. Back in the day, we used ICQ/Yahoo Chat. I wouldn’t even fathom using those today.

  4. Very nice story I would gather that your mother was really pleased that you found her. Now they will be able to stay in toucn once again. I really haven’t meet anyone from traveling that I have kept in touch with over the years.

  5. Wonderful story Kate, your mother appreciates it very much! Sandra and I became instant friends on our Windjammer Cruise in Camden, Maine. We lost touch when letters were returned and emails being changed. In the old days, we simply wrote letters – but one digit could change a relationship when it couldn’t be delivered. Thanks for finding my friend. xxMama

  6. That’s awesome Kate!

    Last summer I was traveling the state passing out yard signs for a political campaign. I ended up delivering one to the house I lived in from 0-5!

    I asked the current homeowner “Not to be a creeper, but I think I used to live here. When did you buy the house?” and from there she gave me a tour, including memories of what our old bedrooms used to look like. She even let me take pictures!

    If I had never mentioned it, or decided to pass on by, I would have never made that connection. Sometimes you’ve gotta do something, even if you’re nervous or weirded out. It can turn for the better!

  7. Loved your article, Kate. Well written. It brought back memories of visiting friends of friends or family (and sometimes friends of friends of friends) and being welcomed with open arms. I’ve visited your site before but came across your post today when looking for inspiration for a title for my reflective piece on reconnecting with an old travel mate from 40 years ago. I’m pleased you were able to reconnect your mom and Sandra (and thanks for helping me find an appropriate title for my own post:

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