Monday, March 25, 2013

A Fighting Scot in Scotland: Adventures in Edinburgh

Hi there! It's been quite a bit, hasn't it? I know my last post doesn't actually qualify as a travel post (apparently...) so I should probably keep you informed on my life. Plus the sooner I get these big trips covered, the sooner I can go back to rambling on about my daily happenings in Paris. Like... um... how all of my socks have holes in them! Oh wait... I already did that one. Shoot. Also, the title is supposed to be clever because Wooster is the "Fighting Scots" and I was in Scotland so it's funny. But you would  have to know our mascot which most of you probably didn't. But now you do!

But anyway, let us travel back to the days of Ireland. It was the beginning of March. The air was fresh. The land was green. The days were full of Guinness and Paddywagons. You remember it, right? So I guess I can continue my story (btw, I realize that was the worst transition ever. I'm in France, I don't remember how to speak English anymore):

Ireland Day 5: We're not in Ireland anymore.... EDINBURGH DAY 1

 Technically we were still in Dublin when we woke up at 3am to catch the shuttle to the airport. It was super fun. I woke up and basically went straight to the bathroom to throw up. Which prompted everyone to ask "OMG, how much did you drink last night???", to which I sadly responded "nothing". This is just my life. Turns out my stomach was even more upset than I was about getting dragged out of bed at 3am. But with the exception of the muscle I think I pulled in my throat while throwing up (which I'm sure you wanted to know. In fact I guarantee you didn't want to know anything in this paragraph. I probably could have just said "we got up at 3am" but where's the fun/excitement in that? Because everyone knows talking about vomit is the best way to have fun! No wonder people don't want to be around me... haha just kidding... What was I talking about again? Oh yeah! Vomit!) I didn't get sick again and felt pretty much better by the time we got to Edinburgh.

The flight was RyanAir. Which means while I tried to sleep at 6am they turned on the fluorescent lights to reflect off the highlighter yellow seat backs while they tried to sell us lottery scratch cards. In other words, in was luxurious travel at its finest. When we got to Edinburgh we stopped at an ATM to get pounds and headed over to the hostel by bus. It was in the old part of the city, pretty much right next to (or pretty darn close to) Edinburgh Castle.

The view from right outside our hostel

I really wanted to go inside the castle but it was like £15 which seemed like a lot considering we wouldn't spend toooo much time there. I wanted to see other stuff and also take a nap later, and I was only there for one day so we decided to do a 4 hour walking tour of the Old Town to get a look at a bit of everything. We had some time to kill so we went to get breakfast at this cute little diner where I tried haggis for the first time. It was offal. Ha. Get it! Also I stole that joke from Kate. I should probably say that now before she holds it against me forever. But breakfast was wonderful and although she got the traditional Scottish breakfast, I just got French toast, because, as the saying goes, "when in Scotland!" That made no sense so if you were confused... A +!

My bacon and french toast.
The pictures of me get progressively weirder
throughout the trip. I blame sleep deprivation.
I have no shame. Apparently.
The point is to look at my food. Not my face. I know it's hard!
I guess I should mention for all of my geographically challenged friends/readers/pets who can secretly read/etc that Edinburgh (pronounced Edinburah or Edinburo) is in Scotland which is part of the UK. But yeah, breakfast! Yummy! It was one of the only meals where I left 10 pounds lighter!! Ha ha get it! (this one I actually came up with although Shannon was kind of a part of it too. I have no original ideas). Also it wasn't a full £10 because I'm not insane. But ten just seemed like a nice number to round up to.

After breakfast we went on our walking tour which was just lovely and highly educational. I would write all about it here but I already spent so much time talking about vomit and bad jokes that I'm getting tired of rambling on, so i will just highlight my favorite parts rather than do an entire play-by-play. I'm sorry. Or you're welcome. I don't really know how you feel...

So in the square of the Old Town there is this small tower (that has a name that I forget) where they would make town announcements, including when there would be a new king. Although it used to take 3 days for the news to reach Ireland, so now they still wait 3 days before doing all of the ceremonial celebrations. Also, the tower is right by where the market would be. So whenever someone was caught trying to steal something, it was the perfect place to take them and for punishment they would have their ear nailed to the door for 24 hours. During which time people would throw all kinds of things at them. If they didn't want to wait that long and go through all of that, they could rip their ear free but then the ragged ear marked them as a thief AND a coward so they would have trouble finding a job.

See the door is made of wood! Perfect for nails!
Right near the tower, also along the main street in Old Town known as the Royal Mile, is St. Giles' Cathedral. Which I find awesome because apparently there is a carving of an angel playing the bagpipes in there. I never had time to go in and see, but my friends did the next day (after I had to leave) and took pictures and I'm jealous. But since I didn't get to see it, you don't get to see pictures! But here is the cathedral:

St. Giles Cathedral
Later, after seeing some other really interesting stuff (like the oldest building in Old Town that's still around) and hearing where the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came from (I'm not telling you now so you will be forced to talk to me and ask questions when I come home, and everyone will be all "what's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story?? And I'll be all "like hell I remember" and I'll laugh and laugh... just kidding. I won't swear in person. Or forget the story. Probably.), we ended up in Greyfriar's cemetery. Which sounds creepy but it wasn't (too creepy). J.K. Rowling used to walk around in it while she was writing the first Harry Potter book and people think it's where she got some of the names. Like McGonagall (after William McGonagall... quite possibly the worst poet ever! Look up his stuff it's hilarious how bad it is!) and Thomas Riddle. But more important, it's the site of a wall supposedly made from witches! When they were building it, apparently they needed carbon to make the mortar and trees were kind of scarce at the time, and they had an excess of dead witches (because that's what happens when you can blame anything on witchcraft) so they burnt the witches down to create carbon for the wall. Supposedly (aka that's totally what happened!)

The Witch Wall

Also in the cemetery is a headstone for a dog named Bobby (aka Greyfriar's Bobby). Apparently back in the day, when grave robbing was a serious problem (there was a medical university there and people could make a decent chunk of change selling bodies), guards were told to get dogs to take with them. Well this one guard, who was well-known and well-liked as being an genuinely friendly person, got a Skye terrier. For several years they worked happily together until the guard got old and died. Bobby, being a very loyal breed, stayed by his master's grave for the rest of his life. People would bring him food and kids came to play with him but he never would leave. He became a local celebrity and was even given the keys to the city. Funny thing is that this honor technically came with the ability to vote, and since this was before the suffrage movement, a dog got the right to vote before women did. Unfortunately he wasn't actually allowed to be buried on consecrated ground and was probably buried right outside the cemetery, as close to his master as possible.

Bobby's Statue

See, some history is heart-warming! I'm almost done, I just have one more good story from the tour to tell. So this woman named Maggie Dickson lived in Edinburgh way back when, and one day her husband left. For years she waited for him, and couldn't really have much of a life without her husband in those days, but he never returned. She eventually met another man at the market and they became involved. Well one day she discovered she was pregnant so once she could no longer hide it, she disappeared to the country until she had the baby. Afterwards, she had no choice but to get rid of her child but while she was about to put it in the river, she was caught. They weren't concerned that she was trying to kill her infant as much as they were that she hid her pregnancy, which was a crime punishable by death. So Maggie was tried, hanged, and declared dead. Turns out, the man driving the coffins from the hangings out to be buried got quite a surprise when he heard knocking in the back of his wagon, coming from her coffin. He freaked out and drove back to the town where they discovered she had not actually died and was very much alive. Well they went to re-hang her when someone in the crowd yelled out that they couldn't hang her again because she had already served her punishment for that crime. Technically she had been hanged until dead before, since she was declared dead, and it's not her fault they did it wrong. So she was free to go. Also she she had technically been declared dead, her marriage was no longer valid (as it said 'til death do us part) and she was free to marry the man she had fallen in love with. Happy ending. Mostly. I guess.

Anyway, these are the awesome stories that our tour guide told us and I wish I had the energy/time to write all of them but it's just not possible; this would be 20 pages long! He was a great tour guide though and I learned a lot about Scotland and Edinburgh and history and such things, especially considering I knew nothing before.

After the tour we stopped by this vintage store briefly and then got pie because pie is awesome. And then I went back and took a nap. And by took a nap I mean I passed out and didn't even hear my alarm, and I have the most annoying alarm (as the 8 other people in the room with me now know). After a nap we went to dinner at this place called Mum's, which was just so much fun. We got Mac and Cheese and burgers and milkshakes and "Mum" who owns it was our waitress and she is hilarious and awesome and gave us candy necklaces. I wish I were doing a better job explaining it but it was just a laid-back but fun and delicious meal and a great last dinner of my trip.
I was struggling with the tomato-shaped ketchup bottle

Happy with our Mum's food! I realize I look a little deranged,
but traveling cheap-student-budget style for 5 days will do
that to you! No one looks perfect all the time. If they do,
they are probably an alien. Beware!
After dinner we went to a bar called Frankenstein's which was probably one of the coolest night-life places I've been too. Especially for a theme bar. It had quotes from the book on a few walls and TVs with rolling footage from the movies or similar kinds of movies. I'm doing a terrible job of explaining it! We had been there briefly (but on a different floor... it was pretty big) during the tour for a break in the middle, which is why we decided to come back at night. Obviously it wasn't super hopping on a Tuesday night but based on my hoodie attire, you can tell I probably wasn't it the mood to hit the clubs, it was just nice to hang out in a place with a cool atmosphere. Unfortunately the only picture I could really find (okay there were others, but I just really love this picture) was this one:
Wish I could say were we at least slightly intoxicated.
We weren't. This is our normal. Our sleep-deprieved normal.
But still. Super cool. (Also, sorry Kate!)
Also just our luck that the only other two people there
(for the most part), are standing right behind us.
Anyway, like the super cool person I am I was in bed by midnight! I got up at 5 to catch the bus back to the airport and head back to Paris. Got back around noon and went straight to my internship. it was a long day, but totally worth it to have a day in Edinburgh!

So this concludes my big 5 day trip at the beginning of March. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite trips of all time and I would love to go back to Ireland and Scotland! I have so many great stories and memories and I'm extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to go. Thanks for taking the time to read about it and feel free to check out all of my pictures or leave a comment! I like comments, they make me happy and I think you just need a Google account to do it.

Soon to come: Tales from Rome last weekend and Provence this past weekend. (I'm really looking forward to a weekend in Paris for once!!)

1 comment:

  1. I actually enjoy all of the faces you make in photos!