Edinburgh was AMAZING.
The museums alone make it well worth the 7 hour drive (or at least they do if you are a total nerd like I am). The admission everywhere I went was free and I will include lots of pictures of all the spectacular things.
On arriving in the evening the first thing I did was find a pub and drink a real Scottish pint. I kept the Scottish Tenner I was given in change and plan to frame it upon my return.
The next day I started my journey with a visit to not quite a mountain, but a Hill with Aspirations. The landscape was AMAZING (I am sensing a theme here in my typography).
First of all, it was quintessential Scottish. Lush, green and rocky, with stone ruins and roughly weather hewn stairs. At the top, several people had left messages using spare stones and I was sure to add my own message to the mix.
Second of all, the hill was so wind swept that ravens, searching for prey, could just hover for ages. This was a breath taking sight (and not just because the bitter gusts made it hard to breath), which I was sadly unable to get a photo of.
At the top of the hill I was amazed by the wind; it literally lifted me up and pushed me against the rocks. I could see the entire city of Edinburgh below and the ocean stretched out before me on all sides.
In spite of my lack of success finding an affordable pin bearing my family crest, I have never felt more in touch with my ancestry. What kind of hardened, crazy people would choose to settle here in this merciless, frigid, savagely beautiful landscape? People I could be proud of to count myself among, surely.
That evening I had dinner in a lovely pub called the Half Way House (perfectly suited to all of my future aspirations I’m sure) where I ate Haggis (which was DELICIOUS but no photos sadly as the light was too dim for my camera) and drank a pint (of some beer or other). The bar maid was a hilarious waif of a woman who seemed terrified by my request of, “Whatever she recommended.”
A very kind man gave us his table as well, which made me feel just absolutely chuffed.
Before visiting the Hill with Aspirations I spent some time wandering around a graveyard, as I often so morbidly do, and turned the whole situation into a comedy of sorts as can be seen in the following pictures.
I also wandered around the city quite a bit, to discover a series of astounding shops and beautiful architecture. I didn’t have much money to spare on my week out of classes but I did manage to scrape some funds together for the essentials.
Which I ate in one sitting…
I regret nothing.
The first museum I stopped at was the Museum of Childhood, which housed a terrifying selection of dolls, as well as other things.
Next on my list was the Castle, which is a series of museums itself, all demonstrating Scotland’s valiant history of warfare. Here I also saw how kilts were made, both traditionally and in the present.
After the Castle I was able to hold an owl for only 3 quid (pounds) and the biologist in me was ecstatic. I held the poor patient dear for about 10 minutes (9 minutes longer than the average passerby) and spent the entire time telling the owl keeper all the facts I knew about owls (namely that their ears are lopsided so as to maximize their field of sound and also that their whole face is shaped to maximize their hearing; kind of like one giant middle ear in between two others). The owl keeper, as a keeper of owls, was not impressed. And I felt like a giant nerd (namely because I wanted to keep the owl and use it to fly letters to and from various locations).
Next was the Scottish National Museum, very close to the University of Edinburgh campus, which featured an amazing variety or art, history and science.
Now, I have told this story somewhat out of order. Obviously I spent my evenings sleeping, and I should like to tell you how. I realize that this sounds overwhelmingly creepy, but bear with me…the story gets better. I stayed in series of hotels; the first being a relatively nice, extremely over priced TravelLodge, which due to its location on a side street, was almost impossible to find (it took 2 hours, even Taxi drivers with GPSs didn’t know where it was).
In my attempt to find the TravelLodge I wound up at a very posh hotel where I met a lovely man named Michael, who not only knew the directions, but also knew everything about everything else. He quizzed me on the Dominion of Canada (formed in July 1, 1867) and then sent me, smiling, on my way.
Because I had only booked accommodation for the one night; (a very effective method I find is to book your first night to avoid stress and then wander around finding either a hostel or hotel offering cheaper rates once you arrive, not for everyone but a good strategy for me) I now found I was in need of a new place to stay.
After a few fruitless attempts to find a cheap hostel I was starting to think I would have to pay another 52 pounds to stay in the TravelLodge (a rip off by anyone’s standards, even if they are in the heart of the city) when a man startled me out of my thoughts with a jolly cry of “Free fudge!”
I was charmed by his enthusiasm and allowed myself to be ushered into the warm, sweet smelling shop wherein the free confectionary delights were promised to await. Robin, The Fudge Man, was only too happy to give me several samples of free fudge and met me with a fun, flirtatious attitude and a very fine waistcoat. He also happened to have directions to a very fine hostel.
I purchased some fudge in gratitude and made my way over to Brodies Hostel.
Brodies was owned by Pete, the blue haired Scott. Pete was perhaps one of the kindest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet and offered me a room for 30 pounds, plus parking.
I was very pleased by this offer but I still felt indebted to Michael, the manager of the posh hotel, for his helpfulness. I knew it would be unlikely that I could afford to stay in such a place, but a strange loyalty in me to the kindness of strangers drove me to implore him.
As it turned out, the very posh hotel was actually cheaper than Pete’s place, essentially because it included free parking.
Upon my return to Michael’s however I was met, not by Michael, but by Michael’s wife. All of the loveliness of her husband was replaced in her by all the attitudes and mannerisms of a waffley c*nt.
It was so evident, in everything that she did, that this woman just hated every aspect of being alive. Everything she did was a giant pain in the ass, and this was her attitude towards life the entire time I stayed with her and Michael.
This was offset by the loveliness of the location and the room and the ease with which the city could be accessed from such a location.
All in all Scotland is an amazing place filled with art, architecture, food, tartan, amazing people and the potential for incredible experiences. England is amazing, but if any Toronto student gets the chance to visit the country where my roots lie, I highly endorse it.