Welcome to My Blog

As the title suggests, I will be telling stories and expressing my varying opinions. And yes, they may be offensive. Not offensive in the way that you're thinking (by that I mean I'm not going to be flat out profane) more offensive in the sense that I'm going to say things that you might not like. I have a lot of opinions, and they're rather strong. You may disagree, but hopefully you'll find yourself slightly entertained, maybe just a little amused, possibly just a bit aroused (that's a joke, by the way). If you're even the smallest amount intrigued, then I encourage you to continue reading. I have much, much more to say.

7/9/13

London #8: Scotland? More Like Hotland, Am I Right?

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for another blog post! Alright, then. I believe that I left off after our trip to Dublin, and I'm too lazy to go check if that's accurate. Okay, fine, I will. Yep, Dublin.

On Wednesday, a large group of us hopped on the Tube to the Freud Museum. It was in what used to be his house, where he lived with his daughter Anna and did almost all of his work on psychoanalysis. It was very interesting to walk around and see all of the antiques and collectibles he had around his study. We weren't supposed to take any pictures in there, but I took a lot. I even managed to snag a shot of the world famous couch that his patients laid on.




That's the more boring part of this week, though. The exciting part was our much-anticipated trip to Edinburgh, Scotland!

On Thursday, after class, we set out for Scotland. It was much easier to get to the airport this time than it was on the way to Ireland. Nothing terribly exciting happened before we arrived. We hopped on a bus and walked the rest of the way to our awesome hostel just outside of the Edinburgh city center, it was called West End Hostel. It was a really cool place, with a pub on the main floor and live music every Friday and Saturday night.

The only downside was that we men had to share our room with up to six strangers. We went into our room and were immediately greeted with the site of a balloon animal monkey at the foot of a bed next to a set of golf clubs. Bags of tees and potato chips were scattered on the floor around the bed. In the bed was a very large, bald, shirtless man with his laptop on his chest and his headphones in. He apparently didn't care to meet us because he didn't reply to my kind, "Hey, how's it going?" We chose our beds, checked out the girls' room (seventeen girls, eighteen beds, one room; sounds like the beginning of a reality TV show, doesn't it?) and set out on a walk to the city.

Now, if you've never been to/seen Edinburgh, then
allow me to explain. Essentially, they found a huge
rock and put a castle on it. After that, they built a city around the castle. After a while, they realized that their city wasn't very good, so they built a new city on top of it. The result is a big city around a castle with a load of super creepy tunnels underneath it. We'll get back to that later, though.




Our first night, Sam, Kasee, Chelsea, Tayler, Brandon, Cassidy, and I all went to the first pub that we could find. We were all very hungry and didn't much care what we ate. We were in such a hurry, I don't even remember the name of the place. I do remember that I got a chicken burger and that it was delicious. We also got absolutely incredible service. We got in with ten minutes until the kitchen closed, so we were worried that we wouldn't get to eat, but we were treated really well. We went back to the hostel for the night.

The next day, Friday, we got some breakfast at the hostel and set off for Edinburgh Castle. We had to walk a pretty long way. That picture up above was taken from the street, which is about the level for the rest of the city. Just walking up to the castle was a lot of work, and we were pretty far away to begin with. Europe seems to have some fascination with stairs. I don't know why. On top of that, some strange combination of events resulted in it being unusually hot and sunny in Scotland this weekend (hence the title). I was expecting clouds and fog, but what we got was sunshine and humidity. This made the walking considerably more difficult. (Although, it was nice to see the sun. I even got a [burn] tan out of it!)

The castle was really awesome, though. We had a free guided tour from a nice Scotsman named Donal. (That "o" should have an accent over it but I don't think that Blogger has that option...) We spent a few hours at the castle, visiting the cathedral, the Great Hall, and the Scottish crown jewels, and then left for lunch and some shopping.



I was feeling very Scottish, so I decided to be brave (get it?) and get some haggis for lunch. I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it was freakin' delicious. I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is very difficult to explain, but all I can tell you is that it was flippin' tasty. 

After lunch, we did some shopping. I bought some famous Walker's shortbread. After the shopping, we walked down to the Mercat Cross, where all of the ghost tours set out from, and bought tickets for a ghost tour later that night. 

Language lesson!

A mercat, contrary to popular belief, is not actually an aquatic feline creature. I know, I know, that's disappointing. I, too, was picturing some strange half-fish, half-cat that had to deal with the insistent urge to both eat itself and escape itself... It actually means "market," so a "mercat cross" is just a statue where they used to have marketplaces... and brutal public executions! (Bring the whole family!)



We went back to the hostel to drop off shopping bags and rinse off the day's sweat and dirt. Now, since we were staying at a hostel, the showers were shared between floors. There was a bathroom with three separate showers, each in its own private stall. Brandon and I realized that if we each took one of these three showers, we could do something that we'd never considered before: sing in the shower at the same time. This was pretty cool, because people, for whatever reason, tend to be less inhibited in the shower (maybe it's the nudity), so we were able to sing some pretty good tunes. Apparently, we were overheard, though. More about that, later. 

After we got cleaned up, we picked up some pizza and went to our "Hidden and Haunted" ghost tour. The first portion of the tour wasn't too bad. We heard some stories about executions (our guide, Ella, used Brandon as a "volunteer") and grave robbers. It was spooky, but not quite spooky enough. 




The tour didn't get really creepy until we went underground, into the tunnels... 

It was pretty freaky, I guess.

...

It was scary as hell, alright! It was dark, there were candles, we were underground, we were talking about ghosts, I heard scary noises, people were all gasping and nervously giggling and clinging to one another, and Ella was just loving it! 

...

Sorry. I got a little out of control there. It was pretty freaky, I guess. The walk home was, by no means, absolutely terrifying. 

When we woke up the next day, we set out for the city of Stirling. Stirling was the scene of several big battles involving William Wallace and the English army, so it's kind of a big deal. Wallace himself is a huge deal in Stirling. We took the train there, got some lunch, and set out for Cambuskenneth Abbey (pronounced Cambusken, kinda like the Pokemon). This was really cool. Supposedly, part of William Wallace is buried there. Yes, part. Turns out that most of these big historical heroes were split into pieces before being sent to different locations to be buried. William Wallace was split into pieces as part of his execution, though, so that made it easier...I guess...

The Bell Tower


The tomb of James III King of Scots
From the Abbey, we walked several miles to the bottom of a mountain, then we walked a mile up the mountain to the William Wallace Memorial, a giant building that can pretty much be seen from anywhere in Stirling. 

Yet another mountain to climb, with the monument on top.

Told ya it was sunny. 

Hiking. 

The view from the top. 

The view from one side of the tower, panorama. 

The other side, panorama. 

After the memorial, we walked another several miles and climbed another mountain to Stirling Castle. By the time we got to the top, we were exhausted, so we didn't spend as much time as we could have there. Here are some pictures, though. 

Castle in the distance. At this point, we were over halfway up the mountain. 




After the castle, we walked a few miles back to the train station. Upon arriving, we realized that Tayler had accidentally left her passport and 60 pounds on the counter at the castle gift shop. This is kind of a big deal. It was 6:00, and there were only two trains back to Edinburgh left, one at 6:36 and one at 7:06. We called the gift shop, and they told us that they had already sent the passport to the police station. We called the police station, and by some miracle, they were able to have an officer deliver the passport to the train station and into Tayler's hands, with the money, too. Moral of the story: don't leave your passport behind, miracles don't happen that often.

Back in Edinburgh, we went back to the hostel. We had plans to go out dancing, but we were all exhausted, yet again. Brandon and I both had to shower, so we went to do so. We sang several songs, enjoying our inhibition. Once I got out of my shower, though, I found that Jena, Kasee, Chelsea, Tayler, Sam, and Camille were sitting on the counter in the bathroom listening to us, and recording us. Essentially, they defeated the purpose of singing in the shower. That's okay, though. I'm not holding any grudges or anything. I mean, that's fine. It's whatever. It's not a big deal, alright!!!

...

We played cards and went to bed. 

The next day, we did some shopping, and Tayler and I went out for lunch at an Indian restaurant called the Indian Cavalry Club. It was incredible. If you want to get Indian food in Edinburgh, it's the place to go. 

After that, we did a bit more shopping and hung out at the Prince's Park for a few hours. Here are a few more pictures. 

Prince's Park is right next to the Scott Monument. 
On the way back to the airport, everything seemed to be going too smoothly (apart from the fact that Brandon lost his bus ticket, but we worked it out.) We were at the airport and through security over three hours before our flight was set to leave, 9:10 PM. Of course, our flight was freakin' delayed. We didn't actually get on the plane until after ten, and our flight didn't take off until 10:55. After the flight, a bus, a train, and another bus, we dragged ourselves up the stairs to our flat at 3:00 AM. 

It's nice to be back in London. 

Next post, I will be discussing my absolutely incredible visit to the Warner Bros Studio for the Harry Potter tour! I can't discuss it yet, because like seventeen people are going on Friday and I don't want to spoil it for them. Be prepared for that, though. It was awesome, awesome, awesome. 

Well...

Until next time,

Steve

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