Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kilts, Bagpipes, Haggis...all that stuff.

Best thing about Scotland: the people. They were so friendly and funny. Next best thing: the Highlands. They reminded me of the mountains I miss! The whole trip was great, but these things definitely topped the list. I left from Kings Cross station with 12 other girls to spend the whole weekend up north in Edinburgh. We got there Thursday night and set out to find our hostel. After asking workers in two stores and a policeman, we finally found it. I really am gaining a love for being lost. Our hostel was a spray-painted building in an alley behind a pub -- totally sketch. We climbed the 135 steps, laughing the whole way up. We had a temporary roommate, Arnaud from France. He became the self-appointed protector of our room for two nights, and joined right in on our card games and movie night. I think he felt pretty good about a weekend with 13 American girls. It was fun seeing his reaction when he found out that going to get a drink with us meant Sprite at McDonald's. He had fun though! Here's our sketchy hostel...Mom, don't look.

We spent our first day on a walking tour of the city, learning stories and seeing hidden parts of Edinburgh that make the city what it is. I loved the whole feel of the place, and our tour guide told us story after story about the city's history. Here's a few of the sights we saw on the walk, plus one of my favorite spots...the cafe' where J.K. Rowling started writing Harry Potter. Sweet.

Our tour had some interesting moments, like seeing the most haunted cemetery in Scotland, learning the funny lies Scottish people like to tell tourists, and trying haggis (hag·gis : n. A Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal). The guy at the pub promised us his wasn't quite that extreme, and he said trying it wasn't anything brave. I won't lie, only Janna dared to actually get it, and I only tried half of an almost bite.

Lauren and I climbed up Calton Hill to get a good view of the city. I loved everything I saw -- incredibly old houses, the ocean, Highlands...I even squinted and saw snow on some mountains! While we were walking all the trails on the hill and checking out all the statues on top I totally found a Y on the mountain. It's even blue and white, good for Scotland. It's kind of bright, but trust me, it's there.

We took a bus tour on Friday that had a lot of fun stops. We looked all around the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh (fancy name for lots paths through lots of flowers -- it smelled so good!), then made our way up to the north coast to see the Britannica, the royal yacht. It's big. On our way home we randomly found the Scottish Parliament Building. They've only had a parliament since 1998, so it was cool to take a look around and read about the process they went through to establish it. It happened to be International Women's Day, and there was a debate going on about violence against women in Africa. I'm obsessed with Africa, so I stepped inside the meeting to listen to a woman's presentation from Zimbabwe. I just finished reading a book about the life of a young African refugee, so listening to the woman's perspective and first-hand experiences was fascinating to me. I loved being able to witness Africa talking to Scotland -- definitely a glimpse of something I won't see very often.

It felt like a quick trip...staying here in London is kind of changing my perspective on vacations because I'm realizing how much it takes to truly learn about a place and experience it. But that doesn't mean I didn't love it!

1 comment:

  1. I loved Scotland. We stayed in a hostel that was a converted church with a bar in the basement. Sounds like there are lots of awesome ones!


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