Edinburgh, Scotland

First of all, my favorite part of the tour, we got to see the cafe that J.K. Rowling wrote the beginnings of Harry Potter in, so cool. The cafe was called the Elephant house. I just got back from there now, and plan on going back tonight. Lots of expresso, booze and exotic food. :) They say she sat in the corner table and looked out at Edinburgh castle while she wrote. She was so poor that she didn’t have heating in her house at that time, so she would go to the cafe and warm up over one hot drink a day and do her writing. :)

We also saw the supposed inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! It was right next to the famous Greyfriar’s graveyard (where there is supposedly “human lasagna” graves… very unpleasant part of the tour… :P Anyway, it is this school which was supposedly started for orphans of the city, hence the orphan Harry Potter. :) In that graveyard there are also gravestones for a Tom Riddle, Moody, Mcgonagall and others…. :)

We kept having to hear this story about the faithful dog Bobby, who was the dog who supposedly sat by his owner’s grave for 14 years there. There are statues of him all over, as well as a grave to him. The guide said that people leave things on his grave, like plane tickets round the world in Bobby the dog’s name… didn’t really get it. Ha. Supposedly he is the example of “true loyalty.” But the guide told us this whole story is bollocks, and the truth is someone shot the old dog and trained a cute dog to stand at the grave and get tips once he saw it was gaining fame. Like I said, way too much information on this dog…. haha.

OH! And this is terrible. Edinburgh is just full of terrible stories. The wall around the graveyard, the mortar was used from “witch ash.” They had run out of trees to burn for the mortar, so they bought the ash of the witches they had burned (red heads and women with acne)  back from the families!!! :/

There is a writer’s museum that I want to go to tomorrow, did you know that Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was based off of a true two faced locksmith from Edinburgh at the time! His name was Deacon Brodies and they have pubs in his name all over the grassmarket! Also, they have pubs dedicated to serial killers, (the White Hare, Hare and his partner actually murdered their victims inside and now it serves lager!) the living dead, (half hanging maggie who was hung after having a stillbirth and hiding it, but survived the hanging. according to scottish law, you cannot be tried twice, and you cannot be HUNG twice for the same crime! :P) and then there are tons of witch themed breweries and such. This is the most haunted, disturbing, but also loveliest town ever. It is like being in Harry Potter.

Currently, I am in a Starbucks in Edinburgh graciously using their free wifi. I just had vegetarian haggis with Lauren and Jay. It was like the best thing I have ever had! And I’m not just saying that! At LEAST the best thing I have had in the UK. Basically, haggis is intestines and things mixed with oats, nuts and spices and wrapped in a sheep’s stomach. The vegetarian haggis is really popular, they serve it almost everywhere as well. It is ground up kidney beans, carrots, mushrooms, etc. I bought a refrigerated on at a shop and we took it home and cooked it. If you buy it at a restaurant, it comes with tatties and neeps (potatos and turnips). Really, really good. Haggis is not just something that tourists eat for the hell of it, like I thought… Scottish people actually LOVE it. And I can see why! Such nice flavoring. Also, Scottish people actually dig kilts too! Royalty and rich people wear them for family get togethers to this day. It is a status symbol and cultural pride.

This morning we went to Edinburgh castle, which is BEAUTIFUL. I have never seen anything like it. It is bound on three sides with steep steep cliffs, and it’s just towering over in the middle of the city!!! :) Pictures to follow.

We went to the bank and saw 1 million Scottish pounds in notes, then we headed to the Starbucks to meet for the guided tour of the city. The tour was free, but the tour guides worked for tips, and they were REALLY REALLY good, so we all paid. It was a 3 hour tour, during which I learned SO MUCH about the city. Got me excited about everything. There is so much to tell. I will just try to come up with as much as I can. Lots of ghost stories, torture stories and witch stories.

Our guide in Edinburgh told us some other great stories. There is a famous statue of a horse right off the Royal mile. Scotland wouldn’t pay the artist as much as he wanted, so he gave the majestic horse pig ears!! You would never notice it unless you knew! Funny.

Also, there is a heart outside the chapel where for CENTURIES UPON CENTURIES people have SPAT to express their disdain for politics, and anything else in general. There were only a few fresh spit marks during the day, but I went back at night to spit in it, and it was full of saliva. :P She told us she was giving a tour one time, and a guy thought it would be SO romantic to propose on the heart he saw. He kneeled down, and proposed and it was magical. Then our guide, Kit, blatantly told him what he had just knelt in, and the did the proposal again across the street. :P

Right by the heart was a column that they used to pin criminals to by their ears.

There is a statue of the philosopher Hume on the Royal Mile. His big toe was just so inviting, I had to lean over  and touch it as we went by. Little did I know this is what everyone does! It’s supposed to bring good luck and wisdom.

The town of Edinburgh is built on hills upon hills. Back in the day they would dump their bedpans out the windows and it would flow down the streets to the loch below. Eventually this lock became so full and was letting off so much methane gas and people were hallucinating regularly because of it, so they had to drain it out. This is where the now lovely and fertile garden of new Edinburgh is. Green year round thanks to centuries and centuries of shit. J

There is a gunshot that goes off at 1 pm everyday.

Back in the starbucks.

Last night we went to the Bank Bar which was a unique two story bar with a bunch of happy people inside. ;)

We only had one drink, but listened to a lot of good live music.

This morning we woke up and went to J.K. Rowling’s cafe for breakfast. I got coffee, and it turned out that you get a whole pot of your own French press coffee for just 2 pounds and change!! So good!! :) Stayed there awhile and then headed back to the hostel to pack up.

I was using the wifi at the crappy Cowgate hostel, and realized that the Co-op people had sent me an interview!!! It said, if you can get this sent by Saturday, we can vote on you in the house meeting. Lucky, yeah? So I rushed and filled out the interview in the cramped and noisy hostel and sent it off. :)

I was GOING to enroll for KU, but my suitcase got stuffed behind a MOUNTAIN of suitcases in the hostel closet, so there was no chance unless I fancied a climb. :P

I will enroll tomorrow. And I will apply to be a Study Abroad Peer when I get back to KU. They sent me an email this week as well.

After the interview I went to the Scottish National Museum, where I saw Dolly, the cloned sheep, and hieroglyphs.

Little nervous and angry about tonight because Jay wanted to book a hotel in Leic through HostelWorld, so now we are staying at this shady as shit hotel down off city center. We arrive at midnight tonight. WHY???? This is such an inconvenient time. I guess we will have to take a cab. I just looked up a number. Shoudl have gone with what I thought first and stayed at the hotel my parents did. Whatever.

Jay is not having a good time at all. Lauren and I are quieter and have been having a nice time relaxing in pubs and walking around but Jay was planning on clubbing the whole time but wouldn’t go without us. But it’s hard to feel bad, because we all paid for this trip ourselves, so we should be able to do what we want ourselves too, yeah? I was never planning on going to the clubs here, so why would I have? Tired and stressed. Just ready to get back on the bus. Too many tensions here. Ireland will be a peaceful getaway.

These past few days we have stayed in a particularly shitty hostel in Edinburgh. Or at least our flat is. We went into the other group’s flat yesterday, and their kitchen was clean, spacious, had a clean couch and music and pictures up. Trek back to our kitchen and you would find: a pair of old men’s shoes on the floor, pots and pans with hairs in them, freezing cold, small and cramped and a guy who comes in and pushes you out of the way so he can empty crumbs out of his pocket in front of you into the trashcan. Bleh!

We there were just five of us, so we had to share with another random person in our room as well. He turned out to be an odd, quiet, middle aged man who answered in one word sentences and went to bed at 9 o clock. I think he was living there. Sad. Quite a &%@*ing depressing place, if you’ll excuse my French.

Yasin kept saying, “It was the cheapest there was so close to the city center!” YEAH. We walked to city center and saw this brilliant, clean, hip backpacker’s youth hostel down the street closer to the city for the same price. Must have been because we were such a large group. Last night, I was waiting for the shower, and two girls came out after awhile. Pretty positive they were doing drugs in there.

ANYWAY.

We are leaving here today. So that’s good. The city was beautiful. Just never stay at the freaking “Cow Gate” hostel.

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