First of all, it’s pronounced “Edinburra”, which invites the question “Why didn’t they just name it Edinborough?” I don’t know.
Second of all, and let’s get this out of the way quickly, Haggis: Did I have some?
Yes. And it’s actually quite good. Not something you’d eat everyday. But good.
We got into Edinburgh at around 10pm at night, which is the worst time to get into Edinburgh, because everything’s closed. I wandered around for an hour searching for a good meal, then gave up and ate fresh at a Subway.
We were greeted by this imposing edifice the following morning.
This is Edinburgh Castle. The pictures really do not do it justice. It is nuts.
It’s at this point that I should mention is that Edinburgh is the full-on Harry Potter Experience. The one in Florida ain’t got shit on Edinburgh. For those unaware, as I was, JK Rowling wrote up the first two books in a cafe called The Elephant Room ( more on that later ). From the cafe window you can pretty much see all of Edinburgh, castle included. Now, you might think it’s a stretch to say that Edinburgh Castle is the ‘real’ Hogwarts. I though so too, until I saw the metal Quidditch Field they put up next to it.
Actually, it’s just a temporary installation for a military ceremony, but y’know close enough. Anyway, so you’ll probably see a recurring Harry Potter theme for the rest of this entry. Just warning you.
Edinburgh is a city of absolutely beautiful old architecture. Besides obviously the Castle, it is also home to a host of churches, monuments and just really old things, including this monument, which I am calling the Tower at Bara-dur.
This will be the only Lord of The Rings reference in this post. I just wanted to mix it up a little.
We opted to do the Free Walking Tour, equivalent to Dublin’s, first thing in the morning, so we would really know what to go see and do ourselves on day two. This was our tour guide, Alan.
Yes. We got taken around the city by Rubeus Hagrid.
After the tour, a few of us decided to hike up Arthur’s Seat, a giant hill on the outskirts of town. My legs were sore for the next two days. After 250 vertical meters, we got amazing views of the city.
During the hike, our group got a little more buddy-buddy, as you do, and we learned that one of them, Helena, was a writer and was currently chronicling her trips through Scotland. Clearly, we are all going to be featured in the book, as she allowed us to choose our own pseudonyms. So, if by chance, in the near future, you’re perusing through a travel book on Scotland and come across a mirthful character named Handsome B. Wonderful, you know who to thank.
Following the hike, we were all completely exhausted and non-functional, so we decided to do a pub crawl, which went a little something…like this.
Not covered in this post, my group’s Karaoke arrangement of the 90s hit single “I Want It That Way.”
Yeah. We’re cool.
Yes, a video exists and no, it will never see the light of day.
Day Two started with me feeling like shit. Possibly due to the copious amounts of alcohol. Science can never be sure.
Luckily, Scotland (and the UK) is home to an elixir known as Irn Bru.
Here are some facts about Irn Bru.
1. Irn Bru contains 38% of an adult’s suggested daily value of sugar.
2. Irn Bru contains amounts of Quinine large enough to act as a painkiller.
3. Irn Bru receives its orange color through dyes called Sunset Yellow and Ponceau 4R.
4. Sunset Yellow and Ponceau 4R are known to have adverse effects on activity and attention in children.
5. Irn Bru is a controlled substance in North America.
As Hagrid had told us the day before, it is supposedly a miracle cure. And I’d have to agree.
Our first stop of the new day was Edinburgh Castle, which is as imposing as a castle can get. We were given great views of the city, but none as cool as Arthur’s seat.
The castle also offered us a tour of the Scottish crown jewels, a crown a sword and a scepter. No pictures were permitted, so I can only describe them to you. They were shiny.
We moved on to The National Scottish Museum, home to a variety of things, including, but not limited to, dinosaurs, steam engines and cloned sheep.
The museum is a hodgepodge of natural history, regular history and prehistory and more than worth the price of entry: free.
Our final stop of the day was at The Elephant Room, a coffee shop of great significance. This, of course, being the place where a poor, destitute JK Rowling penned the first two Harry Potter novels, and subsequently went on to have more money than Jesus (who, come to think of it, may not have had very much money in the first place. So the comparison is unfair). Regardless, the prices were outstandingly cheap for a place of such repute. And they didn’t really cash in on their fame by selling Harry Potter t-shirts and Hermione-shaped pastries.
Konstantin and I then split up. He to the airport to catch a flight down to London and me to Edinburgh’s Haymarket Station to catch a night train down.
I was under the impression that a night train down through the Scottish and English Countryside would be a wonderful, romantic journey. Stay tuned for the next short interlude to see how wrong a man can be.
(P.S. All credit goes to Konstantin for the nicer looking pictures. If a picture sucks, that’s probably one of mine.)