As I type my latest exploits out, I am calmly serenaded by the Riverdance orchestra. Granted, my latest exploits did not take place in Ireland but I did go to a place that has Celtic influence. Thus I deem the soundtrack fitting!
Over the weekend, I travelled with friends Jason and Marite to Edinburgh. It was a trip in occasion of Marite’s birthday and she had asked me to come away with her and her partner Jason. Granted, I was a wee bit anxious about feeling like a third wheel at first but that feeling quickly faded away upon travelling. The couple behaved very much like an old married duo and in fact, reminded me lots of my grandparents!
I loved Edinburgh. A town full of funny, odd-looking, brown and medieval-like buildings. We chose to stay about 30 minutes drive away from the city centre. The idea was to stay out in the beautiful countryside in a quaint little cottage near several castles. Our first day didn’t involve much, as we were extremely tired from the trek up. It took us 4 hours to get there.
The first thing we did, was oddly enough, the Dynamic Earth exhibition. At it, we learnt about how Scotland was formed many years ago – think glaciers and earth-shifting-plates etc. You know, sciency-geography-bits. It didn’t take long as the exhibit was mainly aimed for kids but we had a big kid with us, Jason.
We headed for a wee bit (you can tell I can’t get enough of using the phrase ‘a wee bit’!) of shopping at a designer retail outlet as I needed a much warmer coat – Scotland is like a fridge!
We headed back to our cottage. As you can see, it was a lovely quaint little place with our very own fireplace!
￼Couldn’t miss out on the traditional Scottish dish of Haggis, with neeps and tatties! It was amazing, for something as icky as sheeps lungs, liver and heart! It’s made to taste like a sausage, spiced with black pepper and onions, eaten with turnip and potato mash. An amazing combo, I must say.
￼Deciding to take it easy for our first day, we returned to our cottage to our lovely warm fireplace!
The very next day, we hit the city centre!
￼Edinburgh castle was our second castle – our tour guide was an amazingly charismatic man with lots of quaint and bloody stories to tell about the castle’s history. The Scots were very proud of one king in particular, King James IV of Scotland, also known as King James I of England, the first Scottish king to sit over the throne of the United Kingdom.
￼Our guide then took us to the memorial where all soldiers of the Scottish regimen’s names were written in a piece of parchment placed in a casket in the centre of this building.
￼The beautiful scenery from the top of the castle, overlooking the city of Edinburgh and her islands beyond.
￼The last picture on this post is of Jason underneath Alpha alpha, Britain’s first Concorde plane. We headed to a flight museum on our last day on our way home. Unfortunately my battery died at this exhibit and I’ll have to sneak the rest of the pics away from Marite’s collection!
At night on the day of visiting Edinburgh castle, we went on one of the acclaimed Edinburgh ghost tours. Edinburgh has a rather violent history and lots of despairing stories! One of them included a street in the Old Town which was overcrowded and plagued with disease so badly that the average lifespan on that street was 8 months old! The council had urged people to move but the people of Edinburgh were poor and diseased with no place to go. Sanitation was a big issue in Edinburgh – they only had toilets after 1860! And so these people built basements and chambers underground. Unfortunately, the council had ‘no idea’ that these people were living underground now and ordered a demolition of the area to rid it of disease and to build better roads, buildings and living areas for Edinburgh’s ever-expanding population. And so the 100s of people living underground were buried alive in this demolition. It was thought to be a ‘necessary intervention’ in sorting out Edinburgh’s population problem!
Edinburgh had a huge wall that proved to be an amazing fortress for the city. However, due to poor sanitation and an increasing population number, the people of Edinburgh also had to devise ways to rid themselves of their excrement! Each household was therefore given a bucket to dispose of all their human waste. However, they needed to dispose of it! So at 10pm everyday, windows would open and a word would be yelled in Scottish which meant ‘Water incoming!’. However, it was not water and the excrement was thrown over the wall and onto the street and grounds below. Over time, the crap literally built up around Edinburgh and it was said that any visitors to Edinburgh could smell it from 50 miles away as the crap had piled up to about 1-2 feet! This further contributed to disease as you can imagine…
We were taken to several chambers that were apparently haunted and a mausoleum in the famous Greyfriar’s graveyard. This was the very graveyard in which JK Rowling derived most of the names for the characters of her Harry Potter books from. Around us on loads of tombstones were several Lupins, Blacks, Potters, Moonies and Grangers. However, the most famous of tombs were the ones that said ‘Here Lies Tom Riddle’ and another one for McGonagall
You can imagine my excitement, being a hardcore Harry Potter fangirl!
The trip was just what I needed. It also reminded me of how much I loved Scottish/Irish/Celtic culture. I used to listen to lots of Scottish/Irish folk music when I was younger and absolutely adored Riverdance. I also have an intense passion for castles and go absolutely crazy when I visit them. I am the happiest at these places and get an incredible sense of belonging. Scotland is amazing like that for me and I’m so thankful to be able to have the opportunities to travel so much.
Definitely heading back and perhaps this time, I’ll take Avicenna with me!