FIRST! If you are interested in all the yummy food I consumed whilst on vacation, head over to poshdeluxe.com to see tons of pictures/read insightful commentary that consists of "OMG YOU GUYS THIS WAS SO GOOD".
Okay, kids, now we get into the deep, dark underbelly of My Summer Vacation: Scotland.
Here are some facts I knew about Scotland, prior to ever actually visiting it:
1) All Scottish men are tall, ginger-bearded lumberjacks with accents that make me swoon
2) All Scottish men like me
Hey, guess what? That's TOTALLY TRUE, except I should have added Fact Number 3: All of these tall, ginger-bearded lumberjack Scottish men have defected to America. Cause they sure as hell weren't in Scotland.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Where we left off, I was enjoying a quiet night in with my best girls. Tuesday morning dawned bright and early - Sarah was off to a new job, and Courtney and I were off to Edinburgh!!! Except Courtney left her passport at Sarah's house. Oh noes! But she went back and got it and after a bit of time waiting alone on a train platform with lots of luggage, we were off to Edinburgh!
You guys, I was RLY excited for Scotland. What's not to love? Whiskey! Great scenery! Whiskey! SCOTTISH GINGER BEARDED LUMBERJACKS!
Our train ride to Edinburgh was, for the most part, uneventful, apart from two of our train companions. We shared the first half of the journey with a man who worked in advertising. We know this, because he was on his phone. THE ENTIRE TIME. He was really into "bigging up the package" which I think is actually an advertising term and not a means of getting into our pants. At least I hope so. And then, for the second part of the journey, we sat across from a young gentleman who spent his entire time drinking a 40 oz Budweiser (this was at about 10 am) and poring over, with great concentration, the latest issue of NUTS magazine.
I will not link you to NUTS magazine. Google it if you are so inclined.
Upon landing in Edinburgh, we took a cab to our guest house, which was delightful. Well, it was delightful once Courtney and I figured out how to work the shower, which I am ashamed to admit took us about a day. That's okay! I'd need those cold showers for all those hot Scottish lumberjacks I was going to meet, right?
The first thing we saw when we crossed the North Bridge and walked down Prices Street was this:
Oh, yeah, it looks AWESOME, doesn't it? All gothic and tragic, like something Heathcliff might spend time in, figuring out the next way to be completely mental and stalkerish. Friends, let me give you some advice, and I caution you to heed this advice, unlike that time you dated that boy that I told you was no good for you: DO NOT GO TO THIS PLACE.
This is the Sir Walter Scott monument. Sir Walter Scott, you may know, was a famous Scottish author (he wrote Rob Roy. And Ivanhoe.) who was born in Edinburgh. You may not know, as Courtney and I did not, that Sir Walter Scott also: discovered penicillin, invented the English language, declared peace in the Middle East, was present at the birth of Jesus Christ and did backing vocals for Michael Jackson on both Thriller and Bad. Seriously. Just ask anyone in the town of Edinburgh, provided you can find one who's not actually an American tourist (more on that later). The man basically is more accomplished than Sarah Palin AND Spencer Pratt, TOGETHER.
To honor the pride of Edinburgh, some sadistic bastard designed the Sir Walter Scott monument, which boasts amazing views of Edinburgh in just "287 steps!"
Yeah. They neglect to tell you that THESE are the steps:
Spiral staircase, in the dark (I took that on the highest flash setting I had), no handrail (because it can't afford the 3 inches of space to have one). 287 steps' worth. I had to climb sideways up the staircase because my feet - which, at a size 7.5 aren't petite but certainly aren't WNBA-worthy - couldn't fit on the stairs. The staircase is only wide enough for one medium-sized person, which meant that, if you were climbing up and encountered someone climbing down, you had to back out, step by agonzing step, in the dark, to the nearest landing so that they could pass you.
Did I mention I'm claustrophobic?
Needless to say, Courtney and I bitched the entire way up the damn thing. The views were amazing, but when we finally got to the top, we were disappointed that the theme from Rocky was not playing to herald our accomplishment. So we sang it ourselves. Blame the altitude.
Also while at the top, which is a very small balcony which can fit about 5 adults, we ran into a slight problem. Small balcony, already crowded with about six people shoulder-to-shoulder. Courtney and I decided to brave our way down, only to find, spilling from the staircase, a herd of Japanese tourists. They just kept coming, like a clown car that is incredibly reliable and won't break down often. There was nowhere to go until they got out of the staircase and I really thought - for at least a good two minutes - that someone was going to end up being pitched off the balcony. I just hoped the impalement on the gothic spires would be merciful.
But, since we didn't die, I guess I'm feeling magnanimous enough about The Momument Of Death to show you some of the views:
(they are in the middle of installing a tram system in Edinburgh - in the last photo you can see them tearing up Princes Street to the right)
Yes, yes. It's very pretty. VERY PRETTY AND DEADLY.
The rest of the first day, we mainly spent rocking ourselves, slowly curled up in the fetal position, moaning WHY over and over again. As you do. We also found out about a really great, cheap vacation we could take:
Also, a random, if entirely misplaced, reminder of home:
I don't think they know who Daniel Johnston is.
The next day, we met up with Courtney's friend Rachel for more hijinks and fun! We went to a castle!!! THERE WAS WHISKEY THERE.
Look! Here is a castle!! Courtney and I decided that we would make shit soldiers in the Olden Days, cause there's no way we'd scale that cliff. (if you are wondering, army recruiters, we'd make shit soldiers now cause we are lazy, feckless, question authority and are not all that fussed about patriotism. And cause we like the gays.)
A tiny dog cemetery, for officers' doggies!
(thank you, helpful stranger, who provided scale for this picture)
I should point out, by the way, that the helpful stranger pictured above was American. As was 99.9999% of every other person I met in Edinburgh. I met one - ONE! - person who actually was from the city - the rest either moved there or were tourists. I even saw someone wearing a University of Houston hat! (and, yes, I thought about shooting him the UH signal, which is conveniently also the Shocker, but I didn't know how popular the Shocker was in Edinburgh, and whether I'd get arrested for it.)
I don't mean to get all Common People on you, and class tourism isn't my thing, but I do like to get a sense of the city I'm visiting. I want to know where people live, where they work, where they play, and eat, and make trouble and fall in love. I want to know how the city lives. Edinburgh's probably the prettiest city I've ever been to, but in the end, I felt like I was spending time in a postcard, not a place.
But nevermind those emos, because look what the postcard had:
I feel like the Kool-Aid man - OH YEAHHH. Although, wanna know something funny about Scotland? They're confused about booze. Or, maybe we are, since they make it. But it seems like they call whiskey "scotch" and scotch "whiskey." In other words, distilled, single-malt grain alcohol, which I would call scotch, they consider whiskey. But good ol' Tennessee rye, they call scotch. It's the alcohol equivalent of UK's public school vs. private school (which, no matter how many times people explain it to me, WILL NEVER MAKE SENSE). But I tell you, it is a delicious quandry!
Oh, by the way, if ever you find yourself in Edinburgh, and you wisely refrain from climbing Sir Walter Scott's Monument Of Pain, you can get just as good views of Edinburgh from the castle, which contains ABSOLUTELY NO CLIMBING (apart from one hill, but it's very spacious):
After our castle tour (I saw Scotland's Crown Jewels! But they didn't let us take photos of that), Courtney and I said goodbye to our lovely host Rachel and went on to AN EVENING OF TERROR AND DOGGIES. But that shall be saved for next time . . .