Already time to fly home (Tübingen). After a crazy and stressful weekend in Amsterdam, we were ready and geared up for a better planned holiday. The day after returning from Amsterdam, the hostels for Edinburgh were booked and we were breathing a little easier.
Now, just a week of school...
3:00pm Thursday: I said farewell to my class, we parted our ways and I began to pack. The one and only beautiful thing about Ryanair is that the 40EUR/checked bag fee is high motivation to bring a single carry-on and has greatly improved my travel habits. This time, I walked out the door with the jeans I was wearing, four shirts, shoes and a book--unfortunately I forgot the toothbrush at home.
Upon arrival, we jumped on the double-decker shuttle and found ourselves "floating" over the landscape on our way into town. With my travel-worn sandals propped up in front of me, I pointed out all the stone buildings and other things I thought worthy of poking Anthony to share mutual if not more excitement.
One of the initially striking things was to once again be in an English-speaking country. There would be no "Ich hätte gern" or "danke" phrases to be said this weekend. I think we almost felt lost with this realisation and as if we were now the ESL speakers. Despite speaking the "same" language, there were many an exchange where we were speaking of the same item, but using different words. For example, if I were to say "chips" I was actually ordering fries. Or if I said crisps, I would be buying chips. Another local favorite was "haggis with neeps and tatties" or if you would like to order a baked potato, you would ask for a "jacket potato"--and no, it sadly does not come in tweed or formal attire.
Admittedly, the grammar nerd I've become, after correcting it day in and day out, I couldn't help but noticing when our tour guide said "And he still was sat there" and not what I'm used to hearing as " and he still was sitting there."
Beyond my language/dialect fascination, the scenery, city and location of our hostel (Globetrotters Inn) was quite beautiful. We stayed on the ocean front, a little ways out of town. It felt a bit like a dorm village here, bumbling around the hostel with our key cards attached to a lanyard around our necks, numbered beds and roommates, but it definitely had nice perks as well. It had a bar where I could get the tasty cider I can't find in Germany but where I could still settle in and watch Germany shoot four stunning goals against Argentina (4-0)! It also had breakfast and a theater room complete with rocking beach chairs. And of course we ended up watching Braveheart on big screen--Rob Roy was already checked out. So we had to trade Liam Neeson for his lesser-Mel Gibson. After the movie I began to question if he was born as a forty-year-old man--he has never truly looked young, but he doesn't seem to age either. (I guess he was cast well in Forever young...?)
Anyways, the weekend was much more than a movie with Gibson in a kilt. One of the fine highlights was the free walking tour that herded us through the town, revealing the mysteries and history--or for all we knew feeding us a load of poo that we just ate right up. One of the favorites was this stone heart that was removed from a former prison/ tax collection office that as the name suggests, everyone hated. This heart was then layed into the cobblestone downtown where people could have a proper and legal place to share their opinion about the government by spitting on this heart. And as a newbie to the city make sure to not walk on it to ensure good luck! Perhaps the best tale, though, that surrounds this fine stone work is one of a man who took off on a romantic vacation to Scotland, with hopes of proposing to his girlfriend. Well, seeing the heart and thinking that this must be the most romantic spot in the city, he knelt on one knee and proposed to her. He did stand up a happy man after she said yes but consequently had some spit-covered trousers on hand. Oops!
Some of the other great tales and murder mysteries were those of Greyfriar's Bobby,
Maggie Dickson's miraculous survival and the murders of Burke and Hare with a twist ending.. News has it that a movie about this infamous pair will be coming out this year.
Due to the poor weather on Sunday, we didn't get to do any hiking, but did a lot of flip-flop sloshing, museum visiting and potato eating. The National Museum is quite fascinating with its variety of artifacts and exhibits from Dolly the first cloned mammal to swords of former kings. We also did decide to "pop-in" to the Scotch Whiskey Experience because ask yourself this: How often do you get to learn about the spirits distilling process during a whiskey barrel ride that is led by a ghost? And the supernatural phenomenon does not stop there. We were also informed later what percentage of whiskey "goes to the angels" each year a.k.a. the "angel's share" (lucky angels).
Oh and as a last note for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike try out the Baked Potato Shop with all fillings imaginable!
We definitely are looking forward to going back to this beautiful country to explore more of its rich history and vibrant countryside.
P.S. In order to not lift your glass inappropriately in a foreign culture, check out your "cheers" here