July 4th, 5th 2010
I can’t pronounce the name of this city. “Edinburr”, “Edinburrow” is how I’ve heard it but look at it, it’s “E-din-BERG”. Ok, all kidding aside, Edinburgh is about as good as it gets when it comes to how beautiful a city can be. When people told me that it had a lot of hills, I figured it would be a countryside type of city. It really is a city built on hills. I had to climb a couple flights of steep steps just to get to another section of the city. There’s “Old Town” and “New Town” and buildings in the Old Town generally look…old. Which gives it a historical olden times look which I dig.
Upon arriving, I immediately set off to do the Sandeman’s Walking Tour. For these tours, we are each given numbers and depending on which range of numbers we fall into, we have to follow a particular guide. I had been recommended a certain guide by some Aussie girls in Bath, so even if I got another guide, I followed Matt anyway. The tour was fun and informative and I knew my money would be worth it this time around, given the past few lousy guides I’ve had. It even started to rain at a couple of times so once, we seeked refuge in a church. Another time, a couple of groups at the cemetery grouped up in a dead person’s enclosed grave. It was packed, raining hard, the guides were being soaked, everyone was laughing at having fun with all this.
A couple of attractions that drew my attention were the Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, each at opposite ends of The Royal Mile. At Edinburgh Castle, I got to see the Scottish Royal Honors, which consisted of a huge sword, a magnificent crown, the Royal Crown Jewels, and the Stone of Destiny. The last one had such an amazing history of its own. Anyone who possesses the Stone of Destiny has the right to rule Scotland. For a long time, the English had it (They stole it). They even put it under the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey in London (which is what the kings and queens of England are coronated on). In the 1950s, a student brilliantly stole the Stone of Destiny and gave it back to Scotland (talk about Mission Impossible but it happened), only for it to be returned. It is a giant slab of rock that supposedly had ancient inscriptions on it. Very little is known about the Stone of Destiny other than that the rulers of Scotland sat on it when they were crowned kings. Anyway, it was an interestint tale.
Arthur’s Seat is a mountain. At least that’s what I call it because the hike up that “mountain” or “hill” was very laborious. It really is the remnamts of a dead volcano, part of which Scotland was built upon. I had started at the base of what I thought to be Arthur’s Seat, hiked up what I thought was the equivalent of Mount Everest, before realizing, I am not on Arthur’s Seat! I had to walk all the way back down after seeing the REAL Arthur’s Seat (which was WAY WAY WAY higher). I started at the base again, then climbed one bazillions steps before I actually got all the way to the top. And what a view. It was really cold and extremely windy at the top. I was almost blown over a couple of times trying to get my picture taken at its highest point.
Food-wise, I had haggis (Scottish dish, basically all the unwanted innerds of an animal, minced and churned, mixed with herbs/spices, stuffed into a sheep’s stomach). I was actually hoping for it to look disgusting so I could impress everyone with my tough stomach but it came without the sheep’s stomach, served with mashed potatos, and topped with a little Scottish flag. It wasn’t quite what I imagined looks-wise. Taste-wise, very delicious.
I got a pulled-pork sandwich from a joint called “Oink” located on Victoria Street. They serve this one with a piece of the crispy pork skin on the side for you to enjoy, which I say again, is the best part of a roasted pig. The pork was so juicy and moist, they also put haggis, apple-sauce, and other various condiments that completed the sandwich. It was so good I had another the day I left town.
And let’s not forget the infamous fried Mars bar. My tour guide exagerrated that it was 3000 calories when in fact, after some Googling, it was really about 1000 calories max. Whatever, I was just trying to justify eating this sinful piece of hot, fried, sweet, caramelly, chocolaty, delicious goodness and hoping it wouldn’t add to my girlish figure. The chip shops here fry anything. You can get fried hamburgers and fried pizza. I’m sure that some places even serve up fried vegetables (imagine taking brocolli, covering it in batter, then deep frying it).
Last thing I wanted to mention was my favorite past time while enjoying a take-out meal. I like to park myself on a bench outside a church which was located right next to the Heart of Midlothian. This heart-shaped brick construction on the street is inconspicuous. Most tourist walk on it without knowing that historically and currently, this spot was the only place it was legal for everyone to spit on without getting a fine. Locals walk around it conciously. Tourists in the know take pictures of themselves spitting on it. And the ones who don’t know anything about it, admire it, take pictures of it, and then walk on decades of dried spit. I love watching each category of people dealing with this. The best tale I’ve heard regarding the Heart was when some tourist came with his girlfriend, saw it, thought it was a romantic thing, and proposed to her on it. I think she said yes but hopefully they never found out the truth about the Heart or I smell repressed memories or change of subject when someone asks them “So where did you propose to her?”