Published: July 3rd 2012July 3rd 2012
Busy, busy day today!
This morning we got to sleep in a bit which the first time so far – which was nice. At 11am we went to do the Free Tour through Edinburgh which was great as always – I love the free tours!
First stop was Parliament! Our guide gave us a super long overview of Scottish history which was really interesting. (PS our guide was Canadian, wahoo!). Next up was Mercat Cross – this cross like structure where people used to get nailed to the wail by the ear for stealing things and such. Yeah, that would suck.
There’s a giant statue of David Hume near the Cathedral – with a big shiny toe. Apparently the locals rub his toe for good luck – that’s neat. We also walked around some of the small alleys and quarters – it was nice to see all the old houses. They’re all around 7-8 stories now but used to be 15+ with wooden stairs – sucks to be there for a fire! (Fun fact: people would throw their waste/bedpans out the windows and that’s where the term shit-faced came from bc the drunks wouldn’t get out of the way in time. Ew.)
Our guide told us the wonders of Irn Bru - a softdrink so awesome at curing hangovers it’s illegal in both Canada and the US. It was some super caffeine thing in it and a form of painkillers haha – it’s crazy that it’s the most popular drink over here. Em and I figured we had to try it – it tastes like Banana-flavoured antibiotics hahahaha. I swear. It’s really good though. Well. It’s good. Em loves it. I believe it cures hangovers because I think it cured my cold/sniffles - either that or I was so ready to go on a sugar rush that I forgot I was sick.
We heard the wonderful story about Burking someone – these two guys who used to kill old/sick people by sitting on them and smothering them with a pillow to then sell the cadavers to the university. Spiffy.
We then walked down to Greyfriars Kirk – the giant graveyard. (On the way we passed a bookstore with the book “Is eating people wrong?” ... oh my). Anyway, the graveyard was neat – we heard the story of Bloody George MacKenzie who’s poltergeist apparently haunts the old prison and mausoleums. (Apparently these kids got covered in bruises and cuts and one lady got covered in blood so now everything is off limits. Nasty poltergeist is he) We also heard about Jinglin’ George Harriott (philanthropist with money in his pockets) and the school he founded which served as inspiration for Hogwarts. We also saw a bunch of Harry Potter names – JK Rowling used to walk around finding names for her characters – hi Tom Riddle!
And lastly we heard about Greyfriars Bobby – the devoted dog of a night watchman. When the guy died, the dog would come sit at his grave every night for 14 years. Now that is love. They even made a fake grave for the dog now and its tradition for people to drop off bus/train ticket stubs to be like “you waited so long, now go enjoy visiting all these nice places” ... I think that’s so cute!
Towards the end of the tour we had a long chat with our tour guide – he’s from Saskatchewan but visited Edinburgh so much he just stayed lol. He’s a Sens Fan (YAY!) so we talked about that for quite a bit... great way to bond that is ;)
Last bit of the tour was about the Stone of Destiny and how these four guys stole it back from England (out of Westminster Abbey). First of all they fail because they broke the rock in two because it was too heavy and it dropped.... second of all once they got the big piece out they buried it in a damp field... a sandstone rock that is hundreds of years old... and yet they got it back out in time that everything was fine. And fastforward a couple decades to when it was formally returned to Scotland to Edinburgh Castle to get this – the theme song from Mission Impossible – a song choice so silly it can’t be made up.
And that was that! A great tour to be had. After that Em finally found the sweater she wanted – only problem was it was XXL. The guy had one XS on display outside which was a little dirty. Em bartered with the guy down to 18 lol – she argued there was a hole in the pouch which is hilarious because all the hoodies have them. Score one for Em!!
From there, we headed over to Arthur’s Seat. Oh, holy mother... that destroyed my everything haha. First we walked down the east end of the Royal Mile – everyone was all dressed up and we figured something was going on with the Queen again today. (Everyone in suits/kilt and dresses) Sure enough down at Holyrood Palace there was a line a mile long to get and tons of pipers and such – something big was happening.
We continued on to the hike which was unfortunately steep for my legs haha. I felt bad because Em’s like super ready to go and I’m like OMG-NEED-AIR-NOW. We got to what we thought was the top only to see that we climbed the smaller of the two mountain/hills(?) and to climb the second one (Arthur’s Seat) we had to climb back down to start on a new path. I nearly cried and died haha. This time the climb was steps and only steps. I legit thought my diaphragm was going to burst... I do not like stairs lol.
I do have to give credit where credit is due – I’m glad Em made us do it because it was a beautiful view. I didn’t do the last little part because there was no actual path and I didn’t care enough, so I sat and just took in the view while Em did the last 5-min part or so.
(Fun fact: Scotland’s mosquitos are tiny and black. I had fun squishing about 30)
The walk back down was great because you can actually appreciate how high up you climbed and you can laugh at all the other people coming up. We’re bad people haha. The best is when you see people climbing up in clothes that have no business being hiked in. Pfft, amateurs ;) We also found a giant slug – don’t know if it was awesome or gross – happy mix.
We ended the night with some well earned shopping around the Old Town. Back at the hostel, we had new roomies who were Canadian :D We haven’t been overly talkative with our roomies so far, but there’s always something nice about finding another group of Canucks. We chatted for a solid 30min about our travel plans and joking about different things people think about Canada/the misconceptions people have. It was great fun lol. (For example, no I don’t know your cousin’s friend who lives in Victoria, and no I don’t live in Toronto.)
So, that was that. OH! Almost forgot – we didn’t get any rain today..!! It did rain for a few minutes, but we were inside. Hoorah!