We were in Edinburgh, Scotland, by 9 am. We bought a two time bus ticket and headed to the town center. We had a map but we walked right passed our hostel. We were figuring it out on the corner when out of no where this woman just stops, takes out her head phones and says “Are you lost? Where are you going? Can I help?”
OMG What a change from Austria! I love this city already!
The very first thing I noticed was the architecture. It was like I had been thrown right into the middle of a Harry Potter movie. I know nothing about architecture or the names of different era’s but this one was gorgeous!
So we found our hostel. It was just Ally and I at the moment but Carina, Ally’s roommate, was meeting us later in the day and then Lisa would join us the following day.
We did not expect to check in because it was still so early and our reservation had us in a 14 person room, yes 14, I was explaining to my dad, it pretty much looks like barracks. While we were checking in the guy informs us that they made a mistake and we were getting a free upgrade to a four person room! AND we would be able to check in right then and there! YESSSS!!! Scotland just got a wee bit better.
BUT, I knew there would be a but, we were on the top floor. So my next question was.. “How many floors are there?” His response “There are four floors, but you are on the fifth.” Wtf does that mean?
Ally and I still had my completely huge polka dot bag, that we had our things in for 10 days of traveling, when we discovered there was no elevator. So she took the front and I took the back and we began our journey up the semi spiral staircase to the fourth, but really fifth, floor.
It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be and our room was great. Nap time!
After our like four hour nap we decided to take a free walking tour of Edinburgh. It was by the same company that gave us a tour in Prague. You only have to tip them at the end of the tour. I think this is a great idea because the tour guide puts in so much more effort and enthusiasm, I mean they know they will only make good money if everyone is happy and feels they are taking something away from the tour.
Anyway, our guide was great, and funny. He walked us all around Edinburgh, down the Royal Mile, which is actually longer than a mile, and happened to be right outside of our hostel.
We saw yet another old church, I am starting to think this is a trend in Europe. Haha
And this pole! I don’t remember the name of it, and I cant find it on google, but it is pretty cool. Our tour guide told us that way back in the day when people would get caught stealing they were brought over to the base of this pole and they would nail them to it by their ear! You had to stay there for 24 hrs and during that time people would throw rotten food and feces at you.
After your 24 hours were up they would remove the nail and you were free to go.
You could rip yourself off of the wall before the 24 hrs were up but then you would be missing a part of your ear and because this was always the punishment for stealing, everyone would know why you only had half an ear and no one would ever give you a job.
We walked around some more..
This was the graveyard and it was huge.
This grave is apparently haunted.
Our tour guide was very anti Harry Potter but he told us this anyway.. apparently J.K Rowling lived in Edinburgh while she was writing some of the books, this is the school she sent her kids to once she could afford it,
and it is obvious she walked through this graveyard.. This guy must have had an influence on her..
And this is James Brown, he was in charge of watching the graves at night so no one would dig up bodies and steal things, hence the “graveyard shift”, he had a dog named Bobby, Bobby was with him at ALL times, they were best friends. When James died Bobby was heart broken and would go and sit on his grave all day and all night for like 10 years or something crazy. So when Bobby died, he also was buried in the grave yard and also has a statue right around the corner.
While walking through the city our guide also told us that it took a long time for Edinburgh to get indoor plumbing so entire families of like eight people would live in one room together and would all go to the bathroom in one bucket. In the beginning, after you used the bucket, you would yell “gardi lou!” out the window and throw it out, into the city streets. The city was uphill so all of the waste would go to the bottom of the hill which created a lake of poo at the bottom. Great city, right?
So then the hits started coming for having red hair, again. Apparently, in Scotland, if you had red hair you could be a witch, if you had red hair and a mole or birthmark, you were probably a witch, and if you had red hair, a mole, AND a birthmark, you were definitely a witch.
If you were suspected of being a witch there was only one way to tell, they would tie rocks to your feet and throw you into the lake of poo at the bottom of the hill.
If you did not sink you were definitely a witch and they would burn you at the stake. If you sank and drowned then you were clearly not a witch and you would go to heaven.
So what does the lake of poo look like now? It is actually a gorgeous garden!
You actually have to walk down the mound to get to it.
Here is a view of the castle from the mound.
After that we had to run back to the hostel to meet Carina.
We were all pretty hungry so we went to Maggie Dicksons.
We heard the tale of Maggie Dickson on our tour as well…
She was married and her husband had pretty much abandoned her. She fell in love with another man and ended up pregnant but she was still technically married to someone else so she hid her pregnancy. Well someone found out and it was illegal to hide a pregnancy so she was sentenced to death.
She was given and shot of whiskey and then hung for 5 minutes until she died. Then a man was transporting her by carriage to be buried and he heard a knocking from inside the casket.
She was ALIVE! She tried getting away but he shoved her back inside and brought her back to town.
Once in town they gave her another shot of whiskey and were about to hang her again when someone said STOP! Her sentence was death. She was dead, you cant sentence her twice for the same crime. So they all agreed and let her go. Also, marriage is until death do you part and since she died once she was no longer married to the man that abandoned her and was free to marry the man she loved!
So that is what it takes to get a bar named after you.
After dinner we went back to our hostel and called it an early night, again.
The next morning we went down stairs for a traditional Scottish breakfast. There was soo much meat! And Haggis, ew. Okay so Haggis was explained to us as this; take a sheep, take all of the good parts out that you would normally eat (if you normally eat sheep) and throw them away. Take everything else.. like brain, liver, kidney, grind them together, add some spices, put them inside the sheeps stomach, cook it, eat it.
There was haggis on my plate. Ally was brave enough to try it, I was not. I know I should be embracing the cultures and trying new things but I really could not bring myself to do this one.
After breakfast we went to the other side of town and walked up a huge hill and saw some older buildings and got a great view of the entire city!
After that we went back to the garden/previous lake of poo, so Carina could see it. This day was so much nicer than the day before so we took more pictures..
After that we went over to the Museum in Edinburgh. I saw Mary Queen of Scots, a guillotine, and Dolly! The first cloned sheep! Oh and I was also an astronaut for about two minutes.
Next.. FOOD! Earlier in the day we saw something about potatoes so we went back. It was like a do it yourself baked potato place. You choose your size of potato and all the toppings you want. I went with butter, sour cream, and cheddar cheese, you know me, the American. The girl looked at me like I was crazy, but it was delicious!!
Next we met up with Lisa! Showed her our room and got ready to go on a ghost tour.
We heard a few of the same stories from our regular tour but it was still pretty cool.
The guide was telling us about “Gardi Lou!” again and said they would yell it so every one would get out of the way but later they were only allowed to do it at 10 am and 10 pm so when all the drunks were going home at 10 and they would yell “Gardi Lou!” They wouldn’t get out of the way, they would just instantly look up and he said that is where “Piss drunk” came from. Ally and I looked at each other and at the exact same time and say “Or Shit Faced!” We didn’t mean to say it as loud as we did but everyone in our group looked at us and started laughing.
Our guide took us into some old cellars that people would live in that were pretty cool, but I could never imagine having to live in them. They were really under ground.
The next day we got up and went to the Rosslyn Chapel. This is where a part of the Da Vinci Code was filmed.
There was also a pretty cool grave yard up there. This was my favorite the mothers name was Agnus and the sons name was Angus, if that doesn’t sound like something my family would do, I don’t know what does.
And I found a bush that had five lady bugs! That was my attempt at pointing all of them out at once..
Next stop: Craigmillar Castle
Mary Queen of Scots vacationed here quite often. And I can see why. Well maybe not, but The four of us had a blast here, it was completely abandoned and you can walk where ever you want, it really was like a giant play ground.
After that Castle party we headed back into town and went to see the Castle up on that hill, FINALLY!
Unfortunately, by the time we got there the inside was closed but we still had a good time outside.
Then we went to our hostel, got our bags and checked into the Marriott.
Thank you to Doris Chaparro for letting me use the friends and family rate!! We are all very thankful.
It was so nice just to have a comfortable bed and full bathroom and shower to ourselves.
After couch surfing and staying in hostels, even living in my dorm, it was soooo nice to sleep in a nice comfortable bed and shower in a normal sized shower.
We stayed in our room and watched Made of Honor, a movie in ENGLISH! Yay! Haha AND how appropriate for Scotland!
The next day we went on a guided tour to see Loch Ness! Ally and I had t-shirts made just for this occasion. We were pretty excited. We did make some stops along the way though.
At a church, of course.
Ally and I spent most of our time taking pictures outside so we never got the chance to go inside. Lisa and Carina did though and they said it was really cool.
We were not so lucky with the weather this day. It was really cloudy and rained every now and then.
This was a crazy cool dam system we saw on the way to Loch Ness.
Finally, we made it!
Our bus driver/tour guide for this trip was my favorite! He was really funny and down to earth. We heard so many awesome stories about Loch Ness and after leaving I really think there is something in that lake whether or not it is a monster who knows, but it is something, and it is big.
Loch Ness is actually around the same size as the Grand Canyon but it is all underwater.
After we took it all in we went to hike up the mountain but it was all mud.. so back to the bus!
We made a few different scenic stops on the way back that were really nice.
Then our amazingly awesome tour guide made a stop so we could see Hamish the Highland Coo!! We are related..
Except I don’t eat like this..
The tour ran an hour and a half over but it was so worth it!
We went back to Marriott and passed out!
The next day we were on a flight back to Munich, then a train to Innsbruck, which we almost missed. We literally sprinted through the Munich train station, and threw our arms up in the air Rocky style when we realized we made it with two minutes to spare.