Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

20 June 2011

A nonacademic day in Edinburgh

(St. Giles Cathedral; Taken by Bridget Johnston)

Sunday, Bridget and I decided to take an afternoon trip to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. One of our friends, another professional writing student from Purdue University, was there after studying in Madrid this past semester. We didn’t want to see Edinburgh so much as we just wanted to spend an afternoon outside of Dundee with good company.

(Bye-bye, Dundee. See you later!)

After a not-so-good night’s sleep, I groggily got ready and we walked to the train station. It was such a relief that the sun was actually shining and the temperature was moderate: probably about the mid fifties. When we got to the train station, we were disappointed to find out that there was not a student rate, as we had been told. We paid 13.00 pounds, one way, to Edinburgh. At the train station, we ran into one of our other flat mates, who was also spending time in Edinburgh for the day. Bridget and I pretended to be afraid that the Tay Bridge would collapse while we were on it, but as soon as we crossed it was a thought of the past. On the train, we kept ourselves entertained by telling stories of travels gone awry, things that reminded us of home and friends, and at one point pretending it was 2002 and taking a bunch of “MySpace” photos (that were quickly deleted). An hour and some change later, we arrived at Waverly Station, and began our adventure.

(The 2002 filter is just sliding the exposure and contrast levels to the right.)

Mapless, clueless, and planless, we ventured to find something to eat. We ended up a block away from the royal mile at a little restaurant. The architecture was beautiful, and we sat next to a window in the back of the pub, which gave us an amazing people watching vantage point. We saw a lost tourist, with a huge backpack on both his back and his front, families carting their kids around, and Scots in kilts with bagpipes. We split an appetizer of vegetarian haggis, which was delicious. I've noticed that a lot of the places here mark on the menu which items are vegitarian with a (v), which is something I haven't seen much of in the United States. The haggis was served with a sweet whisky sauce that tasted heavenly. Interesting enough, as I went to twitpic the haggis, I noticed that Braveheart was a trending topic on twitter. Even the Twitter Gods love Scotland. We ate our mediocre lunch with poor service and then went to find our friends, who were finishing up a walking tour.

(Vegetarian Haggis is made with a lentil mixture instead of animal parts; Taken by Bridget Johnston)

We met up with Karla and Grant, who I saw just a few weeks prior when I visited Madrid. The four of us went to a quaint little historical pub on Grassmarket. They ordered real Haggis, and Bridget and I were delighted to find that it looked almost identical to our vegitarian haggis that we had just an hour prior. I have been experiencing terrible lattes and coffee recently, so I made Bridget taste hers and give it the seal of approval before ordering mine. The four of us talked and Grant and Karla told us stories and highlights of their past semester.

(The pub was apparently around since the 1400s, though i do not know how true that is.)

After lunch, we decided to wander and Bridget and I found two of the most amazing thrift shops in the world. I ended up buying a dress and amazing hat and she found a fabulous amazing vintage Burberry raincoat. I think I speak for the both of us when I say I cannot wait for it to rain for the rest of the summer because we have amazing raingear. We then walked to the end of the Royal Mile and found a huge mountain and decided, after heavy consideration, to climb some of it. It was one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen, and it blows my mind that it is so close to a city center.

(Take notice of our awesome rain gear, clearly the main subject of this photo.)

We decided that the perfect end to our perfect Scottish day would be some scotch tasting. We went into a pub and Bridget had a Magallan , and Grant had a local brew. I took a terrible video of the scotch tasting, which can be viewed here. Afterwards, we headed to The Elephant Room, which is the local where Scottish writers like J.K. Rowling and Ian Rankin sat to write. I was pleasantly surprised that the café didn’t exploit this fact and the décor remained the same. The only evidence of the harry potter fandom was the graffiti on the restroom walls.

(Graffiti on the bathroom wall; Taken by Bridget Johnston.)

I got a life changing hot-cocca there that had a bit of banana liquor and coconut in it. It smelled like suntan lotion but tasted like a Bahamian sunset. Drinking it was like a moment from Proust. Bridget had an amazing looking spread of food and I had a cheese platter. My cheese platter included a goat’s cheese, a brie, and a sharp cheddar from the Isle of Mull. To be honest, I did not care for the cheddar too much (read: hated it), but the rest of it was delicious. I particularly liked the chutney that it came with, though after a few bites it was a little too sweet for my liking.

(Cheese platter; Taken by Bridget Johnston)

After saying goodbye to our friends, who were going on a haunted tour of Edinburgh, we went back to Waveryly Station to wait for our train. It eneded up being nearly 40 minutes late and we had to switch tracks three times. It was very annoying. Luckily though, we got to meet a very nice University of Dundee student, who gave us some pointers about Dundee. When we finally got home at 1 AM, I dubbed the day one of the best. We had a truly Scottish day without even trying. People say that you either like Edinburgh or Glasgow; I don't want to jump to any conclusions without examining both, but so far as i can tell, Edinburgh is #winning.

(we tried to take this photo close to 30 times. This is our attempt at a "bye bye Edinburgh" photo; Taken by Bridget Johnston.)

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