Monday, December 27, 2010

Wales: Day 34 Men in Kilts

Friday, August 6 was an early, early morning. We caught the 7:27 am train from York to Edinburgh, but not without some difficulty. My room woke up late, so we had to sprint to catch up with the group as they walked to the train station about a mile away. Still injured from theatrics at Beaumaris, it was almost too much for my leg to handle, but I made it. The train ride was about 2.5 hours, and I should have used the time to prepare my Preston tour (everyone was assigned a cohort and a city within the cohort for them to be the expert on) or to read my "Princesses of Wales" book (we were required to read 2 books while in the UK that were either topically or historically relevant to our program. I read Jane Eyre and Princesses of Wales.), but instead I just listened to my ipod and enjoyed the ride. Riding trains is the best. It's super smooth and relaxing for me. Normally I just pass out and sleep great on our train rides, but this one was far too beautiful. We rode along the coast almost the entire way, and the sun coming up over the water, the lush green countryside and the excitement were too intoxicating.

If I had to pick one word to describe the north..... FRESH.

Edinburgh Castle is built on an extinct volcano, overlooking the city and the coast. Oh, and it's still functional. There are offices, the Crown Jewels and even a pet cemetery. Doesn't get much better than that.

A true Scot gave us a tour, but I was far too distracted by the awesome (sexy) accent to pay much attention to the information. Plus it was a madhouse there. The Scottish Military Tattoo was in town - I heard it described as the Superbowl of Bagpipes and Scottish culture. It was hard to tear myself from the castle wall and its spectacular view.

After the castle, we were off to the hipster side of town. Edinburgh is really into the rockabilly-vintage-indie-eclectic vibe. Street after street was full of vintage stores, and they were COOL. I've never been a huge thrift or vintage store shopper, but the cool vibes were undeniable. I resisted the urge to buy handfuls of cool sunglasses, and was instead intrigued for hours by masks and vintage jewelery. I ended up buying this cropped long sleeve jacket with huge pointy shoulders - true Lady Gaga style, thinking it'd make a great Halloween costume addition. Also it was only a pound. I couldn't turn that down!

The Royal Mile is the main shopping district. Tons of souvenir shops and plenty of kilted men. It was a total party. Comedy troupes and musical groups were performing and promoting EVERYWHERE, so the possibilities for entertainment were endless. It reminded me of Vegas the way everyone was trying to give us fliers, stickers and stuff. We found this a capella group of college boys that performed Backstreet Boys "in honor of the beautiful American girls," true Glee style. We LOVED them and they LOVED us.

Other performing acts included naked comedians (yikes), acrobats, fire-eating axe-jugglers (he was from America and we talked to him for half an hour or so until he started hitting on us), and some awful rock groups. Clearly we had plenty of material for humor and entertainment all day long.

Ok I know you've been dying to ask. And yes. I did have haggis (sheep heart, lungs and stuff...) It was gross. But I tried it. At a little pastry shop in downtown Edinburgh. That's pretty legit. Kayla, Jessica and I stopped along the main street performer line and got a caricature. I had never had one done before and I was really nervous that it would just crush me. That I'd look awful. That it would haunt me forever. But I actually loved the way it turned out! Quite the experience. {I'm in the middle, if you couldn't tell....} We also encouraged the foul-mouthed artist next to us to reconsider his life choices and look into the Church after he spilled a long, sad story about his recent unfortunate history. Haha guess we should have taken some pass-along cards, eh?

There were some tents with cool jewelery on our way out of the city and near the train station, so I spent half an hour and several pounds there. You guys know I'm a sucker for jewelery. We grabbed some food and boarded the train for the 2.5 hour trip back, crashing into bed really late and very tired. But ultimately pleased with our trip to Scotland. :)

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