Ahoy again, all. Let me tell you all about Edinburgh as the English countryside zips past. Spoiler alert: It's pretty awesome.
Right. Where did I leave off? Oh right, I'd just arrived at my hotel. Well, I slept, and woke up the next morning at about 7:30. It wasn't too bad. Sleep was kind of uneven. My version of jetlag seems to be waking up repeatedly during the night, confused as to what time it is. Could be worse. I had breakfast – English breakfast (see my Facebook for pics and menu details) and tropical juice and rice krispies, both of which became a tradition. I got on a bus pretty easily, and off we went to the City Centre.
First things first: I had errands to run! First of all, I needed a UK cellphone. I walked down the street until I found an O2 (cell provider) shop, went in, and asked how much to call Canada/UK. 20 pounds for everything I needed. I stared at the guy and was like: “Dude, it is SO CHEAP here.”and he argued with me until I told him what it would have cost me at home, at which point he just stared at me sympathetically. He sent me off to get the phone unlocked so it'd work in the UK, and so I walked like 8 blocks to this place run by a pair of totally skeevy Russians. They couldn't unlock my phone, sadly, something about the way the security was configured, so it would cost me 30 pounds. They said to just buy a new phone. SO back to my good friend at O2. A new phone was 12 pounds. WHAT THE FUCK, WHY IS THIS SO CHEAP. But- yay! Phone all set up. Off we go again.
Next chore! Getting a 16-25 railcard! Not much to say here, it was painless. Dude was impressed I had my photos/documents all ready for him.
OH HEY and this one guy was sure I lived in Edinburgh, even though he thought I was a foreigner. Foreigner but not a tourist! I'll take it! I hate looking like a tourist.
...On that note, the next thing I did was got on a double-decker sightseeing tourbus, because I can't take photos of scenery if I'm not on one of those things because I don't want the glares and judgment of passers-by! The tour was pretty good, I got a good idea of the layout of the City which meant I could make my way around pretty easily from there on. This one guy next to me slept through the whole tour, it was bizarre. I didn't understand why he was on there if he was gonna sleep though it.
Off the bus, and on to the Zoo, which I arbitraily became determined to see based on the fact that there was a penguin who had been knighted (by Norway, of all places) at the zoo and I just had to see him. The zoo was... a zoo! Highlights: Baby penguins, baby monkeys, anorexic tiger which went for a swim, Sir Nils. Lowlights: Getting a harsh sunburn. In Scotland. What the hell? When did it get so sunny here?
After the zoo it was about 6pm so I went back to the hotel, dropped off my stuff, and went out to dinner. I went to an Indian place. It was kind of weird, the waiters all seemed very tense, and as I finished the curry I was eating (Lamb, fennel, and something TREMENDOUSLY SPICY) two of them started setting up laptops and playing WoW at the back of the restaurant. ...it was a nice restaurant, okay? Cloth napkins and 6 pieces of silverware nice. What the hell happened there?
(Side note: I think we're passing the Newcastle suburbs right now. The houses are pretty close together. My God, they all look the same. Oh hey! Apartment buildings taller than 4 storeys! How home-like!)
Back to hotel, back to sleep – Day 2 begins!
Woke up at 8, took shower, had breakfast (Bagel with smoked salmon & scrambled eggs), and off again! This time to Edinburgh Castle. Uh- I don't know what to tell you about sightseeing, really. There were lots and lots of tourists there. They took commemorative photos of me but then totally lost them so I didn't get to buy them – yay saving money? I bought a Mary Queen of Scots christmas ornament because HOW COULD I RESIST. The views from the castle were really nice. The castle itself was kind of 'meh'. If you go to Edinburgh you can totally skip it. OH WAIT I remember something worth mentioning. The people who desperately wanted to give me Mentos gum. I mean, seriously, they wanted me to have it SO MUCH. They even had a giant dancing pack of Mentos. It was just all very odd.
Another thing that I'd seen last time I was here, but I forgot, and am now totally amused by: Menzies. There's a company named Menzies here. WTF, UK? Do you know what that means to me? I realize it's a family name, but- uh- When a woman is 'on her menzies'... Yeah you get the picture!
After the castle I walked down the Royal Mile for a bit, but turned off it to go to The Elephant House – a café which is infamous for being THE café that JKR sat in with her infant son as she was writing Harry Potter. I sat in there had a Fanta. Waited for something monumental to happen. Nothing did.
Went to the National Museum of Scotland, next. ...There were scottish things there. Old scottish things. There was also a sciency bit where everything was interactive. That was pretty fun. These two kids were arguing over whether this girl named Alison had had a robot spell her name correctly or not. Alison said she had. The other kid said she hadn't, and bet her two pounds. The robot spelled her name ALISOM. I don't think she gave that kid those two pounds, though. OH and there was a really hot guy there with red hair and weating a tartan beret which I promised to use on this blog as my lead-in to the subject that SCOTTISH MEN ARE FUCKING HOT. How on earth Groundskeeper Willie and Fat Bastard are such consistent stereotypes of Scots in North America is beyond me. In my brief experience they definitely (at least in Edinburgh) run more of the Sean Connery variety. Also, Scottish accents are sexy. Not just on girls. Truth.
Right! Left that museum, and walked down the Royal Mile again, this time to the Museum of Childhood. Anan recommended it to me, and it was very cool. Biggest highlight was the nightmarish doll exhibit. The coolest doll was this 1300 year old (or something) doll that was found in a child's grave. It made me kind of sad. They should have left that in there! Thieves!
(Side note: Durham! We're in Durham. Where is Durham...? Between Newcastle and York, presumably)
After the museum of childhood, I was feeling kind of achey, so even though it was only 4 I went back to my hotel. Started watching Up, and fell asleep. For three hours. Oops. 8:00, I finally get out to go for dinner. Note, I hadn't eaten since breakfast at 9. I went to a pub. I took a seat and tried to see how other people were ordering. Seemed like there was table service, but I wanted to be sure so I went to the bar and asked if I should order there or at a table. He said I should just wait at a table. So I did. ...I played some monopoly. ...played some gelato mania. ...uhh. Tried to wave somebody down. They didn't see me. Uhhh... After I'd been there from an hour, I got frustrated and embarrassed and walked out. Walked down the street, got chinese takeaway instead. Om nom nom nom nom.
Finished watching Up! Slept! Day 3!
Woke up, ate a Scottish Breakfast, which included Haggis, which was SO DELICIOUS, totally unexpectedly. Excellent. Went off to the City, starting off my day with a trip to the Edinburgh Dungeons, which I had no idea what they were, but it turns out they're a cheezy tourist trap haunted tour thing. It was based mostly off of the real life cases of a canibalistic incestuous family who murdered and ate a whole lot of people and were then all killed off, and a case of a couple of people who made a living selling cadavers to medical examiners, but then supply ran short, and they just killed people to sell instead! Delightful! 32 people can go in a group, and it just so happened that a group of primary school students with 31 people in their group were ahead of me, so- RANDOM CANADIAN ADDITION AGOGO.
The kids were pretty fun to go on the tour with. They booed and jeered me when I was accused of being a witch, and they laughed like crazy when their teacher was accused of being a crossdresser. Sadly by about halfway through the tour half of them were sobbing from fear and their teacher (Mr.McNichol. 8D) was seriously regretting the choice of field trip. It's a shame, because it was a really good haunted tour, actually. Their actors were really impressive. The kids were eagerly talking to me by the end of the tour, too, telling me how scared and nervous they had been and asking if I'd been scared, and I got to tell them how acting cues and setbuilding works (a little) so they'd be able to tell where/when scary things would happen. Ruins the magic a little but considering they wwere all crying it seemed fair to let them off the hook a little.
Next I went to the Palace of Holyrood which is the Queen's summer residence in Edinburgh.
(Break for lunch/getting off the train, write more when I get there!)
I'm in York now! More on that later.
Okay – Holyrood! Yeah, it was pretty cool. Lots of old stuff.. Portraits, beds, Mary Queen of Scot's bedroom where everything went horribly awry (or so said my audio tour) – quite frankly, pretty underwhelming. The tremendously detailed work and old furnishings – I dunno. It's not especially my thing, except that I can't really say that because the Biltmore BLEW MY MIND. But the thing is – the palace looks tremendously small and stuffy when compared with the Biltmore. Biltmore > Holyrood. Sorry your majesty.
However, there is one thing the Biltmore didn't have that Holyrood has – the abbey. There's this old abbey from the 1200's or something in the back, which has a caved in roof but is otherwise in decent shape. It was awe inspiring. Lots of latent power to that building.
As I walked through the gardens outside the abbey it started raining, but luckily the tour was over. I was thinking of tracking down dinner, but it was only 3 or so, so – well. The parliament was across the street. What better way to kill two and a half hours?! I watched them debate creating a national digital network for Scotland (for TV provision & high-speed broadband). It was pretty interesting. I felt sick and wrong because I ended up siding with the conservatives, if just because they were the only people in the room who a) never talked about 'back when we had black and white TVs' and also ACTUALLY KNEW WHAT THE HELL THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT. One of them was like: 'so, listen, we need better upload speeds based on the recent developments in available technology' and the national party and labour party were like: 'wtf?' And it was kind of TREMENDOUSLY ANNOYING that only like 8 people attended the debate but then everybody showed up to vote on it without having listened to any of the shit that was going on. But it passed! Yay!
Then I went for dinner. I went to a mexican place. Yes, I know, completely random choice on my part. Totally satisfying, though. Chicken/Chorizo enchilada, rice, beans – it was actually run by a family from Mexico so it was really good. Good drinks, too. Went back to my hotel, packed, watched Spiderman for some reason.
CUE THIS MORNING.
OH WAIT I FORGOT SOMETHING ABOUT YESTERDAY. Right. So. My shower was broken. Very broken. No worky. Upset face. I had to bathe with the water in the tea kettle. This is relevant because it resulted in me taking a shower in another room this morning, and then a 10% discount on my stay! Yay!
I asked for an extra hour to stay in my room, which I got – thus why I got to post some photos this morning – and then I took the bus off to Waverly station, waited for a train, got on a train, started writing this, got interrupted by a chicken bacon sandwich and bottle of coke, and then got off the train, took a taxi to my hotel, and here I am, writing this.
The hotel is amazing. It was built in 1699, and reminds me in no small amount of Lara Croft's mansion. There will be pics, I assure you. It has the most amaaaaaaazing bathtub, and my view is great. And I ordered room service. Will tell you how that turns out. Hehe. This place is so fancy their website includes directions for landing a helicopter on the property. It's absurd. Unfortunatley, something in my hotel room appears to spark my allergies, or something. Or maybe I'm just overreacting because my ear was itchy earlier. Hard to tell now that I've taken an anti-hystemene. I can tell you that I am veeeeeeerry tired. Will probably collapse after posting my photos of edinburgh. Although they are bringing me room service! Ehehe. Fancy places. Joy.
Signing off for now!