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Dungeons, Gothic Space Ships and a Creepy Dog

On September 22nd, we hopped on a coach and made our way to Edinburgh. “It’s like being in Disneyland” Morgan raves as we walk through the regal streets. “This is NOTHING like Disneyland” I immediately reassured him. “I mean it’s like being in a fairytale” Morgan quickly replies. So then we agreed, high fived and were off to find The Art Roch, our hostel home for the next two days. Would it have the same limey green walls like the Blue Sky Hostel? I was almost missing them.

Edinburgh is a much more stunning city than Glasgow. Everywhere you look there’s another more extravagent, more beautiful castle or cathedral. From banks, pubs, clothing stores, museums, you name it, it’s a castle. I think even the lone Starbucks had been medievalized. Besides the stone city is the land itself. The rolling hills and cliffs are mesmorizing adding a softness to the sharpness of the castled city.

The Art Roch hostel was fabulous. It was located right behind Edinburgh Castle (the second most visited site in the United Kingdom, behind London city) that could be seen out of the reception windows. Chic, urban and cosy is how I could describe the ambiance. Animal skin blankets, trunk coffee tables, oddly placed picture frames within picture frames and no pukey lime green walls. Although, the people in the Blue Sky Hostel back in Glasgow were much more entertaining and had their shit far more together as far as check ins were concerned. These guys had no idea who we were, where our online booking had gone and all looked to be the ripe old age of 16. After finding our eight person room, and fixing our beds with the provided linens we made our way out. Leaving through the lobby we found two of the16-year-old Justin Bieber look-alikes sharing the same mop to clean up an overflowing toilet.

Edinburgh is packed full of rich history, especially with tales of public killings and ghostly doom. Public hangings and torture were common place in Edinburgh via the Edinburgh mob. At the end of Grassmarket are two pubs that stand in recongition of this grusome time in the cities history. The Last Drop is named after the last public hanging that took place in 1864. Only a few pubs further,  you’ll find Maggie Dickson’s Bar. Maggie was a ventursome woman who found herself with child and out of wedlock. She was hung as a result in the town square. As her coffin was carried through the crowds, onlookers could hear a rapping coming from the coffin and were spooked. Turns out she hadn’t been successfully hung and could not be re-hung for the same crime. She lived to tell her story of near-death and became famous all over Scotland.

That night was cold, still and smelled of murder. We had signed up for one of Edinburgh’s famed Ghost Tours. We liked the sounds of the Mercat’s Ghosts and Ghouls tour with complimentary pint at the end, if you made it that far. The hour and a half tour was full of stories of Edinburgh’s history of public tortures and the Edinburgh Mob. We got to the underground dungeons where we were in the middle of hearing a Scottish ghost story when we were interrupted by a tour leader who had had the lucky task of guiding some 30 odd high school kids through the dungeons. One of the school girls had freaked out and he wanted to know if they could leave through the fire exit without setting off any alarms. All humouring, but spooking us at the same time.

The next afternoon we set off to find some fish and chips which was surprisingly a lot harder that one would hope on an empty stomach and in the UK. We were directed to a place called the City Cafe – closed. Then we found The Tron – out of fish (how can you be out of fish in the fish and chip capital of the world?) so settled for the quicky Clam Shop.

We’d spent all of our time outside and had barely been to the hostel. I wanted to see if we’d had any newcomers to our room that day besides John, the Irish man who we thought pretty much lived there full-time just by the amount of clothing he had and a Chinese couple. Re-ut and Neatru were a couple of  women from Israel and were only staying the night. They were on a week vacation and had just been to see the Bare Naked Ladies the night before (Morgan had spotted one of the Ladies walking along an Edinburgh road the yesterday, but thought that just seemed too odd). They asked us if we’d be up for renting a car with them to head back to Glasgow the next day. As much as I would have loved to have been able to share my first “other side of the road, other side of the car” driving experience with you, we had to pass as we had already purchased bus tickets back. They shared their Bomba with us (a peanut flavoured cheesie type snack), stories of travel and highly recommend we see Tel Aviv.

Our last full day in Edinburgh was terrential rain. We climbed the 287 too-close-for-comfort spiraling staircase (used for geting both up and down) to the top and recieved a congratulating certificate of completion upon exiting (I’m thinking I must be owed at least 50 of these from Grouse Mountain). The structure is quite obtrusive; it’s the 200 foot, sooty, black structure that has been described as a “gothic rocket ship.” The stairs are much too narraw as Morgan found out the hard way and had to shimy his way through the last 30 steps.

Before we left the lovely city of Edinburgh we saw the most photographed Edinburgh statue. It’s nothing to write home about, it’s small and hairy and can easily be missed if it isn’t pointed out to you. It’s the statue of Grey Friar’s Bobby. A wee dog that comes with a big story. After his death, Grey Friar’s dog, Bobby, followed his owner’s remains to the graveyard in which he was burried in 1858 and lingered there until it passed in 1872. I couldn’t help but think that we’d found the Scottish Lassie.

The Limey

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2010 by in Backpacking.
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