Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Misadventures in Edinburgh, Scotland

Finding out at four a.m. that your left pocket is not really a pocket but more of a hole is not the best omen when going very far up north. Standing at the bus stop, waiting with my flat mates for the bus to Gatwick Airport I found out that I soon might not have a left hand after the upcoming weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland.  We boarded the bus, and soon everyone fell asleep listening to music. I however, was too pumped up with pre-travel adrenaline. I love to travel, and I am usually very good at it. This trip however was going to prove me horribly wrong.
            Arriving at Gatwick airport about three hours early from our scheduled departure, we ate a hearty breakfast. I managed to eat eggs and bacon surprisingly. If you know me well you know that I have taste aversion to eggs and bacon in the mornings. It's from years and years of my father force feeding me to eat those horrible hotel eggs early in the morning before dance competitions, and usually if I even smell them before noon my stomach does those terrible flips. Thankfully my stomach did not protest this morning, and I ate very well. We then traveled around the airport, doing a bit of shopping (who knew airports can be so expensive when you have enough free time) and I spent a fair amount of time looking at the 2012 Aston Martin that was on display, and talking to the car guys about it for a good ten minutes. It's still funny how guys, no matter how old, get so surprised when a girl knows something about cars. Anyway, they finally posted what gate we were boarding and off we went, with my flat mates in tow. We got good seats on the plane ( I got a window) and before we knew it, we were flying out of rainy Gatwick. It was really beautiful passing the cloud layer because as soon as we went through it, the sun was rising and there were bright pink and blue skies everywhere. It was like we had jumped through a portal from rainy England to true blue skies.
            The trip only took about an hour and soon we were in the city of Edinburgh. The girl could not check into their hostel until four and I was planning on staying with my cousin Stuart who goes to Edinburgh University so I had to wait for him to get up before we could meet, so we all started heading toward Edinburgh Castle. Thank goodness I was smart and thought to get a map because none of my flat mates seemed to know where to go. As soon as we got up to the castle we all became tourists, took pictures, got out tickets, and went to wait for the guided tour. Now Edinburgh Castle is situated on top of a dormant volcano that formed 340 billion years ago. So while we waited, we also got front row seats for the wind, which meant that we all dug out and donned our scarves, hats, and gloves. The tour itself was really interesting, with our tour guide Ewan leading the way, we found out some pretty cool stuff. We saw the oldest building still standing, St. Margaret's Chapel, that was built in 1063, the six ton cannon called Mons Meg which can shoot one of its stone cannon balls two miles (who wants to volunteer as a target?), the beautiful great hall, where I saw a four foot tall broadsword that I was really tempted to try and lift, and a few other things. Among them was the Scottish National War Memorial that was opened in 1927 . Every Scot that has fallen and will fall will have his named entered into the correct book inside the memorial. Structured in the Gothic architecture style, it was beautifully haunting. While walking inside I looked into one of the books from the Scottish Black Watch command and found three people that could be distant relatives from my mom's side of the family. It was a very humbling experience. We also went to see the Scottish crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny that are both housed at Edinburgh Castle. The Stone of Destiny has dubious origins, some believing it has biblical ones, however it is clear that it necessary for the ruler of Scotland to sit on it before he can actually become the ruler of Scotland . No stone, no ruler. End of story. Because of this, when the England invaded Scotland they needed to set the foundations for their rule, so Edward I of England stole the Stone of Destiny in 1296 and it was taken to Westminster Abbey where it was made into part of the coronation chair for the next seven hundred years. From there it was a game of "The Stone is mine!" "No! it's mine!" Finally, on St. Andrews Day, November 30th 1996, the Stone of Destiny returned to its homeland and was installed in Edinburgh Castle. After hearing about that, I asked if I could sit on the Stone of Destiny to which I was given a strict "No." Well I tried.
            After Edinburgh castle, grabbing a bite to eat, and going to Camera Obscura (an optical illusion funhouse that freaked me out a few times) we all went to check in at the hostel. By this time my left hand was frozen, I could not feel my feet, my throat was starting to hurt, and my backpack (which I can usually carry all day no problem) was starting to make my shoulders ache. We all filed into the hostel, the girls got checked in and after resting for a bit, we decided to go shopping for warmer clothes on Princess Street, one of the most popular streets to shop in Edinburgh. Everyone found something a bit warmer and by the time we got outside it was completely dark. However there were Christmas lights already up and some of the buildings were lit up in fun, festive colors. We got back and by this time I had called my cousin about five times, texted him about ten, and was starting to get a little nervous. There were no spare rooms at the hostel and the closest hotel charged over one hundred pounds for the night. I emailed my dad and he basically (in my typical dad fashion) told me to chill, and start working on a contingency plan B. So I did. As I was walking back down to the reception area to ask about a hotel, Stuart called. Thank God. He had left his phone in a restaurant the previous night and had just gotten it. After talking and working things out we all headed out to eat, had a good bite, I met up with Stuart and said goodbye to my flat mates, telling them I would see them tomorrow. As it would turn out, I would not see them until Monday morning.
            By the time I got to Stuart's room I had almost completely lost my voice. This was really rare. I never get sick. And if I do, it's bad. Like throwing up for a few days bad. Stuart had a soccer game the next day so I told him I would take the floor that night and he could have the bed. So I got a sheet, a light blanket, and a pillow. You know how heat rises? Well the floor, albeit carpeted, was freezing! I pulled up my one-pocket wool coat, put on my long underwear, and curled up at the foot of Stuart's bed. I must have been exhausted because I fell asleep and did not wake up until Stuart's friend's rapped in his door the next day around eleven asking him if he wanted to get breakfast. They then barged in, gaped at the fact that:
A) Stuart had a girl in his room and
B) Said girl was on the floor.
After Stuart explained that I was his cousin and I had offered to take the floor, we went to grab breakfast, and afterwards I felt like I had been run over by a bus and could not talk so I emailed my mom, told Stuart I was stealing his bed, and became a Collier-fetal ball for the rest of the day and into the night, only waking up for Stuart to hand me some medicine and some food. Late Saturday night, my amazing mom called, told me I sounded horrendous, and this is what I get for living the lifestyle I do ( I.e. basic college student hours: late mornings, later nights, running on coffee and not eating as healthily as I should). I could only sit there and listen. After promising I would call later, I went back to sleep only to have Stuart (who was taking the floor that night) gently wake me up later that night, and ask if we could share the bed to which I happily obliged. I knew the pain of sleeping on the floor in the cold and an extra person meant more body heat which means a warmer and therefore happier Collier.
            Sunday I woke up around three p.m. Stuart handed some medicine and shoved food and a bottle of water into my hand, told me to drink and eat, watched me, nodded his head, and then I flopped back down into the bed and slept for another two hours. Around five, I woke up, saw Stuart was working at his desk, and decided I needed to get my sick butt up out of bed because I had an eight p.m. flight to catch. Stuart remarked that he has never seen anybody sleep this long, to which I retorted that every time he comes to visit me he is perpetually sick. We laughed, and I got ready, feeling better than I had in days. It was not actually that cold outside but Stuart did not want me walking in the cold to the bus stop so he called a cab for me. He really was a gentleman that whole time. I mean, I come in, Become sick, spread my germs all over his room, steal his bed, food, and, medicine and he still takes god care of me. Yup, I'll claim him.
            Got a cab to the bus stop, hopped on the bus to go the airport, and almost had a panic attack because my IPod said 5:30 p.m. while my watch said 6:30. I had to ask the lady next to me the time and then go through the whole, "Spring forward, fall back." rhyme in my head to figure out that it was 5:30 not 6:30. Daylight savings had ended. Yay! Not. I hate losing sleep. Anyway, got to the airport in record time, went to check in and oh, wait, you double booked my flight? I have to buy a whole new ticket for a later flight? Thanks Easyjet. After spending a solid thirty minutes arguing with them about my flight I was forced to purchase a new ticket, which really annoyed me. I should have gotten it for free. Well got through security, got food, looked at the cars on display, found my gate, eyed a few cute guys, and boarded the plane. When I disembarked, I went and waited a good forty minutes in the cold for my bus back to Oxford. Whilst waiting I had to watch a couple very publicly make out and group each other and call each other cute names. I just sat there and ate my chocolate muffin, drank my hot chocolate, and watched like I was in a theatre...watching a comedy. Bus came through, I hopped on, plugged myself into my IPod, dozed off and had a dream about dragons and Scotland highlands. When I woke up we were almost to Oxford. It was around midnight before I got back into my dorm. Not a bad return trip though.
            I am still a bit upset that I spent all that money and only got one day of sightseeing, and I am trying to get on a better sleeping schedule. However my left hand did not have to be amputated and now I really want to go back and watch Braveheart. Too bad I can't find it anywhere online. I have also downloaded some Scottish music that I like, and I have looked up more of my Scottish Heritage. All in all a decent trip, one to remember. But I still never got a Scot to call me lass.

                                                                 Breakfast at Gatwick!
                                                               Edinburgh Castle!

                                                                   St. Margaret's Chapel
                         I had to be touristy and take a picture with the Harrod's bear at Gatwick

                                      Our guided tour of Edinburgh Castle led by the ever-popular Ewan.
                                                                   Braveheart anyone?

                                                               Can you spot the rainbow?

                                            Found MacBeth on the Scotish Royal Line mural!

Yes I sat on the horse, no I did not get in trouble. Although we all thought I would. 

 A mural in the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James I ( I think that's correct?)

                                                 I wanted to be enthroned..I'm Scottish!

 Only wood here folks. No nails, or anything, just wood fitting into other pieces of wood.
                                      My fellow Kilgour's that I found in the war memorial.

                                   Pondering in the plane. I'm studying in Oxford, I have to at least look smart.
                                                        Fireplace in the great hall
                                                             4 Ft. tall broadsword.

                                                         Key to Edinburgh Castle

                                                             Mon's Meg

                Inside St. Margaret's Chapel. You can still have weddings here to this day.

                                        I snuck a pic...I had to! They're in kilts!

                             There was a weeding going on that afternoon. Congrats!
                                                               In Camera Obscura

                                                              Gracie was so tired!

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