6pm – Edinburgh Station, Café Nero
It’s been a wonderful day in Edinburgh! The temperature has probably hovered around 60 and 65 all day, with bits of sunlight peaking through the clouds. We had a few raindrops but nothing significant.
We ate an awfully nice breakfast at the Marriott, which included all sorts of things like traditional eggs and bacon but mixed with other oddities like mushrooms and blood pudding and haggis. Yes, I tried all three. The mushrooms (which I like) were stewed or something and had a bit of a musty flavor. The haggis didn’t necessarily have a bad taste; it was the texture that was repulsive. Gag me. But the blood pudding? Oh boy. Repulsive everything. Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but yikes. At least I can say I tried it.
From there, we got all our bags together and rode the bus to the Edinburgh Station (Waverly) and dropped them at a locker (holy crap, it was expensive). And then, we walked up to Edinburgh Castle.
Talk about amazing. I don’t think anything I say can do it justice. It’s just massive. At one point, we stood up on one of the battery walls and looked out over the whole city and across to the ocean, and I couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like 3,000 years ago, standing there and looking out at ships sailing in.
It was fantastic.
It had a lot of museums and memorials and things there too. I will try to put some photos up at some time. I took a lot of pictures. I even got an epic picture of Andy looking very epic in his epic Indiana Jones hat.
One of the really cool things that they do in Edinburgh, apparently, is the one o’clock gun. It’s a tradition that started in 1861. Every day, except Sunday, one of the big guns at Edinburgh Castle is fired to give a time signal to ships in the Port of Leith. It’s a tradition that continues today. We were fortunate enough to reach the castle keep just in time for the gun to go off. This isn’t any little sissy gun either. This is a freaking howitzer.
And either some of the other tourists didn’t understand that it was going to happen. Or they forgot. But when it went off, this huge ripple of screams ripped through the crowd, and one lady even fell off the platform where she was standing. She was okay, but I think her camera might not have been.
It was loud. And then the whole place smelled like gun powder until the wind blew it away. Pretty sweet.
After we wore ourselves out at Edinburgh Castle, we went down the Royal Mile. Lots of tourist shops. Lots of people. I may or may not have found a spectacular souvenir for one of my parents. 😉
We also happened on a parade that went through. I don’t know what it was for, but there were a few groups of people in different coordinating outfits. Some played drums. Some played flutes. Most carried banners. (That’s how Katie figured it wasn’t a protest. Because they had banners. For some reason that made me laugh.) Some of them had badges on that said LOL … which made me laugh, which seemed appropriate.
We wandered in and out of shops. We found a writer’s museum too, but we just didn’t think we had time to go in it. So we just took pictures.
Then we walked back down to the Waverly Station, and we dropped into a coffee shop to chill until our train gets here. That’s where we are now. We should get into Carlisle around 9:00 p.m. I’m not going to lie; I’m super excited about the train trip. I’ve never ridden on a train before, so this should be a riot!
Once we get to Carlisle, we’re going to find where we’re staying. We had a bit of a change in plans, but I think it’s actually going to work out better. Then, we’ll just chill until tomorrow, when we’ll get to go to Katie’s church and then to Hadrian’s Wall!
I did have to share some of my own revelations about our adventures, though. Wandering around Edinburgh today, I have discovered that a number of things are true no matter where you go.
1. A smile is truly the one means of communication that transcends all languages.
Even if you don’t speak the same language, even if you don’t know the culture, whether you enjoy breakfast sausage or haggis, you can still smile at each other, and it still means the same thing. It’s a friendly thing to see. … That or it means you know where you’re going and you’re the perfect person to ask for directions.
2. No matter what country you’re in, there will always be a line (queue) at the women’s room.
We were wandering around Edinburgh Castle today, and Katie and I had to use the necessities. And we opened the door marked Toilets (apparently it’s a very U.S. thing to call them restrooms) and discovered this long, winding staircase that led down, down, down to the bathrooms. There was a men’s room and a women’s room, and—lo and behold!—the men’s room was empty and there was a line six people long to get into the women’s room. Of course, once we were done, the line had grown to about 12. So we got there at the right time, but it still made me laugh.
3. Malls attract a strange subculture.
We ate lunch at a Subway in a mall food court (Andy got fish and chips), mainly because we wanted something fast and cheap before we got on our train for Carlisle. Sitting in the food court eating my B.M.T. sandwich, I had to laugh at the strange people around us. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought we were in a mall at home. It’s just the same type of people who frequent malls. … I don’t know what it says about us that we were there too.
Lessons from Sparky:
Three things are certain in life: Death, Taxes, and Asian tourists.