Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scenes from Edinburgh

 I traveled to Edinburgh on train. It was my first train experience, and I have to say I'm a fan. I wish America could figure out mass transit the way Europeans have.
I was in Edinburgh July 5-8, or an entire month ago. So details about the specifics are a bit shaky, especially since I don't have many photos from the weekend.

Our hostel was in a great location, right near High Street, which is the commercial center of the city. Edinburgh is a lot like you'd imagine a medieval town to be: cobblestone streets, castles everywhere, and tons of little alleyways (called "closes"). This appearance reflects the town's history, which, unbeknownst to me, is rather dark and spooky.
Around Edinburgh
This straight from the camera, and yes, it really was that dark in the middle of the morning. 
This is a view from the top of the hill near our hostel, overlooking the city.

Edinburgh's medieval roots boast many tales of ghosts, cruel punishments, and a creepy underground subculture. We took a ghost tour (touristy, but really fun) the second night we were there and actually got to go underground into the city's old vaults, where the city's black market used to be. Most of the "ghost stories" were pretty tame and silly, but the guide was really into everything so it was definitely fun. And I'd be lying if I said we didn't all freak out when the candles all blew out at the end and we were left in complete darkness inside the cavernous vaults.

Edinburgh is a fun city for site-seeing, but it's also fun to just hang around and go shopping, especially as a reprieve from the rain and cold! Edinburgh takes advantage of its famous Scottish heritage, so there is plaid everywhere, lots of wool shops, and tons of background on Scottish history and clans.
There were plaid and bagpipes everywhere!
The big toe on the statue of David Hume is rubbed for good luck.

We went to the National Museum to pass some time on Saturday (and, again, to get out of the rain), and I learned so much about Scottish history. It sort of makes me want to see Braveheart.
Dolly the sheep
Dolly the cloned sheep at the National Museum; yes, that's really Dolly; no, she's not alive. 

Our final night there, we went around to some of the pubs in the center of town and did some amazing people watching. Edinburgh is apparently the bachelor and bachelorette capital of the world, and we saw many parties going on right in front of us. One pub we stumbled into had an older crowd (older than college-age, that is) and was playing an eclectic 80's and 90's playlist. We enjoyed singing along to Kajagoogoo (okay, maybe only I enjoyed this one) and B*Witched (total blast from 1998; also, holy sexual innuendos there: how was this appropriate at age 7?) and watching other group's shenanigans for a change.