Thursday, June 11, 2015

Edinburgh, Day 2: We Climb Up Sir Arthur's Seat

The weather in Edinburgh has been ridiculous. Like, today is day 3 of bright blue sky, no clouds, direct sun - apparently it's a huge departure from the usual overcast routine, as many have mentioned to us frequently.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • We started the day with the free "hearty breakfast" at our hotel (ripped that word-for-word from the tour book). On that note, I have found that "free breakfast" ranks in the top 3 most important qualities I look for in a hotel, right after reviews and location. 
Scottish breakfast
Hearty, indeed
  • Spent the morning at Edinburgh Castle, which is on this cliff that overlooks the rest of the city (all of Old Town looks down on New Town, which is the way it should be really). It was huge and full of tourists, but legitimately cool. The buildings have all been used for various purposes over the centuries (first a royal banquet hall, then soldiers barracks?? Eh I guess that works), but it is also where Scottish royalty lived. This includes Mary, Queen of Scots, which was the only historical name I recognized because I haven't been in a history class in ages (see what I did there?)
Edinburgh Castle

I told you it was on a cliff

  • Spooky tour of Mary King's close, which was this tour of olden-day Edinburgh (aptly called "Old Town" today) below ground. In a nutshell, the city used to be on top of a cliff and was super-compact and overpopulated with a giant fortress around it. When Scotland became part of Britain, there was no longer any use for the city to be contained in the fortress walls, so the city expanded - and for some reason, it made more sense to build part of the new city/new buildings on top of the old city instead of demolishing the old city (to even out the slanty cliff, as well as cost reasons, etc.). Stay with me here. So basically you see all these newer buildings; but the tour then took us underground and under those buildings and you can see the old city - with the old buildings and roads and streets and everything, except all of them (including the roads) now have a ceiling....that is now the floor of the new buildings. IT'S LIKE A SECRET UNDERGROUND MOLE CITY. But apocalyptic, bc nobody lives there anymore. Anyway, I don't know how clear any of that was. But it was cool. That's all.

    Here's a former road & the buildings on both sides. BUT THE ROAD IS NOW COVERED BY A ROOF. Which is the base for the whole city above it! 

  • Took a pretty legit hike up Arthur's Seat, a formerly-active-but-currently-dormant volcano. It took around an hour but the views from the top were insane. You get a 360-degree view of the entire city of Edinburgh, including the water. Naturally, I had purchased us each a bottle of Scottish beer earlier to drink at the top, and we just perched on the side of the mountain/volcano and drank our beers (which had been lovingly bounced around in our bags on the hike up) and took in the views and I taught Kate about the wonders of Ed Sheeran.

Top of Arthur's Seat

Still slightly-fizzy Scottish beer

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • Wifi heaven! In addition to being like a fun amusement park ride, all the buses in Scotland have pretty legit wifi. 90% of the restaurants, cafes, etc. we went to did also.  In fact, I typed out half of this blog post on the airport bus! MAGIC.
  • You can drink on the street (or on top of a mountain) in Edinburgh - wikipedia told us you can't technically, but the worker at the beer shop told me we could. I trust the man at the beer shop.
  • The man sitting next to me right now in the airport must have poured a whole bottle of cologne on himself today.
I'm now at the airport waiting for my flight to Berlin, having said good-bye to Kate this morning, who is on her way to Perth. Here begins the solo start of my trip. Eeeeee.

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