Send Me On My Way -Rusted Roots

Apr 13, 2013

Cartwheels, Castles, and the Loch Ness Monster

Hello my lovely people! 
     I have an extra long post in store for you, so either settle in or click the X now!
     This past week, I visited Scotland!! Yay!! I slept most of the eight hour bus trip sleeping, but upon arrival in Edinburgh (pronounce Ed-en-bur-ah) I awoke and couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was so beautiful! Yeah, it was full of vehicles, tourists, and the standard array of shops; but the whole town was cast into this sort of surreal atmosphere with the Edinburgh Castle looking over the mundane activity below with a sort of disdainful, coldness from atop the massive cliffs in the center of the city. My eyes soaked up the scene greedily and I took far too many pictures. When I tore my eyes away from the castle, I noticed also my first store to my left: Hector Russell- Kiltmaker. I couldn't help thinking Is this for real? 
Old Town from the Castle courtyard and me
looking quite dapper if I do say so myself.
PS: Brittany will never get her scarf back.
     After dropping off our bags in the hostel, we grabbed a bite to eat in a little sandwich shop called Pinocchio's and then wandered about until we found a grocery store to pick up some drinks. It was already rather late, so we headed back to the hostel and then after a couple hours, went out to a club called Bongo.
     The next day, some of us decided to venture out into the city. Edinburgh is divided into two halves. Old Town and New Town. The Old Town is above the New Town on the other side of the castle. We hadn't visited that side yet, so trekked up the ungodly steep hill and then visited the castle courtyard. The view was spectacular and I could even see the highland mountains! Naturally, I took several dozens of photos with my massive face blocking half of the landscape. See left. We were expecting to pay 8 pounds to get into the actual castle, but it was 16!
Seriously. LOOK at all that plaid.
     After visiting the gift shop and experiencing the most plaid I've ever seen in one place, the group decided against the hefty fee and we all decided it was lunchtime anyway. Sanna and I went to a cafe called The Elephant House and the others went to a little place across the street. NOW. What you have to understand about The Elephant House is that I already KNEW I would visit here before I even left the states. I had this planned for at LEAST a full year. You are probably asking yourself Why would she want to go to this place so badly? What is so special about it? Well, my friends, let me explain. This bustling little cafe was nothing special about 15 years ago. Just another small business among hundreds in the beautiful Old Town of Edinburgh. Then one day, a lady came in and scribbled down a few thing on a napkin... Then she came back and wrote a little more... Then more... And this woman kept coming back to that small cafe, at that little table with the castle view, until those little scribblings were put together into one, finished book. This book would lead to six more, and they in turn would lead to eight movies. These books would change peoples' lives and the movies would be cool you'd have to wear Hot-Hands in your gloves. (Careful though. Those things can burn.) In case you haven't figured it out yet, this woman was JK Rowling and the books were obviously Harry Potter. 

Happier than Pancho wearing a dress.
     So now you may be asking yourself what my next move was now that I made it after such a long time. And I'll tell you. I ordered a sandwich. And a pot of peppermint tea to share. Like a boss.
My friend went to Edinburgh and I all got was this crummy boulder.
     After indulging my obsession, Sanna and I met up with the others and wandered out of Old Town into the big park beneath the cliffs and castle. It was such a nice day we all laid on our coats and soaked in the sun we so rarely see here. After two whole minutes of relaxation, Ellen so kindly began to throw grass in everyone's face and Sanna engaged her in an epic grass battle to death. Except not really. 
     Once the show was over, we wandered through the park a little more and I found the perfect rock for Blake. I had asked him a couple days earlier if he wanted anything from Scotland and he said "Yeah. Get me a rock." What a classy gent. So I picked this one up for him... No. I totally couldn't lift it. But what I could do is book a highland tour. And that's what I did. Sanna and I decided to take a long day tour the following day, and some of the others booked a shorter tour for the next day as well. With that wonderful day behind me and a new exciting and ridiculously early one ahead of me, I went to bed. The others partied. It was a typical night.
Sanna and I off on our adventure!
     The next morning I was up and at em at the lovely time of 6:45 AM. Sanna and I had a quick breakfast at the hostel and then headed up that infamous hill to Old Town where our tour began. On the way, it was raining and I noticed, oh joy. My shoe had a hole in the sole and my sock was completely soaked. Despite this unfortunate discovery, the tour started off brilliantly. When the bus was leaving Edinburgh, the first thing our lovely guide pointed out was the University of Edinburgh that JK Rowling attended and based Hogwarts off of. Score one for tour guide lady. While driving from place to place, the guide was constantly telling stories about Scotland's history and legends. I learned a TON, including that Mary Queen of Scots had four ladies in waiting, each named Mary as well. How ridiculously confusing must that have been? Mary, come here! No, not you Mary. That Mary. No no no! Ginger Mary. Oh wait. This is Scotland. We're ALL ginger... 
Ariana, Sanna, Me, Kris, and Ellen in front of my future home.
I've conquered Nessie.
     I also learned a little about Macbeth; the REAL King Macbeth, who wasn't actually as evil as Shakespeare portrayed him. Our guide then told us about the Battle of the Shirts in which highland clans were fighting each other under the hot Summer sun until the heat became too unbearable. At that point, the chiefs called a timeout and allowed the clansmen to take off all their clothes but their shirts and swim around with each other all in good fun. After a while, the chiefs called the battle back on and all the men picked up where they left off until only four men were left from each clan and the battle was deemed a draw. That was pointless drama if I've ever seen it. Which I have... I mean come on. I went to Dewey High School... Anyway, we were also told about how Scotland highlanders didn't have trespassing laws. Instead, if you pissed someone off, your head would end up on a stake. One last legend our fearless leader relayed to us was of the Lix legion. A town in Scotland is named Lix because during the rule of the Romans, the Romans were having trouble conquering the Scottish highlanders, so the Romans sent their last hope: the Legion of the 9 (or IX in Roman numerals). Basically, the badass legion went after the highlanders and were never seen again. Tourists flock to Lix to this day with metal detectors, searching for the gold eagle standard that the Romans carried with their lost unit, but it has never been found. (Cue ghostly wail) 
Loch freakin' Ness. Be jealous.
     Back to me. So at the first stop in a little town whose name I've already forgotten, (I looked it up: Pitlochry) I went into a gift shop and purchased a pair of Scottish wool insoles. This helped with the hole in my shoe and my feet didn't feel so awkwardly sock-less with the woolly cushion beneath them. I also purchased a dessert called a Scottish tablet. Its ingredients included butter, milk, and sugar. That's it. So ridiculously sweet that even Ryan Gosling's speech at the end of The Notebook didn't even stand a chance. Another item of Scottish cuisine is a soda called Irn Bru that for some reason, either because of ingredients or caffeine, is illegal in the United States. It strangely tasted like either fruit or bubble gum and was bright orange. Leave it to me to jump at a chance to try something illegal, even if it is only a sugary beverage.
Dude in a kilt. Seemed appropriate...
     After Pitlochry, the group squeezed back onto the bus and we made our way up to Inverness. Inver means by the water, so the city is named "By the water Ness." Loch Ness. This is where we stopped next. Loch Ness is another one of those places that I have always known I would visit. It's so mysterious! Not just because of the "monster," but also because of the size and depth. Loch Ness is about one or two miles across in most parts and 23 miles long. Pretty big, but that's not all. It is so deep, that all the water from all the lakes in England, Wales, AND Scotland could fit in its lake bed if its own waters were displaced. Its also so deep that the Eiffel tower could be placed inside and completely submerged. And here's the kicker that really got me: All of the people on earth could fit inside Loch Ness COMFORTABLY. That is one massive lake. With this in mind, Sanna and I scuttled off the bus and after a refreshing lunch and walk through the incredibly Nessiefied souvenir shop, we headed down to the loch. Our tour guide had told us that we could either take a ridiculously expensive boat ride across the loch or hang out on the dock as there was no way to walk along the shore. I obviously took that as a challenge and drug poor Sanna with me to walk along the forbidden shore. Forbidden shore. That sounds really cool. And it was!
     The lake was beautiful. If you ever get the chance to go, please do. Sanna and I wandered along the shore a little ways and then I had the bright idea to do a cartwheel in front of the lake and get it on picture. Yeah. My cartwheels suck big time.

The second attempt. Cold as Titanic waters. Seriously.
     Since that utterly failed, I decided to skip to part two and get in the lake. After removing my soft as clouds insole-filled shoes, I delicately balanced on mossy rocks and stepped into the FREEZING COLD HOLY COW WHAT AM I DOING?! lake. I stayed in approximately 30 seconds and then hightailed it back to the shore. I regrouped. Put on my shoes. And then walked another 30 feet to an old dock. I promptly removed my shoes again and set out to show this lake who was boss. Haha. The lake was obviously the boss. I stayed in about two minutes this time before I gave in and clambered back onto the dock. I replaced my shoes and then Sanna and I continued down the rocky shore. Up ahead there was a mysterious object jutting out of the water. I walked towards it and judged the distance from rock to rock. "Sanna! Should I try and climb it?" "NO!" So naturally, I removed my shoes once more and began my tricky journey to the unidentified thingy.
Me being super cool and serene and stuff.
     Of course, I made it. I climbed atop the cement cylinder and looked all around me. It was gorgeous. But damnation. No monster in sight. Crestfallen, I began my descent and carefully made it back to shore and put on my shoes. At this point I should mention Sanna is a great companion. She took fabulous pictures of my (un)graceful journey and thoroughly enjoyed our little escapade. We made our way back to the dock and I picked up a nice little rock for Blake on the way back. At the dock, Sanna and I had another person on our tour take a picture of us right as the cruise boat was returning. I also met a dude in a kilt and coerced him into taking a picture with me. And that was it for Loch Ness. Until we meet again! Next time I will have scuba gear and an electric blanket turned all the way up waiting for me once I get back.
     And off we went again!


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