Send Me On My Way -Rusted Roots

May 14, 2013

Haggis, Hilarity, and the Highlands: Scotland Part Two

Hello there patient readers, and welcome back to my poor neglected blog.
     I realize that I haven't written a post in a full month, but as I'm sure most of you understand, I have been busy with finals, essays, rehearsals, and procrastination. My bad. Please accept my deepest apology.
The Beautiful Highlands and My Butt.
     Anywho, I believe we left off driving away from the lovely Loch Ness. I saw yaks. Yes, ladies and gentlemen; yaks. The fuzzy creatures deserve mentioning even though I literally only saw them; didn't pet them or anything special. I liked them though. As we drove, our lovely Scottish tour guide told us about the mountain looming ahead of us. Ben Nebeit means 'the mountain with its head in the clouds,' and this puppy was taaaaaall. Not as tall as some of the Rockies, but the tallest mountain I'd seen here so far. Our guide said many people attempt to climb the mountain, and many succeed. But sometimes, the mountain rescue team is called out to help. The top three reasons are as follows: 
3. The weather made their climb impossible and they were stuck.
2. They were ill prepared for the climb and are now freezing in their unsightly bermuda shorts.
1. Bananas.
Goin' Bananas.
     At this point, I'm like bananas? and our tour guide laughs at the bus full of puzzled faces. I can tell she likes this part of the tour. She explained that many hikers bring bananas with them while they climb as a light, healthy snacks. When they're finished, they throw the peels and keep hiking not knowing that their peel won't  decompose in time. Apparently, the mountain is covered in peels and people will accidentally step on them and fall, possibly down quite a ways. So THAT is the number one reason hikers have to call the rescuers. Hehe. You know you kinda want to giggle. Go ahead. Do it. 
     Our next stop was a castle. Well... castle ruins. And NO. I wasn't the one to ruin it. It was only about a ten minute stop so I quickly wandered about taking pictures and climbing over barriers that definitely weren't meant to be climbed over. And then I was late to the bus again. Oops. Whatever. YOLO. Except no because I hate that phrase. Forget I said it. I suppose I could delete it... But nah. This is how my mind works and lucky you, you get to read my crazy mind. 
     Moving on. Along the road to Glencoe, the guide pointed out "Oh by the way this hill over there? It's the forbidden forest and Hagrid's hut sat right there. Across the way is the scenery they used for the background of the Quidditch scenes." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I am frantically pressing my face against the window and cursing my eyelashes for whacking the window every time I blink. I want to scream at the guide to let me OUT, but I'm too afraid she actually will and then happily drive off, so I just soak in the view with my flat face and camera. 
     Other parts of Glencoe were lovely as well, such as the three sister mountains: Faith, Hope, and Charity, the frozen waterfalls, and the tree that mysteriously grows out of solid rock. I do have to admit, though, while talking about Glencoe, I can't help thinking "And four for you, Glen Coco. You go Glen Coco!" Sorry. Call it what you will, but Mean Girls has fabulous quotes. Also Anchorman. And Harry Potter......... Speaking of movies, Braveheart happened here in Scotland. I learned about William Wallace and stuff, but I took too long to write this blog and have forgotten the details (Most of it). Watch the movie for more information. I did see his monument though. And the Stirling castle from afar. It looked really nice and I am a bit disappointed the tour didn't stop there. I wanted go inside, but the tour was now on the way back to Edinburgh.
I couldn't find my haggis picture,
so here is my mouth that ate it instead.
     Skip to Edinburgh. The tour might have ended, but my adventures hadn't. You might have thought I'd be tired and go back to the hostel to sleep. NOPE! Chuck Testa. Uh... I mean. No. I didn't. Instead, I went to a pub-by-day/club-by-night called the Frankenstein and ordered dinner. Haggis and black pudding to be precise. What's that? Here's a little definition for you:

HAGGIS- (n)- A Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal.

BLACK PUDDING- (n)- Also known as blood pudding or blood sausage, is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.
I added my name to the walls of the Elephant House!
Tasty, huh? Surprisingly it wasn't as bad as the description implies. It was pretty good. The blood pudding had a weird texture (understandably) and the haggis was kinda spicy, but I ate most of it! Yay for being adventurous and NOT throwing up! I can say I've had more disgusting things before (I did Fear Factor. Don't ask what I ate). After feeding Sanna some of my meal without telling her what it was, we finished and walked back to our hostel in New Town where the others were already waiting. I asked how their tour went and they said it was fantastic as well. Luka even told me that his tour guide said there is a man in Edinburgh who JK based Hagrid off of. It was a really cool story. I wish I could remember it, but I didn't remember to write the story down so I forgot. I'll ask Luka later. But another day was over and the next day was an early start as I had to catch a bus to St. Andrews and meet my CouchSurfer host in the morning.
Tea in the Elephant House
     Flash forward to morning. Apparently leaving an hour early doesn't mean you will catch your bus when you can't find the station. So that happened. My motto of everything happens for a reason proved true this time though. I went back to the hostel and had a marvelous time with the others until they caught their bus. Then, I set to work finding a place to stay. CouchSurfing showed me several people who I requested to stay with, but as fate would have it, an American guy named Nick who was living in Edinburgh and studying answered my plea for help. He and his friend Nate, who was visiting, had dinner reservations and couldn't meet up with me for a few hours, so I went back to Old Town and the Elephant House (remember this is the place JK wrote Harry Potter). 
View From Edinburgh Castle.
     Before I came to Europe, I went on the Elephant House website and discovered they have a live camera feed online. With this in mind, I called my Dad and made him go on that website while I stood outside waving at the camera. He told me to smile and he'd take a screen shot for me, but it took a few minutes before he could actually figure out how to do it. Those few minutes were EXCRUCIATING. I was on the street in front of a coffee shop smiling and waving at their roof. I don't get easily self-conscious but oh my gosh that got me. OHMYGOD. I JUST REALIZED OTHER PEOPLE ON THEIR WEBSITE SAW ME. Well that is just great. I hope they enjoyed the show.
In the castle!
     After that debacle, I went inside to burn some time and struck up a conversation with an older lady who was having tea as well. She was very nice and we talked and drank tea together for about half an hour until she had to go meet someone. At this point, I decided to go buy tickets for a ghost tour because I'm badass like that, but they were sold out and instead, I bought one for the next night. Nick called and we met up at his place which was actually quite nice although up four flights of stairs (much like my own room here. Got somethin to say UK? Huh? HUH?!). Nate and Nick were extremely fun and it was great to hang out with other Americans again. The boys wanted to go out clubbing, so I thought eh. Why not? And joined them. We went to about three different places and had a blast! Apparently I'm a great wingwoman. Yeah. That's right. I'm gonna skip the alcohol soaked bits of this story because some of my readers are judgey, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself so we'll leave it at that.

The Vaults of Edinburgh. BOO!
     The next morning, Nick, Nate, and I went out to have some curry and then visited the Castle of Edinburgh. This time I actually paid to get in. It was beautiful inside the castle and the view was phenomenal. Scotland is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, that is for sure. In the castle, I noticed a few unicorns in the architecture, but not nice ones; regal, dangerous ones. Apparently it's Scotland's national animal. HAHA. Only Scotland could have a unicorn as their national animal and still be badass. Sadly there were no unicorns on the crown jewels of Scotland, I checked, but they were still pretty awesome and sparkly. The rest of the day was spent wandering around and just generally enjoying the day. That night I went on the ghost tour and visited the vaults of Edinburgh (which I later saw on a top 5 list of scariest places on earth) as well as a reaaaaally old cemetery. The tour guide pointed out a tombstone reading "RB SCROGGIE: a meal man" (meaning a corn dealer) and told the group that Charles Dickens was walking through the cemetery and misread it as "a mean man" from which he came up with the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Dude. Charles Dickens. In the same place. Sheesh!
Colin and I in Edinburgh. Some Asian person took
the picture. Not lying, they always take the best pictures.
     My last day in Edinburgh was short, but I had enough time to meet up with my buddy Colin (Australian guy I met in Austria who visited me in Kansas) and we went to a pub where he introduced me to the delicious snakebite drink and talked for a few hours. It was a quick meetup as I had to catch my bus to Birmingham at 3:20, but we managed to get a few pictures before I had to go back to Nick's place. When I got there, he and Nate weren't there so I cleaned the room he let me stay in, folded the linens and air mattress, and washed all the dishes that were dirty. I didn't eat off of them, but it was my small way of saying thank you. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see them before I left, but I hope to someday as I really enjoyed their company.
All I wanted was to make it back to uni.
Is that too much to ask?!!?
     This is where it goes wrong again. Yes, I made it to my bus, but it was scheduled to leave ten minutes AFTER I thought it was supposed to and the bus driver lectured me. Bleh. So other than that and the fact I had to sit by the stinky toilet, it was alright. When we got to Glasgow, there was a ten minute connection, so I ordered a sandwich in the station. The lady took FOREVER and guess what? Yep. Missed my bus AGAIN. After a moment of panic, I found out the next bus to Birmingham was tomorrow and I panicked again. Luckily, an older gentleman called me lassie and that calmed me down because it was so freaking cool. The only thing I could think of to do was wander until I found a place to sit with WIFI  and that place was ironically Revolution vodka bar. I searched CouchSurfing and waited for a couple hours (with tasty drinks) until Angela called me and offered me a bed for the night. I graciously accepted and she came to my rescue. The train ride to her place was fantastic because I witnessed a very drunk young man being told off by a twelve year old. Angela and her family were nice and she kept saying "wee one" which made me laugh. 
     The next day, we went back into Glasgow and she took me around to a few places of interest before my bus finally came in. I actually made it to my bus on time, but Jesus punished me for being late to the last two with no toilet paper, the scent of baby poo, and an ice cold bus. Eventually, I made it back to Birmingham and caught the wrong bus home. -____- It was fun walking back to uni in the rain at midnight alone and with luggage for fifteen minutes... Not. 
     And the moral of the story, kids, is Scotland is great, Rusty is bad with busses. The End. 
I also became Dr. Who's companion.