Friday, January 6, 2012

Edinburgh Part 1

"Yes! Finally! Photos from Edinburgh!" said my readers, in my mind. Yep, it's that time again, time for pictures I took while traveling somewhere. Lots of old buildings involved. Will I ever get tired of taking pictures of old buildings, looming above me? No. Nope. Never.

I talked about it on twitter, but since my twitter has become more and more of a cesspool where my thoughts go to die, I can understand why you would stay as far away from that place as possible. So I'd better just update everyone: I went to Edinburgh for Christmas. It was pretty awesome. I met up with my friend Lily and her partner in crime Angus, and stayed in a really cool flat right below the Edinburgh Castle (the view from outside our building pictured above). Lily had been working up in Orkney over the fall, and then she and Angus trekked around Europe for a few weeks before ending their adventure in Edinburgh with me. I was super glad that they invited me to spend Christmas with them, because otherwise I probably would have spent the holiday all alone in my dimly lit room, eating beans and sobbing.

Here's a neat story. The morning I arrived, Lily and I planned to meet at a Starbucks near Princes Street in the Edinburgh city center. Lily didn't have a working mobile at the time (what primeval world is she living in) so she sent a facebook message before she left the flat, saying to meet at the Starbucks on George and Castle. So I got off the bus at George and Castle, went into the Starbucks, bought a latte, and waited. And waited. And waited. After a while I decided Lily must have gone to the wrong Starbucks, so I went down the road to another nearby Starbucks. She wasn't there. I think I must have gone back and forth between those two Starbucks like three times, tweeting and facebooking forlorn messages as I went, finally just sitting outside the original Starbucks full of despair.

After a while of sitting there convinced I was going to die alone on the streets of Edinburgh, Lily finally showed up all panicked. Apparently, you guys, there is a third Starbucks in that vicinity in Edinburgh, to which Lily had initially gone. So while I had been wandering back and forth between two Starbucks on George Street, she had been going back and forth between the Starbucks on George and Castle, and the one on Princes Street. Jesus Christ Edinburgh, talk about confusing. Maybe, before erecting three Starbucks locations in one small area, consider the sad mobile-less Americans who might be trying to find one another, lost and alone and scared, on the cold streets of your city. Maybe think about that one next time.

Despite the harrowing first hour, Edinburgh turned out to be pretty amazing all told. If you've never been, you should go. People kept asking me what I was doing for Christmas, and every single person, when told I was going to Edinburgh, exploded with, "Oh my god you are going to love it, it is so beautiful and amazing, narrow streets, cool shops, so quaint, castle, oh god Meg you will love that Scottish shit." They weren't wrong. I loved that Scottish shit.

I even tried haggis, which I was convinced would be disgusting (because who doesn't have a horrible idea in their mind about what haggis is all about), but turned out to be pretty okay. I couldn't eat more than a bite because the idea of it freaks me way out, but it tasted okay. I did like those tatties and neeps, though. Mmmm tatties and neeps.

My favorite thing about Edinburgh, and I imagine Scotland in general, if I'm honest, was the ever-present and often eerily distant wailing of bagpipes. I felt like, no matter where I was or what I was doing, the whole time I was in Edinburgh, there was bagpipe music in the background. Sometimes it was far away, those melancholic strains drifting through Old Town, and other times it was blasting loudly from a speaker in some kitschy Scotland Gift Shop. The best, though, was the man standing outside a church or some old building or other, playing actual bagpipes. Now, bagpipes are no new thing for me, having grown up like three blocks away from Rose Park in Missoula, where apparently every bagpiper in the city goes to practice for hours at a time, but there's no doubt about it: bagpipes are way better when experienced in Scotland. God, I love bagpipes. (Bagpipe man will be featured in the next post of pictures from Edinburgh.)

Well guys, I guess that about does it for my first post about Edinburgh. I really liked the city, and I could totally see myself living there, unlike in London, which is a terrifying prison of concrete and pigeons. (Not really; I love London, but if I had to live here for years on end I fear my soul would whither and die. Unless I lived in Hampstead, though; I think I could manage Hampstead.) I'd love to go back to Scotland later in the year and visit the highlands, and Orkney, and basically everywhere cool that doesn't involve being in a city.

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