Monday, March 14, 2005 - Got up with a slight sore throat, which isn't a good sign, but otherwise feeling good. Kieran took the day off of school to go with us on our trek. Want to the train station and got tickets to Edinburgh.
It was my first train ride so I was pretty stoked, especially because of one of my favorite films Before Sunrise starts on a train ride in Europe.
We arrived in Edinburgh, where it was raining, and walked a couple blocks to Edinburgh Castle.
Before we took in any major sights we stopped at a cafe, grabbed some sandwiches, cakes, and sodas ate in the Jacobite Room. Let's get started talking about the most historic spot in Scotland...
Edinburgh Castle - This place has so much history that I'd seriously recommend reading up on it, but below are my top ten favorite parts in no particular order.
Not to mention the amazing views of Edinburgh from atop the castle stronghold.
#1 - Mons Meg - Built around 1450, this giant medieval cannon is legendary.
#2 - Black Dinner - Off the beaten tourist path is a dingy dark cavern where the infamous "Black Dinner" took place, where two people eating with the royalty were put up suddenly on false charges and beheaded. I had read up a bit on this prior so it was cool seeing it.
#3 - One O' Clock Gun - Every day they fire a cannon at 1:00PM, which is a powerful sight to see.
#4 - St. Margaret's Chapel - Dating in the 1100s, this is the oldest building in Edinburgh. This little place has so much history and was extremely inspiring.
#5 - Scottish National War Memorial - Added after the first World War I felt particularly spellbound inside this beautiful building with spectacular medieval architecture.
#6 - Great Hall - Absolutely stunning hammerbeam roof built by James IV inside very regal building.
#7 - Crown Square - The principal courtyard where many people were beheaded.
#8 - Honours of Scotland - Most famous attraction holding the Crown Jewels, some of the oldest surviving regalia in Europe. The scepter, crown, sword, and the Stone of Destiny.
#9 - National War Museum - Not to be confused with the earlier memorial, this museum contains hundreds of articles like weaponry, uniforms, and tons of info.
#10 - The Prisons of War - The newest exhibit, showing graffiti and other items from actual prisoners held in the 18th and 19th centuries.
They recreated the sights and sounds the prisoners experienced, you can make counterfeit money, and my friends even locked me in an actual old jail cell!
After leaving we hit up shops and walked the famous Prince St. Went to a McDonalds that was a lot different from ours back home. Totally different menu (example: Cadbury Creme Egg McFlury), 3 stories high (with super views), etc. Went to Princes Mall, which I saw in a travel video, but wasn't too impressed. Saw this place titled The Edinburgh Dungeon that caught our eyes; think one-part history the other part-haunted house. With exhibits ranging from torture, vampires, murderers, etc. The tour took one hour. I got some good footage, there were a lot of live actors involved, and although somewhat cheesy very fun. Highlight coming at "Anatomy Theatre" where I was asked to come on stage and help this woman dig through a corpse's stomach; where I pulled out a sandwich, intestines, and a heart. Steve filmed the whole bit, and I really played along well and got involved with the show... awesome moment. Took the train back where exhaustion hit us hard, walked home in the cold rain in the dark, and arrived here where uncle William proceeded to yell, bitch, and scream for a solid hour. Feeling sick, my throat definitely showing signs of impending difficultly, and beat from being out since 9:00AM for 10+ hours I try to relax. Feeling homesick for the first time I resort to writing in my journal and listening to music. I hope to get online for an hour or two before bed, and make a phone call. We're supposed to take it easy tomorrow which'll be a nice change.
Tuesday, March 14, 2005 - I didn't do anything today. When I got up I was made quite clear that I was sick because I felt horrible. However, over here it's a lot easier and less expensive to get medicine, so I've got some antibiotics on the way. I spent the entire day on a floor, wrapped up like a mummy. Joseph, Steve, and Kieran were going for a guy's night out... so I ended up throwing on some clothes and joining against my better judgment. We had a couple drinks and shot some pool. Joseph told us this incredible story about a threesome he recently took part in. Steve told his favorite story about me; back in high school during our final exam my teacher left the room and I pulled out my penis and stood on my chair... I don't remember why I did it. In Steve's version I'm 13 inches long and I've heard this story retold countless times. I came back to the house, turned out the lights, and thought about all the girls who've came and gone through my life that I "loved", and fell asleep.
Wednesday, March 15, 2005 - We pretty much laid in bed again today until the afternoon. Took a walk to get Kieran a birthday card and gift because he turns 17 today. We go to Steve's cousin's house for dinner. She's only 23, and recently got married and had a child. She visited America before and I met her, although all of our buddies were trying to impress her and fight for her attention so I just ignored her on that night. She's grown into a really beautiful woman, though... and seems happy in the new family role. Her baby boy was super cute, and they say he is very shy but he really took to me... which surprised all of us. Her husband is from America, but could easily pass as British. We ordered Chinese takeout, and I had sweet and sour king prawns (shrimp) with fried rice. I tried to be polite and a good guest. She dropped us back off here around 9:00PM. Police stopped by earlier in the day and I answered the door, I guess uncle William punched some hotel worker in the face a while back. Steve and I got comfy, and he fell asleep around midnight.
We don't look like any other people here. The majority of the teenage guys here all have gel in their hair, and it spiked or teased up. I think I look especially foreign; my long wild hair, beard, and thick rimmed glasses. I'm still taking medicine; hopefully I'll be feeling better soon. We're supposed to go to Stirling Castle tomorrow, but Steve's ditching out and leaving me with his uncle Thomas, which I'm not thrilled about. Not sure what'll happen... but I miss home.
Goodbye Europe - I was feeling a little better today, and the sun was shining, so I opted to take a solo bike ride. It was very relaxing, although I got a little lost. I do tend to find myself missing home more and more.
Today, I also went to New Lanark and Falls of Clyde.
I saw the most spectacular waterfall and did some mountain climbing.
It was so beautiful. I also went to this quite little tearoom, where they had all sorts of chocolates, scones, and cakes. My last day here has been a nice one.
This will be my final entry written in Europe. I'll be in a plane above the stunning Atlantic Ocean and arriving home Monday. My experiences here will not be forgotten, and I'm very thankful for the opportunity. I saw some amazing and beautiful things, like my train rides through Scotland, and a handful of others... the majority of which I've already discussed in detail in prior posts. I've been sick the entire second portion of the trip, and didn't get to do a lot in that time, but kept my spirits high and I'll be leaving with no regrets.