Monday, November 8, 2010

Go Jump in the...Loch?

Actually don't. Nessie might get you. So picking up back from where I last left off: Max's party. People were staying the night, don't drink and drive, so the shindig went pretty late. Now to the interesting plot twist. I was flying to Edinburgh on saturday morning. At 6am. So, quite obviously, I didn't sleep. The taxi arrived while everyone was partying away at 4am. This began an epic weekend in Scotland. Surprisingly, considering the state of my condition, I made it to the gate my opinion of course. Thankfully I ran into someone I actually knew at the gate, Ian from Cork, and that made the journey far easier. Not saying I was the best travel buddy though. The moment I sat down on the plane, I was out like a light, half expecting to wake up hungover in Edinburgh. Despite my predictions, I woke up just fine and Ian and I took the airlink bus to the city centre. From there, we climbed the main hill towards Edinburgh Castle and our hostel. When we walked in at 7:30 am, we signed in at the front desk and were told to drop our luggage in the storage room and chill out in the common room until a civilized hour. Then we would be given our room assignments and we could meet up with everyone else. Of course we went exploring in the hostel. We just happened to walk by an open door and saw Ben, another Cork friend, inside. Further pushing the door open, we saw everyone else waiting for our arrival.

After reuniting, we all made our way down to the Elephant's Head Cafe for breakfast. It was a nice little establishment just off the Royal Mile. Their coffee was good, their scones were amazing. Oh and also, this was where J.K. Rowling generated her ideas for the Harry Potter plots that we all know and love. So that was extremely exciting. But after breakfast at that literary landmark, we made our way up High Street towards the Edinburgh Castle, home of the Scottish House of Stuart. While we were standing in line to enter the castle, I overheard some of my friends talking about Bloody Mary and her life in Edinburgh. Now I don't like correcting people, but I just had to. Bloody Mary was Mary Tudor. Mary Queen of Scots was Mary Stuart and she lived in Edinburgh Castle. With that history mixup fixed-up, we entered through the main gates to the castle to see an amazing view of the city of Edinburgh. After taking the token pictures with the cannons lining the castle walls, we made our way into the inner castle only to see...more cannons and a giant cannon. Jessie almost climbed in, and she would have fit, but the guard stopped her. From there we went inside the actual building to see the crown jewels of the Scottish royal family which were amazing. I've never really seen a scepter up close...but man are they cool. Being pressed for time to make it to "thanksgiving" we ran out of the castle, down the Royal Mile, and found the Caves.

This weekend was a Californian invasion of Scotland. All of the UC students studying in the UK and Ireland met at the Caves for an American thanksgiving dinner. We had all the traditional stuff. Well, five of the traditional things. When you're serving over one hundred students, you gotta scale it down a bit. The dinner was fun, the food was great, but the real fun part about this day was the Scottish Ceilidh. Now in its crudest form, this is Scottish square dancing. We felt like complete idiots and we were partly convinced that the caller was making it up as he went just to laugh at us. But it was so much fun.

Yesterday, was the day of the Highlands. And a day in the Highlands is a day in the low temperatures. We were up at the crack of dawn and were out the door soon after. We boarded the bus and we were off. Headed northwest, our tour guide drove us through the Highlands on the way to Loch Ness. Before the stop at the legend lake, we made a pitstop to see this awesome cow. He was called Hamish. Sounds kinda demoralizing. But he was awesome. The mountains and secenery on the way up were absolutely amazing and I really now wish I could have hiked it. But we got Loch Ness at around three in the afternoon and boarded the cruise down to the castle. We didn't see Nessie, but he's out there. Well I hate to speed things up but we quickly drove back down to Edinburgh and were home by dinner. This morning, after another night of no sleep, I hitched a ride down to the bus station from a baker. He was delivering bread to our hostel and offered a I guess I didn't hitch it. But I caught the bus down the airport and flew back to Dublin this morning.

Well I'm racing to finish this as we are about to head off to Lisbon for reading week (or as the customs agent said: "Drink Lots of Pints Week"). I think he's right. But I'll talk to you all soon!!


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