August 5, 2012

On To Scotland

It's been a while since I've blogged here.  I mean to update far more often than I do, especially since I'm still currently on the trip to Scotland.  And I've been several places since then.  I have been out of commission for a while while dealing with the hysterectomy stuff but it's still not really an excuse.  So here goes, day 2 of our trip.

We were on a ferry from Amsterdam to New Castle, England.  It wasn't bad at all, at least on the way there.  I had never been on a boat for so long and I'd certainly never slept on one.  The rooms were...terrifyingly small.  But the ferry itself was very nice.  There were several restaurants, a movie theater, a shop, and a couple bar areas.  We were tired, we didn't do much other than eat dinner (where I drank a New Castle beer, of course) and shop a little bit.

The following morning we were nearing England.  We went to eat breakfast.  There was a woman on our trip that was sitting one table over from us.  As soon as I sat down with my food she started talking VERY loudly about how trashy and disgusting tattoos were.  I nearly had a breakdown and started crying into my food.  I was mortified because then, everyone was looking at me.  And it didn't help that she was a teacher at Taylor's school, I could only imagine how it made Taylor feel.  Then I got mad.  I wanted to go punch her for being so disrespectful of myself and my daughter.  But I didn't, I just continued eating my breakfast.  Yes, some of her friends she was with defended tattoos and such.  So whatever.  People with prejudices are ignorant, nothing can be done about that.

We did learn things on that trip about traveling with MWR.  Always have drinks in luggage.  Take a small suitcase for any stops like the ferry ride and leave larger bags on the bus.  The drinks were the most important since for a 12oz pop it was 2 euro.  Ouch.

Also, make sure to check the power needs for your destination.  Converters are usually cheap when you have time to look for them, but not so much when you're you're trying to find them in a tourist spot.  And not all 220 plugs are the same shape so don't let that fool you.  Do research.

When we got off the ferry we had to go through customs.  Customs in England is crazy.  They're very specific in the things that they do.  I got "yelled at" while in line, there was a sign that said to turn off cell phones so I pulled mine out to turn it off and the man thought I was trying to use it.  Once he realized that I was just turning it off, then he tried to make nice and started talking to us about where we are from and what not, he was super nice.  I love little old men, and little old men with accents are awesome :)

Once we got into New Castle I started feeling very Harry Potter-ish.  The Dementors were out in full force, it was nice and foggy.  Driving on the wrong side of the road was disconcerting.  Glad I wasn't driving because I would have been nice and confused.  We were on the Bahn...or Highway...or Freeway...whatever they call it in England.  Interstate doesn't seem right.  I was very grateful for our German bus drivers, they definitely seemed to know what they were doing.

I felt like I should be wearing plaid and listening to Dropkick Murphy the closer we got to Scotland.  There were sheep EVERYWHERE.  Cute little sheeps just dotted ever hillside.  It was so green with rolling hills and sheep.  The little cottages and the grand homes were all spaced out and beautiful.  The drive was very nice because we got to see so much of the countryside of England and Scotland.  I decided I wanted to move there very early on in the trip.  I also decided that Jax, Stella, and Olliver would make excellent sheep dogs.  It would be wonderful.

Our first stop once we reached Edinburgh was the castle.  The castle is AMAZING.  I honestly didn't know much about castles before we got there.  I expected them to be more like palaces, that people lived in them and they were big Cinderella type things.  This particular castle had dwellings inside of the castle walls for the Royalty along with many more buildings that were used as Military barracks basically.  I learned a lot about castles on that trip and I'd like to go to as many castles as possible.  We were able to see many amazing things in the parts of the castle that had been turned into museums.  I believe we hit every single building there was to go into.  Then we found a book shop and it was ON.  I bought several books there about Scotland and the history.  I also bought a Scottish baby names book.  I have a slight obsession with names and I wanted to see what names were common and what they meant.  It was a good purchase.  We got Taylor a replica necklace.  It was the same as Mary Queen of Scots.  I became very interested in the life of Queen Mary and have since done a lot of research, read everything I could about her.  Fascinating, I tell you.

After our time in the castle was up it was time for a guided tour.  We walked for what seemed like FOREVER.  It was a 2 hour walking tour.  My feet were officially dead.  But there were so many fabulous things to see and learn on the tour.  We learned about Greyfriar's Bobby (a dog who's master died and the dog lived in the cemetery at his grave).  We learned more about Queen Mary, that she was born in the castle but resided in Holyrood Palace.  We also learned TONS about William Wallace.  Braveheart.  Yeah.  Super cool.  We walked by the Elephant Cafe which was my goal on the trip.  JK Rowling began writing Harry Potter while sitting in that cafe drinking coffee.  Since I consider Harry Potter to be classic literature, it was like seeing history in the making.  We went to the Grassmarket area and were told about all of the hangings and such that used to take place there.  There was so much death and so many crazy things that happened in that area but it was so beautiful it was hard to remember that so much tragedy had occurred there.  There was so much information given to us.  We were on our tour with a woman dressed in casual warm clothing.  The other group was with a man in a kilt! He was amazing.  He ended up doing the part of the tour on the bus and I loved listening to them both talk.  Not only were they fountains of knowledge but their accents are beyond awesome.  One of the amusing parts of the tour was when we walked by a Missoni hotel.  For those of you that aren't fashion obsessed, Missoni is an Italian based designer.  The fabrics are typically in a zig zag type pattern, like many W's all connected, but there are other patterns as well.  The man working there as a door opener (pretty sure that's not his official title) was wearing a Missoni WWW patterned kilt.  It was brilliant.

On our tour we had discovered a GHOST TOUR.  It would be leaving late at night, I can't remember what time.  I believe 9 or 10.  We had some time to burn so Taylor and Danny went across the street to the Christmas Market (seriously...German Christmas market in Edinburgh!! Felt like home).  There were rides and such so they went to do that while I sat in the room and relaxed, writing notes for this blog.  I needed to rest my feet and I'm just old and not as energetic as I used to be.  We had walked around the castle for four hours then did another two hour walking tour and were about to go on another two hour.  I needed a break.

On the ghost tour, one of Danny's co-workers joined us.  He is a cool very fashionable guy named John.  We had a great time with him.  I wish he didn't call me Ms. Seely haha but he was very polite and just down right awesome.  Our tour began at a Starbucks on the Royal Mile.  Our guide was named Mark and he was from England.  He was silly and very energetic.  I think Taylor had a crush on him.  I wanted to put him in my pocket and have a pocket Brit.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  We went several places and learned so many things.  The first things we learned about was the Jekyll and Hyde story and how it originated at a pub there, Deacon William Brodie was the inspiration for the story.  And his pub is Deacon Brodies.  We also went over a bridge that was told to be haunted as well as visited by poop fairies.  Under the bridge had been previously used as basically a place to dump sewage and it is said that there are fairies that live in that sort of environment.  We headed to a cemetery and were told about the Cannibal Earl that was entombed there.  He was a 10 year old boy.  He was a crazy boy, apparently.  Here is a link to his story: cannibal earl.  Next we headed to Calton Hill.  It was rumored to be haunted because so many Pagan rituals had taken place there (and still do) as well as many witchy things that happened there.  It was definitely very spooky up there, there's no getting around that.  Here is some information on Calton Hill: Calton Hill and Beltane Fire Festival.  The last thing we learned about was the Vampire Of Edinburgh.  He believed that he was a Vampire and was in love with Queen Akasha.  Now, I've never seen Queen of the Damned but I did know that name wasn't quite right.  Here is a link to his story: Vampire of Scotland.  At least I'm not that crazy, eh?

By the end of that tour we were exhausted.  We were supposed to go to a Pub for a free beer, part of the price for going on the ghost tour, but we had Taylor with us so we headed back across the bridge to out hotel on the Royal Mile.  We walked past several stores that I vowed to visit the following day and ended up going to McDonalds for a quick pick me up, after all that walking we were starving.

We headed back to our hotel room and we each settled in to our own personal twin sized bed, watched a little British TV and then fell asleep peacefully.  It was a WONDERFUL first day in Scotland.

Stay tuned for the next leg of the adventure, hopefully it won't take me so long to get to it.

 Taylor and I on the fairy, both of us are wearing plaid <3 how cute
 Danny and Taylor on the ferry
 Our room on the ferry...tiny, no?
 The bathroom on the ferry...yes, the toilet is in the shower.
 Sir William Wallace...or someone dressed up with him.  This guy was HILARIOUS.
 Danny and I in front of the castle....ignore my face I look ridiculous lol
 Heading into the castle
 Taylor with a cannon in the castle
 Me inside the castle
 Our tour guides and the awesome MWR man, Melvin
 Taylor being spazzy...what's new?
 Everyone has seen one of these, they're famous!!
 Greyfriar's Bobby

 Taylor freezing on the giant ferris wheel
 The cool slide she went down
 In the cemetery
 The obelisks were made to help point the souls of the departed to heaven
 So...that looks like a face...
 heading up Calton hill
 The view from the top
 You can see tons of Edinburgh from here
 Taylor and I following the group