Saturday, November 7, 2009

DAY ONE: Scotland--Arthur's Seat

"That is the most offensive thing I have seen in 20 years of teaching--and that includes a elementary school production of 'Hair'."--Sue Sylvester (from Glee, Ep.2)

I owe this post to so many people.

Scotland. 20 October 2009.

I opened my eyes to Scotland about 6.20am on 20 October 2009, despite difficulty sleeping. Fountain’s Abbey, previously in first place as the most beautiful think I’d ever seen, was immediately bumped to second place, even though I hadn’t yet gotten a great view of Scotland, it being only 6.20 in the morning. Since that time, I think Herefordshire (western England, near Wales) in the fall is the most beautiful place I’ve been, but I’m beginning to learn the unimportance of ‘bests’ and ‘favorites.’

The coach ride into Scotland was bearable, but less than pleasant, although I do have to say that despite its short comings as a comfortable trip, there were no snorers aboard. There was a man sitting behind me who smelled of smoke and who had such an awful cough I was certain he’d die in his seat. He didn’t.

We finally got to Edinburgh (ed-in-bur-ah) about 8am. It didn’t take us long to find our hotel—King James hotel. (Out of the coach station, down to South St. Andrews St., left on Prince Street, voila!) We had to pay extra for a three person room because we weren’t smart enough to only send two people inside to check our luggage, but it turned out for the better: we were able to go straight up to our room and take napes. Room 448 was spacious enough, had three beds (two pushed together to create a double bed), a clean bathroom with a shower, toilet, and shampoos and soaps that were refilled everyday (I stole several upon leaving), a flat-screen TV, a desk, a small table, an ice-bucket, a hair dryer, ironing board, and towels. Sort of an odd description of the room, but I wanted to give off the impression that I’m certain it’s the nicest hotel I’ll ever stay in without my parents for years.

After our nap we walked down what we learned was the boring half of the Royal Mile on our way toward Holyrood Palace and Park, and Arthur’s Seat. When Orson Pratt (Mormon missionary) was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland to preach the gospel, he hiked Arthur’s Seat often (I touched what Julene, Jackie and I single-handedly dubbed the Orson Pratt Rock—in reference to the fact that I want to touch everything. I walked up the hill off the path and said, “Orson Pratt probably rested on this rock,” and touched it. Julene took a picture.). I picked flowers and pressed them so I would always remember the meadows and when we got to the top, I realized why he frequented the top of the hill. We sat for a little while, took pictures of the view, and came back down, frolicking through the fluffy grasses in the meadow. Frolic is a good word, right?

Atop Arthur’s Seat: “We’re here—and we’ve come to the realization of absolute freedom. Four days—or three and a half. £40 for our coach to Edinburgh and back. £100 the King James hotel. £10 for Carmel flavored rice-cakes, Pringles, digestives, and Reeses peanut butter cups. Throwing rocks off of Arthur’s Seat atop Edinburgh? Priceless.

“But it’s beautiful. Edinburgh is beautiful. Churches, abbeys, the Royal Mile, the ocean, the cold breeze, and the absolute green.”

We walked back down the Royal Mile and came across the Edinburgh Museum (free admission), so we went inside. It was larger than we initially supposed so it took us over an hour: it had information about Edinburgh’s beginnings there nearly-current. It was a make-shift museum, with some legitimate artifacts, which was interesting because of how used we are to glorified display cases.

Still tired from getting only 4-5 hours of sleep that night, we went back to the museum and watched 21, then got ready to go out to a pub to get fish and chips. Despite Julene’s reluctance (she didn’t like the idea of going to a pub at night), Jackie and I refused to pass up the experience. We went to ‘The Tass’ for £6.50 fish and chips. It was good, the pub was low-key, and overall we enjoyed ourselves.

We came back to the hotel and watched Hands Across the Table, one of my favorite movies (with Fred MacMurray and Carole Lombard). Jackie and Julene enjoyed it.

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