Edin-Go-Bragh: St Paddy’s in Edinburgh

I have dranken?/drunk?/drinked? Five cups of coffee in the past hour and I feel like my brain might literally explode. I feel like Chris Traiger, but instead of thinking about health and exercise I just keep thinking up a million crazy ideas at the same time. Such as; can a baby have homicidal thoughts at such a young age? Or is my dog secretly depressed that I am not at home to annoy him? Anyways, this is all just a disclaimer to apologise for the sloppiness of this post.

We had a “study week” this past week where we are off of classes in order to “study”. However, it is of no consequence that this study break took place over St Paddy’s and that the next one takes place of Easter. Basically, we get the whole week off of classes because the administration realise (at least in St Paddy’s case) that half of the student body will not be sober enough to attend classes for the week. I know you all are probably on the edge of your seat now thinking, “finally a juicy post about Sav’s crazy debauchery on St. Paddy’s!”. Alas that is not that sort of post. Because I am culturally and socially handicapped by being Polish-American, I forgot all about St Paddy’s day and instead booked an exercision over that time to go to Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m very glad I did this instead though, because I was able to meet one of my longtime internet friends in real life! Back in the early to mid 2000s, I befriended a group of people on FanFiction.net. There are four of us in total, and all four of us wrote Animorphs fanfiction, involving a particularly underrated character Erik- who was part of the Chee. The four of us became internet pen pals and even collaborated on a story together. Crazily enough, one of the group, Liz, happened to be in the UK and we both decided to meet up and travel around Edinburgh together. It was super cool to be able to meet and hang out with someone who I had been in contact with via internet for so long, and we had a great time.

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Scotland has been on my bucket list for quite some time now, I had spent some time in the UK previously in England, and ever since it has been on my but to visit every country within the British Isles (I just have Wales left now). Whilst the UK doesn’t seem like the most exciting place in Europe to travel to, let me explain why I love the UK and Ireland so much.

  1. Tea. I love tea. I love tea parties. I love small sammies. I love tea cakes. I love biscuits. I like pretending to be fancy AF.
  2. Rain. Most days, I love rain. I love being able to wake up and feel like my nose has frostbite. I love wearing five ugly sweaters at the same time. I love splashing around in puddles in my Docs. And most importantly, rain is great for staring out the window brooding while the Downton Abbey theme song plays in the background.
  3. History. ‘Nuff said.

Alright to the actual trip.Edinburgh is magical. It’s where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and walking through the old town, and the creepy cemeteries off of the Royal Mile, you can see how it must’ve not have been too hard for her to imagine a magical world of witchery. On our first night we took a free ghost walking tour through the city. The tour was really cool because it told us of the dark history of Edinburgh which I love. My favourite stories involved the Nor Loch. The old Loch is now a lovely garden below the city that also encompases a train station. However for over 200 years it used to be an old Loch turned cesspool. For a really long time, Edinburgh did not have a sewage system, meaning that the inhabitants of the city would dump their excrement out the windows of their homes. The old city is situated on top of a hill, so naturally a small river of turds and vom would flow down the hill into the Nor Loch. Edinburgh was really into punishing people for crime and suspected witchery (everyone was a witch those days). A common form of punishment was to sit the “criminal” on a dunking stool, and dunk them in the Loch of stools (see what I did there?). As a 12 year old boy, I find this very amusing, and to be honest I was really disappointed when we walked down to the gardens were the Loch used to be and could not even find a solitary turd.

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Here is a picture of an actual turd in Scotland

Speaking of turds, another great story we heard on this tour was about the origin of the word “shitfaced”. Since Edinburgh is in Scotland, everyone was drunk all the time (also because drinking water at the time was not sanitary). And since sewage systems were not a thing, the city established laws when people could empty their chamber pots into the street. The more popular hour was at around 10PM each night. However this was also a popular hour for the drunken folk of Edinburgh to stumble home from the pub. Whilst there was a warning that the chamber pot emptiers would shout before they threw their turds into the street, sometimes the citizens below would be too drunk the head the warning in time, and would therefore get a face full of shit. Hence, the name “shitfaced” was born.

On our first full day in Edinburgh we visited the castle on the hill (Cue Les Mis and Ed Sheeran), which is Edinburgh Castle. Like most old castles and estates, the interior design was a fusion of many different eras has it had been owned by three different families and therefore was renovated many times. The castle gave beautiful views of the city, and it also had a memorial to fallen soldiers from WWI as well. We then went to The Elephant House, which is a coffee shop famous for where Rowling wrote Harry Potter. What was particularly cool about The Elephant House was that fans had written Harry Potter quotes as a tribute over LITERALLY EVERYTHING in the toilets. I thought about using the toilet water as holy water in hopes that some of JK Rowling’s talent would rub off on me.

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OHMEHGERD BERTHROOM SERFIE

Afterwards we took a walk through Greyfriars cemetery, another popular place Rowling wrote, and apparently also the home to a local Scottish vampire. We did not see a vampire unfortunately, we did however see some of the locals sitting on a mausoleum drinking beers at 3pm #Scotland. Naturally, we soon after went to the Writer’s Museum, where we learned about some famous writers whose names I probably should know, and Stevenson. I only know of Stevenson because my Mum made me memorise a lot of his poems as a kid. I learned from a very friendly adorable old Scottish man a lot about Stevenson’s childhood. I also learned that Stevenson had a crazy mustache. I really hope that I live long enough to become an adorable old lady who volunteers in museums.

The last museum we did was the museum in the Royal Surgeon’s Hall, where we saw a lot of decapitated body parts and learned about body snatchers. I thought it was disturbingly cool, but I will admit after going through four levels of human remains, I felt a bit queasy.

On our last full day we had pretty much wandered all over Edinburgh, so we took a short train ride to North Berwick, which is a small seaside town. I always enjoy being by the sea, but it was bitterly cold and rainy out on the day we choose to go. However, we had a nice lunch in a cute little tea shop and saw this incredible castle in a neighboring town. Visiting Dirleton castle was really neat because most castle ruins I have been to, you typically aren’t allowed to really explore inside the remains. However, Dirleton had many floors and secret rooms that were intact and perfect for exploration. We also were the only visitors on the grounds that day which was extra cool.

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*An actual Scottish mermaid
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Direction Castle

On my last day before my flight left I went and explored some cool bookshops that my roommate had recommended to me. I made the mistake of only bringing one book to read for fun with me on this term abroad, so I naturally needed to replenish my small library. There’s something peculiar about a Scottish bookshop that I love. I went into three different shops, and in each one I half expected a small troll and or David Bowie as the Goblin King to appear and give me a book of great magical power. I quickly decided before going into the last bookshop (and the most magical) that if I were to be given a magical book of spells that I would first learn how turn invisible so I could snoop on people easier.

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Dance magic dance

Overall it was a great trip across the smaller pond. Tomorrow I’m taking a short trip with one of my classes to Belfast where we will be taking a tour of the peace lines and the Shankill and Falls Road neighborhoods. I’m really excited about this, as this is also something that has been on the top of my bucket list for quite some time.

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