Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Final Night

It's our last day in Edinburgh and our last day of vacation. *sniff*. I will be happy to be back in my own bed and eating healthy again + crossfitting all the camembert and cider off like a muhfuh. And happy to be back in warmer weather.

Today we were in full-on laze mode. I wanted to visit Glasgow, but last night the thought of waking up early and traveling on a train for an hour and a half did not appeal to me at all. We figured the last day of vacation would be takin'er easy, so we woke up whenever and left the house at like 12:30.

All we really did was go look at some vintage stores up the street (weird) and then came back here to check into our flight. Afterwards there were a few streets I wanted to visit for some shopping and Jamie had to pick up these enamel mugs he ordered from a store. A pretty lax day, no rushing around, some walking and shopping and a last supper at Jamie Oliver's. His Italian restaurant here in Edinburgh.

It wasn't busy in there at all since it was like 4:30pm. But we figured we'd have an early dinner so we can spend the night preparing to come home Friday. We have packing and cleaning to do. We aren't in a hotel, remember?

Dinner was so good. SO good, I'm glad we went in there. Neither of us have been to a Jamie Oliver restaurant before and we weren't disappointed at all. The risotto was killer, it had truffles in it and was friggin amazing. Truffles rule. I got a burger and he got a steak. I drank a few negronis and wine.. it's the last supper and last booze indulgence. Before tomorrow when I need to numb my flying. It was a good last day, not crazy, not overly full. We got to walk around this city one last time, got to breathe the fresh Scottish (cold) air and again, there was no point in doing my hair because of the stupid wind. THAT I will not miss.

Edinburgh is a nice city, I doubt I'd come back because there are other places in the UK I need to see first. I've found that lots of big cities are the same in some ways. I don't know if I want to do another big city vacation again, not because it's not enjoyable or anything. I find I like the different places. Places that aren't like home - like a seaside town in France for example. heh heh.

I'll do a full on summary later, maybe on the flight. Right now I have packing to do so I'm not a stressball in the morning.

Casual Day + Stirling Castle

We moseyed around Edinburgh on Tuesday. Checked out some stores, went to Grassmarket and sat at a meh pub in the afternoon. We've done a lot of walking around here, we haven't taken transit once (aside from getting to Stirling). My feet are always killing by the time we get 'home'.

Grassmarket is a lot like Kensington. Cute artsy stores, vintage shops, food boutiques and a few restaurants. I bought myself a sweet fur hat from one of the vintage stores. It was 12 pounds, no regrets. We had lupper at some rando pub, nothing special. I kept staring at these two men who were getting drunk off beersss at 3 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. I imagined their lives at home, their wives.

At night we've been watching Mad Men, we've caught up. And.. holy disturbing!! ugh. You know what I'm talking about if you've seen it up to the end. Frig.

It's tiring walking around all day and eating a big dinner (first world vacation problems). Sometimes at night you just wanna blob out on the couch and do nothing.

Wednesday we went to Stirling, the home of William Wallace and Stirling Castle. Is it the home of him or is there just a monument up for him there because that's where the battle happened? I don't know because those Dutch assholes were talking over the tour guide. Sorry, they were Denmarkian black metal goths. Whatever.

We took the train out to Stirling, it took about an hour. It was a nice ride, taking the train is relaxing and when you go off peak hours it is very peaceful. Stirling is a cute town, narrow streets and everything leads up to this glorious castle that overlooks the land. It's quite the site, and well planned out for a castle. It would hold up well against attacks, being so high up there. (That's what the tour guide said anyway. One of the things I heard).

Town of Stirling.. get ready to walk uphill.

Do you know what Scotland's national animal is? A freakin Unicorn. What's yours? A pigeon?

Bar & Bothy.

 Tell 'em Lidge Midge sent ya.

On the way up to the castle we came across a nice cemetery - War's Mark. Yes, we like visiting graveyards in foreign lands. Not that I have some weird fascination with death, I just find them nice to walk around and take photos. It's so quiet (obv), the headstones are so neat and old, and there are stories behind each and every one of them. And I won't know any of them. Some had skulls and crossbones on them, so cool and so Goonies. Lots of old, old graves too, some that were half sunk in the ground, some you couldn't even make out the words on them. Very very cool. At one point I realized that as I was walking around this cemetery, that there were people buried underneath my feet. I never really thought about it, but about 6 feet below me, are human remains. I don't know what would remain exactly, if anything at all...But there would have to be some coffins or bones somewhere. These headstones represent these people who lived for such a short time on earth (relatively).. they died and were buried right below me. There was a funeral probably, and family left behind to grieve about them. You can't ignore the fact that each person buried here had a life, had feelings, had family-or not, who knows. It's sad, really, and life can be so cruel. Time sucks. Everyone's the same, see?
Entrance to cemetery? It was locked so we had to go in at the side by the church - not shown.

100% fall time over here, I am very much looking forward to September Toronto weather. I prefer the warmth but I appreciate and love the fall. I don't mind cozy fall feelings.. actually I love them - suburban triad - but I do mind the wind.

ANYWAY, stop crying about it. Go visit a cemetery one day, and not because you know someone buried there. The older the cemetery, the better. Just walk around, look at the names, the dates, the messages people have left for them on the stones. Appreciate the art of it all, the grass growing over the plaques, the time that's gone by. Notice the shadows the headstones cast, which people are buried under trees and those that are waiting for their loved ones to join them. Make up stories about who these people were and what happened to them. It's a good brain exercise, makes you feel so mortal and reminds you that you're alive. I remember when I was younger, walking through a really old cemetery in Brampton with my mom. It's a small cemetery, the headstones are all old and weathered. No one cares about that cemetery anymore because it's so old and no one new is buried there. Bring your kids to an old cemetery sometime, just for a look around.

Love it all.

Awesome. I love the super old ones that have large writing.


This person was up on a little hill.. I wonder if they were buried standing up. Look at those guys in the corner, I kept accidentally photobombing all their photos.

Might have to frame this one.

And this. Just wrap me up naked in cloth and bury me under a tree.

Come to think of it, I don't visit people at their graves. I don't see the point, which may sound weird after what I've just written. But they aren't there, their bodies were left there, with a memorial above them. Personally, I don't want to remember their deaths or their funerals, and that's what those graves make me think of. I want to remember their lives. So I don't go back to that place that made me sad. And one day, in a hundred or more years, some random person visiting from another country will be walking around looking at the graves, thinking about the bodies that are buried beneath their feet.. wondering about those people's lives and taking photos with their eye microchips. The circle of life. MAAAAAAA ZE VENYAAAA. But they won't be walking above mine because the only marker will be a tree. Or my hand coming out of the ground grabbing their feet for walking on my grave!

Stirling Castle is nice, it's not as big as Edinburgh Castle and not as busy. The view is absolutely stunning, a perfect spot for a castle. I was thinking I'd be coming to a castle that looks like a castle in the movies, but I always feel a bit disappointed when I actually get there. Things are all reconstructed and made into a show, it's all clean and there are fake candles and furniture. That's not what I want to see. I want to see an old-ass castle, with wrecked and ruined tapestries and walls with scars. I wish things could just be preserved the way they were and not made into a fresh clean spectacle for us modern folk. That's why I don't have many photos of the interior of this castle. It was like visiting the backstage of a medieval play. They should make it an authentic experience. Have period people walking the courtyard, vendors selling what they would have sold back then (but they'd all have to be ignoring you because it's like you're the ghost from christmas past). Horses passing through and the odd thief being caught for stealing. Maybe if you come at the right time you can catch someone being punished for treason! (Just kidding, they did awful, barbaric things to people back then.)

That peachy building is the rebuilt palace, how they think it looked back in the day. You know, we see these old ruin castles, are grey and dark.. but at one time they were painted all nice like that one. With gold accents and the statues were coloured as well. I never really knew that, I always thought they looked like they do now.

Inner 'close'.

Inside of new palace. Meh.

See? all fresh and new.. zzz. But hey there's a unicorn!

Fake fire. I have to give it to them though, the castle people are sweet and accomodate people with mobility issues. There are lifts and cars that will bring you up to certain areas. Remember that old lady who got out of the car at Edinburgh Castle for the wedding and everyone thought she was the Queen of Scotland but really she was just someone's nana? Like that. Free lift.

This guy was in a cell and scared us. He's harmless, though. 

View from castle. High! Cloud shadows!

That's not a crop circle, although there WAS a crop circle in one of the fields in England. I saw it when we were landing when we first came to Europe. Seriously. I swear.

If they are going to make it into a fake museum type show, why not go all the way with it. Make me feel like I'm walking back in time but no one notices me. Have the peasants and servants going about their business like it's the year 1300 something and no one bathes. Seriously, that would be awesome. I want to walk into the palace and see real fires burning, a table full of delicious smelling foods they would have eaten, including a full greasy pig. Make me feel something. It's hard to feel something when you visit a place like this, with all the reconstruction and staging they do. But, it's worth a visit nonetheless.

We had lunch at a bar place in town. It was average. I learned what mashed tatties and neeps are. Not mashed titties and nips.

Apres Stirling we did some browsing on Rose Street back in Edinburgh. Cute fashion-y shops and bars. Nothing spectacular happened after that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Most Pierced Woman in de Worl

One short note. Today we met Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world. We were walking along the High Street in Edinburgh when we saw this interesting lady at an incense-selling booth. I was beside her as she was getting some incesnse cones from the young men selling them. We made our way into their conversation because we really wanted a photo of her. Even better, we both got photos WITH her.

Elaine didn't tell us her name, we figured that out later on the through the magic of google. She was very friendly and funny, she asked us where we were from and pointed out how "tall and beautiful" I am - she even checked to see if I was wearing heels. I wasn't. She's quite small, and I am tall so the difference in height is extra apparent in this photo. Elaine also made note that Jamie was 'sexy too' and if he ever 'divorces' me, I'll know where he went. Look at us, sharing a moment!

Such an interesting character, so colourful and different with her rainbow dreads and face paint. I'm glad we went for a walk along High Street today.

Day Trip to the Highlands

I booked this tour before we came to Edinburgh. I was told we need to see the highlands, and since Scotland isn't all that big (relatively) I booked the tour that covered the most ground in one day.

This was our route, only we didn't pass through Glasgow. We left at 8:00am, and returned about 8pm.

First stop was a cute town called Pitlochry, and it's the "last stop" before we hit the rough highlands, where only sheep live. And some people but there aren't any actual rest stops until you get up closer to Loch Ness. Pitlochry was nice, we grabbed a coffee, cookies and sangwidges for our boat ride on Loch Ness. We were told there isn't any food on the boat ride. The coffees we bought 'to-go' had shitty lids I'm bored of this post now.

Pitlochry. OOOHH! we got coffees to go, but apparently the Scots haven't mastered 'take-away' lids. Burning spillage.

The scenery was beautiful, we were in the bus most of the time. And of course we sat in front of these Dutch guys who wouldn't STFU the entire time. I've never know a group of young men to talk so friggin much, and even over the tour guide as he spoke about the different things we passed. So annoying. If they didn't look like a Norwegan black metal band I might have asked them to be quiet. RUDE. The bus was cramped and stuffy and people were coughing... ugh I better not get sick.

The sky looks extra green because I took the photo from inside the bus.

a damn dam.

The scenery was full of lots of green, lots of pretty mounatins, lots of clouds and mist and many sheep along the way. Cute fat sheep that are used to make all the lovely wool knitted things at the stores we stopped at.

Loch Ness is nice, it's a huge lake and very deep. Loch = Lake in Scottishese, by the way. We decided to take the hour long boat tour, it had whiskey and beer on it and I ate my egg salad sandwich which offended Jamie. No regrets. I tried the 'whiskey of the day' and I don't know why I bother because I struggle to drink whiskey and makes always me gag. I figured I'd try it since I'm here, though. The tour was nice, the guy taught us about the sonar they use and there was a screen that showed the depth of the water and the fish below. We were told to 'watch for a big red thing' and if we see it we were to call him! OOoooOOHH! He told us a story that some news station made this full on mechanical Nessie, with textured skin and moving parts. It was brought up beside this boat which was touring some people around and apparently not one person took a photo of it. They were all in shock apparently. I was staring at that screen for a long time, I didn't see any big red dots though. Damn I was hoping this would be the day. It was cold up in Loch Ness, and windy. Felt like Toronto in November. Yuck.

on Loch Ness

Sonar stuff. The black area has specs in it, those are fish. The red/pink is the ground and types of rock n shizz.

That's the boat we took.

That's a real life photo of Nessie. I was scared.

After Loch Ness we went down to Glen Coe, it had beautiful huge green mountains - not as huge as out in Vancouver of course, but these were the biggest mountains I'd ever seen. I forgot to mention there were many pretty little creeks and waterfalls along the roads and in the distance. I didn't see anyone climbibg any of the mountains, but I wished I could climb up one. I feel like it's hard to gauge how far it actually is to the top, it doesn't look to bad but I'm sure if I were to do it, it would take forever. Give me one of those walking sticks, a snickers bar and good shoes and I'd climb one. I'd complain along the way but I'd do it. We stopped at a lookout point for photos then went on towards Stirling.
very large. pretty ravines and such so fourth and so on.

It was cold and wet out.

BIG. Hard to tell but.. BIG.

Stirling is all about William Wallace (Braveheart - which was filmed in like 1995!!). The tour guide told us a quick story on it and drove us up to Stirling Castle (so cool), which is a full on castle we will be visiting on Wednesday (can't wait!!) I asked the tour guide if there was a throne. I want to see a throne! There is, so it is officially on the agenda. I hope this satisfies my castle craving for the trip.

King Bruce statue and Stirling Castle in the background.

The doors to Stirling Castle.

an ominous crow!

It was rainy and cold by the time we got back to Edinburgh.. I'd say it was 9º. We found a pub and had dinner, it was good.

That was my calamari. I can only eat so much calamari, it grosses me out after a while. I asked to take it home and she said ok, then she came back and said I'm not allowed to leave the premises with food (??). ok.

That be all.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 2 - Edinburgh Castle

We left our place at about noon, heading to some antique stores not too far away. The first one we went to was just a small shop that had mid-century modern furniture, among a few other things. Nothing too spectacular or unsual. We were in and out in 30 seconds. The second stop was an antique store called "Unicorn Antiques". It was a good twenty minute walk from stop #1, and had a lot of great stuff in the window as well as cute signage. But... it was closed. And so was every other Antique store on the list. Quelle surprise! Boutique stores in Europe closed on Sunday?! We'll have to hit them up another day.

We'll have to come back here.

The music on the radio is good, soundhouding the shyte outta that.

I want one of these. Must learn what they mean. 

There were some sweet purses under those coats.

After Antiquing failure, we stopped at "Chez Jules" for lunch. We realized it was a French restaurant after we sat down and got our menus. Ahh.. flashbacks of a few days ago. I didn't mind one bit. We both got the three course lunch special. I got the onion soup + coq au vin + some prune cake dessert. He got the duck paté + steak frites + blue cheese/apples. Everything was very, very good. If you're ever in Edinburgh, go to Chez Jules on Dundas Street. Oh, there were lots of street names here that are the same as Toronto.. Queen, Cumberland, Dundas... but I know there are lots of those street names all over the woyld. We wondered if Chez Jules was owned by the same people who own Jules Bistro in Toronto. Anyone? Internet googleness?

Love Paté.

Coq au vin is gooooood.

Prune cake dessert.

I don't know what's up with my stomach here, but after every single meal I eat out.. it kills. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly.. the dairy..the flour..but instant discomfort. We almost had to skip out on Edinburgh Castle, but it was such a beautiful day today, and who knows when it will be nice again. So I sucked it up and went along with our plan. But I didn't feel well AT ALL, I was starting to sweat.

We passed some good shoe/clothing stores on the way to the castle. We may or may not have made purchases. Primark is awesome for cheap cute clothes, lots of Zara type stuff for a fraction of the price. I bought some things I need to take back because I don't do change room lineups and I'd rather take the risk of a return/exchange on a less busy day.

The road leading up to the castle is called the Royal Mile, its full of well preserved old buildings. Which are, of course, full of souvenir shops and Scottish treats. I don't mind because I'm on the lookout for Kennedy clan gear - and there are lots of them. I'm just looking for the right shop and the right goods. The Mile was full of tourists, us included. Approaching the castle was pretty awesome since the only castle I've been in is Casa Loma and that isn't even that old. This one is a really historically juicy castle. But as per usual, I skimmed the plaques and information about everything because sometimes they're just too long. I'm sorry! We saw the crown jewels, nice big swords and knight uniforms. But.. where is the throne?? I want to see some Game of Thrones shit. Show me a throne please, and the place where people were hanged and beheaded. What? It's just life and you know you want to see it too.

mannequin guy making a sword.

Crazy that this castle was build up on these rocks. Very cool.

We went into an underground part, the place where they hid the jewels during WW2. We were tempted to hide in a corner and jump out at people but we figured that wouldn't be too nice. But we did find a door which we could peek through the keyhole and we actually witnessed a murder.

Well not really but Jamie started going "uuhhhhhhhhh!!" like a ghost through the door, but he didn't wait long enough to see people's reactions through the keyhole. It would have been funnier if he said this instead.

The castle was very cool There was one moment when we heard bagpipes (so cliché, Scotland!!) and saw a crowd gathered around a car, like someone special was arriving. This old lady comes out of the car, all dressed up with a flower on her head and hops into her wheelchair. Everyone was taking pictures. It was just a regular wedding but all these people thought this lady was someone special when really she was just someone's grandmother arriving at the wedding. Pretty funny, and the granny peobably enjoyed the royal treatment.

After Edin-bruh Castle we headed back home. there was a young busker entertaining a crowd, juggling and offending people with his rude comedian jabs. A drunk heckler entertained me by being annoying, drunk and loud to this young fellow. The busker kid told him to shut up and that no one speaks alcoholic. He was good at holding his own and telling that guy off. Even though he was the only one in the crowd laughing at his jokes.

Oh, fashion trends I've noticed here:

Cut off shorts with leggings/pantyhose is all over the place. Lots and lots of girls/young ladies wearing this.. I mean most girls are wearing this. Is this new here? Is it coming to Canada? I thought this already happened. Or maybe they just really want to wear shorts but it's too cold so they put leggings on underneath.

I see lots of studs on clothing and goth-inspired gear in the stores (sorry goths, it's cool now). Crosses, skulls, lace... I'm ok with this trend.

Platform shoes - runners, loafers, oxfords.. I've seen this a bit in Toronto, but not too many.

Long hair is in style, but I think it's in style lots of cities. Sorry, not 'in style' but it's popular and trendy. I haven't seen any unique short haircuts here yet. Maybe in Glasgow.

Cool leggings/pants. Different prints, stripes, patterns. I almost bought a pair of Beetlejuice pants but they didn't have my size. Damn.

Oh, and there was a big section of Primark that had shirts that were bedazzled like crazy. I'm not too crazy about that but I'm also not 16.

As for the guys.. I don't know, I usually only notice what the girls are wearing.

That was our day. It was pretty windy out but not too cold or anything. When we came back here we had a short nap and will probably stay in tonight. Neither of us are hungry for dinner, we've got some beer here and lots of Mad Men to catch up on. Tomorrow we wake up early for a day tour up to Loch Ness and back. Yeah!