Monday, February 4, 2013

Scotland!

I'm sorry this post is so late! Life here is so busy and full that little things like blogging get put to the side usually. However, I want to tell you about my time in Edinburgh before the memories start to leave my mind.

We left on Friday (January 18th) at 9:45pm from the bus station in Oxford. The first bus was only about two hours to Milton Keynes where we caught our second bus. I guess before we booked the bus tickets, we thought, "Ten hour bus ride?! Who cares! It's Scotland!" Looking back, we were fools! Haha! That bus ride from Milton Keynes to Edinburgh (about 9 hours) was literally something that could be used in a comedy skit. First off, we couldn't get seats together because the bus was PACKED. We didn't have laptops or things to entertain us, so obviously this was disappointing. Secondly, everyone on that bus was sick. Every thirty seconds, there was a man who would cough and sneeze at the same time, making for some very loud and gross noises. Finally, it was hotter than a sauna! Every now and then I would doze off to sleep for a few minutes, and if it wasn't the coughing and sneezing that woke me up, it was the sweat dripping on my face or my lungs trying to get air. In the midst of these problems, it was snowing, the driver was going way too fast, and when a different driver was supposed to switch at around 3am, he was nowhere to be found. We waited thirty minutes and found out he was at the next exit. I slept for a total of thirty minutes.

When we arrived to Edinburgh at around 10am, you can imagine how happy we were to get onto land...happiness was quickly overtaken by crabbiness from lack of sleep and having to pay to use the bathroom to change and brush our teeth haha! However, when we walked out from the bus station, our crabbiness faded because we saw the beauty of Edinburgh (after we stopped at Starbucks though haha caffeine was necessary!) We didn't have anything planned at all (besides the Saturday night in our hostel) because we thought it would be easier to plan based on what interested us when we arrived. So we walked around, went up to the castle which was beautiful, walked in the city centre, and took in all the sights!

It was soooo beautiful! The sun was shining and we were happy to be enjoying the Scottish accents and culture. So much so, that we decided to partake in some Scottish rituals--like a traditional Scottish breakfast.




^^Above, you can see this "traditional Scottish breakfast" that Sarah and I were brave enough to try. If you know me, you know I stick to what I like, so this was big for me haha! I didn't eat half the plate haha but I was glad I made myself try it! The thing that looks like a sausage patty is actually called "haggis." Haggis is like a lamb version of what we do with hot dogs...ew. At least hot dogs taste good! Haggis had a really different taste but it was mostly the texture that grossed me out (and thankfully I didn't know what it was until after I ate it). On the plate was also beans, tomato, and egg, "bacon" (more like canadian bacon), a potato scone, and toast. After trying everything on my plate, all I ate completely was the egg and toast. I was proud for trying it though :) After lunch, it was time to check into our hostel which was right in the center of all the action! I had booked the hostel through hostelworld.com. We got a private four-person room for 12.50 pounds per person, which is a very good deal! We took a four hour nap haha! We were so exhausted from our horrible bus ride earlier! When we got up at 6:30, we found a free ghost tour and decided to go on it. It was really cheesy and not too factual, but it was free and something to do. We laughed :) After the tour, we got dinner at pizza hut...that sounds bad. But trust me, after a month of living in the UK, you realize people definitely don't come here for the food. Yet, even the pizza was a little disappointing. We've discovered even the unhealthy food is made healthier haha! It was okay, just not your usual amazing pizza hut experience ha! So we headed back, got some cider and cake, and went to bed again. Or tried to sleep, as the alley our hostel was in was apparently a popular place for drunkards all night haha!

The following morning, we had a nice chat at starbucks before another free tour! However, this one was legit! The hostel manager had told us about a free three-hour walking tour. Because we had nothing else to do and free is always nice, we were up for it! We were so glad we did it afterwards! Our guide was wonderful and funny and we learned so much! We saw beautiful things and learned a lot about Scottish history. I loved soaking it in, one because I love history, and two because Jim is Scottish and has always talked about Scotland so it was neat to see it finally! One thing I am so in love with all over the UK is the architecture. It is just so beautiful. The streets, the high buildings, the colors--I just love it all!

^^Amanda, Sarah, Brittany and I
Beautiful!
National Museum of Scotland (Another free thing! Yay!)


                                                                         ^^Volcano

As our tour was ending, it started to rain (perfect timing!), and it was lunch time so we found our way to a cute little Italian cafe. I had some amazing bruschetta and a pesto panini sandwich. We were having a great time talking about the awesome tour we had just been on, when we overheard a conversation we wished we hadn't. At the table next to us, there was a woman and two men. They were literally right next to us and they were talking pretty loudly so we were able to make out what they were saying. One man, who had identified himself from being from Northern Ireland, made some comment about Americans being stupid and not knowing geography. He said something like, "Yes, when I tell them I'm from Northern Ireland, they probably think that's in France." The woman and other man laughed. It made me SO mad. They could hear us talking and ordering so they clearly knew we were from America. Also, their stereotype of Americans deepened the stereotype I had of Europeans not liking Americans. We were all ready to pick a fight haha! We are smart college students and to hear people, who didn't even know us, call us stupid, was so upsetting. If that wasn't bad enough, the woman, from Portugal, made a comment about sometimes "Americans can walk and chew at the same time." That was about the final straw for me. As if being called stupid wasn't enough, we were now being called fat and stupid. After the anger settled, the sadness hit. How sad, that people who didn't even know me (or I'm sure any Americans for that matter), were saying such hurtful things, knowing there were Americans sitting right next to them. How sad and judgmental. Of course there are stereotypes for all places, but I just was shocked at the audacity of these people to joke about people right next to them and to act like they were so much better than us. It then led me to think how sad that must make God! We're all created EQUAL! We all have talents and abilities that differ from each other, regardless of our origins! And here were people being so arrogant and prideful! Ick! Anyways, I let it go after a while, and tried to give it to God and pray for them (although my ego was not making it easy). 

We still were able to enjoy the rest of our visit. We walked to the volcano, but weren't able to walk the hour long trail to get the good view because it was getting too dark and my mom and dad's voice were ringing in my head haha! It was getting really cold and windy and we had about three hours to wait until our bus ride back so we waited in McDonald's for a few hours, playing "would you rather", bus edition. Literally, for hours, saying things like, "would you rather lose your pinky and or take the bus again?" haha! It was hysterical! Sadly, we usually picked anything but the bus. However, the bus was inevitable. It was a lot better on the way back, but still really hot. We got back to Oxford on Monday morning at around 9am. I got into bed and slept for 6 hours. It was wonderful.

Overall, the weekend was great! Edinburgh was so beautiful and I had lots of fun with my new friends! The day we got back, we booked our flight to Dublin, Ireland for a few weeks from now haha! I love that I've found awesome friends who love adventures!


Right now, I'm finishing reading Much Ado About Nothing for my Shakespeare tutorial this week. At the end of this week, we'll be halfway done with tutorials! How crazy is that?! Also, I cannot believe it's February! I'm loving my time here and each day I venture around, I have to remind myself that I'm living in this beautiful place! :) I'm soaking it all in because I know it will continue to go by fast. I miss all my friends and family so much! Can't wait to see you in two and a half months! :)

Love,

Kaylee

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