Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ten Days of Travel: the weekend

Edinburgh I've been to three times before and here's to the fourth. The first time I went as a student and to see it for myself for I didn't know if I would come back to London. I did. So the second time, after 2 years, I took my parents there to show it to them. The third time after 1.5 years, I took my sister and brother in law there. And now 9 months later, I took Ivo there. By the count of the reducing gaps between by trips, I think I'll be going again within 6 months!

After our beautiful train journey on Friday morning along the eastcoast we say down for a coffee and walked around for a bit and sat down for again some lunch before we joined the Sandeman free tour. We had an incredibly funny American guide. She knew her stuff and did it well. Loved her little anecdotes. The tour which I had done before was more of the some. A bit about the history of Edinburgh the geographic formation, the people and garde loo, the interesting architecture of the castle and the school, the funny and sad story of the stone of destiny, the cemetery and Bobby, the writers from Edinburgh, Voldemort's tombstone and the McKinsey poltergeist.

Soon after that we met up with K who had just finished his last day at work. We settled down at the apartment and left for one of the many ghost tours of Edinburgh. Our guide Louise took us around much of the centre of the city telling us about various stories of ghosts and sightings and took us along many dark closes (in Edinburgh close is a small alleyway that will lead you into a courtyard). Some of the guests gave some sound effects and some even nervous laughter. The weather added to the effect by raining all the time and we under our black umbrellas in black or grey overcoats, looked gloomy. The tour ultimately led us into the vaults below the South Bridge. Some of these were supposedly the most haunted rooms (in the world? UK?) and many researchers had come there to study it. In any case, it was fun, more fun than scary.
Ivo had a friend from Nicaragua who she wanted to catch up with and she was going to a house party of a friend and invited us all so we all would pretty much gate-crash somebody else's party. But we went anyway and we had a lot of fun, met a lot of interesting people.

The next morning we headed out to the Edinburgh castle. Again I had been there before but neither Ivo nor K had been and they were pretty excited. It is impressive of course, built and rebuilt and redone over many years. The base of the castle was from some time in the 1100s. We saw the many rooms, the prisoner's of war museum, the crown jewels and most importantly the stone of destiny that we heard so much about in the two tours.

We caught up with Ivo's Fulbright friend from Germany for lunch when Ivo finally tried haggis. It's a meat dish specific to Scotland. I had the quintessential British dish, chicken tikka. It was a nice restaurant named after the name who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, William Deacon Brodie. After this nice meal we had a little climb to digest the good food. We climbed up the Calton Hill overlooking Arthur's seat, to see a pantheon and understand why Edinburgh is called the Athens of the north. It's beautiful and peaceful up there, and barely 10 mins away from the center of the city. Edinburgh is deceptively small.

And soon we were on a train back to London.
On reaching London, directly from the station we went to another house party, to celebrate Gibraltar day and the house warming of the two people from Gibraltar. It was supposed to be a theme party with everyone wearing red and white and mostly from the same university that the hosts are from. We weren't dressed for it nor from the university but at least we knew the hosts well and we had a great time.

Next morning we woke up reasonably late, had a leisurely breakfast and went to Oxford. Oxford is so pretty as always and luckily bright and sunny, unlike Edinburgh. We went to Christ college, saw the great hall that inspired Hogwarts and walked around for a bit. We ended up at a little cafe along the river in the evening before heading back to London. Oxford is a pretty little town. Ivo went for dinner with another friend while we packed for our week long trip ahead.

On Monday morning, Ivo's long trip to Europe that started in Sweden, then to Austria, Rome and then London (and Edinburgh and Oxford) had come to an end. She finally took her long long flight home to Nicaragua. 
We called her a cab to the airport and we took one ourselves to another, to fly to Rome.

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