It's night now...and I am so tired my contacts are starting to stick to the tops of my eyelids and I can barely see the computer screen. Yet, still, my dedication to this blog goes on...errr, yeah, and I don't want to forget all the details of my wonderful, spectacular, marvellous day!

My host here is really wonderful, like I mentioned probably earlier...he woke me up with tea!...Then let me have my way with his computer after he left. Nothing like that to start your day off well. My first stop in town was the big Edinburgh Castle...which is absolutely breathtakingly worth every painful step you will take (because you will be sore and tired at the end). I got to see about five different historical museums, amazing architecture, historically signifiant rooms, legends, spaces...and a really great vista of the entire city. I even got directed to a nice nook in the castle that not many people know about where I got a view of all of Edinburgh and a nice velvet seat inside this rather dank castle room, to eat my lunch.

Of course, me being me, I encountered some rather odd personalities on my trek about the castle. Everyone was super nice. And rather patriotic. I've realized that I love the Scottish Historical Society's stewards. They know everything about anything, answer your questions in extreme depth. Everywhere I went in the castle I got my every question answered to the nth degree, which meant I spent about five hours there in total. Hey, for 9.80 pounds...I better get my money's worth! It was wonderful. A completely review of European history over the last millenium...in a span of a handful of hours. Really good...and tiring. Whew!

One steward obviously had some obsession with the Gaellic langauge...my bad for inquiring on a topic that easily transferred...one hours later I amassed the courage to say thanks and slide away to another part of the castle.

Another steward chattered on about every accomplishment a Scots man has made in the last millenia...including creating the US navy, discovering golf...ah, I can't remember any more. Anyway, he dashed off these facts like an auctioneer at an auction, waiting for my (forced) laughter at the end of each statement, like it was some comedy routine. Good info though.

Nonsequiter: (Come on, some of you look forward to it!) People in Europe calls the United States "America"...and I still cannot get a handle around it. I mean, technically the Americas is a lot more than just the States. It always sounds so weird, so banal...so..."romantic" or "movie-ish." I just don't know how to explain it. But I can't say "America." It's taken on other connotations now.

Okay, back to subject--

After the castle I went to the National Gallery, which was really really good. I mean seriously, almost all the paintings were eye catching and interesting (I'm talking about the Scottish ones, specifically). Quite abnormal. I think it was G-d's way of forcing me to walk on...until I ground my feet into little stubs. I put on some music as I walked through the museum (the curators gave me odd looks about the whole headphones thing...), and it really helped. Seriously. I was dancing through those exhibits now. Well, shaking slightly.

You see, museums to me are great...and semi-torture. I feel like I must see every freakin' damn thing in the building, thoroughly...and gain something from the visit. Thus I drag myself from painting to painting, room to room...way past my attention span's limit. I suppose it builds character though.

After the National Gallery I went over to "Arthur's Seat." Oh no...but it's not as simple as that. This was my most favorite part of the day...but also my most, we'll say, trying.

Walking over it was pouring rain (it's either suddenly pouring here...or suddenly sunny)...and I chose not to open my umbrella--too much hassle, I kinda like the water...Afer a couple minutes the rain stopped and a rainbow appeared off in the distance, right above Arthur's Seat, which is on top of a mountain. I thought that was as good omen, and headed over there in that direction. On the way over I passed a small church dedicated by James the Sixth (if my memory serves me right)...and somewhere among the graves in its garden...Adam Smith was buried. I found it quite ironic that I couldn't find his tomb. By the way, I currently have about $12 in my bank account. And that's rounding up. No worries...just got to make it to Liverpool by May 4.

Well, anyway, I finally reached the area to go up to Arthur's Seat, right next to the wacky looking Scottish parliament building, and damn damn it was beautiful. Sunny, with these amazingly beautiful golden yellow flowers, called Gorse, which are (as I later learned) also quite prickly. We'll say on the order of an angry cactus. I'll also say I'm glad I discovered this before I later made an emergency emptying bladder "trip" in the middle of a gorse field. Yeah...but, hey, must respect chronology. Back to the story...

Let me create the scene here for you: Me--with my jeans, traction-less, torn up, holey city shoes, shirt, zip-up sweater and big jacket, plus a bag full of my crap, another bag with a book I had bought at the Castle (a biography on Mary Queen of Scots, can't wait to start it!)...and a nalgene bottle in my hand as well. And let's just say I severely underestimated that "hill," which I now more accurately title a mountain in my blog. In fact, it's not even one mountain, but a series of mountains that leads up to the highest mountain, which contains Arthur's Seat at its highest point. It has to be one of the most beautiful climbs I've ever done. At one point I seriously contemplated moving to Scotland so that I could do such climbs on a daily basis. Of course, doing it one handed with a bunch of crap to carry and a heavy coat on and traction-less shoes...was, well, a downer. But quand-meme! The incline was at least 60 degrees in most points...and it was wonderful. After 15 minutes I was already slightly out of breath...and praying that the rain wouldn't start pouring again. After 45 minutes I finally saw another human being and asked them how long it would be to the top...they didn't answer quite directly, but told me I would probably get back home around 7:30 p.m...okiedoke. They also told me to take the left path up the hill, because it would be "easier."

Of course, I took the right path when I got there. =)

Later on I took a look at my watch, 7:30 p.m. was 1.5 hours away...and I'd already been climbing for a solid hour. Damn...and I'd brought my frekin running shoes and workout clothing. But nooo...of course I was sweating away in my regular clothes, in tractionless shoes, arms full of crap...

I took tons of pictures up that climb. Seriously, it was a great way to excuse away the shame of having to stop to catch your breath or rest your legs--I've just got to take this picture, you'd tell yourself...Oh man, what a site. I must encapsulate it forever in my digital camera here...--it made the place even more beautiful because both the physical and mental thoughts were in sync (though for slightly different reasons) if you get my drift.

I met some more people climbing up, all of who told me to be watch out for the wind. That it was very strong at the top. Scots people telling me to make sure I don't get blown off the mountain. Me worried? Never. Oh yeah...those tractionless shoes...hmmm...

I did see some runners on the trail...truly psycho people. I took a picture of one of them. Seriously.

Anyway, I finally made my way to the top of one mountain that would allow me to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat. It was relatively easy there because the wind just pushed me up the next mountain. Honestly, I could barely walk, and I was just glad the wind was pushing toward the mountain while I was scaling its rocks. Otherwise I would have been in deeeeeeep shit.

The whole rock climbing experience reminded me of last Spring in New Mexico when I was climbing up this similarly steep, trailess mountain and holding onto some rocks. Jack had gone up right ahead of me...and made the horrible mistake of offering me help on the very last jump up. I said no thanks, of course, but at the same time started slipping backwards off the sheer rock...and so replanted my left hand even more firmly on the rock. However I gritted my teeth and willed myself forward and up the last jump and safely onto the summit...feeling a pain in my left thumb. I had torn off the top of my thumb in trying to ground myself and avoid falling (and avoid taking Jack's outstretched hand...). I. could. do. it. my. self.

Then I ran down the moutain psychotically through the desert...about 1.5 hours later finding a first aid kit and help. Ouch. That was painful.

Anyway, I finally got to Arthur's Seat...and there was water up on top leftover from the rain...it was so windy the little ponds of water had droplets flying off them...it was crazy! There was a white stone up there...and you could go up to it, it being the highest point, and stand there...I was crouched down of course because it was so windy...then leaning back against the white stone. Letting the wind push me aganist it. It was one of the most frightening, bizarre and liberating experiences...I literally felt like the stone was gonna blow away. You just have to experience it. It was the strongest wind I've ever felt...If not for the rock I am 100% positive I would have been swept up off that mountain top. I then crouched down a bit and, clutching my camera in my hands, wrapped around my wrist numerous times...I inched to the sides and trying taking pictures. Not easy. At all. But I managed. After that craazy view, it was time to get down. Oh man.

I went down slowly but surely, using only one hand the whole time...and at times poutting my entire body weight into the wind--because that was the only way. I realized a couple minutes into my journey that no one knew where I was or what I was doing...and that not a single soul was in sight. It was a little scary...but nice at the same time too. I forgot to mention the fact that I had a full bladder for the majority of the climb...which is not at all pleasant (understatement alert). Anyway, as I made my way down I forgot which path I had taken...and suddenly found myself scaling the side of the mountain down through groves of those prickly yellow plants on tiny side paths and the like. At one point, I realized that I was semi-seriously lost...So I decided to empty my bladder. A full bladder and fear do not mix well. Plus it'd been frekin two hours. It was actually quite good. The wind acted like a type of suction...(okay okay...too much information?). Well, that done, things were a lot clearer. I eventually found my way back to the path, cursing myself the whole time for carrying around so much crap with me...I finally got to the bottom of the mountains...and then after some more pictures...made my way back home.

Some kind Scottish lady offered me a ride when I asked her for directions...and my aching legs had a short rest (I found out her daughter studied in Glasgow, staying just where I was staying when I was there too)...before I had to walk again. When I got back in dinner was waiting (hurrah for good hosts)...and I quickly stripped off the sweaty clothes before changing to some non-sweaty garments...After dinner we went to see "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"...and I took off my shoes and socks in the theater to rest my weary feet. The movie was quite good, more a therapeutic and relaxing fun type of movie...Well, after the movie I had a bit of a search for those socks. I know, I know, it sounds disgusting to take the socks off...but man, it felt good. Walking after the movie (we walked to the theater, 30 minutes)...hurt like hell.

Anyway, now I'm back. Now I'm even more tired...Tomorrow it's Newcastle...let's hope I find some Jews there so I can eat.

Semper Fi Hurrah!!!

No comments: