Thursday, August 18, 2016

Enigmatic Edinburgh

So, this past Friday, August 5, Judith and I were off to Edinburgh, Scotland together!  I was counting down the weeks until this trip, so thrilled for it.  I imagined Scotland as a dark, magical, intriguing place.  This is exactly what it was.  Thankfully, the city of Edinburgh was just as I imagined it would be.

As you can see from the previous photos, Edinburgh is Gothic, mysterious, dark and lovely.  I felt like had fallen straight into a Celtic haunting upon making my way into this city.  The buildings are mostly gray or black stone, there is an old, slightly creepy vibe to the city.  But at the very same time, its eye-catching, incredibly beautiful and ornate.  I loved it from the moment we set foot in it, my eyes wide and my heart racing with excitement as we drove into the city center late at night after our flight had landed.  I couldn't wait to get out the next day and begin exploring.

Our first full day in Edinburgh (Saturday, August 6), we ducked into Greyfriars cemetery.  Apparently its incredibly famous, for more than one reason.

J.K. Rowling happened upon a number of names in this very graveyard who later became notorious and incredibly well known characters in the Harry Potter series.  Among them, Tom Riddle (yes, I saw his grave :-D), Moody, and McGonagall.  This was way cool for me, as those who know me are aware that I read and loved this book series.

Another reason this graveyard is so famous is because its apparently the most haunted spot in Edinburgh, which Judith and I found out on our last evening in the city during a ghost tour we excitedly took.  Heres a super interesting article titled "Welcome to the most Haunted Graveyard in the World.  Safety not guaranteed," all about Grayfriars and its supposed haunting.  I had no idea it was so well known!!!  Its awesome that we were able to explore this cemetery more than once in passing, as our hotel was literally five minutes walking distance away.

Something that some of my loved ones will know, but others will not (fun fact ;-)).  When I was younger, in my early teens or so, I was obsessed with ghost stories.  I absolutely loved this topic, could not get enough of it.  I loved watching TV shows about paranormal activity, hauntings and the world creepiest places.  I would spend hours reading about this topic online, both fascinated and terrified by it.  It totally creeped me out, yet, I couldn't help be spellbound by it all at the same time.

So, the fact that I was able to go into this graveyard, allegedly one of the most haunted places in the world, is way cool.  Something my younger self would have been tittering with both thrill and fear at the mere thought of.

Can you spot a few Harry Potter names...? ;-)

After our graveyard rendezvous, we headed down into a little cluster of gorgeous cafes, bars and shops.  I started snapping loads of photos before we stopped for brunch at a little health food cafe, super yummy.  Judith had eggs, bread, bacon, the works.  It looked delicious.  I had a small salad topped with tuna, beetroot and more veggies, as well as a mini quiche.  Delectable.

We began to walk some more before we happened upon a cute little cafe that advertised sugar free, ultra healthy foods.  I was curious, as this is a recent food trend on the rise (sugar free foods, raw food, etc) which I have found myself toying back and forth with as a lifestyle.  They had a few raw food & sugar free desserts so I sampled a coconut mango cheesecake (totally sugar free).  It was creamy and fabulous.  Lightly sweet, super yummy.  The following day we went back (this was not by accident ;-)). I may have conveniently steered our morning walk in this very direction on purpose) and I tried the lime & matcha cheesecake, also super tasty.

Together, Judith and I gave in to the intrigue of Birch water.  I had read about this.  Supposedly an ultra healthy elixir, apparently incredibly good for you.  So we decided to sample one together.  It was interesting!  It tasted like incredibly pure, cool, sharp water one might find in a glacier stream that's just ultra clean, fresh and cold.  It was really nice.  Though I certainly wouldn't pay 2 + euro for it regularly.  It wasn't THAT amazing haha!  But it was absolutely worth a sampling.

Judith and I happened upon this incredibly charming, super sweet, antiquated little bookshop.  My god.  I fell in love.  It wasn't even a question of whether or not we would go in.  We spent maybe a half an hour inside, quietly browsing the crammed full, precariously stacked shelves and aisles of books.  I loved this little spot.  This is what all bookstores should be.  Though with a few cozy couches thrown inside for people to sit and read, as well as a little spot to get coffee and tea.  THAT would be heaven.  But this was pretty dang close.

Look at the friendly guy waving at me?  Sweet :-D

We headed downtown to Princes Street, a super famous strip running through the center of town, filled with hoardes of tourists and all sorts of little boutique shops, cafes and more.  We walked this for a bit before growing overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people.  (We also happened to be in town during the world-famous Fringe festival.  So, the city was OVERUN with human beings.  Literally insane with crowds).

However despite this, we enjoyed ourselves.  We ducked into the quiet respite of a park, which we strolled through, stopped to snap photos of the castle perched high above us.

Later on that evening, we went out to The Voodoo Rooms for drinks.  We invited along Christos, a friendly guy whom we met in our hostel, and another guy, Chad whom we had chatted with while out and about exploring.  He had approached us, asking if we were American.  I laughed, admitting I was and saying he must be as well.  As soon as he started speaking, I asked, "you are from the South arent you?"

"Ha," he laughed, "youre good."  We chatted a bit further until he said, "I would love to hang out with you two.  What are you plans today?"

So we invited him to join us later on that night.  He agreed, we exchanged numbers, and that was that.  So, in the evening we walked through town, clad in dresses and heels, to The Voodoo Rooms.  A funky, opulent bar.  The music was great, the environment ultra snazzy.  We had a blast.  Lots of chatting, laughing (we all recounted what had been our most insane or crazy travel stories at one point.  This was a lot of fun), we all had a couple of delicious drinks (apparently this bar is known for their drinks, so much so that they have won awards for them).  It was such fun watching the bartenders make a drink.  They did so with the precision of an artist carefully working on their next piece.  Utterly focused and involved in it.  Very cool to watch.

How fun is this?!?  Our last drink of the night.  Underneath the description, it said, "to share."  And this is how it came.

And that was that for our first day in Edinburgh!!!  TOTALLY awesome.  Stay tuned for Part Two of the photos coming up soon!!!!

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