Haggis and HUGmanay

Scotland: Day number one

So Ellie and I climbed aboard a bus at the victoria station, nearly missing it, because we thought the bus station was connected to the rail station and we had to run with our huge 50 pound backpacks. Lauren had drank a bottle of wine though and fairly chill about us being so late. We decided to cut the entire line to get seats together, threw our luggage underneath the bus and climbed aboard.

The couples in front of Lauren decided that a ten hour bus ride to Edinburgh from London would be the ideal time to perfect their adult film skills and pretty much made love the entire way right next to Lauren’s head. Good thing or bad thing depending how you look at it, that our bus mysteriously stopped around 3 in the morning in some desolate parking lot in the pouring rain and we had to switch to another bus that had a leaky roof and smelly bathroom.

Ten hours later, we arrive in Edinburgh confused and jet-lagged, wondering why we thought the night bus would be the best idea ever in the first place. We hailed a cab and asked him to take us straight to our hostel which was this old converted church.

The hostel doesn’t have a roof on the rooms so literally you can hear your neighbors fart or sneeze, but I suppose that is a small price to pay for waking up to stained glass every morning.

We climbed into our respective bunks and passed out until about noon when we awoke ravenous and wanting nourishment. I had read about this little local mexican place on st. stephens street and nicola, the hostel manager gave us a scenic route to walk there. We walked along this river and saw the waterfalls and felt rejuvenated and ready to explore.

There is something about fresh air and nature that I took for granted most of the places I’ve ever lived, but living in a real true city with traffic and smog and people everywhere, really make you re-assess how important nature is.

We ate at the blue parrot cantina and it was as good as I had heard. We then decided to take a bus ride through the city and check out Arthur’s seat which the highest point in Edinburgh. Arthur’s seat is breathtaking and it is just right in the center of the city.

(ellie was very cold)

We headed up the trails for about an hour and when we turned around the view was amazing. We were 833 feet above Edinburgh with panoramic views of the castle, the carnival for hogmanay, the royal mile and what we think was the ocean.

On the way back to the hostel, we stopped at this bar and had a few beers before we ate some dinner and then went back out and headed to broughton street. We went to this one *planet* bar and had a couple of snake bites, hung around and people watched and exhausted from traveling we headed back to church.

Edinburgh: Day Two

We woke up early and decided to take this free tour that was advertised in the hostel lobby. This proved to be one of the coolest things that we did in Edinburgh. The tour works based on tips so is free for whoever want to join.

Our tour guide was an enthusiastic Australian man who came to Edinburgh fell in love (just like us) and never left. He showed us a church where there is an angel playing the bagpipes and this one building that they used to staple people’s ears to in the old days when they did something bad and they had the option of ripping their ear off or staying at the door and getting whipped and nasty stuff from the villagers. We walked all over the royal mile and old town.

He showed us the restaurant that J.k. Rowling used to sit at while writing the first harry potter and he showed us the orphanage, which is now a private school for boys that she used to look at where she drew inspiration from.

(that beautiful domed building is the original hogwarts)

He also told us about Black Friar’s cemetery and the infamous dog named Bobby who lived there when his owner died and sat next to his headstone, day in and day out. He is a town legend and even has his own statue and gravesite and the locals love him.

(This is a statue erected of Bobby. This statue is the most photographed thing in Edinburgh, if you can believe that.)

After the tour we did some shopping in this cool vintage store and all around the grassmarket area. We found this amazing art gallery and spent a lot of time looking at stuff in there, wishing we all had proper homes to decorate.

After we went to this baked potato shop where all the toppings are vegetarian or vegan. I had a piping hot baked potato with veg chilli, sour cream and cheese. It is unbelievable what a baked potato can do on a rainy day for your stomach. We did a little postcard shopping, or a lot, and finally made our way to the castle. The castle was beautiful, standing on a hill in the middle of the city.

However, if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh, don’t pay the eleven pounds to tour it as it’s beauty on the outside is exactly the same as it’s beauty on the inside.

We went to David Bann’s for dinner that evening and I had probably the best vegetarian food that I have ever eaten and certainly the highest class.

(After our night on the town!)

Day 3: Hogmanay!

We woke up late and had a slow start getting up as we had to get dressed and ready for hogmanay. Our first stop of the day was henderson’s and what a good stop it was. Vegetarian haggis and neeps and tatties. Neeps and tatties are turnip mashed potato things and haggis when it is not vegetarian is a mash-up of lamb intestines and innards all sacked away in the lining of a sheep stomach. Tasty sounding right? Well the vegetarian version is amazing.

After that, we headed down to the pub called Oz to begin the celebrations. See the wonderful thing about time zones is that we were celebrating New years at 2:00 because Oz is an australian/new zealand pub and at 2:00 our time comes the new year down under. We celebrated a new year every half hour to an hour after 2:00. Every single time there was a countdown and we all raised our glasses and cheered.

We sat in Aus for a long time on a window seat and made some friends from London as well.

(And I apparently made some Scottish friends in the australian bar)

After Oz, we walked about and found a thai restaurant, ate some dinner and had some starbucks to recharge. It was around the time that we begin drinking at Oz that we began walking up to people and screaming “HUGmanay” and giving strangers hugs. Most people were more than pleased to receive our hugs in the street.

We then made it our mission to find some champagne. We walked around found some champagne in this little store, drank it in the road and then began the scottish bag pipers. We followed these bag pipers along and danced with them and strangers in the road.

As the night went on, we managed to make friends with boys from Glasgow and Ireland, walking around with them and stopping into new bars.

When it was ten minutes til midnight, we stood in front of the castle waiting for the fireworks. We met these men from Norway who were dressed in crazy nice suits and we all sang and danced to “And i could walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more…” We had the chorus and harmony just figured out. They begin to sing the scottish anthem and this little british man challenged them to a duel as he sang the English anthem, but before things could get too ugly, the sky lit up with fireworks over the castle and we all screamed and jumped and hugged and knew it would never be this good again.

The scottish are so friendly as we were walking back to our hostel on the main road, there was this party happening right upstairs in this amazing apartment and we asked if we could come up and they invited us up, handed us snacks and the girls were so friendly, telling us about how one of them had just gotten engaged and of their plans. We hung about and then made
our way back to Belford road for our hostels new years eve party.

Overall, I think that if I had to do bunac again, I would move to edinburgh in a heartbeat. It’s a walking city with veggie food on every corner, cute art shops, fun clubs and a castle on a hill. What more could you want really? Happy new year!


2 Responses to “Haggis and HUGmanay”

  1. 1 LaurenMoriah January 7, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    so much i forgot to write, or didn’t write due to the audience. it must be because you have the list on your computer of our hogmanay events. i’m sad we’ll never be able to recreate it. but there is so much more fun to be had!

  2. 2 Sara Elizabeth January 7, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    amazingggggggggggg pictures.
    i can’t wait to see you both.

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