Hello from Edinburgh, Scotland (compiled from emails sent Oct 2-Oct 11, 2004)

Yesterday was another long day traveling via Train (1pm to 9:30pm last
night) from Stratford to Birmingham to Edinburgh. I got into a nice
B&B at 10:00 that unfortunately cost a little too much.

Scottish Pound Notes

After yet another breakfast of sausage, bacon (they serve it as
what we would call ‘back bacon’, not the thin strips), and eggs this
morning, I took a 1 minute taxi to a Belford Hostel.

Belford Hostel in Edinburgh. It's been converted from a church.

Now why would I take a taxi if the hostel is obviously not far away?
Since the lovely Scottish weather provided an extreme downpour! Anyways, the
hostel is nice and big, with Internet access, luggage storage and
laundry facilities and big mess hall and kitchen, plus bar!

I
just got and responded to a funny email from my sister who remarked
that I must have everything well planned for this trip. Truth be told,
I’m almost flying by the seat of my pants. I have yet to phone ahead to
see if the accommodations I choose are available. I suppose if this
were summer I’d be sleeping in a cardboard box, and deservedly so. I do
have a general idea of places I want to go to, but it’s usually the
night before I decide where I might go, and at the train station or on
the train I decide where I’m going to stay when I get there. All my
original plans have kind of deteriorated to the point where I vaguely
know whether I’m coming or going. I think the spontaneity of it all
makes it more of an adventure, or a way to introduce stress into an
otherwise relaxing trip. I haven’t decided which yet.

Edinburgh is absolutely scenic. It is such a contrast from everything
I’ve seen so far. From the drab colors and how the whole city seems
squished together,

Edinburgh view from the castle

to the huge gothic style cathedrals,

Church in Edinburgh
Another church in Edinburgh
Very gothic style church

to the cobbled streets,

cobbled streets. does anyone read these? hehe

the incredible sights,

Fountain in Princes Garden

haha

The Sir Walter Scott Monument on Princes Street

Taken from ontop Calton Hill, Edinburgh

and the amazing views of Edinburgh Castle from almost anywhere in the city.

Part of Edinburgh Castle

It never fails, any time I walk down Princes Street (the main
thoroughfare) and catch that first glimpse of the castle, it sort of
takes my breath away.

A really cool thing on my agenda for tonight is a
walking tour called the "Ghost & Torture Tour".

Ghost and Torture Tour...ooooOOOoooo

It also includes a walk through a Mausoleum where the Mackenzie
poltergeist haunts. Taking off hourly every day from 8pm-12pm, there
are about 5 different tour companies that do the so-called ‘haunted
Edinburgh" tours. I chose to go on the tour with the Auld Reekie
company at 8:00, mostly because they had neat brochures and their
guides dressed in Victorian style.

According the newspaper
articles and eye witness stories kept at the Tourist Information
center, over 140 people have collapsed in the Mausoleum, several people
have been physically thrown or pushed and grabbed, electrical devices
fail, shopping bags & backpacks open, overturn and empty
themselves, and many people have reported having deep scratches and
bruises or burns from encounters with the poltergeist after the tour.
The guides apparently get danger pay!

Cemetary, near the castle, Edinburgh

Auld Reekie is Edinburgh’s nickname from the 1600’s, mostly because the
city at that time was built atop a hill and all human waste and
homeless or criminal corpses flowed down the street into a place called
the N’Or Loch. It was said the Loch was such a disgusting vile thing
that a crust had actually formed upon it and you could walk across it
from one side to the other. (thus Edinburgh’s nickname, Auld Reekie,or
old stinky)

Anyways, at that time much of the city could be
covered on foot overtop archways that were built around the low areas
so you didn’t have to be in the city streets walking in the filth. In
time, it was generally accepted that the lower areas of these arches
were pretty much useless, and the arches were divided with walls and a
wall was built around them when the N’Or Loch was finally emptied. At
that time, being homeless was illegal, so many of the city’s poor or
criminal population moved into these new dwellings devoid of sunlight
and very filthy.

It was expected anyone going into one of these vaults
to live would only be alive another 6-12 months due to the dangerous
criminals and horrible living conditions. Anyways, much changed in the
city over time, and the vault entrances were boarded up or built upon
or over. You can tell the history lesson was well worth the price of
admission on the walk. (For me, anyways)

There is said to be
many spirits from the dead in these vaults due to the horrible
suffering they endured. One is called the south bridge poltergeist. We
were taken through 3 vaults in underground Edinburgh. One was made up
to look as it would in the 1600s, one is said to have a demon contained
in a stone circle in the center of the room. That room in particular
was very eerie. The air was almost suffocating, the hair stood on the
back of my neck, and we heard a loud angry yell coming from somewhere
further inside the vaults. You could feel that whatever was in there
with us was terribly angry and didn’t care much for us being there. The
third vault was actually where all of the attacks on tours have taken
place, but the ghost is described as misogynistic, and tends only to
attack females.  Nothing happened to me, in any case 🙂

Editor’s
Note: Yeah, a really long entry. It was difficult to even pare this
down, as I have over 200 pictures and 10 pages of notes from my visits
to Edinburgh. I absolutely love Edinburgh, and it was one of the few cities in
Europe I visited that I would actually consider living in. I have so
many more stories and pictures to share..

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