this is where i spent this past weekend.
we left liverpool early friday morning, and we arrived in scotland around 12.30 pm. we first went to our hostel, globetrotter inn, and received an orientation. for a hostel, this was a great place to stay. inside the hostel, there was a computer room (where you could buy 1/2 hour of internet time for 80 pence), a tv room, a movie room (and you could rent free movies), laundry room, a bar, and continental breakfast. although we had to take a 15 minute shuttle into downtown edinburgh, this was definitely a nice and safe hostel to stay in. so, if you are ever traveling to edinburgh, scotland, i recommend staying here.
on our first afternoon, our entire group took the shuttle downtown. from there we split up, and seven of us girls climbed arthur's seat, an extinct mountain that is the highest point in edinburgh. we climbed up the steepest side, and we laid at the top for a little over an hour. we got the most beautiful view from way up there! and the cool mountain breeze cooled us down from our climb.
afterwards, we met up with the guys, and we went on a "free" comedy ghost tour around edinburgh. i will post the man's name when i find someone who remembers it. this guy was kind of creepy at first, but i guess this is good because, well, it was a ghost tour. he told jokes as we walked away from every "haunted" site, but he spoke in such a heavy scottish accent that it was hard to pick up the punch lines sometimes. at the end, he told us that he did all of the research himself and wrote the script himself, unlike the other ghost tour guides in town. he then asked for a donation if we enjoyed the tour. i paid him because i enjoyed this tour much more than i would have enjoyed a "real" ghost tour.
on saturday, a few of us girls woke up early and took an early morning stroll along the firth of forth, the body of water behind our hostel. we walked past many families, and every family or couple had a dog, and all of the dogs were extremely cute!
after our walk, we took the shuttle into town, and we toured edinburgh castle. we saw chapels, apartments, and prisons in the castle dungeons. in the prisons, american soldiers were held there during the american revolution for independence. on the cellar doors, american soldiers had carved in their initials and even an american flag!
we then walked around town, up and down the royal mile, shopping for souvenirs. we had lunch at this little back-alley cafe called the sugar cube. they had delicious paninis! after lunch, we visited the elephant house cafe, where jk rowling sat for hours writing harry potter. we also visited the university of edinburgh's campus. we sat in a courtyard that was nearly 500 years old! magnificent. we walked around and shopped a little more before grabbing some dinner to go and a couple of bottles of wine for a picnic dinner atop arthur's seat. we hiked back up the mountain, this time with dinner and shopping bags in hand, and we toasted to a wonderful weekend and enjoyed our relaxing dinner with the best view edinburgh has to offer.
on sunday, our entire group woke up early and headed off on a 12-hour bus tour around the scottish highlands, via rabbies tours. i realized that bus tours are not really my thing. i fell asleep almost every time we got back on the bus after a stop, no matter how tired i actually was. i would rather spend the day hiking through one section of the mountains, rather than try to see them all in one day. regardless, the highlands were beautiful!!! i also learned a lot about the clans that inhabited the area hundreds of years ago, thanks to our tour guide gavin. i also saw a few locations that were used in the harry potter films, such as the train bridge that leads to hogwarts, the location where hagrid's hut was built for filming, and a few places where quidditch scenes were filmed. awesome! so many harry potter experiences on this trip. i love it! we even got to stand in the loch ness.
i am currently sitting in my dorm taking a break from writing my final paper. final paper. i can't believe it is already my final week here. i have been here two and a half weeks, but those two weeks have felt like two months. every day here is so jam-packed with activities that each day feels incredibly long. while i have enjoyed my time here immensely, and i am looking forward to my final five days here, i am ready to go home. i have been feeling homesick the past couple of days, and it will be nice to sleep in my bed, eat good food (not cafeteria food, and no more "chips"), see my family, and see christopher.