Meggie, Malone’s, and Mary Queen of Scots
Five months ago, I was snuggled under a Home Goods blanket with Frank curled on my shoulder and Carlos between my ankles, sipping a chai tea and looking at the snow falling on Lockwood Lane. A big countdown was looming then, and one is looming now. Right now, I’m in a Grassmarket cafe drinking out of a china tea-cup while students move out of Edinburgh and tourists swarm in. I’ve never had to wait in line at Elephant House before, but today, the queue was out the door. In typical fashion the city is gray today, providing Megan & I with the perfect escape into the wonderful world of Edinburgh cafes. (Yes, she’s really here!) After five magical days in Ireland with Devon, which would take forever to recount, we’ve been enjoying lazy mornings sunbathing on Arthur’s Seat, exploring Edinburgh’s many middle eastern food joints, and indulging in the best of Nicholson’s charity and thrift stores.
This past weekend was wonderfully sunny and actually hot. The sunglasses were a permanent fixture and I tripped along the cobblestones in gladiator sandals and a maxi dress. It was glorious. On Saturday morning, Meg and I tied up our sneakers and took the rolling hill stroll down to Arthur’s Seat and the rest of Holyrood park.
We only made it about halfway up to my favorite spot, the bushy secluded spot that overlooks a loch and the Seat and is completely devoid of tourists and locals. We napped, picked daisies, and kissed any dogs who sniffed their way to our hiding spot in the tall, waving grass. When we came back down, we were delightfully pink with the most welcome sunburn I’ve had in my life.
Meg got her first taste of Scottish nightlife at Malone’s, one of my favorite Irish pubs known for its great live music. Last night we traveled down to Rose Street to embark on the famous Rose Street pub crawl; this was made slightly difficult by the fact that all the pubs were closed. Now that the majority of students have fled the city, the pubs and bars are transitioning into new clientele, mainly Asian tourists and older Scottish men who are glad to have their pubs backs.
I knocked another item off the bucket list by going on a ghost tour. Like most of the list, I’ve waited until the last-minute. Our tour guide had huge bleached beehive-hair and was decked out in a black corset, blue eye shadow, and swishy leather skirt; Edinburgh ‘wench’ at its finest. She led us down dark closes, skinny alleyways, and finally through Robertson’s close and underneath a bar to the entrance of one of Edinburgh’s many underground ‘vaults.’ Called the ‘underground city,’ the vaults are a series of underground chambers that connect the city and are the sight of many reported hauntings. Living on the Cowgate, I’ve literally walked above them several times a day, but this was my first time actually going inside. It was creepy. I was very glad that Megan was with me! If you want to read more about the vaults, check out this Wikipedia page.
On Monday, several of us took the twenty-minute Scotrail ride to Linlithgow, a small town just on the outskirts of Edinburgh famous for being the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. A friend of ours lives in Linlithgow so he offered to give us a tour of his hometown, the Palace, and Linlithgow Loch.
Let’s just say that there was a lot of ‘Oooh, so cute!’-ing happening. Linlithgow was easily one of my favorite places in Scotland, mostly because it’s a ‘real’ place. The loch was gorgeous, the Palace huge and easily explorable, and the pubs friendly. We walked into ‘The Black Bitch,’ named after a Linlithgow legend of a loyal black greyhound and her poor master, and the entire pub (about the size of my living room) became suddenly very intrigued in the four American girls gulping down pints of Guinness.
In all of my travels, the Scottish people have remained the friendliest of my experiences–and our day trip reminded me of that. On the other hand, Scottish swans can be pretty nasty. (The loch was loaded with them).
My last week has been full of goodbyes, both to friends who are staying, friends who are going, and clothes that will soon grace the shelves of Edinburgh’s charity shops. I’m not sure which out of the three has been the most difficult. It’s been very helpful having Megan here because it gives me a chance to explore the city’s highlights one last time before heading back home to Norwalk.
There are only a few more things to knock off the bucket list, including watching the sunrise on Arthur’s Seat. With a time stamp of about 4:30, we’ve decided it’s only plausible to stay up all night. Since this is also on the agenda for our last night (or, rather, morning), I’ll be one tired lassie come Friday night. Don’t be surprised to find me right back where I started, tucked under my big pink quilt with Frank and Carlos keeping me warm, sipping tea out of an Edinburgh mug and wondering if this was all just a dream.